Part Two in our business series explores better business practices learned through real world experience in how to approach challenging client interactions & improve your business operations. This aticle discusses how clients and suppliers/agencies can work better together…
“Bad Haircut” Written by Kyle Sipkens
Ever got a haircut you REALLY weren’t happy with?! (Tell me about it…)
When you sit in that chair and put your professional image in their capable hands, you expect satisfactory results! After all, their work will have a big impact on how the world perceives you: your personal brand. They should be flattered that you selected them above their competitors… Right?
“Short in the back, but leave but leave some length up top”
“Just keep it off the Shoulders (i.e. give it a professional look)”
“I like [insert celebrity here]’s hairstyle” although your hair’s thickness, hairline and grow patterns could not be more dissimilar would take more than a great haircut, it would take divine intervention to give you that hairstyle.
Surely, it’s the Barber’s fault that you don’t walk out of the salon with that dazzling, professional look, right?! You can see how there may have been room for interpretation…
Well, there may be a bit more at work here… Do wonder why your friend’s $60 haircut looks incredible every time and why your $14 haircut can’t look that good? But haircut is a haircut, right? If someone offers an option for far less, I should expect the same results no matter the time of process involved, right?
Not necessarily. Let’s look at a few factors together – continuing the established haircut analogy – to explore how a paying customer (i.e. client) can get the look they want from their barber/stylist (supplier/agency/professional service).
How *can* I get ‘The Look’ I want?
- Give Clear Directions or you’re not going to get exactly what you expected. Especially where creativity is involved you will need to communicate exactly what your desired outcomes and “must haves” are. A professional will have the knowledge to tell you whether that is possible or not based on their experience and the budget or price you’re expecting to pay or resources or, for the purposes of this metaphor, if you have the hair available to achieve that look… Ensure you also establish clear deadlines together in order to allow each of you to have time to fulfill your roles in the process in the project timeline. Don’t leave everything to ‘crunch time’ or other suppliers involved without enough time to supply what you need (like printing materials, for example). Your stylist can help you establish a realistic timeline based on their suppliers’ working timelines/peak periods as well. After all, you want to get that haircut at least a week before the big wedding, not the day before, right?
- Know the Tools of the Trade. If you want a layered cut, say so. If you want a “Short” cut then tell the stylist in terms of inches or the clipper blade length. Understanding the tools of the trade will enable you to communicate better with your Barber/Stylist. This leaves less room for interpretation but also will help you have a better understanding of how your project will be realized and how to provide feedback or ideas at various stages of the project.
- Bring Ideas to the Table. Don’t ask them to do what’s good and then refuse to pay if it’s not what you envisioned in your mind. Barbers/Stylists are not mind readers! If you have a concept or desired outcomes for your project, share these so they can focus their efforts on realistically achieving these goals on your project’s timeline & budget. Don’t forget to bring your questions to the table too! Finding answers and exploring unknowns together can help both parties to achieve work which brings dynamic ideas to light while also improving both organizations. This can also help to streamline the focus for a particular project by collaboratively deciding where the focus should be based on your desired outcomes.
- Bring your Critical Eye. Understand both your goals and limitations for your project based on your organization’s resources and budget. As much as I would LOVE to leave a Barber’s chair with a slicked back undercut… No Barber chair (…I know of) is also a time machine that can put the hair back onto my head that is required for such a look. Showing any barber a photo example of a celebrity with great hair that I’d love to have bring this talented/capable professional no closer to achieving such a miracle (… especially not for less than that particular celebrity’s Hairstylist, Personal Shopper, Trainer, Dietician, Photographer, Plastic Surgeon, Lighting Designer & Photoshop Editor have achieved collaboratively in that professional photograph.Instead: Show examples if you have something in mind that’s been done before. For a haircut, you may want to show a picture of a day when YOUR hair looked incredible. A stylist (or supplier) can’t create things that aren’t there but they can help you to look YOUR best!
- You Get What You Pay For! Didn’t get the look you want for less? It’s not because someone is trying to rip you off, it’s because of the time, product, training and skill involved in realizing that higher valued haircut. Don’t make the $$ figure your determination in who you choose to sculpt your “new do”. Look at examples of their work and have a conversation before you select your “Barber/Stylist” (supplier). If you’re expecting professional results each time, your discount hair salon may not be your best choice (even if the are the most budget friendly). Similarly, when it comes to professional entertainment – for instance – you’re also going to want to look at training, professional experience, liability insurance, examples of their work and testimonials from previous clients. Hire someone you want to work with and who you know you can rely on – especially someone who can handle things if something *does* go wrong. This will make the planning process a whole lot more enjoyable since you will be interacting back & forth, sharing ideas through emails and conference calls. More importantly, you want to ensure you don’t get stuck with Barber/Stylist who backs out on you last minute or- even worse- leaves YOU in a position of liability!
Stay tuned for the next instalment as the we continue to explore The Client Delusion in Part 3…