Monday, January 28, 2008

Another one Bites the Dust

Well we lost a second stylist. When the first one left she indicated that someone else was on the cusp. We tried to save her, but in hindsight, her leaving was the best thing for us all.

A few interesting things have happened since then...

We began calling each client that had appointments booked with this stylist. In most cases we were able to keep his appointment time the same, just moved to a new stylist. Many of the clients agreed to the change...a few cancelled and said they were following her. Interestingly, several indicated they had already received a letter directly from the stylist announcing her departure and telling them where to find her. This means, not only did she use confidential client information belonging to the company for her own personal gain--she did it while she still worked for us. Now honestly, that is probably not that uncommon in this business, but it is unethical. In the long run, it actually made her look pretty bad to some of the clients. We are taking the high road, just telling them that she wanted more flexibility than we could offer and we wish her the best. When asked, we would honestly tell the client that we just found out she was leaving on Friday (the same day most of them received the letters). They can put two and two together...we don't need to spell it out!

There was one particular client that I chose to call personally (our Salon Coordinator made most of the calls). This client is a long-time, multi-service client who comes in religiously every two weeks. Of course, he had already received a letter so he knew she was leaving. He told me that he was planning on trying the new place out - the owner is his neighbor, plus he is very comfortable with that stylist. I replied that we certainly understand that, but will still be here if he ever wants to come back in, even for a visit - we'd love to see him anytime.

Later that day, he called back and scheduled with another stylist. When he came in for his appointment, he told that stylist the reason he came back to us is because I was extremely professional when I called, I did not bad-mouth the stylist, and I respected his decision to leave. Before he left the salon that night, he pre-booked appointments for the rest of the year. We consider this a huge win because this is one client that I'm sure she thought she would keep. Actually he was dishing out the gossip, telling us that the departing stylist told him she expected to take 95% of her clients with her! OK if there are any stylists out there reading this, let me just tell you that is an unrealistic number. Departing stylists always overestimate the number of clients they expect to follow them. The average is probably in the 60-70% range, not the 80-90% the stylists expect.

So that's the big news for the week! I feel like the remaining stylists (8 on the floor and one in training) make a great team. The two that left really were kind of a divisive force. We will have a short-term decline in sales without them, but in the long run we'll be in a better place.

One last note - when a stylist leaves our salon, we always tell any client who asks where they can find her. Our goal is to serve the client and if that is what the client wants, we deliver. So there really was no reason for this stylist to steal our data, call our clients, burn a bridge, and appear unprofessional to the clients.


  1. Actually the number that a stylist may retain when leaving is more like 50% on average, you need to put non-compete contract in place that spells out what is confidential information. Every professional business that deals with clients use it, bankers, sales reps to name a few, but for some reason most salons don’t. Our procedure is the same as yours when a stylist leaves, we believe the guest of the salon should choose where they would like to go so we inform the gust where stylist X has gone to, but because of our non-compete the stylist cannot contact them directly as your stylist did.

  2. Non-compete is next to worthless. Most companies non-compete agreements are too limited in scope to be of pratical use ( some states FAR worse than others ).

    Besides, you cannot deny anyone the ability to work a trade, regardless whether they knew it before or if they were taught by their recent employer.

    Now if they take company confidential information, that's another matter.

    But, the limiter is an owner would have to prove that the ex-employee had access to, used, and, most importantly, caused the former company financial loss due to their actions.

    The latter two is extremely difficult to prove if the desired result is a sucessful lawsuit.

    An ex-employee verbally soliciting your customers? Bah, hearsay.

    You basically would have to assert theft of company documents for starters, and better hope the ex-employee had them!

    - "Legal Eagle"