Month: December 2014

Customer Service 24/7

According to the beloved Wikipedia, Customer Service is defined as

Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.”

Customer Service is also found in job listings. One such job post reads as follows:

“As a Customer Service Specialist in *************, you will be answering inbound calls to provide exceptional customer service to consumers. This could include responding to inquiries about products and services, processing payments, or performing general account maintenance. In some situations, up-selling customers to new products or services may be encouraged”

So, now we have determined what it is, and that it is indeed WORK for which people earn a salary.

If I have trouble with my internet, I KNOW they have customer service 24/7 because they gave me a way to contact them at 1:00am to sort out my internet. They gave me a number to call anytime, day or night.

Which brings me to cell phones. When you provide the client with your cell phone number, their natural assumption is that they can reach you no matter where you are, or what you are doing, or what time of day it is. They are thinking  “yay! I can reach her anytime I want to!”.  Because that is the purpose of a cell phone. To always be available and never miss a call, or a text.  Or else, what’s the point?

Every week I read posts on forums  “client texted me at 6:30am on my day off, how dare she!”   or   “It’s xmas eve and they’re still bugging me for appointments”    or  “I’m in the hospital having a baby and they want an appointment for next week”  or “I’m in Barbados and they’re texting me for an urgent appointment today“.  Why are you mad at your client for making use of the cell number that YOU gave to her? Why are you surprised?  Why are you annoyed?  Why are you venting with your peers about how you’re going to ignore that message until the next business day. If you don’t want to work 24/7,  WHY are you giving your cell number to clients?

NOW not all of you pitch fits. Some of you accept this as part of the job, being available 24/7.  My question is WHY? Do you not deserve time-off like everyone else?  Let’s do the math. Divide your weekly earnings by 168hrs (that’s how many hours there are in the week).  There’s your hourly wage for being available 24/7 and now you’re making less than the guy that delivers your newspaper.

Do Dentists, or Mechanics take calls outside business hours? No. You get their answering machine telling you to call back at the next business day.

What happens when a tech is too available? She becomes resentful of the interruptions during her ‘time-off’.  Her FAMILY will become resentful of those interruptions as well.  She will start to lose her mojo.  She may perhaps be less pleasant with clients as a result.  The list continues. This isn’t good for anyone.

In addition to becoming less than your vivacious self, you give the impression that it’s ok to abuse your time.  That your time isn’t as valuable as someone else’s,that you have nothing better to do than to be at someone else’s beck and call.

I don’t know about you, but I have PLENTY of things to do: children to raise, house to clean, dogs to exercise, laundry to do, my own personal appointments to attend to, etc.  We have lives, just like our clients do.  Just as they appreciate their days off, so should we.

Yes, online media and technology are wonderful things created to make our lives easier. Yes, EASIER for you to run your business. NOT BUSIER. It does not automatically mean that you should work 24/7 and be at everyone’s beck and call.   Don’t be afraid to turn the phone off after hours. Don’t be afraid to give clients a land line number only, that goes to an answering machine after hours. It’s healthy to set boundaries. It’s OK to say “No, I’m not available on xyz days under any circumstance”.  I’m pretty darned sure that you client who works at the bank doesn’t take Facebook messages at 11pm at night from clients who want to order cheques or to inquire about interest rates.

The mobile phone is for YOUR convenience, not theirs.  So make it a convenience, instead of an inconvenience.

Before you ask; no, you can’t have my cell number.

Nail Techs are human too.

Yup. Nail Techs are human too. Go figure, who knew?  We’re just like you. We go to work, have families, pay bills, enjoy time with friends, and put on our pants one leg at a time, just like you.

We also get sick, just like you. Yup, just over a month ago, that was me. Woken suddenly by excruciating abdominal pain in the middle of the night, I went to get a heating pad (thinking it might be ‘the womanly thing’…) and there I was; dizzy, sweating profusely, lying on the floor because I’d passed out twice and frightened my husband into calling the ambulance.   Since I’m normally healthy – he was pretty freaked out.  Blood tests, CT scan, ultrasound and etc later, they never figured it out. Guessed it to be a 24hr viral thing that my body rejected vehemently. Okey dokey, that was fun.

NOT!

