No pain no gain

Most normal people think and feel that pain is a bad thing. This is a reasonable opinion to have because (again, for most normal people) pain is unpleasant. All over the earth people are going to great lengths to get rid of pain in their lives, while many other people and companies try to take advantage of the opportunity this presents and make money by either dealing with the source of the pain or simply putting a “band-aid” on the pain by treating the symptom.

Advertising is full of pain remedies for colds, flu, acid reflux, muscle pain and Jerry  Seinfeld sums up very well how the pharmaceutical companies represent some of the pain we experience:  “Pain is usually represented by lightning attacking the guy. Glowing redness is also popular. Sometimes parts of the guy would just burst into flames.”

However, Viggo Mortensen puts it like this in the 1997 movie “G.I. Jane”: “Pain is your friend, your ally, it will tell you when you are seriously injured, it will keep you awake and angry, and remind you to finish the job and get the hell home. But you know the best thing about pain? It lets you know you’re not dead yet!”

If, for example, you rest your hand on the hot plate on your stove then your hand will get burnt.  The resulting pain that you experience signals to you that you need to take action. The reason that you need to take action is to prevent permanent damage to your hand that would be caused if you did not remove your hand. If you did not experience the pain then you would not have known to take the right action.

Therefore, strangely enough, we need to actually be grateful for pain.

Pain in the salon

We wouldn’t normally talk about “Pain” in the salon but rather we would usually refer to “problems” in the salon. However, when we consider the effects of the problems we realise that they actually cause us pain.

There are some smaller and simpler examples of this, like having to apologise to a client for something that has gone wrong in the salon and some more extreme examples like lack of sleep and other stress related health factors due to financial or other severe problems that you may be experiencing.

There are many other pains that are experienced in the salon that tell you that you need to be addressing particular problems and in much the same way as the example of burning your hand on the stove you will need to take action in the salon in order to prevent more serious repercussions.

Don’t treat the symptoms

The danger of course is that we treat the symptoms rather than the cause. I find it very interesting that, instead of advertising a healthy diet, pharmaceutical companies rather choose to advocate a lifestyle where you should be able to eat and drink whatever you want and whenever you want and when you experience heartburn you simply slug a mouthful of special medicine that will coat your insides so that you don’t feel the pain caused to your body by this unhealthy living. This can’t be right.

In a salon environment treating the symptoms would be to simply offer the client a free product or some other means of winning them over and retaining them as a client. Or in the case of the stress it could be that you play more golf or take more leave. Now, both of these responses to the “pain” are appropriate, however, if you do not get to the source of the problem then you will continue to experience this pain and the damage will grow over time.

For example, if you keep experiencing clients reporting you to Hello Peter or other watchdogs then you will have to get to the bottom of why this is happening so that it can be dealt with once and for all. Whether it is a poor quality cut, a rude stylist or messing up the clients appointment time the pain that you experience in the form of a complaint is telling you to take action and you should be grateful for it, even though it is unpleasant at the time.

If the client did not complain then you would not know they were unhappy and there is the real danger that they would just go to another salon and you would lose them as a client.

No Pain?

I find it very interesting when salon owners express that they do not have any pain in their salons. This is either because they run the perfect business, with perfect clients, perfect stylists, a perfect landlord and perfect market conditions OR they are in denial about their pains or trying to hide them. The latter is most likely, I’m sure you’ll agree.

In these cases the salon owner needs some help in identifying or recognising their pain.

This is the purpose of the Business Intelligence consulting that our company offers, which is to identify the pain that salon owners experience and provide the right solution and deal with the source of pain.

Finding the pain

Now, for any of you that have ever experienced a personal demonstration of a Kirby vacuum cleaner at your home there is one thing that you will have come to realise and this is that your home is much dirtier than you ever thought it was.

One of the techniques a Kirby salesman will use to demonstrate this point is by vacuuming your mattress and showing you the weird green colour of the skin cells that they have just extracted from your mattress. Another is to pour a bag of flour into your carpet and get you to vacuum the spot with your own vacuum cleaner until you are satisfied that all the flour has been removed from your carpet. They will then proceed to extract about a quarter of a bag of flour that was simply pushed down into the carpet fibres by your own vacuum cleaner.

By the end of a 3 hour Kirby demonstration there are meant to be about 100 Kirby filter papers strewn all over your living room showing you dirt that you did not even know existing in your home.

This dirt equates to the “pain” that I am talking about and which salon owners are often either unaware of yet or they are choosing to just live with it in a weird sort of denial. I’m not sure why it happens but could be explained in part by them not wanting to admit that they may have a problem and rather try and keep up the appearance that they are in control of all aspects of their business.

However, with a few leading and probing questions they will usually begin to talk themselves into the realisation that they do actually experience pain in various parts of their business.

Don’t live with the pain

Sometimes we go through life accepting our pain. This could be because there simply is no way to get rid of it or because we have just not bothered to get to the heart of it.

In the same way we often go through our business lives simply accepting our pain. However, as you can see pain has a purpose and this is to get to the cause of the pain because over time it will cost you one way or another.

The objective therefore is to not only respond in the proper way to the pain that you are experiencing in your business but also to do regular check-ups on your business in much the same way as you would go to the doctor for a check-up. This is a pro-active approach to keep ahead of your pain or to deal with problems that perhaps are not yet causing you pain. Look for any areas of frustration of your business, whether it be your own frustration with how things work or frustration from staff members, clients and even suppliers. Try and leave no stone unturned so that you are sure that you have a clean bill of health in your business as far as it is within your own power to control.