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Salon Ven-don't

Tabatha talks about how she corralled all five of the salon's owners.

By Tabatha Coffey

I have never been to a salon with five owners. The truly amazing thing was that although there were five owners, nothing got done!

As soon as I tried to call Salon Vendome to take over, I knew I was in for a long week because the number on the window wasn't the salon number. When I finally got the right number, nobody picked up and the message directed you to all the stylists in the salon, not a direct message. It was crazy and time consuming.

After watching the surveillance and sitting with the owners, it was so clear nobody was taking responsibility for anything in the salon. Amazingly some of them wouldn't even admit to being an owner. Listening to the owners and hearing them point fingers at each other, hearing how Angel and Susan wouldn't pay rent as a "protest" to what was going on in the salon, and generally just listening to the craziness of the situation, Jack seemed like the only one that was trying to keep the salon on track. The others were letting him take all the responsibility.

Inspecting the salon and seeing not only the mismatched furniture and decor but the ripped reception furniture and run down appearance, it was FAR from acceptable for the high end area of Houston the salon is in. It also showed a total lack of care, thought, and teamwork. The salon was a direct reflection of the owners and their inability to communicate or come together.

Salon Vendome is a booth rental salon, which means that each stylist in the salon pays a weekly rental to the owners. The problem was not all of the stylists were paying their rent on time. Janiece was six months behind and two of the owners were also not paying rent, because they wanted things to change. This was not only causing financial problems in the salon and holding them back from making the changes they needed, but it was also creating discord amongst everyone, owners and stylists alike. Clients don't know or care if it's a booth rental salon, they want professionalism, great work, and to be taken care of.

Talking to the staff showed me that the owners weren't taking care of business or the salon. When Tony told me he had worked there for months before realizing there were multiple owners besides Jack, I was gobsmacked. And all the stylists agreed nothing in the salon ever got done.

The Rose is an amazing organization in Houston and I wanted these owners to stop thinking about themselves, and what better way to do that than have Cancer Survivors as clients. The stylists and owners did a great job thankfully. The work wasn't the issue, although I did have an issue with Janiece and her unprofessional conversations. I needed these owners to understand that the lack of customer service and leadership was affecting their business. I sent in a group of women on my surveillance day and having them come back and share the experience. I hoped it would start to get the owners realizing the issues in the salon. It was emotional for them to hear the feedback the clients offered, since all of it was constructive and true, Bottom line, they all liked their hair, but they all disliked the customer service or lack thereof and the surroundings. None of them would return or recommend the salon.

I needed to get these owners on the same page and working together, so I figured giving them money and telling them they were in charge of their own renovation would help. And in the beginning it did! They started to communicate and agree on things until we got to the store and it started to go to downhill. I was amazed at how little they spent when so many things needed to be fixed. And again it came down to not working together. Any time there are multiple owners there are strengths and weaknesses, and I decided that putting the owners in charge of the things they had a passion and strength for would divide the jobs evenly and get them working together. It seemed to really help on reopening day.

All the owners really stepped up and for once and showed pride in the salon. Bringing in Meghan as a receptionist was my way of showing them the difference it would make to their business and what good customer service was about, and clients were thrilled with the changes. I was pleased Susan and Angel paid their back rent and disappointed that Janiece didn't.

Talking to the owners about the day showed me they were committed to making the changes they needed, that's why they decided Janiece needed to go. They had given her multiple chances to catch up on her rent and had talked to her about her behavior, but nothing had ever changed. It wasn't about being perfect, it was about Janiece being responsible for herself and her business. She wasn't showing the owners that she was serious about changing, and it was affecting their bottom line. It is always a hard decision to let someone go, but being $6,000 behind in rent is unacceptable, and the owners decided it was time to make room for someone that would pay on time. I fully supported their decision.

Going back to salon Vendome six weeks later was like walking into another salon. Not only were the owners communicating and having weekly meetings, but they were offering education, had kept the receptionist, and were all proud and motivated and paying their rent! The salon was doing well, the stylists were all really happy, and I was really glad to hear from Jack that Janiece was doing well and working in a commission salon, which was helping her to stay responsible.

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