Yup, we’re human. We get sick, we’re healthy, we have good habits, and bad habits, just like you.

Bad habits. That’s why I’m up at 12:45am blogging.  I went to bed early because I haven’t been sleeping well, but never fell asleep. That was almost 3hrs ago. So now I’m here.  We ALL have bad habits. Every single one of us and anyone that says that they don’t is full of C**p!  Just, some bad habits are more obvious than others. Like smoking.  So don’t start pointing fingers. There are no ‘Saints’ around here.

Yup, I said it. There it is in black and white – smoking.  Complete with yellow teeth, stinky coat/clothes/breath and everything else that goes with it.  I could try until I was purple to not be unbearable to non-smokers. Shower ever day, sometimes twice. Body spray, perfume, clothes spray, hair perfume….  but it is what it is.  I tried several times to quit, but I would become this:

Child abuse is illegal, and divorce is expensive.  So I threw in the towel and went back to my nasty habit.

Until recently when I tried vaping. YIPEEEEE I found the way to do it! So on December 9th, I started using an e-vape with great success. Doing it at MY pace, calling the shots myself, so I wouldn’t turn all crazy pants like in that picture above.  Going along great!  I’m at 2-4 ciggies a day (morning coffee and after dinner smokes are hardest to give up) but already reducing my nicotine with my evape as well. They suggested 18-24mg per day to match the quantity that I smoked, and I chose 12-18, and I swap back and forth.  So for a few weeks there, everything is running along smooth. I feel good, I feel sane, I haven’t landed on the front page for murder. This is AWESOME.

Until…..

Until 3days ago, then it started. Why didn’t anyone warn me about this?  NO FAIR! I’m supposed to feel better, not crappier!  Quitter’s flu has arrived and I’m NOT having fun. I have achey bones. I have occasional dizziness (apparently because I’m getting more oxygen than I’m accustomed to).  I have a nasty disgusting cough that I will not describe except to say I sometimes need kleenex.  Last night, it was acid reflux that kept me up all night.  And for a few nights, insomnia (joy to the world, I’m here to torture you with my blog).  There’s other symptoms as well. All that to say that even though I am NOT HAVING FUN YET, I will stay the course.   I got this!

And if I rip your head off anytime in the future, sucks to be you because my health is more important than your delicate feelings (I’ll probably tell you I’m sorry later when I’m feeling normal again).

So yes, your Nail Tech is human.

Just like you.

 

Victorious Balm claims a REAL Victory!

Several years back, I was researching solutions for mine & my daughters’ skin.  I have acne-rosacea, and they have sensitive skin that reacts to many creams (as I do myself).  On a professional level, I also wanted to answer to the need of my clients.  My clients incessantly asked what cream/lotion/balm to use to moisturize their dry skin. Unfortunately, most products in the pharmacy are chock-full of petroleum ingredients that while they are great BARRIERS, do not replace moisture lost.  They simply leave a coating on the skin.   So, my research and experiments with different blends began.  I created an oil blend for nails, and a balm for skin. Both under the name “Serieuse”.  I had great success with both and many satisfied clients.

While taking my daughter to preschool one day, I met Sarah and her daughter. That poor child SUFFERED with skin issues. I gifted Sarah with a bottle of my oil mixture.

Recently I relocated to Ontario (from Quebec) and re-branded my business. I also started ‘tweeking’ my Balm. I wanted more out of it.  I wanted to keep pushing and make it better.   In the meantime, was chatting with Sarah online who has since moved to Alberta. I had seen pictures of her daughter’s more recent suffering and offered to send some Balm as a gift for her to ‘try’.

