Always Be Nice to the Receptionist!

June 10, 2014
By

Often times, the receptionist is the first person a guest sees or speaks to at a shop/salon as well as the last person. Unknowingly, they are the front line of the salon/shop. But the receptionist is much more than just the person answering phones or bringing clients they’re beverages, they are the backbone of the business. Yes, stylists and colorists do the work to make their guests look beautiful, but they don’t do it alone. There has to be someone there to do the grunt work: the receptionist.

Often, people think of a receptionist as someone who sits comfortably behind a desk answering phones and telling people to take a seat. It’s different in this world. Being a receptionist is part air traffic controller, part therapist, part workhorse and all awesome! A good receptionist will keep everyone at the salon busy while a great receptionist will make the business look like it’s running itself.

But not everyone appreciates what the receptionist does. Stylists look at receptionists like they’re lazy because they’re sitting at a desk and not behind a chair with a guest. Some people see just the sitting (granted, there are receptionists who just sit on their duffs and don’t contribute much, jerks) and not the hustle. Want to know what it’s like to be a receptionist? Full disclosure: I work as a receptionist at a barber shop here in San Francisco. Yes, big, burly me. My boss often makes fun of how I stand at the desk like a big bulldog greeting guests as they come in. But that isn’t just my only job. Here’s what my job is on a “normal” day:

  • 9:30 am—Arrive at the shop.

    Clock in. Check appointments for the day, set lunch breaks for staff before getting fully booked up. Start coffee for guests/employees. Check voicemail for appointments/cancellations, call back clients. Put out sign for walk-ins (if we aren’t too booked up already). Check all stations for empty Sanex container (refill if needed). Fill shave cream dispensers. Make sure towel warmers are on and ready to go. Make sure there are enough towels for the shop (both steam towels and dry towels for shampoo bowls). Check bathrooms to make sure they are ready for open. Fill water bowl for dogs and place outside.

  • 10:00 am—Shop opens.

    Greet clients. Check guests in and out (make retail suggestions if stylist hasn’t already). Get beverages for clients, let stylists/barbers know who their clients are (if new). Sweep stations during services. Clean chair and station when guests go to shampoo bowl. Answer phones and book appointments (making sure to maximize times so stylists aren’t waiting between guests). Call guests when previous appointments are running over (if they aren’t at the shop already). Stock retail area and maintain cleanliness. Keep stylist/barbers on time. Rearrange schedule to accommodate guests. Fold towels that are in laundry. Make more steam towels for next day. Check back bar stock levels. Maintain products at shampoo bowls.

  • 8:00 pm—Shop closes.

    We take our last appointment at 8 pm (during the week, weekends at 6:30 pm). Wait for last guest to check out. Close drawer (make money drops, check sales figures, make sure drawer is balanced and not off). Restock retail area. Sweep shop. Make sure towel warmers are cleaned and restocked for next day. Fill shave cream dispensers. Pull in the sign from outside (if it hasn’t been pulled in already during the day). Ditto the water bowl. Check schedule for next day, fix any issues. Clock out, it’s 9 pm already.

Sure, all this seems like something easy. Try doing it all at once. For six hours by yourself, oh and it’s multiplied by six because that’s how many stylists/barbers there are on at that time. Scheduling alone is difficult (it’s like playing human Tetris except in regular Tetris, if there’s a hole you don’t have to worry about that costing someone money) let alone trying to do all that other stuff on top of it. It’s not an easy job to say the least. But when done right, no one notices that everything’s been done already. That’s the job of a good receptionist. We make things look and feel right.

One thing I didn’t put in the job description was dealing with the nasty customers or employees. That’s a part of the job that while it’s rare, it happens. It’s not easy dealing with someone who isn’t happy with their service or just isn’t happy in general and want to take it out on someone. That part of the job is not easy at all. But a good receptionist will know that it’s not about them and just deal with it. Personally I haven’t had to deal with it much but that might have to do more with the fact that I have a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) and I also have “POW!” and “This Won’t End Well For You” tattooed on my arms (not saying to get this done, just saying it helps me).

So next time you’re dealing with a shop/salon receptionist, be nice. Ask them how their day is going. Know that their job isn’t easy either. And when you become a stylist, really remember that! The receptionist will make you a lot of money!

A Receptionist at the Cinta Aveda Institute Student Salon.  Image by Timothy Chang.