Saturday, June 7, 2008


I have never terminated a single employee in the last 5 years of owning the spa. This past month, I terminated two. Talk about gut-wrenching, unpleasant, yucky, stressful, sad....just "ugh."

I have always put people first, even if it is at my own expense, or that of my business. I attempt to be flexible, understanding, even-keeled, and lenient. I think that gets taken advantage of, big-time. I was saying to one employee that instead of, "Three strikes you're out, I'm more like 25 strikes and then you're out." The employee said back to me, "No, Mare, you're 25,000 strikes and then you might get a slap on the wrist." That's a very telling statement, and eye-opening, to say the least. If that is how I am perceived, then no wonder I experienced all these problems.

I had this one employee who was chronically tardy. You could basically count on her to be tardy at least once or twice a week, and she only worked four days a week. I mean, come on. How hard is it to be on time? But I put up with it, giving her verbal warnings and my version of "tough love." Did it work? No. The problem only got worse. It got so bad, in fact, that a client stormed out of the spa in a fury because this particular person showed up more than 30 minutes late to her appointment. It made us look ghetto and low-class. I don't blame that client in the least. I probably would have done the same thing myself.

The other employee, well, I have this habit of tolerating "physical limitations." Other spa owners could care less if you're in pain or hurting, you are going to be working your entire shift no matter what. Business is business, after all. Well, not me. If someone came to me and said, "Mare, I don't feel well, can I leave after my last appointment?" I usually say "Yes." My rationale is, if you're in pain, you're not giving a good service anyway. Secondly, it's less of a workers' compensation risk to let that person go home, even if it means turning away same-day business.

Well, I went away Memorial Day weekend, and this other employee asked to be let out early. When the front desk did not accommodate her request, she went ballistic. She said, and I quote (well, this is secondhand, of course): "F--- this shit! F--- this place! I am so over this place." Wow. When I heard that, I was on my way to a wedding in Washington, D.C., and my heart sank into my stomach and made a hole there. Even worse, it was a client who told me that she had overheard this while sitting in our lobby!

I felt mortified. I felt furious! I felt ... pretty much worse than I've felt in a long time. So, needless to say, I had to terminate that employee as well.

I don't choose to run my business this way anymore, or treat my clients this way. They deserve better, and they will get better. If it means I have to toughen up, then so be it, I will toughen up. I have never wanted to be one of those employers who just mowed through employees, but I think I need to a) manifest the right people in the first place and b) remain conscious and true to my clients. I had hoped that by taking care of my employees, they would, in turn, take care of my clients. But that is evidently not the case.

No comments: