FAIRYTALES ON NAILS
BY GINA BUCCILLI
For all you people out there looking for a new career here are some of the hurdles and obstacles you may encounter on your path to enlightenment, and I just feel that its about time someone spoke out and dispelled a few industry myths. Newbies read on and take heed. I would like to add however, that most techs make it through the fire, but I bet nearly everyone out there has been burned at least once.
YOUR STAFF ARE LOYAL AND COMMITTEDThis has to be one of the greatest fairytales within the industry as explained by many a disappointed, shocked and emotionally bruised salon owner. I always remember when I first started out, I was working alone renting a desk, speaking to a client who owned a large beauty salon and she said to me “Whatever you do, stay small…” and then proceeded to complain about each member of staff and all her problems. I remember thinking at the time that I had plans and was going places, and just because she couldn’t manage her staff properly, I wasn’t going to let her de-motivate me. Oh how enthusiastic, trusting and naïve I was. Looking back it just seems so cute to think I would be impervious to the daily grind and inevitability of staff tribulations. Despite the fact I’d worked in two completely different industries as an office manager and area manager responsible for twenty-five and forty staff respectively, nothing prepares you for the leap from manager to employer. There’s no HRD department, Company Director, or dotted line - the buck stops here. I also think I made the mistake of thinking being self-employed was the same as being an employer – daaa! you can trust yourself to deliver the best but only hope your staff will do the same. STAGE ONE
Time marches on; you interview, select and start the induction and training process. Everyone needs a bedding in period and has to be carried somewhat technically and financially. You then invest time and training, you nurture and support, and eventually you end up with someone who can reflect the professional status of the salon. Then it begins, the slow painful manifestation of dare I say it Staff Problems. Like all forms of evil it starts small, almost undetected like a benign cancer slowly developing into a malignant tumor of mammoth proportions, and I have decided to call this salon disease the Nail Popsy. It does imply someone who might be somewhat vacuous, but it also reminds me of a smelly dog I once knew. Firstly the inconvenient request for last minute holiday, but hey it is summer. She has been here three months working part time, and she is entitled to holiday, even if she hasn’t accrued sufficient holiday time. You can juggle it, Milly and Mandy can cover a couple of her days and you Wonder Woman can manage the rest in half the time - no worries. The fact that you haven’t had a day off for four weeks or a holiday for nine months doesn’t matter now. She has become valuable to the salon and you don’t want to appear unreasonable. It all just seems a bit of a shame though because the clients were just getting used to her and now the continuity has been broken. Two weeks later she bounces back into work all bronzed and glowing, your exhausted and relieved and then she says the one thing you been dying to hear.
Stop all you salon owners who think it’s going to be “Thanks, I really appreciate you allowing me the time off, I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth back into my work!” Close your salons now as you are now entering a parallel universe and totally unsuited to this kind of work. Reality sounds like this “Do you know I’m absolutely shattered, I could do with another holiday to get over this one!” She then proceeds to cruise for the next two weeks whilst rebuilding her client relationships, whilst the rest of the salon carries her. Guess what, Milly and Mandy are a bit overworked and need their holidays too.
Nail Popsy disease is spreading, other staff members are slowly becoming infected by her apathy, time to display a little authority. Stage two has begun, she’s late again due to the fact she is at the mercy of public transport but don’t worry, she will be taking her driving test soon. We will of course require further last minute holiday because she has put herself forward for a cancellation. Other unavoidable situations are arising, childcare problems, and due to complications with her partner she now needs to move house, more time out for relocation and deliveries.
Her nails are great, the clients and the other girls love her and they feel really sorry for her, as do you. She’s having a bad time. As a descent human being you do all you can to be supportive.
Time off due to stress and sickness, its no surprise really after such an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s getting tougher now for you as an employer. You can’t book appointments with clients, because you don’t know when she’s due back, and its time to start paying Statutory Sick Pay. Now her circumstances have changed and you need to pay and process Family Tax Credit Forms. You can’t book a holiday, your partners not very happy, his schedules are ruined and by the way, Mandy’s pregnant! Time to start paying Statutory Maternity Pay. You need to place an ad with the local job centre “new staff required”, because you can’t continue to cover everyone. Every candidate is technically weak and you know you’re going to have to retrain and loose a few clients in the process, but hey we’ve been there before and tomorrow is a new day. As a conscientious employer you observe Equal Opportunities, but as a salon owner you know that if a multi-colored alien walked into an interview with two sets of hands, could arrive on time every day by spaceship, was incapable of reproducing but could create beautiful nails... Busted! I’d do exactly the same.
Get ready for the final stage of the disease. Once experienced this is possibly the easiest to recognize but the hardest to swallow and there is no known treatment. Victims/Employers of stage four are sometimes lulled into a false sense of security, and as with many diseases, symptoms may go into remission before they get worse. Nail Popsy has enhanced her personal calm but she’s lost her warmth and enthusiasm, and has difficulty holding eye contact with you. In addition to her visual impediment you will also note communication difficulties, she will ration her conversation and her body language has changed. This could be due to the recent personality transplant?
You would be correct for thinking she should be happy now as she’s passed her driving test, her personal life is good, professionally she’s at her best, and you have even reduced her hours at her request. You have been very understanding and supportive, so why the frosty reception? The answer - deceit and sabotage are very taxing on the human condition, compounded by moments of guilt. Nail Popsy is leaving. She will try to wriggle out of her notice, but don’t worry about her stealing your clients, they already know, they have her business card, they knew before you did. As you know diseases are contagious so watch out, Milly is developing signs of stage four!