Tabatha is not finished with the Massholes quite yet. This week on Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, she’s in Tewkesbury, Mass at Touch of Elegance Salon. Owner Debbie experienced a mutiny unlike anything that’s been seen since the Black Pearl — and since then she’s been struggling to rebuild her clientele.
The phone rings at the desk of Touch of Elegance, Debbie answers Tabatha’s call and exits the salon to meet Miss T.
She greets Tabatha and says she’s going to start crying, she’s had a tough year. When she’s seated in the reel room, she says that five of her stylists staged a walkout and that costs her $20,000 in monthly revenue. An additional four girls have left since then. People run from Debbie like she’s tornado, a force of nature that can quickly strip you of your coif and your dignity.
Debbie spins a tale of woe for Tabatha, in February five of her stylists wiped out her hard drive and her clientele. Debbie’s entire staff seems to be just beyond the legal drinking age and now she claims her life is that of housemother at Alpha Delta Fug.
And the bank is no longer accepting beer busts as payment.
She tells Tabatha, “that five 22-year old girls can just make your business a house of cards.” She’s pounding the pavement trying to get people in to the salon and she doesn’t think that any of the girls appreciate it. Is seems like once they’re old enough to rent a car they bolt from Debbie like she is welding a crimping iron and a bottle of Sun-in.
No one seems to stick around Touch of Elegance after they’re past their junior stylist years and I’m sure that has raised a flag with Tabatha, because she seems to have no sympathy for Debbie.
Time to see, for real, for real, what goes on in the salon. We turn to the day’s footage to see a client enter the salon through the entrance that faces the street, which is not the entrance to the salon. They put the entrance on the back of the building, because there is more parking in the back. There are probably more dumpsters too… and that would set the standard for the work in ToE.
Footage rolls again and one stylist is wearing flip-flops, which is a “safety issue” according to Tabatha. Debbie nods away in agreement, she’s always telling this to “her girls”. Pan down, Debbie’s in flip flops too.
Not nearly as offensive as the dolphin tattoo, but still… Strike 1.
Next up, Debbie sitting as one of her bistro tables with a client. The client has a coupon — and she’s just as proud of herself for spotting a deal, as is Debbie for conceiving the plot to get the Lisa Simpson-yellow haired client through her back/front door.
Cash value: 1/20 of a cent.
On screen the dumbass client presents a coupon, Miss T asks Debbie about the promotions she’s currently running in the salon. Basically, since revenue is down, Debbie has masterminded 20 different invitations, discounts and coupon opportunities for clients (that she’ll admit to). Tabatha saw it consistently throughout the day. She saw girls stuffing envelopes like it’s training day at Watergate. Tabatha thinks it’s just “cheap and desperate…” And on cute like Linda Richman’s 4th-hour fill-in Debbie gets verklempt. “I have gotten cheap and desperate…. since February.” Excuse me! Talk amongst yourselves!
I’ll give you a topic, Touch of Elegance Salon is neither Elegant… but I’m touched. Discuss!
Next up is a client who has brought her mother with her to fight for a refund on highlighting service. At first Debbie is reasonable and says that she would like the opportunity to correct the client’s color. However the client pushes for the bills and instead of moving along the negotiations, or moving the displeased client out of the salon, Debbie returns to the client sitting right next to the Tewkes-bitchfest and dismisses the request by saying, “Well, I can’t do that today.”
Can I interest you in a coupon instead?
When Unhappy Client and Momma Unhappy Client finally exit ToE, Debbie continues to fume about the client’s persistence as the client in her chair looks embarrassed for Debbie. She was probably also Google-mapping the directions to the nearest competing salon, in case Debbie screws her highlights as well.
Tabatha can’t believe that with 35 years of experience, this is how Debbie behaves as owner of salon. They’re basically giving away free services with all the coupons, and conteracting that by creating terrible word of mouth by sending out unhappy clients.
We return to the coupon welding customer who has been sitting for 2 hours although no one has attended to her. The client finally realizes that the free small fry with purchase of a burger is not worth the wait. For unexplained reasons, the receptionist chases down the client in the parking lot and requests the $20 she owes them for a service she didn’t receive.
That’s pure profit.
Tabatha is shocked to see this behavior and demands the keys. “For real?” Debbie says — obviously with no thought to the Bravo release she’s signed earlier in the day. For real, you suck at your job. With nothing but an episode treatment and the information gleaned from 4 hours of nanny-cam footage, Tabatha will do your job.
