Keeping Calm in Sticky Situations

Written by Shelley Hess

When practicing professionalism in the spa, it is particularly important to remember that negative comments relayed by your staff and/or co-workers can potentially ruin your personal and professional relationship with a client.
Being able to keep calm in sticky situations is an integral part of maintaining a professional atmosphere in your business. From personal experience, one such situation occurred at my own skin care clinic. It is my hope that, through sharing the specifics surrounding the event, I can help other skin care professionals prevent such a dilemma from happening to them.

One of my clients was leaving my skin care clinic and ran into his wife’s best friend while she was waiting for her ap-pointment in the lobby. As I was saying goodbye to him, I let her know that I would be setting up the treatment room and would be back in a few minutes. The two chatted while I went to set up my room. After preparing the treatment room, I gave her a few moments of privacy to undress and prepare for the treatment as I stood outside of the room. While waiting, the salon receptionist loudly calls out to me, “Oh, I see your boyfriend came back for a facial!”

"It is important that skin care professionals maintain their professionalism while working to avoid negative situations from occurring. If and when they do occur, it is important to immediately practice damage control in order to retain client relationships and educate your staff on what is appropriate for the workplace."

I was flabbergasted as to why she would say such a thing. How was I going to practice damage control with the client that I was moments away from treating? I ran up to the desk and whispered to her, “How could you say such a remark? He is a happily married man. I have never done anything to imply a personal, intimate relationship with him or anyone else, and the client in my room is his wife’s best friend.” She responded by stating that the comment was purely meant to be funny but this was anything but.
I walked back to my facial room and immediately, the woman inquired, “What was that comment all about?” I looked her straight in the eyes and said that I did not have the faintest idea. Trying to maintain my composure, I continued with her facial treating, not saying another word.
The next day, my male client cancelled his booked peels and subsequent three months of appointments. It turned out that I had not squashed the implication that I was fooling around with a married man. While he knew we were both innocent, his wife chose to request that he not come back; I was crushed. Sadly there is a perceived notion that receptionists get the inside gossip of what is going on with the staff. I believe this played a large part in my client choosing to believe that what she heard could have been true.
In 35 years, this was my first experience dealing with a particular situation like this. I called the salon owner, she sympathized with my embarrassment; however, she chose to not get involved nor reprimand her receptionist. Unfortunately, the receptionist was not on my payroll; if she had been I would have fired for her comment.
Initially, I was stumped as to what to do next. I did not want her to protest too strongly, in fear that the old saying the guilty protests the loudest would make me seem so. I put together a letter for my client and his wife. Within the letter, I stressed how valuable their friendship was and hoped that the tasteless joke could be put behind us. I placed two gift certificates for my new microcurrent facial toning inside, inviting them both to get a treatment.
After receiving my letter, the gentleman booked a treatment the very next week. When he arrived, he re-booked his three month sessions. However, that was not the end of my dilemma. I still had to handle the receptionist. In the firmest voice that I could muster, without sounding like I was reprimanding, I conveyed that she was not to speak a single word to either of us when he returned. In fact, if possible she should place herself elsewhere in the salon at his exact arrival. I work my facial room on a time system that my clients understand and thus show up promptly. Therefore, I was able to provide the receptionist with the exact time she should make herself scarce. Much to my pleasant surprise, she did as I requested.

"Being able to keep calm in sticky situations is an integral part of maintaining a professional atmosphere in your business."

In today’s economic challenges, many of us cannot afford to lose a client and a long-standing, financially-rewarding client is the hardest one to lose as they are difficult to replace. Once a client decides to leave, they can influence others to follow. I was most concerned about that happening when he first cancelled all of his appointments. I am so grateful his wife decided to reverse her demand that he stop coming to me for treatments.
Ironically it was not until the salon owner was in my room for her monthly facial, that I was able to present a scenario that placed her in suspicion with a male client. The owner admitted to me, that the receptionist had convinced her that I was being a diva about the joke. It was only once she digested my proposed scenario and how, if the situation were to actually happen, it would professional affect her that she was able to understand and truly see why I was so upset. Ultimately, perceiving how really wrong her receptionist’s behavior had been.
It is important that skin care professionals maintain their professionalism while working to avoid negative situations from occurring. If and when they do occur, it is important to immediately practice damage control in order to retain client relationships and educate your staff on what is appropriate for the workplace.

Shelley-Hess-2014In 1976, Shelley Hess wanted to become a medical researcher to find a cure for acne. Even with Johns Hopkins medical studies, Hess’ career path took a turn, leading her to being mentored by a Tibetan doctor on holistic practices. For 11 years she was guided into the skin care career she currently holds. Although Hess did not become a doctor, she found a way to assist thousands of men, women and children by handling many skin care problems and giving back a sense of confidence to those who found difficulty in feeling content about their appearance.

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