Back of leg

She even gets this on her face 😦

4Aug2014 Sarahs daughters face before

Hearing the story of her suffering broke my heart.  It’s been so bad that she has been ridiculed by classmates and by strangers in public. Treated like a leper 😦

Here is Sarah’s story in her words:

“My daughter was born with sever eczema over 90% of her body. She was miserable and uncomfortable. Her clothes stuck to her skin. She cried when she was touched. We were prescribed creams up in creams as well as oral medications that we ate found out did more harm than good. 6 years of many different doctors ans creams and a LOT of money spent trying anything from natural to medicated creams and lotions. Most of them made her cry as they burned on the open wounds of her dry eczema filled skin. Then we tried victorious balm. Within days a difference was seen. As i rubbed the balm on she would let out a sigh of relief saying it soother the itch. Within weeks her skin cleared and has stayed clear. In 6 years her skin had never been soft to the touch and now its soft. Shes not itchy all the time anymore. Shes not getting as many flare ups. Shes happy! Im happy! Its changed her life. She was getting picked on by other children and adults as her face looked dirty or contagious. Her beauty is now able to shine through her beautiful skin and she is no longer suffering in pain and humiliation.  As a baby it was so bad her skin would bleed and her clothes would stick. Her fave was so raw and sore. Her ear lobes were black i was sure she was going to lose them. Her legs and arms were so bad as well and her stomach and sides weren’t as bad but bad enough. As she got older it would always get infected as there were more open wounds then skin. She had it on her eye lids so bad sometimes she was not able to open her eyes.   It has been the only thing out of hundreds that we’ve tried. One cream the size of a small tube of tooth paste was 98$ and not covered. Id not recommend any of the creams we’ve tried as the ones that did work only worked short term and the others didnt work at all. She is doin great now! I will post some pictures soon! She does a sigh of relief when I apply the cream…. Ahhhh that feels nice! someone at lush was trying to sell us cream and Bryna said do you have the one with the big v on it?”

This is Bryna now

Dec2014 Face all clear2 Dec2014 Legs all clear2

I am so pleased to have been able to help this darling little girl. This is not only a success for my balm BUT also on a personal level. This is the kind of stuff that warms your heart and keeps you cozy in your bed.

Bear in mind, I do not make medicinal claims of any kind. But if you want to ask me if my balm is moisturizing, then my answer is an EMPHATIC YES.

What’s in my balm? 100% natural ingredients, butters and oils. No artificial perfume, or modifiers, or dilutants  or etc etc etc.  100% all natural goodness.  Nothing that you don’t need, and everything that you do.

I hope to soon launch a webstore. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I’m going to sleep with a smile on my face because I put a smile on the face of a very, very special and very beautiful little girl.

My nail broke, but I didn’t do anything.

Nail techs hear this all the time “I broke a nail, but I didn’t do anything”.

Well, you MUST have done SOMETHING because you are sitting in the chair across from me. So how did you get there without doing anything? I’m pretty sure you had a shower this morning.  You probably got dressed, made coffee, made your bed, tossed a load of laundry into the dryer, walked the dog, got into your car, drove here, etc etc etc.

We KNOW that you did something.  Nails don’t break by themselves by sitting and doing nothing. There have been many times that I have been sitting doing nothing (reading a book, watching a movie) and never once in over 25yrs of wearing nail enhancements did any of my nails spontaneously fall off or break.

Every day, people do things. Every moment of the day, people do things. Let’s examine a routine task that everyone does at one time or another. Kitchen duties.

  • Washing dishes- did you wear gloves?
  • Did you lose your grip on a slippery pot, and nearly drop it but catch at the last moment with the very tips of your nails?
  • Did you use your nails to scrape burnt remnants off the bottom of a pot? Or off the stove-top?
  • Did you wash a counter-top and hit the back-splash with the edge of your nails?
  • Were you putting away left-overs and struggling with a tupperware lid, and so used your fingertips to pry it off?
  • While putting away the cutlery that you washed, did you catch a nail in the drawer handle as you pulled your hand away?

and the list goes on.

You did SOMETHING.

I have known people to break nails doing the following.

  • Making the bed.
  • Pulling up their tight jeans
  • Getting wash out of the machine
  • Washing the tub
  • Opening the car door
  • Pushing a button on an infant car seat.
  • Putting shoes on.

Very simple, mundane things that everyone does.

Sometimes, we do ‘something’ and feel it, and panic. We look down, “pheeew”, the nail is still intact. Not realizing that there might be miniature cracks that we can’t see, and something as simple as snapping a finger is the last straw to break the camel’s back.

I explain all the time “it’s not WHAT you did, but HOW you did it”. Just like my 6’4″ and 220lb husband can sneak up on me, but my 70lb daughter sounds like a herd of elephants. It’s not what, it’s how.

