steve duross - entrepreneur. craftsman. artist. musings on running and growing a small business

one more reason to love Yelp

once upon a time i took issue with the amount of time the mobile phones distracted my associates from their work. text messages from family and friends that blew up each day distracting minutes that add up to hours of diversion from the work at hand. in the store and on the production floor, these virtual conversations between groups and individuals began to steal time from our daily productivity. eventually i just had to insist that everyone park phones away until break time. otherwise the distractions became a source of annoyance from which there was no hope of my release. at the day's end, time is money.

technology began to morph onto the pavement, and as i attempted to walk two ornery terriers down a narrow street filled with people texting and walking, a whole new approach to maintaining sanity was necessary. sure, i live in a popular, bustling neighborhood. however when i moved in.. it was a quiet and up-and-coming place where no one roamed. with no park or trees for several blocks, walking the dogs has become a super mario brother's game. i think deal with it fairly well now that i have learned how to navigate. i whistle to the pups as we walk to keep them focused on the job at hand. as i do, the people heading toward me look up and correct their gait. it actually creates a quick personal moment through this game board that is my street, where people look up and we smile.

the latest trend to contend with are social media sites finding new ways to connect our businesses with potential customers. Facebook, Instagram and now Yelp, all contain buttons that allow the user to contact directly to the business. a next generation idea that leaves me in a bit of a bind both personally and professionally. most everything now connects to my mobile phone, so i've changed the alerts that blew up my phone night and day. to live within the specter that people want to give me their business is an amazing, wonderful thing. but a conversation with each person via text/email is in an inefficient, impossible thing for me to comprehend on a daily basis.

imagine if you will that i get a request for an appointment. super! but here is the rub. an average appointment conversation on the phone takes 3 minutes. 5 for a new customer. 98% of the time, our business runs right on schedule. unlike most salons where time is a nebulous entity that ascribes you to a realm of double booking and who knows if you'll ever get finished, in our salon you get in and out on time. the level of specificity involved with placing you into an appointment with the appropriate stylist for the correct duration and service category is daunting. understand that the question most asked after any question i might ask is: what's the difference?

though we have everything listed on the menu page, a certain amount of conversation is required. things like: are you interested in a junior or senior stylist? is it a single process or a highlight? partial, half or full head? traditional foils or specialty highlight? demi or permanent color? glaze, color balance or toner? if you have curly hair or long hair or special needs, that is another conversation. discounts and coupons are only accepted by certain stylists. each stylist takes a different amount of time for the services they do. i see you tracking with me so no need to belabor the point.

a simple text message from one person wishing to make an appointment through these sites or by email might eat up a half hour or more. times that by a dozen plus all the other things i need to do while working (let alone the people who makes requests long after i've left for the evening) and productivity takes a dive. customer service takes a hit too. and for as much as these buttons are supposed to add to the customer experience, they can also rob it of any real connectivity. we choose not to offer online booking because of how we run our business. yes, it is convenient. but book it wrong and the experience will be shattered.

our relationship with our clients begins with the first phone call. a chance to feel us out. see what we are about. it gives us a chance to find out what you need. what you desire. connecting vocally is when we begin to set your expectation. how we are best able to exceed those expectations.

buttons are a great beginning. but connecting easily and connecting well are two very different things. to utilize all that technology has to offer, we have to find a way to do more than simply function. given time, i have no doubt we will. and we are so grateful that technology is moving in ways that build our customer base, especially where review sites like Yelp com into play. word of mouth is always, always the best advertising. how wonderful that people take the time to share their experiences, good and bad. it keeps us on our toes, offers feed-back that no amount of survey monkey could offer, and gives the consumer a personal way to contact us for services. kudos!

exceptionalism

on any given day, it is easy to get lost in the details. informative moments pass at the speed of light, perspectives shift; everything flows from one day to the next until we find ourselves far from where we began. as ideas blossom they die and then resurrect themselves again enfolded into new ideals. promising careers begin and end and become new again, forged in the fire of dissolution and disappointment. though the beginning of any idea feels promising, in the reckoning, little appears as it once was. no one sets out for their life to become a grind to pay rent, pay loans, to keep up and be relevant. easily forgotten is the intention many of us held to be exceptional. once that goal becomes unfocused, it can be confounding, frustrating, and even maddening. when we fix our ideals on the things we intend to exude, create, design, produce or craft, we have a solid goal that can be set. something we can make truly exceptional. quite often however, one's attitude toward tasks, co-workers and/or management can diminish exceptionalism to the point where it becomes meaningless. then attitude is everything.

it has been said that there is nothing new under the sun. based solely on my own experience i'd have to agree that the statement is about 98% true. fifty-four revolutions around the sun teaches a person that what goes around, comes around with very few exceptions. something i did not care to grasp at twenty-four revolutions. back then i was the king of the world, the master of my fate. i could pick up and go to the next adventure with barely a moment's notice. i was a person who got by by the skin of his teeth. yet whatever i attempted was always focused on the goal of being the best. though attaining the goal was not always possible, it was well worth the reach exceeding the grasp. this history, my old life, profoundly informs my current life as an owner/manager. it is easier for me to be forgiving of the minor, petty annoyances.. but where exceptionalism is concerned? i have no mercy.

