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The Right Stuff In A Small Town Hair Salon

Posted Jul 15 2012 10:44am

Martha Ok, I'm on a roll with Do The Right Thing and Get The Right Stuff.  My hairdresser just liked my post on Facebook and that got me thinking about her.  Martha Huggins opened the Hair Gallery about a billion years ago.  Not really, I just tend to exaggerate when I don't know the real information, so indulge me. Martha has been doing my hair for about 16 years and it always looks good thanks to her. But, what else does she do so good that makes me want to devote a blog post to her?  She's got her business figured out.

Once you become a repeat client at the Hair Gallery, you're family.  They build a relationship with you.  I've been to Martha's daughter's wedding and she's been to my daughter's wedding.  She even gave a last minute adjustment, at the reception, to the excrutiating clip she put in my hair, rendering it painless.  Good thing too, or that thing was coming out.  She has shared in my joys and she has shared in my heartaches.  I was sitting in her chair with color in my hair when my ex-husband called to tell me he didn't want to be married anymore.  Bad timing on his part, but Martha and her assistant Joy enveloped me in a hug that conveyed not only sympathy, but love, sisterhood and strength.  After the crying was over, Martha said, "Well, at least you can look good" which made me laugh and laughter through tears was a Steel Magnolia moment which fit the scene and fit the people.  

They share their lives with us, too.  They have their own measure of pain, heartache and worries, actually more than is fair, but they always greet everyone with a smile and a sincere welcome.  They're fun!  Joy is basically Martha's right hand and it's obvious that they share mutual respect and love for one another, and you can feel it.  Chameroun does my nails and she is a mess, in a good way.  Down South when you say someone is a mess, you mean they delight you and entertain you and you wouldn't have them any other way.  I love Chameroun.  I have been known to fall asleep in her chair during a pedicure only to snore myself awake to her laughing face.  She is always happy and I have to believe she's made a decision to be that way.  Chameroun emigrated here from Cambodia.  She's known more than her share of heatache.  She spent years without her children and went to college with a limited knowledge of the English language.  Now her children are here and they excel.  Chameroun is funny, sometimes naughty, but always spreading happiness.

Things don't always go perfectly at Martha's, but when something goes awry, she stays till the bitter end to fix it.  Martha may kill me for this, but I'm going to tell you about the time she turned my hair hot pink.  She was going for some red highlights and when Joy washed me out she said, "Were you going for this shade of pink?"  Now, Joy is pretty funny so I figured she was teasing, until Martha took the towel off my head.  Hot Pink!!  Martha calmly said, "Let's just see what this looks like once it's dry."  Still, HOT PINK!!!  Here's my philosophy; it's only hair, it can't kill you.  I was not about to make Martha feel any worse than she already did so I just smiled and said, "Oh, don't worry, I know you'll fix it."  Well, I had a doctor's appointment so I had to leave and come back to be fixed.  I had some fun with the doctor when he looked shocked and I told him I loved my new color.  I went back at 5pm and Martha went to work.  The first try turned the hot pink to purple which I thought was a big improvement.  Her son and his girlfriend stopped by to get a look at what was obviously becoming big news in our small town.  I half expected a news crew to show up next.  It took about 4 hours but Martha kept at it until she felt satisfied I could go about the world looking good.  I ended up with a really cool dark brown shade with a few purple highlights.  In the time I was there, Martha fed me dinner and made sure I was ok.  Mistakes happen, it's how you respond to them that makes all the difference in the world.  It's a lifelong memory for me now, but one that always makes me smile.

Are you starting to get the reason why I think Martha has the right stuff?  It's the culture she's built in that place.  She re-decorates every now and then, she's always got the latest, best products, and all that's nice, but it's the feeling you get when you walk in the door.  Heck, it's the feeling you get when you wake up in the morning knowing you've got an appointment there.  You anticipate a good time and a great result.

Martha also has the business end down as well.  She treats her employees like family.  She rewards dedication and loyalty.  On her birthday she took her entire staff out to dinner and a movie.  She celebrated her special day by treating them.  When I think about Martha I think about someone with a solid character, an easy laugh, a beautiful smile, a huge heart, and open arms that know when to close around a broken heart and somehow make it hurt a little less.

So, do you have what Martha has?  Have you built a culture in your practice that makes people smile just thinking about you?  I know, it's harder to do that for dentists because patients have a lot of anxiety, but we women have anxiety about our hair, too.  It's all in the approach.  Do you treat your staff like valued friends?  Do you make your patients a part of your practice family?  Do you share in their joys and sadnesses, or do you just politely say the appropriate words for the situation?  Do you face your mistakes, apologize and make it right everytime?  Do you love what you do and is it obvious?  If you asked Martha, I bet she'd tell you that she does all the above, and she does it with intention.  She intends to run her business this way and she intends to be a success.  The way I see it is this; you can wish for a great business and success, but wishes might as well be water, they don't stick and they slip right past you.  You have to intend, and act on your intentions and you will bring success into your life.

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