I have had housewives who have housekeepers to do their housekeeping, come to me with broken nails. Then I have had women who work in metal machine shops, grinding and cutting and what all else to metal who NEVER break a nail.  Not what, but HOW.

So please…. spare us both and don’t say “I didn’t do anything”. We BOTH know that you did. It’s ok. Accidents happen. Honestly, sometimes we are naughty and do things with our nails that we know we shouldn’t. We’ve all been there, including myself.

I broke a nail this week. I rarely do so.  I was picking up a ginormous rubbermaid bin. HUGE.  Going out the front door with it. I didn’t push on the metal door enough, and that sucker came back and smacked my hand holding the bin. (yes, I did indeed turn the air blue and taught my dogs a few curse words). So in effect, I was both doing something and doing nothing.  I was carrying the rubbermaid bin- that’s doing something.  The door hit me- I didn’t do that. LOL  Accidents happen.

You CAN tell us what you did.  It’s ok.  We might ‘tsk tsk’ in jest, and laugh with you at your naughtiness OR commiserate at your unfortunate accident.

But I can pretty much GUARANTEE that every nail tech out there that hears the words “I didn’t do anything” is rolling their eyes (even if only the ones on the backs of their heads that you can’t see).

 

Reap what you sow…

ReapWhatYouSow

ReapWhatYouSow

Investing.  Placing investments to reap rewards.  We do this all the time.  In all areas of life.  Hence the following expressions:

  • You get out of it what you put into it
  • You reap what you sow
  • Cause and effect
  • Effort equals results
  • Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty

There are pages upon pages on the web about this sort of thing. In fact, there is this one with 192 quotes on the subject  http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/effort

It’s a truth that applies to everything; an investment of your time and effort will impact these following things and much more:

  • Happy and well behaved children.
  • A lovely and clean home.
  • A healthy body.
  • A good dog.
  • Healthy partnerships (with your chosen loved one).
  • A successful career/business….

Even if you have already achieved your goal (so to speak) in any of the aforementioned, you must still make the effort of maintenance.  Yes, it must all be maintained with the continued investment of MORE time and effort.  One must never take for granted that anything is forever.

No one is surprised when they have to mow the lawn every week to keep it tidy, because it keeps growing. They expect that it requires continued maintenance.  If left unattended, weeds will overtake the property and it will become unattractive because it’s unkempt.   If you ignore a high energy dog, they are likely to tear apart your house in boredom.  If you don’t spend enough time with your children, they are likely to get into mischief that could break your heart. If you don’t invest in your relationships, they could crumble. If you ignore your business, it WILL fail.

So whether you are just starting out in this business, or you’ve been around a while; never take for granted that success is just going to land in your lap and stay there without raising a finger.

You must CONTINUALLY apply effort, and INVEST in yourself by investing in your chosen career.  It’s a daily effort from the smallest detail to the greatest.  Invest in continuing education. Invest in marketing.  Invest in retail that is appealing to your clients.  Stay current on trends and changes in the industry.  So on and so forth.  Because the price that you pay if you don’t is that all of your previous efforts will go to waste when your business fails.

So if you haven’t sown seeds in a while, what’s stopping you? Even the smallest of efforts can sometimes reap the greatest of rewards.  So put on your gardening gloves and get to work. You’ll be happier for it.

 

Funny analogies at my table

Communicating information is sometimes a challenge. We all have different backgrounds, different levels of education, different cultures, and different styles of communication. So making sure the person on the receiving end of your words understands can sometimes be tricky.

The world of nails is more complex than one might think. There’s a lot of biology, chemistry, physics and a host of other things that Nail Techs need to understand to do their job effectively.  Sometimes we need to explain the why’s and wherefor’s to inquisitive clients.  Sometimes we need them to understand something from our side of the table.

These are some analogies that work for me.  If you’re a consumer, maybe they’ll help you understand things. If you’re a nailtech, maybe they’ll help your clients.

