Tabatha Takes Over by BB
Business/Location: Mani-Kir Royale, North Hollywood, CA
Owner/Background Info: CJ “Meow” Barnes, former Human Resources Executive, initially opened the salon because she really loves nails. Clients never come back and complain, they just never come back. She doesn’t know if it’s their services or what, they just aren’t coming back. She’s over $60,000 in debt and is about to have a nervous breakdown. She tells Tabatha it’s a great salon in a great location, but they have no clients and she has no idea why the clients aren’t returning. They’ve only been open for two years. She’s over three months behind in her rent payments. Meow is not a nail technician; she started the business just because the loves getting her own nails done. She had done no research nor did she have a business plan. Her staff is good depending on what you’re having done. They are really good at the nail art, but the nails tend to fall off. She can’t get to the bottom of the problem of the nails falling off. Some technicians are late getting to work every day and there is an absenteeism problem. The staff has a list of rules, but they don’t follow them. Meow attributes it to the fact that creative people can’t follow rules like people in corporate America. Tabatha tells Meow she is full of sh*t. If her staff isn’t following the rules, it comes back to management.
Hidden Camera Reveal: There is a client sitting with her feet in a large metal mixing bowl full of soapy water while the technician is sitting on the floor working on her feet. She can’t even see her client’s face. Tabatha says if she were a client, she wouldn’t want someone staring at her crotch. Tabatha wants to know why Meow doesn’t use proper foot baths and Meow said the clients didn’t like it. Tabatha finds it hard to believe clients would prefer a bowl from a kitchen supply store to a bubbly foot spa. Meow says they do.
There is a problem at the front desk between a client and the receptionist Ine about confirmation of an appointment. Next Meow is walking through the salon repeating the word “proxy” over and over, which is code word for “pick up the pace.” Tabatha says it’s crazy and one hell of a communication system she has. Her squatting on the floor and using sign language with her staff is not professional. Meow walks up to one of her technicians, Bridgette, while she’s working on a client and asks her why she’s being lazy and asks her to come to the back. Meow denies she told Bridgette she was being lazy. Tabatha plays the footage back to her and she clearly said it. Whispering things like that to her staff is demoralizing and it’s even worse if the client hears it. When Bridgette comes to the back she gets a dressing down by Meow about using the wrong nail gel. Tabatha tells Meow she’s taking over and it’s going to be a long week.
Facility Inspection: The floor is stained, dirty and has fingernails all over it. There are dirty mats hiding the disgusting floors. The bars and chairs are also filthy. There are stains wherever you look and Tabatha says if she were a client, she’d be afraid of catching a disease in there. The waxing room is just as bad. Tabatha says nail salons are everywhere and the competition is stiff and she can see why clients are not coming back.
Meeting with Staff: There is a staff of five at the salon, four tech and the receptionist, Ine. She asks the staff why they think clients aren’t returning. Ine thinks it’s inconsistency between the techs. Two clients could be sitting side by side and the techniques used are completely different. In her TH, Bridgette says Ine is just a receptionist, not a technician. Two of the technicians think they could use extra training to improve their skills. They all shake their heads yes when Tabatha asks them if they could use some education. They say they’ve had meetings to talk about skills, but they never get to the bottom of it and start talking about other things.
Their last staff meeting was two months ago led by Meow and it was about the rules (coming to work on time, dress code, etc.). Tabatha asks if the rules are enforced. The staff says no and admits that nobody follows the rules. Ine says there is no incentive to follow the rules. As a manager, the staff thinks Meow is not there enough (about 20 hours a week) and when she’s not there, Ine, the receptionist is in charge because she’s there most of the time. Ine refers to the rest of the staff as “these girls” and Tabatha calls her on it. In her TH, Ine says that trying to manage a salon with these so-called “know it all” girls is very frustrating. There is nothing positive coming out of them and they don’t respect Ine or Meow.
Meow walking through the salon saying “proxy” (which used to be Ugga Bugga Wugga) is normal behavior, all the time, every day. In her TH, Ine says if she owned the salon, she would fire them all because they are ignorant and slow. The techs hate the pedicure station because they can’t talk to their clients. The clients and the techs hate the metal bowls for the pedicures. They are embarrassed by it. They need the right tools.
