Give ‘Em The Scalp Massage

Bob Farrell (Source:

I went to a great seminar yesterday that discussed how you can stand out from the competition with service. The lessons came from fifty-year business veteran turned motivational speaker, Bob Farrell.  After selling his original ice cream parlor franchise back in the ’70s, he became a motivational speaker and customer service guru. He travels across the country teaching owners of service-based businesses the importance of giving ‘em customer the pickle™. Let’s discuss the implications for the health and beauty industries.

Farrell uses the “pickle” as a metaphor for doing the little things that delight your clients. Becoming known for your pickle seals longtime relationship and invites more referrals. It should be something that clearly sets you apart from the salon or spa down the street. It doesn’t have to cost much, just be meaningful for your clients. A pickle example could be providing complimentary rain hats during inclement weather. If this is part of Your Salon Way, clients begin to expect this pickle. If a new staff member forgets to provide it or you suddenly eliminate the practice due to cost-cutting measures, you invite client dissatisfaction.

Here are a few other keys to great service from Farrell:

  1. Attitude: How you think about your customer is how you treat them. If in your head you say “clients are clueless” or “clients are a pain,” it impacts the service you provide. Even if you can muster a tight smirk, your hands betray your face. It may sound cheesy but encourage everyone to smile more and notice the difference in the vibe. Recruit staff that can at least play the role of upscale hair designer or customer service rep if your goal is to create a posh environment. Make this a key hiring criteria. It is easier to train for technical skills than attitude.
  2. Consistency: Customers notice when the service level slips, even if it “only happens one time.” From my client research, clients may even assume that you are having financial or general management problems.  Since high service standards are a key part of your brand, they must be non-negotiable for you and everyone on your team. Track your service performance along with sales. If you define specific measurable service standards, such as technicians must complete a consultation form for all new clients, you will get a gauge on consistency.
  3. Teamwork: Team members should help each other produce great guest experiences. Most would agree with that statement. Farrell goes a step further to say employees at five-star service organizations should go out of their way to make their colleagues look good in front of the employees. It is not acceptable for the in-demand massage therapist to ignore processes that make the front desk clerk likely to look bad in front of guests. It’s not enough to just say work together. Find ways to reward team effort. This does not have to always come from the owner. Allow employees to give formal kudos to each other.
The final scoop:

As business owners, we want our clients to swoon over our main service. The stuff that we directly tag with a price. But sometimes, it’s those intangible gestures that really justify our value.



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