How does IBX work?: With nail techs, I can explain the chemistry. For clients, I simplify.  “You know when you have a crack in the foundation of your house, and you call the repair guy and he injects epoxy into the cracks? To fill in the gaps and spaces?  That epoxy doesn’t bond to the cement, but it does fill in all the crevices to reinforce the wall and prevent water from getting into your basement. Well, although I don’t inject your nails, the carrier oils are the injection mechanism that brings IBX into the nail plate, filling in the gaps and spaces between the nail plate layers, adding a substructure that strengthens. Also, since IBX is in there filling in the spaces, there is no vacancy for water to be absorbed which helps protect your nails from swelling & dehydrating.”

Eponychium (you know, that thing that ISN’T a cuticle!):  When explaining my PREP process to a client and the products I am using, I explain the differences between the eponychium and the cuticle.  To simplify: “the eponychium is like the rubber at the edges of the car window.  It keeps crap from getting into the car.  If that seal is broken and you go through the carwash, dirty water etc gets in. That’s why we must never cut it, we don’t want to break the seal and let the nasties in.”

Why Biters (and some others) shouldn’t wear long nails: If you’re accustomed to having no nails at all, or very short ones, it’s not a great idea to go long with your first set.  “Getting long nails that you’re not used to it is like going to bed with size 7 feet, and waking up with size 10’s.  You’re going to trip, and stub your toe.” Nobody likes stubbing their toe.

Don’t “help” & try to hold your hand where you think I want it: You don’t know where I want your hand.  You don’t know that precise second that I need to turn your fingers at the exactly perfect angle to file, WITHOUT nicking you with the nail file.  You can guess, but you’ll be wrong.  Loose like a rag doll is best.  “Imagine driving your car; is it helpful when the passenger grabs YOUR steering wheel to help you turn a corner?  No backseat driving please!  When two people try to drive the same car, you end up on the sidewalk.

“They Fell Off” /  Forced removal of nail enhancements (acrylic picked off, banged…): Nail techs hear it all the time “they just fell off”. No…… They……Didn’t.   Why do I know this?   When we do your nails at our table, and you reached for your wallet to pay us for the service, and then got up to leave the salon; were the nail enhancements still on?  Did they fall to the floor, off your fingertips?  No, they were still firmly attached. That means that they were STUCK on.   “Imagine two pieces of paper.  Set one on top of the other. Now reach for the one underneath and pull it away.  The top sheet falls to the floor. They were not stuck together.  Now, take the same two pieces of paper, glue them together, and let the glue dry.  Now pull those two sheets apart – what happens? They TEAR.    Why? because they were STUCK together and now that you are forcing them apart, they are tearing  EXACTLY like your nail plate when you pick off the nails, the nail plate tears because they WERE INDEED STUCK ON.”

Why you should NOT wear nails the same color as your dress: Coordinating your nails to compliment your outfit for a special event is a must these days.   BUT perfectly matching them to the outfit is a No-No.  I learned it in the early days of my career, when I’d ask Brides and Graduating Students to send me pictures of them with their hands on display in their pretty dresses. We couldn’t see their nails.   “You see, in a picture of a person, the nails are teensy weensy and if the person has their nails done the exact same shade as their dress, then their nails become like a Chameleon and blend into the background. Next thing you know, that lovely mani you spent money on to make your hands look good INSTEAD makes them look like wee fat sausages because your nail tips dissappear into the background and your fingers look shorter.  Compliment, Contrast, but NEVER “Match”!

 Why you must Oil 2x a Day, and Cream/Lotion 6x a Day:  “Nails are like hair, made up mostly of Keratin.  When you wash your hair, you use conditioner to combat the elements of hot water/blowdrying/flatiron/hair color etc – all things that are very DRYING to your hair and will cause it to dry out and the ends to split and look frizzy if you don’t condition.  Can you imagine washing your hair and NOT using conditioner? (OMG ME EITHER!! I’d never get a brush through it!) Hands are exposed to far more than your hair, they work harder.  When you wash them, touch fabrics, touch paper and etc – you lose natural oils. Those oils are needed to prevent your skin & nails from cracking etc.  They need conditioning too. Every time you wash them!  Exactly like your hair.  ALSO if oil is inside the nail, then water can’t get in. Water molecules are actually too big for your nails, but they crowd in anyway. And when they do, your nails swell.  Kind of like putting on pants that are too tight, the water stresses the nail plate – and the seams of the pants are stressed.  Enough stress and the seams will split, or in the case of nails – they’ll split/crack/break.   If you oil, there’s no vacancy for water so no stressing the seams/nail plate“.