Outsourced, by Bravo.
Overwhelmed, or dreading the information her staff will reveal, Debbie has an anxiety attack on the street and cries before Miss T can make her first appearance in Touch of Elegance.
“Tell me what’s going on,” TC says. “I hope you can get my staff to see what I just saw.” Debbie whimpers.
“I have your keys, I’m not a mirage, I’m not going to vaporize.” Tabatha vows to stand by Debbie as we cut to confessional. And in her flat, breathy voice Debbie says, “I wish I was a sociopath… because I get emotional.” That’s what I wish for when things get rough, a criminal streak.
They gather-up enough of Debbie’s dignity to head into the salon for the takeover-establishing shot and Tabatha announces herself to the staff.
For the first time this season Tabatha doesn’t call out any one staff member on their shenanigans and she also admits that the design of the salon is nice. It’s also clean. It’s ass-backwards, but it’s clean.
Well designed and talentless.
Tabatha can’t get past the fact that the entrance isn’t in the front and the “marketing” materials that are laying all over the salon. It’s tacky. The existing clients are staring down all this promotional material, like they’re getting their hair washed at the Tourist Center at Yosemite and not a high end salon and spa. Tabatha asks one staff member how many promotion codes are in the computer, and she admits there may be as many at 40 promotions running.
The next morning the staff has their say. They inform Tabatha that 11 people have left recently, two more than Debbie reported. Debbie is a moody shrew and eventually everyone leaves. One stripper in training says, “this has been going on for generations, we’re just the new ones.”
Generation Y the hell would you work here?
Debbie picks on the girls, makes them feel like children. She’s condecending and terrible.
Debbie’s assistant Stephanie tells the story of the letters than Debbie writes to past and potential clients. Obviously co-authored by John Hinckley Jr. the letters sound more harassing than inviting. Tabatha reads an example. “Hey Guys! I’m shocked you didn’t pick up the phone and call my salon…”
… I’ve been watching you and I know your roots are in need of attention.
The stylists know that the letters are insane and that the coupons are giving away their services, devaluing the “Touch of Elegance” experience. Debbie thinks her techniques work, so she ignores her staff’s feedback.
It’s time for the assessment and stylists aren’t great. They’re obviously inexperienced. The don’t ask petinient questions during the consultations and they don’t carry themselves with confidence. Tabatha thinks Debbie has browbeaten her staff, but hasn’t empowered them. They’re a bit dim, but smart enough to know when it’s time to ditch Debbie.
…and allowed to use the pointy scissors.
In the Head-massholes chair Debbie has a younger girl who has brought in a picture of Kelly Clarkson and is asking Debbie for some “punky, chunky” layers. Despite being seriously misguided, the client is clear on her wishes. Debbie leads her consultation by saying, “Since you don’t have much color is your face right now, it looks like you haven’t been sunning much…”
BTW: Don’t, or this is your future.
Tabatha is smirking into the camera like Dwight Schrute found his combs in jello.
That’s what she said…?
Tabatha finally stops her and says that her client gave her direct instructions. Stop muttering nonsense and get to work. And it’s amusing that Debbie has the balls to criticize a young girl for avoiding sunbathing when she looks like got back handed into 1984 through a hole in the ozone layer.
Tabatha is in the front/back of the salon talking to one of receptionists, who has prior salon experience, plus a business degree. Tabs wants to know how Debbie reacts when she’s given negative feedback on her “marketing” strategies, and the receptionist says that Debbie is just full of excuses. She can’t take criticism.
Tabatha is now at the sink where a stylist is washing red dye out of a client’s hair, although the stains have survived on her scalp. Tabatha asks about the use of color block and is told that they don’t use it in ToE. Apparently it is elegant to leave the house looking like you slept on downed electrical wires.
A Touch of Elegance requires a bit of scrubbing to remove.
Tabatha approaches Debbie about the lack of color block in stock and Debbie hands Tabatha a styling wax that she uses this as a barrier. Tabatha says that this isn’t the correct product and no one else in the salon is aware of the multipurpose product because they’re all slopping color on their clients like they’re making mud pies. In fact Debbie has just finished coloring her assessment client who’s scalp has more red rings than Saturn.
Tabatha is going through the salon and the results aren’t great. The stylists aren’t that good, “they need a formal education plan in this place.” They need to survive the college curriculum, not just the sorority rush, in order to come out with a career… y’know?
