<strong>The post is written by <a href="http://kevinolega.com">Kevin Olega</a> follow him on <a href="http://twitter.com/kevinolega">twitter</a>.</strong>
I have a couple of favorite places to get my hair done. There's Bench fix and David's Salon which can be found in most malls in Manila. Both charge close to three hundred pesos.
I live in the Philippines and labor is fairly cheap here. It's not uncommon to find a place where you can get a haircut for 40 pesos. That's roughly one dollar. I pay seven times the usual price.
I feel good going to the two nice sort of upscale places. Walking out of the place makes me feel like I got one of those celebrity make overs. I personally am not image conscious as I sometimes wait up to two months without getting a hair cut or I forget to shave and tidy up often. Every now and then, I ask myself why I pay several times more money in this upscale place than the forty peso haircut. Recently I was going there a few times a year. To get my hair shaved. That doesn't require a lot of skill in my perception so I don't mind going there. To compensate I just pay extra to get experts to assist in fixing my appearance.
I went to this other place to get my hair done. I've seen Bruno's Barber Shop in malls for a long time so I thought they must be really good at what they do but since my usual stylist at Bench fix wasn't available (the guy has extremely long lines and requires an appointment these days) I decided to give them a try. They're a little more pricy than my usual place so I thought they must be good. I kind of expect them to charge less but what the hell. I had to get my haircut somewhere. I'm about to go somewhere that required me to look my best.
It's an upscale place so I made it a point to ask for the price before getting in. They said it's two hundred eighty. My usual place charges two hundred fifty and I give fifty pesos to my stylist so I end up spending three hundred. Fine I'll pay extra I told myself.
I'm not metrosexual or those fashionable guys who are good at looking their best. I'd like to be but I'm not at that level. I don't think I'll ever be. I'm too preoccupied with other things. I don't know the words to tell the stylist but I know what looks good when I see it. My really fashionable friend gave me some advice and told me that whenever I go to these upscale places, I should just ask the stylist for their recommendation. My face looks big and I like my hair spiky. I just need to tell them that I want my hair short and I'd like to get the front spiky and sometimes I won't have the time to do that and to shape my hair in a way that my head or face doesn't look too big. I'll go with what they recommend. This worked well with me for several years.
The guy repeated to me so we'll just shorten your hair. He looked a little puzzled. I'm a little sleepy I left him to his work. The guy seemed skillful. He was fast and efficient. In less than ten minutes we were done. I looked at the result and it looks like he just trimmed it a little. I said "it looks like there's something missing" out loud. He said "something missing?" He jokingly referred to his workmate "ser thinks something missing what do you think?". I know he meant it as a joke. It somehow sounded like he was trying to justify or win an argument. I'm not in the mood for humor. I haven't had sleep. I have an important event to go to and need to prepare for. I looked at myself for a couple of minutes. I eventually told them that it's a little too long. Please make it shorter. After a few more minutes we got to the length that I want my hair to be.
The guy at Bruno's seemed more concerned about completing my hair cut fast than with my appearance.
The guys at Bench Fix or David's seem to be more concerned about how I'd look than completing my hair cut fast.
That's why I feel like a million bucks when I walk out of the other two places. The guys at Bench fix and David's took care of me.
Halfway through the haircut the guy was trying to sell me this scalp treatment to prevent dandruff. I recall that I don't have dandruff that day. I've had the problem in the past but not lately. He asked me three or four times. When I said no the last time he referred to his friend that "I'll skip the scalp treatment because it's late and I'm in a hurry." I'm not sure if that was a joke or the boss requires them to provide the reason why the customer declines the upsell attempt.
In forty peso hair cut places. All you get is a hair cut. In the more upscale places, they wash your hair before and after so you don't spread hair all over the place. Close to the end of my haircut at Bruno's the guy asked me if they were going to shampoo my hair after. I said yes. After he was done, he asked me again if he will shampoo my hair. Turns out the same guy did the haircut and the shampoo. So I guess he asked me twice because he didn't want to wash my hair himself. I'm a guy so I don't blame him. It felt a little awkward. In the other place it's usually a female who did the task. I thought that was that. I was wrong.
When I got to the counter. After I handed them my card. I was charged and extra hundred bucks for the shampoo. The counter lady explained to me that it was an extra hundred pesos for shampooing my hair. A hundred pesos is a bottle of shampoo in the Philippines. I've never been charged extra for rinsing my hair. If it's a little over two hundred pesos I thought the procedure was standard. They explained it was not. They had to charge extra. I told them that I didn't know and that the guy who cut my hair didn't say it. I asked them if it was standard procedure to provide the price of a service before doing the service. The counter lady asked me where I got my haircut previously. I said I go to Bench Fix and David's. They asked me how much I paid there, as if trying to justify charging the extra fee. I said it's two hundred and fifty at Bench fix and they shampoo you before and after. David's also does the same. At this point the guy who cut my hair went to the counter and told me that he asked me twice and told me that I should have understood that that meant extra costs. I asked him if in the two times he asked me if I wanted my hair rinsed he told me about the price. The counter girl butted in. We actually offer to rinse the hair without the shampoo at no additional cost. I told them that it's not my first time in an upscale place. It did look like mine because my hair gets a little long before I decide to get my hair cut and I went there after going to the gym but I've been to all three hair cut places there and I now recognize the fact that of all the three places they are the only one that charges extra to rinse hair.
Two other patrons make their payment and left. I stood there waiting for a response. After a few more minutes the guy who cut my hair offered to only charge me for the haircut and not the shampoo. In the Philippines, if an employee makes an error the service person pays for it. Pizza in 30 mins or it's free? It's not free, the motorcycle delivery guy pays for it if he's late. They took my card again and processed to void the last payment. Then they charged me the right amount. I walked out of there feeling bad. The other place made me feel like a million bucks or a celebrity when I walk out. The other place made me feel like a terrible human.
My money got refunded. I only paid a standard rate. I didn't expect that I'd get a discount or a refund. All I remember is how bad it felt. `
There are two ways to run your business. One is brand centered. The other is bottom line centered. The other place seemed to be more bottom line centered. As a result I felt reluctant handing them my money. The other place made me feel good. I don't mind paying extra.
Which kind of place would you rather be?