As we wrap up our fourth successful month in business I look back and realize that I've learned some awesome lessons from the BLO/OUT team. I'm sure we all think we know it all (at least in our own fields of expertise) but I've gotten the opportunity to learn from a team of remarkable individuals and some not so remarkable.
Here is what I've picked up in the last 4 months of the Blow Dry Bar business:
1. Hair Technique
I'm probably the farthest thing away from a hair stylist or having any hair styling abilities. However, over the past 4 months I've learned what proper styling technique is. Although each stylist has their own methods, there are some basic foundations. Start from the front, that's a big one! Blow outs begin from the front and work backwards. That doesn't apply to all blow outs, but it is basic technique.
Wet roots are a NO NO! If a client walks out of here with wet roots, the BLO/lita has failed! During auditions our chief stylist walks around and sticks her hand in the models hair to feel for dampness.
Rough dry approximately 60%. Before grabbing a round brush the hair should be 60% dried.
Don't be afraid of being rough with the hair! Although it looks painful to me, our clients love having their hair pulled and having someone who knows what they're doing work it.
2. Team Work
Last week a client of ours went up to our chief BLO/lita and complimented her on the synergy at the shop and how everyone helps each other, works together and is super nice.
You would think that in this industry stylists are typically selfish and afraid of losing clients to other stylists. AtBLO/OUT our team shows that it's bullshit. Our BLO/litas work together, with each other, each others clients and overall as a TEAM. With complete disregard for compensation, credit or client commitment our team treatsBLO/OUT as their own. I can't be any more proud of them than I already am! The team we built showed me that I'm not alone in caring for this business, it's quality and clientele.
3. Self Control
I've never understood when people claimed to be anxious. "Chronic anxiety"? WTF? That was until I was manning the BLO/OUT "Hair Traffic Controller" position on a busy Saturday. I learned what anxiety is very quickly! When every chair is occupied, the couches are full of waiting clients and new clients continue to walk in, I learned. The girls noticed me visibly twitching, playing with my hands, tapping my foot, walking around, glaring at them with a desperate "hurry up!!" look.
The BLO/litas taught me to control myself, to calm down, take a breath and realize that the world wont end. Nothing makes me more anxious than waiting clients and me not being able to do anything about it. The team sat me down and told me that my anxiety makes them nervous and it doesn't help them work faster. I took that to heart and realized that I need to control my reactions and that everything will be alright at the end. We even came up with a code word for "hurry up" but I then forgot the code word and was wondering why the girls are telling me that "someone's mother is calling!!", I was confused.
4. Delegate Responsibility
Throughout all the businesses I've built, worked with or managed I've never been able to comfortably delegate responsibility. No one can do the work better than I can! That is until I realized I can't do what my co-workers can. BLO/OUT is the first example of me delegating responsibility in both title (promoted Meghan to Assistant Manager and Shannon to Chief BLO/lita) and in actual practice. Their titles are not just that, I can actually walk out of the shop and be comfortable that they are doing what is absolutely best for the business.
This team has shown me that for once I can trust my co-workers and know that they care like I do! They work hard, make sacrifices and speak freely.
When was the last time you woke up on a Saturday morning ready for a busy day at work only to find a text message from your co-workers saying "Don't come in today, go do something fun, we got this!". I'm getting emotional writing about this! It's unbelievable what these guys and girls have done to get me to chill and trust their abilities. When dealing with problems this team is first to tell me to relax, things will be ok and they are with me.
They are also the first ones to notice when I'm having a crappy day, stressed out, angry or sad. They support each other and myself. This past week has been a relatively stressful one, the team noticed it and one by one they came by and would try to get me to crack a smile or to stop stressing even if just for a few minutes.
6. Not Every Customer Can be Ecstatic
Although my main goal in any business is to provided a great product/service at a competitive price with great customer service, sometime you can give 100% and it's still not enough. When it comes to hair women are extremely particular and I've learned that you can't be on point every single time. The BLO/litas do their absolute best with each and every client, however you can't win them all. I think I'm slowly getting comfortable with the fact that as long as we give it 110% not every client will love everything about us as the next one would. It's difficult to accept that someone doesn't like you, it really is.
Although I always thought I knew women and how to read them due to having grown up with two sisters, I quickly realized that being surrounded by women all day long can teach you a thing or two. So supposedly women think that all guys that "know women and how to read them" are idiots and really don't know a thing. One day sitting in the shop I had to endure an hour long conversation about dick, no really, dick.
Women are emotional creatures, there have been days when some of the girls specifically asked me to not be an asshole to one of the girls because she was having a hard time dealing with outside issues. The girls take care of each other, they don't backstab, politic or disrespect each other, unless deserved.
I'm pretty sure I've always had tighter relationships with women than men, maybe because my sisters and I have always been really close. Conversations with women are more interesting, have more depth and are more enlightening. Sitting around the shop with 5-6 girls has actually been a pleasure other than the occasional temperature or music selection change.
Don't get me wrong, my dream has always been to build a business where my boys can stop by, have a beer, shoot the shit and relax. I've done that now.
Yes, the BLO/litas taught me how to shampoo women's women's hair. My first attempt was very similar to me shampooing my dog, rough and fast with the sole purpose of getting the hair clean. After numerous attempts and lessons I learned to be more gentle, more careful and ultimately better. My volunteers were less and less drenched with every attempt.
9. Anger Management (still in progress)
I'm still learning to control my anger when I walk in to the shop and it feels like a sauna because one of the stylists set the thermostat to 85 degrees. Or when I'm in my office working and all I hear in the background is some sappy R&B music. I hate R&B music! My first response is to threaten with the breaking of fingers that touch the thermostat or the music choices. I'm learning to stay calm and explain the reason those things should not be happening rather than yell, curse and change them.
How can you trust a group of people you recently put together that take care of your baby? Well I was shown that it's pretty easy when you choose people like we chose. Most of the BLO/litas at BLO/OUT never knew each other before working together, now they are a tight knit group both inside and outside of the shop. They go out together, online date together, babysit each other's children, help each other out, car pool, and ultimately support each other unquestionably. That's crazy right? Well at least I thought it was. Over the past few weeks the stylists, assistant manager and chief stylists have made me pretty useless at the shop. I've had the great luxury of being able to take some time off and spend it with my amazing girlfriend. I have also learned to trust the BLO/litas to take care of my "baby", the business.
I'm writing this post from a balcony overlooking the ocean in Miami. I trust that things are going as they should, clients are being treated as they should be, schedules are being completed, and stylists are showing up to work.
In summation, I have learned a lot from BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar and its BLO/litas. These are some of the lessons that come to mind. I'm a lucky guy that works with a great team in a great industry with great clients!