OCEAN PINES – Taking up residence next to Taylor’s Restaurant in Ocean Pines is a homecoming of sorts for Melina Bates who spent years as a stylist in a different shop before she struck out on her own to open Hot Headz in Ocean City.
Although she experienced years of success in her Hot Headz on 118th Street, Ocean City location, when the opportunity presented itself to set up closer to her customer base as well as to her roots Bates felt the time was right to strike out in Ocean Pines.
“There’s so much more space here so we can do more,” she said.
In addition to being able to add chairs and a bigger, nicer waiting area, Bates said she was also able to expand services, adding several pedicure and manicure stations as well as a facial room.
The space and service expansion will benefit Bates, her staff and her clients. She and her staff benefit by being able to make the most of their chosen profession, stretching beyond hair care to use the full range of their cosmetological powers. The clients benefit because they no longer have to make several trips, skin and nail care are now all available at their favorite salon.
“Now our clients don’t have to run to a day spa and pay day spa prices,” she said. And given that nearly as many of her clients travel Ocean Pines as anywhere else, being right around the corner will be to everyone’s advantage.
Becoming a favorite salon is more than a matter of convenience or even talent; it is about developing a rapport with the clients and cultivating an atmosphere of comfort and harmony for employees and customers alike.
Bates said that the best way to make a customer feel uncomfortable is to make it difficult for them to change stylists by encouraging competition among the various workers. The staff at Hot Headz all take a different approach, encouraging new customers to have their hair done by different staff members until they find the right fit.
One of the things Bates said was important when bringing on staff was that the customer experience wasn’t dependent upon who happens to be working that day. Nearly all the staff members have been working with her for years, so they each have a sense of how the others perform. And given that they’re not an exclusively women’s salon — Hot Headz has a significant male and child clientele as well — being consistent and client-focussed is critical.
The staff closeness and the customer satisfaction first attitude translates into an environment people tend to want to enjoy even when they’re not in need of any services. Bates said that among the biggest benefits of returning to running a shop in Ocean Pines is that even more people will be able to stop in for a visit as they go about their daily business.
For the folks at Hot Headz it’s always been a relationship driven business. Setting aside the fact that they’re professionals, Bates and her colleagues operate under the premise that being an integral part of something is more important than just holding down a job.