Monday, July 25, 2011

CHEAP HAIRCUTS - A Rant


Hi folks,

This post is about as far from a writing topic as one can get, but in a way it’s related—it stems from an article I read today in the Ft. Hooterville Journal-Gazette. The instant I read it, a red mist rose up in my vision, blinding me.

It was a wire article from United Features Syndicate titled SIMPLE SOLUTIONS and subtitled: GET A CHEAPER HAIRCUT.

That got my attention since I was a haircutter for over thirty years.

Here’s the first paragraph—the one that induced me to throw something and break a window.

“Believe it or not, the best way to cut costs is to have the hairdresser come to you. Salons pocket about 60 percent of the overall fee, so to bring in extra cash, many stylists make house calls. Just ask. Generally, the same services are available, including color treatments, but the prices are up 30 percent to 40 percent lower, because the stylist keeps all the money.”

I can’t begin to tell you how wrong all of that is. Well, I can begin and will…

First of all, let me declare the writer of this article a total ditz. Just another “reporter” who doesn’t do five minutes of any real research before he or she begins shooting her mouth off. In these days of political correctness, we’re not supposed to use the term “retard,” but if ever a person deserved to be described thusly, this person did. This is clearly a person who rode the short bus to school and lost her bus privileges for losing her helmet. And, became a feature writer… This is why brothers and sisters shouldn’t mate…

First, I wonder if this “writer” understands why salon owners “pocket” 60 percent of the service fee. This is information I suspect escapes those who simply show up to work with the only investment being their lunch bucket. I especially love her term of “pocketing” the money. Kind of a verb that suggests a pimp taking his cut from his prostitutes.

Here’s why owners “pocket” 60 percent. It’s called “expenses and overhead.” Along with “return on investment.” A partial list of those expenses and overhead would be: rent or lease payments, advertising costs, training costs for stylists, paying half of the employee’s Social Security (which brings up another expense for owners—as self-employed workers themselves, they pay both sides of SS for their own earnings), utilities, insurances (including liability policies for damages a stylist in their employ might create on a client and be sued for), benefits for their stylists, including pensions, health and life insurances, sick days, paid vacations, bonuses and a thousand other expenses I don’t recall at the moment. Not to mention furnishing a place to work, in many cases, tools, along with supplies such as shampoos, conditioners, color and perm products, dryers, chairs, refreshments for workers and clients, magazine subscriptions, the décor… it goes on and on and on. At sixty percent of the employees’ earnings, a well-run and efficient salon will realize about five percent of that. The majority of salon owners actually lose money. I know a great many salon owners who employ say five or six stylists who don’t make anything from their employees at all, and their “profit” consists primarily of what they personally take in each month.

Not to mention, the salon owner took a risk and invested in the business. A risk the employee doesn’t make at all. All he or she has to do is show up for work and bathe regularly. And, most stylists aren’t getting rich, either.

How do you suppose a salon owner would view one of their stylists giving “kitchen cuts” outside of the salon? A stylist who the owner has invested training dollars on. A stylist upon which the owner has spent large sums advertising for? Or paid the rent or lease money for the space she uses? Or paid half of her S.S.? Or taken out her taxes each week and paid for the accounting services to do that and provide her an annual W-2 form? Might it be possible that the owner has invested a sizable amount of money in that stylist, and might take a bit of umbrage that the client who came through the door and sat in that stylist’s chair mostly as a result of what the owner had done to induce her to come to the salon? If so, what do you suppose that owner feels about such a stylist going to that client’s house to do a kitchen cut and pocketing the entire, discounted fee?

Not very kindly.

In fact, when I owned salons and employed stylists, if I caught any of my employees doing that, they’d be automatically fired. On the spot. No appeal. It’s unethical, it’s immoral, and it’s a crime. It’s called STEALING from the employer.

And, yet… this is what this moron is suggesting people do.

Should we do the same for other services? Should we ask cab drivers to take us someplace “off the meter” for a cheaper fee? To conveniently “forget” the owner who has paid for the cab, paid for the insurance, the phone bills, the building they worked out of, the utilities paid, the business they worked for years to establish the reputation of his or her fleet? In this writer’s mind, it looks like that would be just fine.