Why Petrolatum/Mineral Oil etc ingredients in Lotions/Creams are USELESS:  It’s a known fact that Petrolatum/Petroleum/Mineral oil are all pretty much the same thing AND that the molecules are much too large to be absorbed INTO the skin and/or nails.  They simply sit on top of the surface, creating a barrier.  And the client will tell me ‘but oh, my skin feels so soft afterwards’. “That’s not your skin you’re feeling hunny, that’s the barrier left behind. The coating.   Using a cream/lotion/balm that is choc-full of petrolatum/petroleum/mineral oil is the equivalent of oiling a rusty hinge.   The squeak is gone, but the rust is still there! The problem still exists, you haven’t fixed it.  To moisturize, you MUST use a product with natural carrier oils, the only ingredients that WILL be absorbed into the skin since the molecules are small enough.”

When you say “Fake Nails” and I say “No, they’re Enhancements…”:  The words ‘fake nails’ in reference to my work can make me a tad crazy, I confess. “Fake nails are those full-cover glue-ons that you purchase at the pharmacy. You can always tell at a glance that they are fake. They are one size fits all, just don’t look remotely natural ever.  I create enhancements, they are enhancing your nails, and they are an armor. Are you boobs fake because you wear an underwire bra with a foam cup that lifts, supports, improves their appearance and protects them? No?  Do you stuff rubber chicken-cutlets in there? No? Same thing with nail enhancements. I don’t glue, and I improve the appearance of what you have.”

So these are some of the analogies from my table.  I hope you find them useful.

Or at the very least,I hope they gave you a giggle.

 

Planes, Chicago, ABS Tradeshow.. OH MY!

Yes, you should read that title like Dorothy would “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears OH MY!”

This year started on a whirlwind for me, chock-full of new experiences, new adventures, and opportunities to learn from the BEST in the industry.

My business was started with pin-money.  As a stay-at-home Mom, the budget was tight. Try as I might, events and tradeshows were out of my reach.  Any leftover pennies after expenses went right back into the business, and/or was spent on my kids.  Of course, right?  I would troll the nail tech forums, and facebook feed for news of these events. Living vicariously through my peers, envious but at the same time so very happy for them.

I would glow with excitement, reading their own posts and looking at their pictures.  Ohhh how inspiring and motivating it all was and is.  But all I could do was watch from the outside, and tell myself one day.  One day, it’ll be me.

This year in March I was invited to join Jim & Linday Nordstrom of Famous Names at ABS in Chicago.  I can only think of two words to describe it.

HOLY CRAP!

Hardly poetic, sorry about that.  But it was OVERWHELMING from the get-go.   Even from my plane, flying over Chicago, I was surprised at how very very large the city was.  I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

Then I arrived at ABS. Oh my.  Nothing at all like the Montreal Hair Show I went to when I was taking my Cosmetology course over 20yrs ago. Oh no…. MUCH MUCH BIGGER.

2014-03-24 08.56.41

It is attended by THOUSANDS per DAY!  For my very first trip, it was like going to Disney Land 🙂

It was kind of ‘trial by fire’.  Why learn to swim in the kiddie pool? Oh heck no, let’s try the ocean without our little ‘swimmers’ on our arms!   At least that’s how it seemed.  I’m prone to getting lost in a paper bag – I am geographically challenged as all my close friends and family know. I wasn’t afraid though. Excited, anxious, but unafraid. That’s what Google-maps are for 😉  Added to that, I’ve never been around such a large population. I thought Montreal was big. Ummm apparently NOT. hahahaha   As it turns out – no whales or sharks. Just lots and lots of Dolphins!  Everyone was so very nice and great fun.  Meeting Industry icons and mentors was the icing on the cake in every sense of the word.

Since ABS, I’ve attended a couple of other events and who knows what I’ll do in the future.  I do know that ABS left it’s mark on me. It filled me with renewed passion for the industry.  I see everything very differently now.  I learned a lot, and there’s still more to learn. Looking back to last March, I feel like a different person.

So if you haven’t attended a tradeshow yet; my advice is DO IT. Find a way. It’s a whole new world out there.