Lessons learned-forging forward!

I received so many comments from my article of a couple of weeks ago, I’m truly humbled.

I am happy also to know, my goal of reaching at least one(1) person has been met. The idea that there is someone always worse off than you, is literally true.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I had many good years of the 24 years In my Salon. They just weren’t all easy years.

In writing the first article related to this topic and continuing into this week, I’m reminded how strong I had to be to endure some of the challenges I faced. That is the take away I would like you to remember. There were challenges yes, but I survived and will continue to survive through the challenges my Business now brings me…and so will you.

What my hope is, you don’t remember just the stories of what I went through, you remember how I handled it. After all, it is not what happens to us that counts, it’s how we manage those happenings that makes us who we are.

 

Once I made it through the first 3 years of my Business, I consider myself to be truly blessed.

I moved across the main road and began expanding into additional services. We were a nails only Salon for a bit and slowly began adding hair care, skin care and massage services.

This was back in the early 90’s when all I had to do was think about adding a new Technician and five(5) would show up at my door within a week. Eventually I had eight(8) nail tables and they were all full 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. It truly was magical.

Not only were they full, my team was amazing. They were young, they were eager, they were talented and we all got along amazingly well.

During those great times, the hardest challenge for me was training. I was a licensed Nail Technician (which is actually funny)….story to follow. I was able to train my Nail Technicians, yet when it came to Hair Care, Massage, Skin Care….not so much. Therefore, I was depending on personality more than I was talent.

I was very particular about how I trained and I still recommend the same training to anyone wanting to be a Nail Technician.

I felt it took the magic # of twenty(20). Twenty models in order to learn Technique AND speed. Any Technician coming to work for me had to follow this training process.

  • The 1st week we would schedule models at no charge to sit through 3-4 hours of hands on training of steps & Technique. These models were too be back to back so we typically did 2 per day. I would be sitting right next to my Technician during this process, walking them step by step.
  • By the end of the 1st week and into the 2nd, I would walk away, checking back periodically as I had the Technician speak to every step which came next. Mind you, this training also included how to hold a file, hold the clients hand/fingers and where to place the products etc.
  • By the end of the 2nd week and into the 3rd, the Technician would be primarily working on speed. My criteria was they knew the steps and they could perform an artificial nail service with 1-1/2 hours before being placed on the floor with paying customers.

What is funny about me being a licensed Nail Technician is firstly, this is not what I inspired to do. As you surmised from my previous article, I was thrown into this Industry full force, without warning.

One of those warnings was NOT being advised (by the previous owner) that I could be Grandfathered into the Industry.

What this meant is when I purchased the Salon, licensing was not required in the State of Florida. I purchased my Salon in June of 1987. In January of 1988 licensing was required. I had to go to school. Just a tad bit of information the previous owner failed to share with me.

Whaaaaat? I owned an Office Supply business by day, starting to do nails by night….when the heck was I able to go to Beauty school and get my license.

Well, some things never change. From the very beginning this whole school thing has been discouraging. I signed up for school which had no specific Nail instructor. And, true to our Industry, our Cosmetology teacher had no interest in doing nails.

Consequently, I negotiated a discounted rate so I could bring in my own products, attended school when I could and even ended up teaching a couple other girls in the nail class at the time.

Let me digress. Since I was thrown into this whole “working behind the chair thing”, I was self taught anyway. I had been getting my nails done for a while, so I had a pretty good idea of what to do. However, it’s not until you get behind the chair when you find how difficult this art really is.

My first nail client took me 3 hours to give her a re-balance. I literally learned by practice on “live” people. Those ladies that persevered with me through this period of time, ended up being long time clients. Literally the whole period of time I owned my Salon and some even beyond.

So teaching myself at school, was not a big deal to me. In return they gave me hours. If I did 20 hours of school, I would venture to say that was a lot. In the end, I did receive my license.

So, what was the challenge for me in training?

For one, it always surprised me when a Technician I hired was going into training could not find 20 models. C’mon…..who doesn’t like to receive a free set of nails? I quickly learned, those who didn’t put forth the effort to recruit 20 models, were not a good fit. They just weren’t hungry enough. All they had to do was go to the grocery store, the bank, the bar etc. etc. It truly was NOT that difficult.

We all know what the cost of education was. These newly hired Technicians were getting free education. It was mind boggling.

However, the biggest challenge for me was always the ones I really liked yet, just didn’t have the knack. You all know what I’m talking about. Either you are a complete natural at the art of doing nails, or you could be taught. However, there are some out there that don’t have either. This was very difficult for me.

I had a policy going in. We gave each other 3 months. We go through the training, get them on the floor and give them time to groove in with the group. IF, at the end of 3 months either one of us wasn’t happy, we would part ways, no questions asked.

I’m reminded of little Becca. Becca applied for the job and did everything she had to do including finding 20 models. Becca was a short stalky little thing. She had the sweetest disposition. I wanted so badly for her to be on our team.

However, Becca had tiny little, chubby fingers. She was unable to grab ahold of her clients fingers, pull down the sidewalls and file accordingly. I worked and worked with Becca and she for sure did her part to make it work as well. Yet, at the end of 3 months, it just didn’t work. Had I had an admin position open I would have placed her in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, we parted ways.

Not all were that challenging, some didn’t find their models, just couldn’t stand the heat, some just decided it wasn’t for them and yes, we did have many we hired and stayed with us for years.

However, I would say it would take us 10 misfits before we got to 1 hire. Why?

  • There was the girl who showed up for a job interview wearing ripped hem, shot shorts. Huh?
  • There was those who never even showed for the interview. Mind boggling
  • There was the interview when I was told “I’m always the one who ends up being in charge”. Ummmm…I think not
  • There was the cleavage, the dirty hair, the ragged clothes…..cmom now!

