Jan Carlzon, former CEO of SAS Airlines, wrote a book entitled “Moments of Truth” that's packed with powerful ideas for improving customer service. 

This is something every salon owner should be looking to improve.

Keeping our clients in the face of the increasing amount of desperate 'Group On' style marketing from our competitors is vital if we want to protect our profits and the long term future of our salons.

Of all the books I've read on 'Customer Service', the 'moments of truth' approach stands head and shoulders above the rest for me. 

As you read the following quote from Jan Carlzons book, think of your own business and how his comments could apply to you and your clients.

"At SAS, we used to think of ourselves as the sum total of our aircraft, our maintenance bases, our offices, and our administrative procedures. But if you ask our customers about SAS, they won't tell you about our planes or our offices or the way we finance our capital investments. Instead, they'll talk about their experiences with the people at SAS. SAS is not a collection of material assets but the quality of the contact between an individual customer and the SAS employees who serve the customer directly..."

"Last year, each of our 10 million customers came in contact with approximately five SAS employees, and this contact lasted an average of 15 seconds each time. Thus, SAS is 'created' 50 million times a year, 15 seconds at a time. These 50 million 'moments of truth' are the moments that ultimately determine whether SAS will succeed or fail as a company. They are the moments when we must prove to our customers that SAS is their best alternative."

"... We have to place responsibility for ideas, decisions, and actions with the people who are SAS during those 15 seconds: ticket agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers, and all the other frontline employees." (Carlzon, “Moments of Truth”, pp. 2-3)

Now what about you? How does any of this apply to your salon? 

What Carlzon is really saying is that 'perceptions' are everythingHe's saying that during each and every moment any of your staff are in contact with a client, or any of your clients are in contact with any part of your organisation this is the perception your client has of your business.

The question is, what perceptions are your clients getting and are they consistent with what you promise in your marketing?

Think about it.

When a client calls on the phone to get a quote or book an appointment, it's a 'moment of truth'. 

When a client comes to pay their bill, there's another 'moment of truth'.

The salon toilet can be a MASSIVE 'moment of truth' can't it! 

The way a client's children are treated by you or your staff while the client is in the salon is another 'moment of truth', as is the way you handle or process a complaint.

The cleanliness and neatness of the salon can also contribute to a positive or negative 'moment of truth'. Is it neat and well kept, or cluttered and untidy? Is there a food smell from the staff room, hair on the floor, spider webs in the corners, fingerprints on the mirrors, glass door or windows?

What about the look, attitude, friendliness, and helpfulness of every member of your team? Do they contribute to magical or miserable 'moments of truth' for your clients?

If you 'get' it. If you now understand that a clients experience is made up of a collection of critical moments that can make or break the magic spell that keeps them coming back, then we can take a look at how to apply these insights in a practical way to make your salon a better place ...

I recommend you do it as an exercise with your staff. 

Explain the concept to them ... Once you've done that, ask them about experiences they've had as customers in other businesses where the 'moments of truth' have been disappointing for them. Get them to tell each other. Get them to really re live how they felt at the time. These emotional recollections will be a powerful motivating tool you can use to really drive home the point of the exercise.

Next, between you, identify the points at which your clients can experience a 'moment of truth' then ask these two simple questions…

“What could go wrong at this 'moment of truth' to turn it into a negative experience?”

“How can we make sure it doesn't happen, how can we go further and guarantee this 'moment of truth' turns into a wow moment?”

By combining the answers to both of these questions and applying them consistently you can create a series of extremely powerful 'moments of truth' based experiences for your clients.

Remember, no salon can be profitable long-term without satisfied clients. But to merely 'satisfy' them is expected these days. It's wow and surprise and delight that turns 'satisfied' clients into loyal raving fans.

In this day and age you'd think that capturing complete client contact details would be automatic. 

You'd think EVERY salon owner would understand the importance of this basic principle. Yet amazingly it's the opposite that's true and many salons fail to consistently capture the contact details of all their clients.

Here's a simple example of how a salon can quickly and easily capture the names and addresses plus a lot of other useful information as well.

Get each stylist to hand out a contact card to clients and tell them about your "Exclusive VIP Club" (or whatever you want to call it). This is a free membership club but joining entitles clients to a number of benefits.

The card should spell out the benefits of joining and ask for the following information.

 Name:

 Address:
 Home Number:
 Mobile Number:
 E:Mail Address:
 Birthday:
 A Selection of Opt In Preferences

And Finally The Contact Details Of At Least 3 Friends Or Relatives Who Would Like Free Membership Too!

