I had an adventure in Spokane yesterday. The adventure really started on Sunday night, that’s when I flew up to Spokane from Boise. I went quickly to my hotel and was totally mortified at the accommodations that I had booked for myself. That’s right I had done this to myself, nobody else to blame. I knew it was going to be bad when my middle eastern Lyft driver told me that I should have stayed closer to the airport. When he dropped me off he said “good luck” and sped away. There were shady characters standing out front smoking, more like standing in front of the door. I whisked past them determined to get inside and go to bed. I have nothing else to do here! The check in clerk eyed me I felt suspiciously when I handed her my credit card and ID, She asked if I had any pets and when I answered “no” she looked at me again as if to say, really? No “service animals”? I walked about 100 feet from the check in desk to my room and the second I walked inside I realized why she had asked me about pets. It smelled like I was sleeping in a kennel. I may as well have been caged. Thoughts ran through my mind about the poor families in detention centers at our American Borders who would probably find this luxurious and all I can do is think badly about it. I briefly thought about grabbing my stuff and walking out to find another place, but since it was just me, I knew I could get through it. I set my alarm for 6:00 am. I willed myself to sleep, trying to stay in one position to touch the least of the bed possible. I woke up at 5:50 amazed that my plan had worked. I quickly showered and left ASAP. I went to a local coffee shop and caught up on work for a couple hours, arriving at my classroom at promptly 8:00 am right when they opened.
I was the first educator to arrive. I wanted to be there early because I was unsure what portion of the class I was supposed to be teaching. The classroom was unfortunately in the basement of Salon Services. So there was no daylight, the concrete floors are tough on the body and it was unbearably quiet. As it got closer to 9:00 people, both educators and students started drifting in. I had a chance to quickly catch up with a few of the educators that I had met in Seattle at our training event.
This small group of students who attended the Hand Tied Weft class were lucky because they each had an educator to help them. Unlike the class I took a couple of weeks ago with 50+ students and 3 educators. If I could have taught the class myself I would have done it differently. Here are some suggestions that I have.
Go over the format of the class at the beginning. Let everyone know how their day is going to unfold. I hate suffering through not knowing when we will get a break or when I will be able to leave.
Cover the client consultation in much more detail. This is the most important part of the whole process. Choosing the method that is correct for your guest, determining the palette of hair color and arriving at a price for both the initial installation and the maintenance are crucial in making you and the guest feel good about the service(s) that you will be giving to them.
Problems and Roadblocks, these are rarely discussed in class, as if they never happen. They do happen and we should be asking students what types of issues they are running into in the salon. Are their clients needing maintenance sooner than they should? Are clients experiencing any irritation or damage from an installation?
Legal paperwork, the services that we are providing often exceed the $500 mark, often in the deposit alone. Although we may not be able to provide a template for the student and their clients we should be doing a much better job at providing them a framework for the stylist legal responsibility to the client after they take the initial deposit money. The paperwork isn’t meant to intimidate or put off the client. It is meant to better define their responsibility for their purchase. The disclaimer also protects the stylist against almost everything besides a horrible installation. It isn’t the stylists fault if the client doesn’t take care of their new hair the way they are supposed to. It isn’t their fault if the hair is defective from the beginning. It isn’t their fault that the hair is very expensive, but we do get the blame and hear the complaints. I am always willing to work with my clients to find a solution and talk with the company regarding their product and guarantee but I need them to also know that if nothing can be done to satisfy them that they won’t be receiving a refund of any kind.
Visual materials: Besides the mannequin head and the instructor there is little to look at during the class. It would be nice to have a visual description of the thread in relation to the bead. It would also be nice to have a cohesive description of the installation, spacing, removal and maintenance procedures. Another nice touch would be to send those visual cues out to the students a day or two after class via email to keep extensions on their mind, and to let the students know that we as a company and as educators are here for them. Even a demonstration of the threading of just the beads without the weft in the way would be a great way to better visually break down the training and keep the students moving
Physical Materials: We should be able to look at and smell the shampoo, conditioner and masque that Aqua retails. If it is an important part of their guarantee and a required product for clients we should know more about it. Aqua should send those products in advance along with the kits and give them away at the end.
Giveaway, everybody likes to get something. Aqua is missing a huge opportunity to get tools into their stylist hands. They should be giving away items that they are wanting stylist to order more of. How about an extra loop tool for loading the additional colored beads? How about a different color of beads or thread? Or how about a few packages of clips? Maybe with the Aqua logo on it? How about an Aqua cape or travel size styling products, or their mini brush? Don’t we want to look at, touch and feel all of these items? The educators could use these incentives to their advantage by asking questions of the audience and giving items to people who answer correctly. Even a simple coupon for their first order enticing them to check out the website or mentally build a shopping list with the company.
Get into the hands on stuff much more quickly. Or skip lunch to make the class shorter. We are all stylists here. We are used to skipping lunch in order to get out earlier. It is difficult for us to dedicate a full 8 hours of time to a project. If there are no legal requirements for how long a class is why is it taking so much time? I am certain that the students would pay the same amount and walk away feeling better about a company that made the process seem like such a breeze that even the class is shorter. If we dove into hands on more quickly the format would work. I think that 1 hour of process, all the technical details, is sufficient for most students. Then have them open their kits and dive into the hands on.
Placing an order: What are the different ways that stylists can place an order? Walk them through the online process. What is that going to be like? Shipping? Time of arrival? Where is the closest supply store for them? Who is their rep? Ask how they are ordering their extensions currently. Do they carry inventory? What additional products are they considering adding to their personal inventory?
It was fun to assist as an educator to the class. I enjoyed meeting all 5 of the students and discussing the problems and situations that they are dealing with in the salon. It was also great to watch the other educators function in the room. Each person has such a different approach. The students seemed fairly confident in their ability to complete an installation, some more than others.
I left Salon Services and flew home without incident, thankfully. I was so happy to arrive in Boise and have my husband and daughters come to retreive me. Now back to the salon!