I could go on and on. Hiring is a real struggle. Read on and I can tell you exactly what NOT to do.

Skipping over several good years, I’m fast forwarding to 2003. I had divorced my x husband by now and really wanted a fresh start. My Salon was doing great. I had a full team of nail technicians, 3 hairstylist, 2 massage therapist, electrolysis, permanent makeup and skin care. We grew quite well and although there were some changes during that period of time and yes, several more mind boggling stories, there is nothing that could have prepared me for the last 6 years in my Salon Business.

I had decided to expand and move into a larger facility. We were a bit crammed.

I’m a pretty open boss. I spoke with my team about my idea and brought them into the design, the layout, location etc. Everyone was excited.

My massage therapist was a Mother son team. Could not have asked for anyone better “so I thought”. When I began the talks about moving and expansion they approached me with certain request. 1) individual rooms so they could both work at the same time if needed 2) A shower.

I was moving from 900 sq ft to 2000 sq ft. I found a newly built location with the opportunity to build from scratch. The only thing in the location was the cement floor, the walls and the roof.

Honoring their request wasn’t really difficult. Adding a shower was costly. I asked for a business plan and how they intended to grow their massage business as it was an investment for me to do this. We talked, they shared, I felt confident and comfortable……..until!

Within 30 days “after” we moved into the new location, they informed me they were leaving to pursue and opportunity for “their own Business” elsewhere. Devastated doesn’t even describe how I felt. THAT was a huge lesson.

Those were the days when a hug and a hand shake was honorable…..or not. 

Lesson: never move forward with something like that without a contract.

Yes,I was able to find other Massage therapist…..probably went through one or even two a year. My 2nd room built for more massages was turned into a tanning bed room (which ultimately cost ME several bouts of skin cancer) and my shower was turned into a spray tanning booth (for a short time)…it mostly sat empty.

Lesson; make sure every bit of your sq footage is working…meaning paying for itself.

Soon after that incident, was when my team just started to dwindle away.

They got married. Didn’t have to work or moved out of State.

They got pregnant. Planning to come back after maternity leave, never did.

They wanted to booth rent which was just becoming known in our Industry.

This list truly goes on and on. The lesson I always mentor regarding owning your own Business, moving into your own location or whatever the situation may be is this;

ALWAYS BE ABLE TO AFFORD SUPPORTING YOUR BUSINESS EXPENSES “ON YOUR OWN”.

The one thing for sure about our Industry is change. The majority of this industry is made up of artist. Not Business people. I’m not saying this as a condescending statement, I’m saying this because you have to realize as an artist it’s difficult to keep in one place. Artist are carefree, they are always in flight.

And, the other part of it is that most people do only think of themselves….and truly, you should as well.

The demise of the last 3-4 years of my Business is the final episode I want to share in the journey of owning my Salon. Everything in between I guess you’ll just have to buy my book when I finally get it written LOL

When the recession of 2008 hit, so much had changed. 

The cost of schooling had increased, not many people were getting licensed as before. Therefore, finding Technicians had become more and more difficult as time went on.

The rise of the Asian community had been coming full force which also contributed to the lack of interest in this industry.

Booth rental was also becoming more popular and EVERYONE thought they could be a Business owner.

The usual channels of finding help was not working. Craigs list was new and also the new way of soliciting for help…so I thought.

What I found myself doing unfortunately was hiring bodies….not people. Because there were no Technicians to be found, I hired all and any who actually showed up for an interview. My standards got lower and lower out of desperation and in short, it took the wind out of my sail and ultimately forced me to make the decision to sell my Salon.

In the end, there was a period of time where it was just me in this beautiful, 2000 sq ft facility. I could do nails, nothing else. It was a very trying and stressful time of my Salon life. However, looking back, I should have forged by myself in lieu of hiring dysfunctional, unprofessional, unreliable people. Therefore, my greatest lesson to you is;

NEVER SETTLE….good things do come to those who wait.

In closing, I would like to add, the last 4 years of owning my Salon as horrific as it was, actually had some good parts.

In 2004 I met my now husband. Mr. UPS…..Yes, we are the legally Blonde snap and bend story :).  I always say “he was an expensive find” but if I never moved to that location, we more than likely would never have met.

Always remember our good Lord has a plan. We may not know what it is at the time, and we should never question. For me, meeting him has been the highlite of the last 4 years of my Salon Business…..everything else was just the journey to get to him.

Read more of our blogs @

WWW.CJSCENTREFORBEAUTY.COM

CJ Murray, President

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4 thoughts on “Lessons learned-forging forward!”

  1. Wow, it’s funny when you write articles it is when I have been thinking about and reflecting. You speak the truth and how it really is. The beauty industry is full of artist. It’s hard to find good help. I thought about saving up for a nail salon, but my experience in the nail salon taught me so many lessons and how hard it is to find reliable, and professional workers. I think its best for me keep up what I’m doing and master the art of retail and sales.

    Thank you, your words of wisdom always help clear my head and make choosing a decision much easier.

    1. So glad to hear my blogs have touched you. One of my worst faults “always speaking the truth” LOL. I think the biggest lesson I learned, yet the hardest to follow is bigger isn’t always better. I like being small and being to do the things I do which add a personal touch. I look around me at other Distributors and know I could be making so much more. Yet, that is not where I want to be. I’m comfortable, I do keep growing yet I’m able to balance my work with my home life and that is truly the most important. I’ve always said and will continue to say, education to me is the most important. Selling the products which go along with the education is the bonus. Thank you always for your follow and your kind comments. I sincerely appreciate it.

  2. NEVER SETTLE….good things do come to those who wait.

    CJ this was a timely a good read. Thanks for sharing. Hope I meet my Mr UPS soon!

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