I just remember on my first day having a client that smelled so bad that my eyes watered. The guy did not want to pay for a shampoo. His hair so was clumped up with grease (natural, like from his skin) and I could barely get a comb through it. I felt itchy after touching him.
The assistant manager gave me the advice of the in-salon secret. The "Tea Tree trick". A smear of Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo across your upper lip and you can't smell the clients anymore!
Why I didn't run out the door that very moment, I don't know. Maybe it was because I was 19 and didn't want to be an assistant anymore.
Anyway, six months later she was gone and I was the new assistant manager. That shows you something about the company right there. Nineteen years old with two years assisting experience and the assistant manager of the busiest shop in the state! Four months after that I was promoted to regional trainer and then I quit. It just was not getting any better. Plus, I was getting tired of the smell of Tea Tree.
Thanks to my assisting experience, I did have the strongest clientele ever built at a walk in only shop!
Word to the wise: Be an assistant!
I then went to work for Dellaria, the "upscale" chain at the mall. A brand new form of torture. So poor that I was forced to eat nothing but Cinnabon for months. Depressed and pale from the vitamin D deficiency I developed spending countless hours in a completely artificial flourescent environment.
The clients there were a whole different kind of wierd. To this day, my worst client experience was a walk-in bride at Dellaria. Yep you read that right. She walked in on her wedding day. Seriously. We both cried. I didn't even finish her. I don't think I need to explain anymore.
At least the haircut training was good at Dellaria. Between the assisting at real salons, cutting millions of cheap-o practice cuts at Great Cuts and the Dellaria training I got pretty good.
But I was so beaten down in the process that I decided to go work full time at a local distributor store while working full time at a small shop where I made $100 a week.
The owner of the small shop laid me off a few months later because she didn't need me. She realized that while I " Did a mean haircut..." that she would never have the clients to build me. She even tried to get me a job at another local salon. She was nice, and I still appreciate her honesty. If it wasn't for her kindness I would have left this business a long time ago.
The C.B. Sullivan store job thoroughly sucked. Long hours, back breaking work and crazy suburban hairdressers looking for rainchecks on Miss Clairol. Boy did they ever get mad when the SoColor 560 was backordered for months on end! But it was full of charecters and kind of fun for a while. Plus, I learned a lot about different product and color lines.
I then got a job on Newbury Steet in Boston. I was so excited! I hit the big time!
The owner of the salon decided not to hire me and cancelled the job the day before I was supposed to start . On my 21st birthday. I was heartbroken, but still determined. I printed a resume and hit the street. The first salon I went to hired me and I worked there for seven years and became majorly succesful within the shop. Then that salon started to fall apart.
Now my average ticket is over $100. My haircuts are $50 and I have a waiting list most of the time. I'm going to increase my prices in the spring, and plan to continue raising them every time I hold a request rate of 80%.
Stick with it. It will get better. Sort of.