Or, should we find a clinic and search out the junior doctors and nurses and offer them a lesser fee to come to our house to perform their ministrations? Find a just-graduated dentist to visit us in our homes to treat a cavity? Find a newly-minted lawyer in a large firm to write our wills for us in our house?

I doubt if she even considered that, but what’s the difference? Is it because she doesn’t see a stylist as being as “professional” or “important” as other service vendors? Her attitude fairly well screams what she thinks of hairstylists. Second-class citizens.

I think I’ll offer my services as a writer for her column. At forty percent of what she receives. That would be a great deal for United Features, as I think I can offer demonstrable proof that I’m a better writer than he or she is…

She offers some other ways to beat the price in salons. I’m so pissed at this person’s attitude I don’t want to spend any more time on her ignorance. I just wish I was still cutting hair and I knew who he or she was and that they popped up in my chair. I’ve got a cut in mind for them that would be worth every cent of the 40 percent she was paying…

This is the mindset of (many—not all) people who work for corporations or the government or other institutions and not small businesses. They really don’t have a clue how this thing called “the economy” works.

Their ignorance is appalling.

I’m still mad.

It’s one of the reasons I’m not cutting hair any longer. People like this writer.

If anybody knows the name of the person who wrote this article, send him or her to me. I’ve got a home haircut just for him or her…

Final thought—are there any editors out there any more who actually think about the copy that’s turned in? Any editors at the newspapers who buy this garbage who actually think about what they’re printing? That have a clue why newspapers are dying?

Rant over... For here. I'm still fuming.
Blue skies,
Les

8 comments:

Christine Danek said...

This is interesting. I'm actually a little speechless that some one actually printed it, but then again I see some stuff that's printed and just shake my head.
It's like watching the news or TV in general. Anything goes, no brain required.

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Christine. My wife Mary, who's a hairstylist also, didn't want me to post this--she said just ignore it--but it just pisses me off that people can so cavalierly put their hands in other people's pockets and not think a thing about it. If this writer wanted a cheap haircut (which seems to go with her personality) why doesn't she just cut it herself? Or go to a school? There are just folks out there who want to get something free or cheap for themselves but I know would recoil in horror if anyone suggested others took from them. Appreciate the comment a lot!

Tom Rough said...

Les, your Rant leaves me with little to say other than "you nailed it".

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Tom. For those of you who may not know Tom Rough, he's a lifelong friend who currently owns the largest and best hair salon in the Southwest--Taglio's in Scottsdale. I imagine if he found a stylist doing "kitchen cuts" she'd be unemployed... quickly... And, rightfully so.

Maegan said...

I've gone to my local beauty school (sorry, Tom... really wish I could afford you--I've heard wonderful things!!) and have always seen it as a win-win. I get what I'm looking for (usually) and I also get to help provide a learning exprience for someone who is in the process of bettering themselves.
Why someone would think hijacking a salon stylist is okay is beyond me--why someone would actually suggest it in a public forum as the thing to do is alarming and shows just far we've truly fallen. "It's okay to do it... just don't do it to me" seems to be regular business these days. And people shake there heads at the evening news and say "What's the world coming too?"...

Les Edgerton said...

Maegan, as good as you write (Maegan's been a student at Phoenix College as well as a client) I'd probably pay you to cut your hair, just so I could read some of your work.

Watch for Maegan's name--her books are going to be out there one of these days--I promise!

(Then, you can go to Tom's, Maegan.)

Brian Elsasser said...

This is what happens when a writer writes a cheap article. And leaves a mess on the floor of the reader's mind.
Thing about going to a reputable salon (I get a good cut at a salon, they only charge $20; I gave up on cookie-cutter cut-rate barbers a long time ago) is there's a reason they have a good reputation--all the great reasons you rant about, Les, are true.

Carl Brush said...

Of course, this kind of bootlegging goes on all the time in most of the trades. Avoid the messy paperwork of employers and unions and government. Pay less, pocket the undeclared income, screw the establishment. I know the constitution starts with "We the People," but in practice way to many of us start with "ME the people."