Monday, December 6, 2010

Tabatha Coffey Takes Over More Salons on Season Three

Photo by Pete Tangen

Tabatha Coffey is back tonight with her tough love, no-holds-barred approach to whipping hair salon owners into shape in season three of Tabatha's Salon Takeover. She has been in the hair business since she was 14 years old, and she shares her 25 years of experience with other stylists as she travels the country saving struggling businesses from near failure.

Tabatha rose to fame as the edgy, villainess on Bravos' Shear Genius and although she was eliminated in week six for not being a team player, the fans adored her. In fact she took home the $10,000 Fan Favorite prize at the end of her season. And it is that attitude that keeps her fans flocking back to Tabatha's Salon Takeover. Since she has only one week to transform the fledgling businesses into functioning, pleasant work environments, she does not hold back on her criticism of the salon owners or employees, driving many to tears.

We spoke with Tabatha in a recent conference call about taking the emotions personally, learning from her experiences and having a stripper pole in a salon.

Tune in to season three of Tabatha's Salon Takeover premiering on Monday, December 6 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. Central on Bravo.
Q: In the upcoming season who was the craziest salon owner?

TABATHA: They’re all a little crazy in their own way but I think my craziest salon this season was definitely when we went to Provincetown. It had a lot of challenges and I have never in my life seen a stripper pole in the middle of a salon. So that was definitely my crazy moment of season three… walking into a salon that was 450 square feet, so it was incredibly small, and smack in the middle was a stripper pole where clients were encouraged to dance for dollars that they would get. For every minute they spent on the pole they’d get a dollar off their haircut. It didn’t work as well as the owner anticipated strangely enough. I actually saw clients fleeing out of the salon when they were offered to get on the stripper pole and dance to get money off their product sales or their haircuts. So it wasn’t a great marketing tactic at all.

There was a lot of crazy. You know, a lot of things stand out. You’ll see in the premier episode I actually stayed overnight at one of the salons I took over… Two sisters are primary owners of the salon but they actually have their other two sisters working in the salon so it’s a real family business. And they just brought way too much family drama into their salon. And I needed to see how they interacted with each other at home because they really treated the salon like they were at home. So I actually turned up at their house with a little rolly suitcase and stayed the night in their house with them. So that was a whole new experience for me and a whole new experience for them. They were absolutely gobsmacked that I stayed the night at their house and slept on their sofa.

Another salon I took over was actually a children’s salon so that was something new and something that viewers haven’t seen is Tabatha in a children’s salon for a week. And tackling the issues of doing children’s hair and trying to increase the business for them.

Q: When salon owners or employees don’t react kindly to you, do you ever take it personally?

TABATHA: I don’t take it personally. It frustrates me as you all see. I don’t hide my frustration very well that’s for sure. I don’t take it personally because it is business and I am there trying to help. And I also understand that I have a very small window of time that I’m with these people. And there are a lot of problems that I need to get to the bottom of. So I don’t sugarcoat things. I’m very direct in my approach with people. So I don’t take it personally as I don’t want them to take it personally. It really is done in a tough love way and a way of helping them see what they need to do to change and get them back on track.

Q: You are a very confident woman. Is that a skill that you learned or do you feel that’s something that’s inherent to your personality?

TABATHA: That’s a great question. I think it’s both. When I was younger I obviously didn’t have the same confidence. I think definitely confidence comes from age and experience. And I also think it comes from caring about what you do. I think when you’re really passionate about what you do and truly love it and want to embrace all the facets of it, it helps to build your confidence. So I think it’s a little of both. I have become more confident through the years but when it comes to my hairdressing I was always very confident with that because… I’ve always wanted to be a hairdresser and I truly loved every facet of the industry. So that made me confident and got me through any rough patches of my training experience when I was young.

Q: Is there one thing from season to season that you find the salon owners are consistently doing wrong?

TABATHA: I think a lot of salon owners just become overwhelmed and give up. Any business that you have to manage and any time you’re in charge of people whether you’re an owner or a manager, it’s a constant reiteration of rules and constantly staying on top of things to make sure things are done the way you want them to be done in your business. And I think a lot of owners consistently feel bad telling people how they want things done or they feel like they’re babysitting and they don’t want to be active in their business. And that seems to be something that runs all the way through. So instead of being proactive and jumping in there and getting their hands dirty or making sure people are following through, they kind of throw their hands up and give up a little bit. And then things just spiral out of control from there.

Q: Is there anything that you’ve learned in doing the show that you’ve applied to your own professional experiences?

TABATHA: Absolutely. I learn all the time… I think every problem that I see in salons [are] such typical business problems especially to hairdressing salons but any customer service business. So when I walk into other people’s businesses I’m always fully aware [that] I need to make sure that whether it’s saying "thank you" to my staff enough and making sure that they feel valued or making sure clients are getting a great experience and keeping on top of our game. Sometimes it’s just even realizing that you need to step back for a minute and take a break so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. So for me it’s always a learning experience and something that helps me keep myself on my toes and hopefully the rest of the business owners that I go in and visit.

Q: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a stylist who is opening a salon for the very first time?

TABATHA: I think if a stylist is opening a business for the first time it’s really preparation… I think anyone who opens a business thinks I’m great at what I do and that’s enough to carry me through. But it’s really making sure that you have a great, solid business plan, that you have your finances in place, that you have a company statement, that you’ve thought about the location, you’ve thought about the demographic of your clients. So that’s my biggest key advice to anyone that opens a business. It’s great to have a great skill and a passion for what you do, but you need to make sure that you’ve really laid it out on paper and have a true vision of what you want your business to be and what you want it to become, so that you can sustain yourself all the way through.

Q: What in your opinion makes a successful salon?

TABATHA: In the salon industry you need to have talent. You need to have the goods. So you need to be a good hairdresser. You need to make sure that you keep on top of your education so you have the skill set to deliver to your clients. And we’re a customer service profession. So it is all about the client. It’s all about the client experience and making sure that the salon is clean and the client is taken care of and they do feel pampered and relaxed and taken care of and beautiful for that hour, two hours, three hours that they’re in the salon. And to me I think that’s what people sometimes forget that we’re there to serve clients.

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