Debbie’s client is super unhappy. Not only has Debbie hacked up her hair, she also colored her hair like she was a My Little Pony. It’s hideous.
Tabatha skips out on repeating that the work is… I’m gonna guess, she’d say ‘low rent’. Instead she takes Debbie to a local country club to meet with the resident event planner and open up the lines of communication and the possibility for cross promotion between the country club and the salon. Debbie is known to the event planner, who is honest and says she has chosen not to work with her since she was invited to a bridal show and Debbie sold raffle tickets instead of donating or exhibiting. She thought that was tacky and didn’t pursue a business relationship with Touch of Elegance.
Maybe you would be more comfortable at the Elks Lodge events.
The event planner says that the country club does have a lot of weddings and she will give Debbie another chance to work with the club. Tabatha is grateful and Debbie is… there.
Tabatha leads Debbie away from one dose of humiliation to another helping located a couple steps away. They’ve brought the rest of the ToE staff to the ballroom at the club and separated them from Debbie by one length of dance floor. It’s time for the staff to confront Debs.
The “communication” has broken down. The staff says that they don’t like the coupons and the discounts. Debs doesn’t want to be defensive and then is more defensive than Fort Knox. She wants credit for the times the coupons do work.
Debbie maintains that she does a lot for her staff and she’s open to hearing their opinions, but she’s never heard such discontent before. Debbie “knows what an amazing business owner (I am)” and doesn’t get the credit. In fact 11 people have run screaming from her in the past year. Bouncers can’t get rid of people that fast…
As the staff asks for a manual and structure and guidance… Debbie looks… away.
…if they asked for some silent gas. She looks like she can provide that.
The staff begs for more structure and more positive environment, Debbie’s Linda Richman tendencies rear up and she whimpers, “it came to a head in February…” verklempt! Debbie tries to lay the blame on the staff, but these staff member are the ones who stayed and they don’t deserve Debbie’s wrath.
Later in confessional Debbie says, “I feel like my girls let me get thrown under the bus, it was completely disrespectful to me.” Like she just received a glass of hater-ade and not feedback on how to improve her salon.
The staff returns to the salon to kick off the renovations by shredding the promotional letters. Debbie begrudgingly shreds a few as she fights for some recognition — “I wish I could shred your excuses,” Tabatha says.
Then may be your clothes and your shitty personality.
Instead of accepting the help that could save her salon, she defends the choices that got her the same professional recognition as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
The staff returns after the renovations and the color of the walls has changed and the orientation of the salon has been switched, so the front door is the door facing the street. The reception area has been relocated and the manicure station is now in the back. The stations that formerly housed all the marketing materials are now a processing station for clients to relax while they receive services. Tabatha has framed the shredded coupons and hung them on the wall as a reminder of the wrong doings of 2010.
All the staff is excited for the final day. In fact the 12 little girls in two straight lines follow Tabatha about the salon watching her cut and hanging on every word. Debbie is left to work on her client, the only other attendant at her pity party. One of the stylist tells the camera that she wishes they had more time with Tabatha, they’ve learned so much from her. Debbie’s jealous… the girls don’t cling to her like they do to Tabatha.
Tabatha heads to Debbie’s station after her demonstration and asks about her use of the styling wax, Debbie says that’s what her assistant brought her and she felt that it was fine. Tabatha thinks “Debbie is a f#$@wit.”
In final recommendations Debbie breaks down, she makes up excuses for not working well with her staff, including some fibs about not providing them with any classes. Debbie gets very upset when she admits she hasn’t been getting the sympathy she was looking for, “it’s been a very one sided story that’s been told here this week.” Debbie says.
Like the truth’s side?
Tabatha furrows her brow, but in her more mellow (less fun version) doesn’t even look like she’s ready to swing at Deb. “I’m going to take a stand, not one of those girls supported me…” Debbie continues to groan. After a deep breathe Tabatha calmly explains that they needed to “clear the air, and start fresh with their support.”
Tabatha faces ToE for the last time and lets Debbie announce that she is promoting the receptionist to manager and promises she will go cold turkey on promotions. Tabatha gifts all the stylists a 3 day class at Sassoon Academy.
Tabatha returns 6 weeks later and finds that Debbie has been pushing herself to change, no more walk outs since Miss T has been there.
What do you think of Tabatha’s return? If she’s not going to apeshit on Debbie, when will she reach her breaking point?