This card will allow you to implement several different and very effective things.

 A recommend a friend system (this is so effective)
 Birthday offers
 And of course data capture for effectively following up with specific offers.

You could also add the following touches to really boost the results.

A prize draw could also be held every month. To keep your costs down winners could win vouchers given to you by other local businesses you've agreed to promote. They could be giving your vouchers to their customers as prizes in return!

Make sure the vouchers are only valid for a limited period ... people are more likely to use them then.

Can you see how easy this would be to do! 

Growth. Your salon should grow naturally ... and it will. 

If your team are giving good service consistently, their clients will stay. If your team give them surprise and delight from time to time their clients will bring their friends and family in as well, won't they. It should all happen naturally.

But what if it’s not happening at the moment? If you think about it logically it has to mean that you and your team are falling down somewhere and it would pay you to stand back from the problem, do some research and find out what's missing. 

How can you do that? 

I'd recommend you get the phone numbers of your best clients, ring them up and ask them some questions about what's good and not so good about being a client of your salon.

Now you know what your good clients are thinking, you need to get a contrast. You need to take a brave pill and start ringing clients who've stopped coming in. Be honest with them about why you're calling. Explain you're doing some research about some improvements to the salon you're planning and say you'd really appreciate their opinion as a past client about anything you could do to improve the salon and the service you give.

If you do this exercise and are brave enough to get both sides of the picture, you'd truly know what you need to protect and promote, you'd also know where you’re letting yourself down at the moment, wouldn't you.  

I promise you this ... if you do this sort of research and then consistently act on what you discover  you'll be following the fastest route to restoring natural growth to your salon.  

You might be surprised about the number of times I meet salon owners who think that their staff are solely motivated by money.  They assume that’s what motivates everyone, but they're wrong.  

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong ... is that enough wrongs to get the message across!

To prove my point let’s just go through some research that was done in the 1950s, not just in the hairdressing industry but across work in general.  During this now famous research, people were given a list of things that affected their work and they had to choose which ones motivated them the most and which one demotivated them the most. 

The top 5 motivating factors were ... 

'Feeling a sense of achievement at work' ... 43% said that said that it was motivational.

'Recognition' ... 32% said being recognised for doing a good job was motivating.  

'Job satisfaction' ... 23% said that it was motivating. 

'Responsibility, being trusted' ... 21% said that it motivated them. 

'Career progress, climbing the ladder' ... 13% said this was motivating. 

The top 5 demotivating factors were ...

'Company policy and administration'
...  37% said they found it a turn off.  There’s a surprise!  

'How they were supervised' ... 18% said it was an absolute turn off.  

'Their relationship with their employer' ... 9% said it was a turn off.  

'Work conditions' ...  9% said turn off.  

'Salary' ... 9% said it was a turn off; and a source of dissatisfaction.  

This research comes from a guy called Fred Herzberg and if you go to any of the Business Studies text books, you’ll find Herzberg there.  This is foundational research that’s been used for fifty five years now.  It shows that recognition, achievement, the enjoyment of doing the work itself, being given responsibility, a sense of advancement, personal growth are the most powerful motivators you can give your staff.  The big question is ... can you build those things into your staff’s experience at work?  Of course you can, now you know how important they are.

Try a pay rise, and you’ll get yippee ... but three weeks later, it will become normal, they'll be taking it for granted.  Take your staff on a motivational team building day out and yippee, they'll have a great time.  Three weeks later, it’ll all be forgotten again. 
But if you build; recognition, achievement, job satisfaction, a chance to take responsibility, a sense of advancement, personal growth etc etc into their job consistently, day in day out, week in week out. If you can make it a part of their everyday experience then you start to get ‘win, win’.  You get the behaviour you want, from them; they get the emotional reward they want, from you.

You know it makes sense!

There are 13 habits I used to have, that made it impossible for me to build a happy healthy team. When I tackled my bad habits and improved my behaviour my team was transformed. Here are 13 questions you can answer that will help you discover whether any of your habits might be making it difficult for you as well.

The first question that you can ask yourself is - when I'm in the salon, do I behave in a selfish way? Do I put my own needs in front of the other people around me?  I’ll just give you a second to think about that.  When I’m in the salon do I behave selfishly?

The next one – how guilty am I of having favourites amongst my staff? Am I someone who shows favouritism between different members of my team?  And it’s honesty time, just ask yourself that question.

The third one – How guilty am I of talking about people behind their backs?  Let's say a team member rings in sick for the fifth time this month, do you go in the staff room and moan about it to other members of staff? Or imagine another stylist has a client come back complaining their haircut’s lopsided, do you talk about it to other team members or just in private with the stylist concerned?

