Salon Communications 1/3

In this series we will take a closer look at the use of cell phones and other communication mediums within the salon to examine what they are being used for and what effect this may be having on the salon.

In the “old days” the kind of difficulties salon (and other business) owners faced in terms of telephone abuse by staff members was the use of the salon landline for personal phone calls. Not only did it cost the salon owner money but it tied up the phone line preventing clients from calling in to make bookings. It would also appear extremely unprofessional to clients to overhear private discussions and would also distract staff members from other work that they should be doing like ensuring a clean salon, confirming appointments with clients, checking stock levels  and placing stock orders with suppliers.

Telephone usage policies would have been put in place and monthly telephone statements would have been scrutinised by salon owners with a magnifying glass to determine exactly which phone calls were personal calls by staff members so that they could recover the cost of these calls and take disciplinary action if necessary.

Salon owners would also implement super advanced security measures to prevent telephone abuses,  like locking the telephone so it could only receive incoming calls. However, salon staff were too clever for this and employed counter measures to circumnavigate this seemingly impenetrable fortress of security like tapping out the number on the switch hook – an old school tactic known on the street as “pulse dialling”.

As the telecoms war raged on some salon owners went as far as installing pay phones to offer salon staff a legitimate alternative to their telephone law-breaking. Staff could make as many calls as they liked because they would either be inserting a coin or a phone card into the pay phone with no financial consequence to the salon owner. Ingenious!

All that was left now was for the salon owner to regulate when staff members were allowed to make phone calls and what they were allowed/not allowed to say so that they did not interrupt their productivity nor offend or annoy clients and other salon staff members.

The Changing Landscape

Relative peace reigned for a short time until the advent of the cell phone changed the communication landscape forever. A new battle is now raging with a foe that is far superior to the old land line. A foe that is able to take on many shapes and sizes and is always evolving!

Gone are the days of walking into or past a store to catch a lazy or bored receptionist playing Solitaire on the salon computer. Rather this image has been replaced with that of seeing the top of someone’s head as they remain glued to a little blue light emanating from the palm of their hands while their thumbs work furiously to impart every whimsical thought that pops into their head about love lives, trouble at work, who is cheating on who in their favourite soap opera and a host of other issues that have very little to do with the job they are being paid to do.

Originally I was going to call this article “Cell Phones In The Salon” but have subsequently changed it to “Salon Communication” because this issue at hand goes far beyond making phone calls. Cell phones themselves have evolved. Not only are staff able to make and receive phone calls on their own devices at their own cost whenever they like and wherever they like but they are also able to send and receive text messages, which is far more discreet than a phone call and much harder to monitor.

“Smart Phones” have opened up the Internet, Social Media and Chat facilities and put this power into the hands of just about every individual in the first world. So much so that a cell phone number is given almost as much credibility as an I.D number when capturing peoples contact information.

Cell phones have merged multiple streams of communication. No longer do you need to be at a particular place at a particular time to make or receive a phone call. You no longer need to be sitting at a computer to use the Internet, nor do you even need a laptop with you. You are now online 24/7.

It’s also not just the hardware (ie the phone) that is new but it is the software that goes on the phone that is changing rapidly to on one hand give us opportunities and capabilities that were hard to conceive of twenty years ago but on the other hand to create problems that we were also not prepared for.

A regular Joe Soap now has the ability to broadcast their personal viewpoints with more processing power in the palm of their hand than the computers that sent Apollo 11 to the moon, and as Spiderman’s uncle said “With great power comes great responsibility”.

The Crux of the Matter

The core issue at hand is not the cell phones in and of themselves but rather what they are used for and the impact this has on users and those around them.

No matter what the communication medium is the question is whether staff productivity is affected, company resources are abused, clients are inconvenienced and/or offended or security and other policies are breached.

The challenge being faced now is that with communication technology taking on so many different forms these days it is so much more difficult to firstly identify problems and secondly to manage them. New communication methods are appearing all the time with new technological capabilities and it’s often difficult to know the impact they will have until it’s too late and the damage has been done.

In a nutshell modern communication technology makes it possible for a lot of different types of data to be communicated to a lot of people almost instantly and simultaneously. This is fantastic when harnessed for the good of the company but can be devastating if abused by staff members.

Conclusion

It is clear that communication technology within the salon is not a simple matter and needs attention as it changes shape and becomes more and more ingrained in our everyday lives.

As we explore this subject further we will begin to a closer look at the different forms of physical devices that are now available as well as the different software and internet applications that go hand-in-hand with them.  This will include cell phones, tablets, computers and storage devices and salon technology infrastructure like internet access and wireless routers that make access available to staff members.

We will also look at cell phone, social media and other communication policies that really should be implemented in the salon to protect the salon, the staff members and the clients.

Tell us your stories

If you have any stories you would like to share in this regard of problems you have experienced in the salon relating to cell phones and other communications matters then we would like to hear from you. You can send them to chris@esponline.co.za