Although technically I'm classified as a baby boomer (just under the wire, actually, with a birth date in 1960), I have never really count­ed myself in the group of people that marketers and demographers refer to with that term. I guess I feel I am really too young to be lumped in with the group. It's funny, actually: I heard a presentation last year by a well-known industry consul­tant who predicted that baby boomers would be the biggest and fastest-growing market segment for profes­sional beauty services. The speaker, probably somewhere in the middle of the boom generation herself, explained that as this group of women (and men, too) aged, they would spend millions of their considerable disposable in­come on beauty products and services in an effort to hang on to their youth. As a reporter, I listened impassively and drew no connection between myself and the people she was talking about. But now, as I face a milestone birthday in just a few weeks, it has dawned on me that I am indeed part of that group of "aging" women, and I realize just how willing I am to part with my hard-earned money to stave off the effects the years have had on me. I also real­ize — more than ever — how important the salon experi­ence is to me, not just for how it makes me look and feel, but because it is one of the few luxuries I allow myself.

I am revealing this personal side and sharing with you this little insecurity because I am probably like so many of your clients who maybe don't (or can't) express to you exactly how good you make them feel. Don't ever forget that your role with your client is to let her sit there and be taken care of. For many women, simply getting to the salon for a manicure or pedicure requires plan­ning to rival the Swiss train system. Once she gets into the salon she wants to relax: She wants to slide down in that pedicure chair, dip her red and aching feet in the warm whirlpool, and have a skilled professional (you!) massage a year or two out of her falling arches. She wants her toes painted your bright­est red and then she wants to just sit there for 20 minutes while her toenails dry (you may want things to go faster, but she's perfectly happy to wait).

This is why you're in business. You file and clip and rub and polish and you make us all feel young and pretty. Don't ever forget how important the work you do is.

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