my heart sings on the side of a rocky cliff 300 meters off the ground. in that moment i grasp. for the place my hand or foot will take hold. for my momentary point of view. for my focus, my goal, my need for survival and my need to thrive. i grasp. standing behind the chair cutting hair, creating an educational plan, building marketing projects, fulfilling customer service, formulating, it is all like climbing rock. grasping. going toward my goal. it is exceptionally thrilling as each moment means change. adaptation. growth. though i often drive the people around me to distraction with my need to fine tune, this is how our success, thus far, has been possible. for those who cannot grasp with me, who cannot adapt to the prevailing culture, who cannot reach for the exceptional with me will eventually be moved on. anything less is just dysfunctional.

i have loved very few people in my life. truly. most of the family i have. the family i have built. a few true friends are all i desire. i have selfishly poured my heart and soul into myself and my life. into my childish, childhood dreams and for the most part, i do as i please. because i have chosen my core team wisely, together we do the job exceptionally. show the client a pleasant experience. be sure that the formulations exceed expectations. focus less on the margins and keep the price point attainable. structure the whole thing so that there is something for everyone (some say we are pricy, i say whatever). i do not want, cannot find nor will i retain exceptional people unless they are paid exceptionally. so thanks to the prevailing tax structures, i will never ever be rich. but my life will be filled with wonderful people and exceptional moments. otherwise i'd chuck the lot and move on.

though most of my peers disparage the up-coming generation, i don't feel any disappointment toward millennials. i imagine that they are our best and brightest hope of fixing the miasma my boomer generation has created. but in some ways, i feel as though millennials are not so different from me. for them, just one idea will never do. they want it all. and so they should. not all are willing to grasp though. some, like in every generation, will settle fast (or worse) look to others to fix their mess. we all create messes but most of us clean them up. and we can choose not to fix the mess others make. but in the end my focus is on those who can make the most difference, who refuse to accept the status quo, who will not allow themselves or their surroundings to be defined by the negative voices.. this too is where my heart sings.

i see the exceptional every day, and it is worth putting my back into raising up opportunity for these individuals. understanding all of what they desire isn't required. it is enough that they grasp their own sense of worth, the opportunity they are being given, and that they continue to reach for lives that are exceptional. not for me mind you, but for themselves. fostering these values is reason enough for me to continue grasping, and to keep reaching for the next exceptional possibility. and just maybe they will change the world

the joy of sleep

as a life long insomniac, i've come to covet the hours i spend in my bed.

my past life contained thousands of long nights when my thoughts raced. wakeful and anxious, i would lie for hours and pray for the sleep that simply would not come. invariably i gave up, went back out to the television and raided the refrigerator. i would comfort myself with whatever i could, often up-ending a bottle of whiskey that would drown me into oblivion. i would awaken groggy and unfocused. the day meant accomplishing nothing. i was cranky, depressed and self-loathing. then i began to look for more constructive natural way to bring on sleep. as time passed it became about the ritual. the rituals i created to prepare myself for the rest to come. baths, teas, tonics, herbs, candles... i even conceived of duross & langel while soaking in a hot, salted tub on a cold winter's night while sipping a hot herbal infusion to soothe my racing mind. as i climbed into bed, my skin toasty warm between the cool sheets, the wind howled like a lullaby outside my window, coaxing me to slumber. it was this kind of simple ritual that taught me how to get ready for bed.

once upon a time... i had to learn how to sleep. to want to wind down and embrace the slumber. it all began with the realization that i would not be missing a thing by sleeping, and that the return of this investment was an endless amount of energy, creativity, productivity and a healthier body. the best me i could be.

i also enjoy lazy mornings. waking, stretching, smiling in the morning light and then falling asleep again. a lazy starfish taking up a position in the middle of the bed, stealing a few more winks. though I know many of you will condemn me for welcoming dogs into my bed, becoming wakeful as two terriers snog me to life is a joyful thing. 4:30am is obnoxious hour, but after a quick walk i get to climb back in and sleep some more. oh blessed sleep. where have you been all my life?

my days are long and full. some people call it stress. i call it life. some of us run on a different energy. i average almost five miles a day on the stairs in our building. just one speed. fast. my life runs full steam ahead because i indulge myself in slumber. one third of my life will have been spent in bed so you might imagine i don't cheap on the linens. or the pillows, mattress or duvet. i may be spoiled but at fifty-four, i do not wake up sore.

Tuesday July 26th 2016 5:30 to 7PM we welcome you to join us in our 3rd floor Studio Workshop for a very special evening. My friend and herbalist Sarah Evancho and I will share the many natural ways you can ease your mind, rest/restore your body, and celebrate the eight most important hours of your day.

he forum is a bit informational, a bit experiential and experimental. we get to show off our new workshop space while we brew infusions, chat about herbs (lavender is always a star in this house), demonstrate ways to prep your body and mind with a few simple yoga poses, all the while whipping up tension taming soaks and soaps. we also want to hear what works for you. singles and couples. all ideas and thoughts are welcome. feel free to drop-in or leave as you need, or hang with us for the entire hour and a half.

it looks to be a wonderful prelude to an awesome night's sleep.