Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
30 September 2013

The story of the day spa and the clock (and why you need to ask for what you want)

facialA facial plus a hand treatment.  The result of a birthday gift voucher I couldn’t wait to spend.

I did wait though, deciding to save it for part of my wind down ritual after a Powerful Speaking Intensive weekend (it’s not called an Intensive for nothing).

I booked the treatments.  I turned up to the day spa early – as requested – to fill out the forms.

I sat in the separate waiting room listening to the sounds of waterfalls via the stereo speakers and the bamboo water feature on the table.  I poured myself a glass of filtered water.  I waited.  I glanced over at the flickering candle on the table.  I waited.  I sipped more water.  I waited.  And then when I looked at the clock, and my watch to double check, and my appointment was 13 minutes overdue, I started getting jittery.  I waited 2 more minutes, glaring at the clock.  And then I stood up and strode out of the room and directly to the reception desk.

Me: My appointment was at 1 o’clock.

The receptionist just looked at me, blankly.

Me: I need to leave on time.  I have another appointment after this.

Receptionist: Oh, do you?

I nodded emphatically.

Receptionist: We’re just running a bit late.  The person before you was late, and so was the one before her, so it’s upset the day a bit.

Then the beauty therapist came out to get me.  I told her I didn’t have time for both treatments.  She started explaining why she was so late.  I decided I’d have the facial, and that I’d come back another time for the hand treatment.

I finally had the facial.  It was rather lovely, and I felt very relaxed afterwards.

Back at the front desk, the receptionist started up the conversation all over again about being late.

Receptionist:  It’s just that we ask people to be on time and then they don’t come on time, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  And we want to make sure we give people the full treatment they’ve booked in for.  We don’t want to cut their treatments short.

Me: My treatment had to be cut short.

Receptionist: Sorry about that.  We just don’t know what to do.  One lady came 30 minutes late last week and we did tell her we didn’t have time for her treatment and she was so angry and rude and said she’ll never come back!

Me: What you need to do is have clear boundaries.  You need to tell your clients what you expect them to do.  I have a friend who sees 12 people in an hour in his acupuncture practice, and they know they have to turn up on time or they miss out.  And guess what?  Everyone turns up on time.  Everyone.  He never has a problem.

Receptionist: Really?  Wow.

Me: Those people who are constantly very late are being disrespectful.  And that’s causing you to disrespect your other clients.  I understand that you want to give them their full treatments.  And, if you’re serious about running a business that offers clients the courtesy of being on time, perhaps you need to cut treatments short for people who turn up late.

Receptionist: Yeah, that’s a good idea.  It’s just that I don’t want people to get angry with us.

Me: If you’re going to start asking for what you want, you’d better believe it and feel aligned doing it, and then they’ll respect your boundaries.  If you’re not clear, they’ll pick up on that, and it won’t work.

And that there, that final thing I said to her before walking out the door, is the essence of asking for what you want.

Believe it, be aligned, be clear and true, and you’ll engender respect.  That’s a great – and powerful – platform to open an influencing conversation.

Be wishy washy and apologise for what you’re asking for, and you won’t get it.  No-one will take you seriously.  And they might get mad at you too.

As for the day spa, I still have $115 left on my voucher.  I’ll use it.  And next time I’ll make sure I don’t need to be anywhere afterwards.

And then, once the voucher’s spent, the chances of me going back are very, very slim.

Ask for what you want.  Be clear about where you stand.  Own it.

~~~

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