Articles > Business > Phone Use Behind The Chair: What It’s Costing You
August 20, 2014

Phone Use Behind The Chair: What It’s Costing You

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In today’s increasingly-mobile world, it seems that making cell phone policies has become the norm in many businesses. And, as a hairdresser, not only can cell phones be distractions to you and your coworkers, but you also have to be mindful of your clients. So when the rules of cell phone etiquette come into play, you have more to consider. How have salons adjusted? Some salons now have policies that require phones be on silent or vibrate. Others have enacted strict “no cell phones on salon floor” policies. At these salons, phones remain in the back room with ringers turned off. BTC Member Holley faces a cell-phone crisis at her salon, and she recently took to Facebook to ask fellow stylists for advice.

“I work in a wonderful, full-service salon with great talent. We have created a relaxed, fun environment for ourselves and our clients. But something is driving me insane…my coworkers talk on their cell phones WHILE WORKING ON CLIENTS! The worst offender is the owner! His phone must ring 15 to 20 times per day, and he answers every call. I overhear conversations all day long that are neither urgent, nor business related. The nail techs just file and chat away—not with their clients, but on their phones. Last week, someone purchased an earpiece that allows her to stroll around the salon and answer the phone with the tap of a button. Any suggestions on how to approach this subject?! Thank you so much!”

Are You Listening?
First of all, numerous BTC members believe that many of their clients visit the salon not just for the service, but for a stylist’s company as well. Your clients pay for your time, attention and the overall experience of their visit. So using your phone during a service is not only considered unprofessional, but disrespectful to your clients and likely to drive them away! “We are here to cater to our clients,” says Amber Madarassy. “Would we want our doctors or dentists to have leisurely conversations with others when we are paying them for their undivided attention? I think not! That’s how our clients feel when we treat them as if their time is less important than ours.” Julie Weldon agrees. “Your clients didn’t choose you just for your expertise, but also because they feel comfortable with you,” she says. “Many people have no one else to share their thoughts or concerns with, and look forward to that time in your chair…It is important to them…The client comes first and deserves your full attention! They are paying for it.”

A Waste of Time
No matter the situation, cell phones are major distractions. It’s hard to resist checking your phone when you hear the sound of a text message alert or feel a vibration coming from your pocket. And once you’ve checked your phone, it can be impossible not to respond. But don’t go reaching in your pocket quite yet. According to Mashable, only about two percent of the population can effectively multitask. “This means if I’m on the phone while performing any type of beauty service on you, you just got a sub-par service,” says Lauren Falzett-Davis. “Every paying client deserves 100 percent focus so that they get the best service possible.”

Not only do you risk performing a mediocre service, but cell phone use is a major time-waster, and using phones during a service could cause appointments to run late, throwing off the day’s schedule. Steven Michael comments: “I now have a ‘No Cell Phone’ policy while someone is receiving a service (excluding emergencies). What I do is make sure everyone understands that we schedule time slots to complete services. If those slots are compromised by wasted time on the phone, we run behind, and it’s not fair to the next guest who arrives on time…We all must start respecting other peoples time and stop making cell phones top priority just because they ring.”

So, it’s official—cell phone use in the salon is distracting, a waste of time and rude to clients. But Holley’s salon has become accustomed to this kind of environment. So what should she do?



Go Straight to the Source
Holly Septon-Mattie
says in this situation, she would go right to the salon owner. “He’s the biggest offender and not leading,” she says. “Call him out on it, and tell him your clients have been complaining and taking notice of the unprofessionalism of stylists and nail techs…shame on them!” Randi McKnight shares the same view. “Discuss your feelings with your owner,” Randi says. “Explain it’s about professionalism. Monkey see, monkey do, right? So it starts at the top. We have a rule at our salon that cell phones are only out during a break as some of us take messages to book appointments…Everyone is very respectful of that rule.”

The Customer is Always Right
A number of other BTC members think the best approach is to make sure Holley’s fellow stylists and owner understand the issue from a client’s point of view. Gary Shannon says sometimes it’s easy for stylists to get a little too comfortable with their clientele and, over time, they tend to treat clients more like friends. “Try what I did,” he says. “I typed up a hypothetical letter and left a copy on each person’s workplace. It read: ‘Dear stylist/nail tech: since you would rather have a conversation with the person on the other end of your phone, than speak with me, (the person paying you), I will gladly take my business to another salon where THEY will listen to me. Sincerely, Lost Client.’” Katy Sanders adds “Say that you’ve heard multiple clients noticing the phone trend in the shop and complaining, saying they feel disrespected and may not return. If your boss thinks he/she is losing business because of it, maybe a change will be made.”

If All Else Fails, Jump Ship
Unfortunately, because Holley’s owner is setting a bad example when it comes to cell phone use, the trend may be difficult to change. If this is the case, it just might be time to take your talents elsewhere. “Sounds like they will be out of business sooner than later! So unprofessional!” says Diane McCaffrey Sesselberg. “That says a whole lot about the owners and their ‘business practices,’ and if that is the norm, I would be willing to bet there is a whole lot more unprofessionalism you may just not see yet…RUN away fast! Find a salon where their idea of professionalism is aligned with yours!”