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The Sun is Life® Training and Certification program covers a broad range of topics that are germane to professional tanning salon operation. From understanding UV and how it interacts with the skin, to skin typing, photosensitivity and much more. However, one of my favorite subjects is covered in one of the last program modules and deals directly with salon operations. Wrapped inside this topic is the subject of how to handle the “disgruntled guest.”
Perhaps you know this one – it could be explained with a “Three Bears” scenario: this bed is too hot, this bed is too cold, etc. You may have a salon guest complain that they “aren’t getting any color” and accuse you of having old lamps in your tanning systems that aren’t putting out sufficient UV … heard this one a million times! Sun is Life students learn the concept of reaching the “plateau” in the tanning process and also the little-known fact that as heat increases inside the sunbed, UV output may actually decrease. Very few salon operators, as well as tanners, are aware of this fact.
The Sun is Life® Training program gives your team the tools needed to handle any guest’s complaint in a professional manner.
This fact, of course, also illustrates the need to maintain a properly cooled sunbed environment, whether by utilizing appropriate AC and/or cooling ventilation in the salon and tanning rooms. But let’s explore another type of complaint.
Picture a salon guest who has an issue with a particular member of your salon team, such as a perception of rudeness on the part of the employee. The disgruntled guest tracks you down and confronts you to complain about the employee’s behavior. What do you do?
This is, of course, a hypothetical question as I know each and every one of our readers operates a flawlessly-run business, so just use your imagination. Although there is not one single method that can effectively handle all customer conflicts, one of the most important first steps is an easy one: listen. Some say humans are given two ears and one mouth for a reason. So, let’s start with that one. Listen.
Don’t go on with whatever you were doing before the disgruntled guest confronted you; give her your undivided attention. Don’t interject a comment or cut her off mid-sentence. Don’t fall into the negative body language trap and fold your arms in front of you as she speaks. That’s probably the No. 1 behavior to avoid; others include avoiding eye contact with the person, checking your watch, poor posture, frowning and yes, even sweating!
It’s pretty simple, really. Calmly listen to what the guest has to say and think about the best solution to the problem. We have no idea what stress goes on in others’ lives. It could be loss of employment, a car in the shop, a personal, familial or a friend’s health issue, road rage incident, etc. Oftentimes, something like this may have set them off and they’re taking it out on your staff.
No one wants to lose a customer. But you know, there may be times when the customer is NOT always right. These times will present an opportunity for you and your team to calmly confirm the validity of the guest’s issue and offer a solution. And remember: smile and appear to understand as you do so!
Get the Facts with… Sun is Life®
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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