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So, I have a question for renters. I know some may rent in a salon where there is a receptionist but what about those setups w/no receptionist? Do you answer phones while with clients or have callers leave a voicemail and get back to them? Or do any of you utilize online booking services?

This issue is my biggest sticking point when it comes to renting vs. being an employee (like I am now) ... it's really nice to have someone there answering phones.

I am not going anywhere right away but the future may hold something different for me. I'm just curious about any input you may have on how to handle this! Thanks in advance. Smile
You asked for a renters perspective and I am sure you will get great answers, but if I can chime in from an owners perspective...

At my shop my renter keeps her own books and has her own phone number. She advertises in the yellow pages and by her own choice puts "located in _____ spa" which is free advertising for me *woot* even though she puts her phone number there.

I don't have a receptionist, but anyone who wants clients from the phone is expected to be a team player at my shop and answer the phone when they can. I don't "feed" renters, so that would mean employees only. No one is expected to answer when they are with a client and my voicemail message informs people we are with another client and to please leave a message. Of course, I do sometimes answer the phone when I am with a client if it is gift certificate season (Christmas, mothers day).

Sometimes if my renter is just sitting there and I am busy she will pick up the phone for me, but I don't think I've ever asked her to, or even expect it. She does her own thing.
Thanks footie!

Another quick question: Your clients don't mind the voicemail message? I have this idea that people would be put off by that, but I might be wrong.
At many salons these days it's not uncommon for the phone to go straight to voicemail, as the receptionist is often away from the desk checking clients in and getting them set up in the lounge. It definitely helps to indicate in your message approximately when they can expect a call back, even if it's just to say as soon as possible.

Having a receptionist is handy because there's almost always someone to answer the phone. But, I have had more than one receptionist, double book appointments, book over my lunch or completely fail to book an appointment because they were unfamiliar with the services I offered. So sometimes having a receptionist is not so great.

Online booking is a great thing. When I first started my shop it was just me, and it was difficult to keep on schedule if I continually answered the phone. So I started letting it go to voicemail. Not everyone would leave a message, we are very much an instant gratification society. But I would always call back a number that was on caller ID. But a heads up, since my clients knew I didn't answer the phone while working, if I ever made the mistake of picking up the phone when I thought I could multi-task, customers would mistakenly assume I had lots of time on my hands and would chit chat away.

sobeit

Renter here. I do not answer my phone when I am with a client, unless that client is in the lamp, or doing something else. I may answer it if it's a client I am supposed to see that day to make sure its not a cancellation. I let it go to voice mail. However, I have 99% standing clients so my phone is not ringing all the time with clients needing in. Callers who are serious about seeing me will leave a message. One that will be returned in a timely manner. I've never had a complaint about voice mail. It's best to say in your greeting that you are with a client or away from the salon and will get back to them as soon as possible.
I also rent in a salon that has some employees and when I am not busy I will answer their phone too. I just like it. Sounds odd huh? So no, I have no issue with it going to voice mail as it's not often and they hear why. Clients who are new, or price shopping my not leave a message but there is not much you can do for that. Clients that are in my chair have also been with me for years and they know if I answer my phone while they are with me that I need to take the call. I'm not having gossip time with a friend. So they know it's business. I think for me it more uncomfortable to answer while I am busy than it is to return a call. I dont use online booking because I need control over my books, it's a personal preference. Plus if I have a slow time I dont like clients seeing that. Its just me. I want them to think I'm always fairly booked. I have one coworker that uses genbook, she loves it, she is not a control freak like me though. The salon uses paper books, I do too, so most if us dont even use salon software of any kind.

Guest

When I worked at other salons where we all were booth renters, we all answered the phone. We had designated days that we were to answer. That didn't always work out though.

I don't know about everyone else but I don't like getting a machine telling me to punch this button or say this word (which it never understands) when I've made a call to a company. In fact it infuriates me. I feel like it could have saved me time by not having to sit there and listen to all their selections when I could have just asked a person in one sentence what I wanted. And I also found from past experience that some business is lost if a phone isn't answered. Some people will not leave a voicemail. It is easier for them to call someone else and if they answer the phone they get the business.

I have never had anyone get mad or leave because I took a phone call. I make it short and sweet and it is usually about business. I keep personal calls to a bare minimum. Of course I reciprocate by not getting upset if my clients take calls (to a minimum) while I'm doing their nails, unless I just polished their nails. I feel as long as your are being considerate of everyone involved, there shouldn't be an issue.
I am not a booth renter, but I am a solo tech in my own shop - my voice mail says that I dont' take calls when I'm with a client, so please leave a message and I'll call back at my earliest opportunity. I find that most people leave a message. I by far prefer this arrangement to when I was a booth renter and the receptionist or other cosmos didn't understand my services or booking strategies enough to schedule my time effectively.
polished20 :
> Thanks footie!
>
> Another quick question: Your clients don't mind the voicemail message? I have
> this idea that people would be put off by that, but I might be wrong.

It is just human nature to want what we can't have. If you give the illusion that you are busy with customers it makes you seem in demand. If you are slow, they may not think you are very good. I am not worried about the message thing. Of course, you may still lose clients.

Over the years I have had 2 people complain about someone not answering the phone. They simply left nasty messages on my voicemail. I figure that I do not want customers like this anyway. Of course, their money spends as good as anyone elses, but if they are a miserable person they will not be happy and will just badmouth the shop. I would rather fade from their memory quietly instead of them having an "experience" they need to talk about.

Not all people leave messages, so I do call back using caller ID (which someone else said they did as well). I've never lost a new client who didn't leave a message that I called back. I have even had them call somewhere else after not being able to get a hold of me, then call and cancel that appointment after they learned how friendly I was.