Skills Assessment: Clients show up so Tabatha can assess their work and she has Joey, an Opi consultant who goes around training nail technicians, assist her. Meow is anxious about Joey observing their work and if they can’t cut it, she is more than willing to get a new team. (Way to look out for your employees, Meow.) Bridgette gets a nail biter with very short nails. The techs are not good at explaining things to their clients, like the difference between gels and acrylics. Joey says the service shouldn’t take more than one hour and 15 minutes from start to finish. Ine and Meow are standing around whispering to each other. Tabatha told them to do what they normally do. She didn’t like it that they were standing there gossiping. It’s now been an hour and 45 minutes and Bridgette’s client’s nails keep coming off and Joey tells Meow that she’s losing money because of the time issue.
It’s been almost 2 hours and not a single client is done. One of the clients is not happy about her nails being crooked. One client has product staining her skin. Bridgette’s client would never return because her forms won’t even stay on. Bridgett is self-taught, she didn’t learn detailed nail technician skills at cosmetology school. Tabatha tells Bridgette she has never had a client walk out exactly like she walked in. Joey says their skills are about a 1 to 2 on a scale of 10. Very sad. Meow is embarrassed and disappointed in her team. The staff is upset too. They want to be great and know they aren’t. Tabatha tells them they have to want to be better and decide what they want to do. Tabatha is not even sure she can help them.
Tabatha sends the rest of the staff home and talks to Meow. Meow thought her staff was more technically advanced than how they were graded by Joey. Tabatha tells Meow it’s obvious that her staff’s lack of skill is why clients aren’t returning. As an owner, it’s her responsibility to make sure her staff is educated enough to keep clients happy. Meow says Youtube and school text books are pretty much all she has in the way of education resources. Tabatha says the school text books aren’t going to help them. She tells Meow she needs as much work on her leadership skills as her staff needs on their technical skills. Meow asks Tabatha if she’s serious because she’s fully committed to her salon and her team and that day was very disappointing. Tabatha informs her that she as the owner sets the bar as to what she wants her salon to be. She needs to determine how she wants her staff to perform, to act, to dress, to conduct themselves. Meow has not shown any more enthusiasm than her staff has. If things don’t change DRAMATICALLY, Meow will not be able to keep her doors open.
Tabatha’s next step: The next day, Tabatha is starting with the basics. They meet with Joey again and if the staff doesn’t learn what they need, they won’t be working in any salon anywhere. Joey takes them through some basic nail tech training. Meow and Ine are watching and seem to be into it along with the techs. Joey does beautiful work on their nails. After the training session, it’s the techs’ turn to try it. That day went a million times better than the day before. Meow claims her eyes have been opened to what they all need to do. Joey tells Meow her staff has to practice, practice, practice, even if it’s on each other. The staff is much more excited and interested. Tabatha has hope they are headed in the right direction. Joey tells them she is proud of them and she knows they can do better. Reopening day will be the test for Meow. Tabatha wants to know if she’s really changed or if she’s still full of it.
Remodeling: Tabatha gets the staff to take the U-Bar (pedicure station) out to the truck for disposal. They are glad to see it go. The new place looks much brighter. New floor, new pedicure sinks with foot baths, new manicure stations. It looks great.
Reopening: Reopening day is all about impressing new clients with their skills. Meow seems to be more in control about what she expects from her staff, which impresses Ine. The staff seems more confident and seem to be getting the hang of what a client expects. They have been thinking what about what they need to do the few days they’ve been off. The clients are leaving happy and even rebooking appointments.
Final Recommendations: Tabatha recommends that Meow commit to her business and lead her staff like she did that day. Everyone should be getting education and each tech need to take one class in the next four weeks. Meow also needs to have consequences for her staff and needs to apply her management skills. When they meet back with the staff, they talk about education, rules and consequences. Tabatha’s not totally convinced Meow or her staff have what it takes to get the education they need to keep the salon open, but she will be checking back to find out.
Six Weeks Later: Tabatha is back and sees three of the former staff, but no Meow. Meow sold her business to Gino, the new owner, three weeks after Tabatha left. He really has relocated his established business into the new salon, but three techs from the old staff have remained. Ine and one of the techs, Nia, are no longer there. Gine likes the three remaining techs and thinks they have a lot of potential. The ones left from the old staff felt betrayed by Meow, but they are adjusting to Gino. He seems to care about how they are doing and it’s getting better every day. They are all attending classes and getting the education they need. Meow proved Tabatha right that she didn’t have any passion for her business. I wonder what Meow is doing today.