- Strategies (http://www.strategies.com/) - Strategies does consulting with salons and spas. They have walked us through our Team Based Pay conversion and we continue to use their coaching services and take classes. They totally rock. If you want to grow your salon, talk to Strategies.
- Live, Love, Be (http://www.livelovebe.com/) - Need a little inspiration? This site and store is run by Eric and Keri Manuel and their three kids. Sign up for a daily inspirational message, get a livelovebe.com email address, or shop in their store for a variety of inspiring products. You will always feel a little better (maybe a lot) after visiting their site.
- Starbucks - OK I know people want to think they are an evil corporate coffee empire. Maybe they are. But their customer service is just so darn good! I could send my team into a starbucks just to observe the customer service as a training exercise. Location after location their service is consistently good. And if they drop the ball, they make it right. Case in point - my husband and I hit a Starbucks one night and ordered two beverages. The cashier thought her coworker made both drinks but actually she only made one. When they noticed me waiting around they realized their mistake. Without hesitation, she handed me a card apologizing and offering me a complimentary beverage on my next visit. Now first of all, I wasn't mad or even irritated. They didn't need to do anything except apologize for the delay. Second, the card they gave me offered any free beverage - they didn't just offer a small coffee - it was any beverage, any size - nice. They took what could have been a minor annoyance for me and turned me into a walking, talking advertisement for their service.
- Harms Software (http://www.harms-software.com/) - Harms is the creator of Millennium salon management software. John Harms and his team know the business and know what it takes to make it grow. Their software does everything you need an appointment book to do plus gives you analytic tools to help you run the business. They've also got a great on-line community where users can share tips and ask questions.
- Swipe-it (http://www.swipeit.com/) -Our supplier for the barcoded gift cards that we sell (way cheaper than the company Harms endorses - sorry John). The quality is great. Samples I received from some other providers had rough edges where it looked like they were punched out - the little tabs stayed on. I thought that looked cheap. The cards that Larry at Swipe-it provided us with are smooth and professional. They also designed a custom gift-card holder for us. We did have a slight billing error and I'm expecting a refund check from Swipe-it. If I have to keep after them for it I'll have to drop them to the other list!
My Least Favorite Vendors - As a general rule I think customer service has declined over the past several years to the point that we are desensitized to poor customer service. We have become satisfied with mediocrity because at least it's not bad. Well to make it on my Worst Vendor List you've got to be pretty darn bad. Of course these are my opinions and others may have had better experiences with these folks.
- ADP - Automatic Data Processing - That's right, the payroll guys. They do a great job processing payroll and taking care of the taxes. I like not having to worry about filing and payments, etc. But I recently found out that I was paying for a service I didn't need (or want) so my processing was costing me about double what it should. OK, shame on me for not understanding what I was paying for. But here's why they are on the worst vendor list: My invoice from ADP has two sections, each with a fee. One section says something about payroll processing, the other says something about enhanced tax service. The way the invoice is written it appears that in order to have them do the tax work you need to have the enhanced tax service, which costs almost as much as the processing. WRONG. Tax services are actually included in the processing fee. The "enhanced" tax service includes a bunch of other crap that I have never used and never wanted. When I figured this out (after being told by another salon owner that I am paying way too much) I asked my ADP rep about it and he said "This happens all the time." To me this implies that ADP makes a habit of selling services people don't want or need in order to inflate their billings. Again, SHAME ON ME for not paying closer attention, but shame on ADP for taking advantage. If you use ADP to process your payroll, take a close look at your bill and know what you have.
- Wimex Beauty Supply - In the past we ordered a variety of supplies from Wimex but we will never use them again. We ordered an 8 in 1 facial machine. After a month or so the galvanic quit working. We called them repeatedly for weeks trying to get resolution. They would promise to return calls but never did. They promised to send out a new galvanic machine for us to attach to the base, but they never did. We got the total run-around. Finally they sent us an entirely new machine. Same problem. OK so could it be us? Maybe our esthetician doesn't know what she's doing. Are we going to have to eat some crow? We call Wimex and ask for technical support. With both machines she has to press so hard to get the galvanic current working that she is almost bruising us. I get a nice person on the phone who says they will get a machine out of the warehouse, set it up and work with us over the phone. She will call back in one hour. That was four weeks ago. So I still have a second 8 in 1 machine and it's huge box in my office waiting to be shipped back. Neither machine works as we think they should. They came with absolutely no operating instructions. This company has among the worse customer service I have ever experienced. Deal with them at your own risk.