How guilty are you of making promises to your staff that you don’t keep? Some employers are very guilty of just saying whatever they need to say to get over the problem they’ve got in front of them at the moment and then they forget about it.  

How guilty are you of being intolerant, impatient or holding grudges?  Just to tell you a story about this, I used to be very grumpy and intolerant and I didn’t realise it.  Every morning I would come in and I would go into my office and a different team member was deputised to come in and just talk to me about something, anything.  Just to find out what sort of mood I was in that day, so they knew what they were in for.  So ultimately, if your emotional behaviour is inconsistent in the salon, it has an impact.

Next, are you judgemental.  In other words, do you prejudge? Do you go around judging people against your standards whatever they may be? Or are you fairly open minded and tolerant and accept that there are different schools of thought?

Are you guilty of bullying in any form? There are some employers who get what they want by hectoring, haranguing, nagging and telling people what to do all the time.  And they do it in a negative way.   

Are you guilty of blaming others rather than sharing or taking responsibility?  Again, I've been guilty of this in the past. For example, one day it was very important that the computers in the salon were left on, because we had a problem with the hard drive. I made a point of telling some members of staff not to turn them off. I then assumed that they’d pass the message round to everyone else.  The thing is, they didn't ... and at the end of the day we lost seven days worth of data. When I found this out I had a few angry words with the person who’d actually pressed the off button.  Now I knew deep down inside it was my responsibility.  I knew I hadn't made made sure that everyone knew ... but that didn’t stop me taking it out on someone else.  Once I realised what I'd done I had to ring the team member up and apologise.  If I hadn't the whole episode would have festered ... because I wasn't being fair.  So do you see what I’m getting at? 

Are you guilty of being inconsistent or unfair with praise and discipline?  We tend to take our good staff for granted. They are taking money for us, with a positive attitude and causing no problems so we just let them get on with it and assume they know how we feel about them. Instead we tend to on our problem people. Big mistake.

How guilty are you of having no measurement of feedback?  In other words, do your team know what’s expected of them in terms of figures and production and do they know how they are performing relative to that?  Are you running a business where there is a level of performance expected and people know clearly, because they’ve been given the information by you regularly, how they’re doing or are they expected to guess?

How guilty are you of not trusting?  Do you expect the worst from your staff or do you expect the best naturally?

How guilty are you of not consulting or involving?  Ultimately do you just make the decisions around the place?  This is how it’s going to be, do you involve the team, getting their suggestions on how things can be improved or resolved?

And finally, you’ll be relieved to know ... how guilty are you of not listening?  One of my favourite phrases is ‘you have to listen to what your staff 'do' as well as listen to what they say’.  People very rarely tell you what they’re really thinking, but they will show you with their behaviour.  So you’ve got to watch.  When I talk about listening, less than 10% of the meaning we take from listening comes from the words that are used.  It’s all about the background stuff that gives it its meaning.  And body language is nearly a half of it.  So just imagine someone’s always coming in late, they’re telling you something.  If someone has behaved impeccably for years and years and they suddenly start misbehaving, instead of nagging them, you might want to find out what’s behind it.  Because the odds are that it’s you that’s causing it.  That was one of my big lessons.

I hope these questions have helped. If they have you can let me know, by posting your thoughts in the comments box below.

I suppose the question you should ask is why should you or any Salon Owner, should take any notice of me and what I write in this Newsletter?  

Who am I in other words?  Well in this article I'm going to share a short version of my story so you can see how you feel about who you're listening to!

I've now been in the hairdressing industry for thirty five years. I've had my own salon for the last twenty three of them and this story begins during those first six years of running my own salon.

Well, it's fair to say the first three of those years were brilliant.  The salon grew and grew… but then so gradually I didn't notice for a while, it went into decline….  and after five or six years it dawned on me ... I was very unhappy and I wasn’t enjoying it.  

The good staff I’d recruited in the beginning began to leave and I was having trouble replacing them.  I tried to sell the salon but no-one would pay me what I felt it was worth, so I gave up on that idea. Instead I tried all sorts of quick fixes to turn it round, new products, different marketing, you name it, I tried it, but nothing seemed to make a difference.

Eventually I ran out of steam and hit what I now call 'the wall'.

I've since discovered I wasn’t alone.  I've discovered a lot of salon owners end up hitting their version of 'The Wall'.  The enthusiasm, the initial rush and the buzz of getting your salon open is fine, but somewhere along the line, two, three, four years after we open, a fair percentage of us start to find running the salon gets harder and harder.

So there I was, I had to face the fact that I wasn’t enjoying myself.  I didn't want to be there any more but I didn't want to just close it and couldn't sell it ... so what could I do?  Then I had what I call an AHA moment!

I realised I was the problem.  

I realised it was my attitude, the way I was thinking and doing things in my salon.  So I read some books, went on courses, learned some powerful lessons and sorted myself out! Once I'd done that it was easy to sort my team out, then I sorted the marketing out and the salon became very easy to run.

And then about thirteen years ago, I went to see my doctor, I had a shoulder problem and energy problem and he just took one look at me and said you’ve got to have six months off.  So I went back to the salon, said I’m out of here guys for six months, and they went aaaagh,  "what are we going to do!!!"  

I said "listen ... you’ve been running this place for the last two or three years I just didn't tell you because I didn't want you  to worry about it, I wanted it to seem natural ... I promise you’ll be fine".  

At first they didn't believe me but within a week of my going they did and when I went back six months later, despite the fact I'd been the busiest stylist, despite the fact that we hadn’t taken on any more stylists to cover for me, not only had they replaced my hairdressing turnover, they had actually increased it and grown the business.  

So the salon grew. Despite the fact that I went off without any preparation or notice, the salon grew and I never went back ... not full time anyway.

So now, all these years later I still have a salon. I work on the floor for four hours a week, and in the office for four hours a week and that’s it. The rest of the time I spend helping other salon owners achieve the same, by coaching them. 

I'm pleased to say salon turnover has grown by more than 300% since those days and yet there’s still no manager telling them what to do, just a group of lovely, yet very normal girls who work together as a team. It’s a substantial 16 chair salon now, turning over several hundred thousand pounds a year that basically runs itself.  

What is it that I do that creates the results I’ve just been talking about?  How do you get the growth? How do you get the energy? How do you get the commitment?  How do you get the built in profit? How do you get all that from a team when there isn’t anyone there driving them all the time, pushing them to it?

You can find the answers to those questions by reading the articles in this newsletter, joining the club and taking consistent action with anything you discover that looks good, sounds great and feels right for you!

In my presentation "How To Stop Making Expensive Mistakes" one of the first questions I pose to the salon owners I'm working with is ... "what is an expensive mistake?" 

The obvious answer is anything that costs or loses us money ... but the fact is we all have access to and endless supply of money, if only we can work out how to get it!

Time on the other hand is finite. We can't make time, can we. The fact is we can only spend the time we have left to us wisely and in this profound and amusing video you'll discover some simple yet powerful advice on how you can do it. When you watch it you'll also find a clear picture of the price we all pay when we don't see our time as the precious gift it is.

There's only one problem. The video is over an hour long and the chances are that those of us who really need to watch it most ... won't make the time!!!

If you're a salon owner looking for success - and as you're looking at this you probably are - you'll be pleased to know that it often pays to DARE TO BE DIFFERENT  ... 

Lady Gaga has certainly lived by this philosophy and divided opinions as she's done it! But, love her or hate her, you can't ignore her and there is a lesson I believe we can learn from her and apply in our salons to make them more 'attractive' to potential staff and clients. 

But what exactly is the lesson?

Well if your salon is so safe, bland and ordinary that people can't get excited ... if it's so 'normal' that you're just 'there', just another salon for people to choose from, you'll always struggle to attract people. 

You might be convenient, you might be friendly, you might be 'nice,' you might offer exceptional value - but so do a lot of other salons ... to stand out you have to be more!

You have to have an easy to explain, blindingly obvious point of difference.

Lady Gaga understands this and she now has more followers online than anyone else in the world ... also her latest album has been the fastest selling ever, and so on ... that's what I call success!

I watched her recently in an hour long special with Paul O Grady and I was struck by the power of her belief in herself and her ideas, in fact she's created a whole world of her own called 'The House Of Gaga' where people can join her and feel it's safe to be different! It would be fantastic if clients felt the same way about your salon, wouldn't it.

At the beginning of the show she came on stage with a shaven head and sang a song about hair which should become our industry anthem and you can see it in this clip.

Call me sad but I think it's brilliant so I'm now officially GAGA too, something I never thought I'd say!

When I saw this video for the first time I was stunned ... Get past the sentiment of the teenage girls crying and our British reticence about a US/Aussie accent (you decide) and you're left with a message that's profound in its simplicity.

If watching this doesn't change your perspective on what it's possible to achieve in your salon AND YOUR LIFE ... FAST I'll be amazed.