The golden rule isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, according to Bobbei Ruswinckel. Owner of a Pigtails & Crewcuts children’s hair salon franchise in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Bobbei subscribes to the platinum rule.
“Treat people how they want to be treated,” Bobbei explained.
As a business owner, she recognizes that it’s not effective to treat people the way she wants them to treat her. Bobbei is admittedly a hugger but knows not everyone else is. Instead, she works diligently to tailor each customer’s experience according to their specific wants and needs.
“Our goal is to get to know every family that comes in the door and build that relationship based on trust so that we know what they want,” she said. “We don’t want to treat everyone the same way. We want them to feel welcome, they belong and they’re in their comfort zone.”
Exceptional customer service is what makes the Pigtails & Crewcuts experience so special. Getting a child’s hair cut can be a challenge, but it’s also often a milestone and Bobbei, her team and her customers want to celebrate it.
A Customized Kid’s Hair Salon Experience
Every child has a unique temperament. Bobbei and her team put themselves in the shoes of the children who walk in the doors in order to customize their experience.
With parents, it’s all about communication.
“We work hard to comfort their child,” said Bobbei. “We ask the mom or dad if their child has had a nap, if they’re hungry or if they need to go potty.”
She and her team bring the kids into the experience. For example, the equipment used during a haircut, such as the clippers, can understandably produce anxiety. But, by transforming the clippers into “tickle Thomas” and giving a child the opportunity to hold it and get familiar with the tools, Bobbei and her stylists are able to add much-needed relief to what could otherwise be a stressful situation.
And for those who need to ease their way into the haircut, there are plenty of books to read, as well as toys and games to play.
Going further, Bobbei and her team partnered with the local autism network, which trained the staff on how to make the salon and haircutting a special needs-friendly experience.
“We want each kid to think, ‘That’s my salon,’” said Bobbei.
In fact, one of her greatest sources of pride is getting recognized by kids in the community and having them run up to give her hugs.
And in the event a customer doesn’t have the best experience, Bobbei is a firm believer that there’s always an opportunity to make the situation right – to identify the root cause of an issue and find a win-win solution.
Bringing a New Level of Hospitality to the Children’s Franchise Segment
Franchise ownership with Pigtails & Crewcuts is a natural extension of her previous career in the hospitality industry.
Although she ultimately reached the level of operations manager for a local hotel and resort in Myrtle Beach, she started out as a push board operator. Over the next 10 years, she worked her way up through a bevy of different roles within the hotel, taking advantage of its management training program.
The recurring theme throughout the experience was an unwavering dedication to customer service. And the flip side of that is taking care of the staff. After all, how can anyone expect their employees to provide exceptional customer service if you’re not doing everything you can to make your appreciation felt for your team’s hard work?
This philosophy has carried through as Bobbei built her Pigtails & Crewcuts team.
“Taking care of the staff, our internal customers, is just as important as taking care of our customers,” said Bobbei.
She currently has five employees, one of whom is her mom, the salon’s receptionist. To show her staff how much she appreciates them, Bobbei recently took them all to a nearby spa for some well-deserved pampering after a particularly busy day during this year’s back-to-school rush.
Meanwhile, that same inspiration to express appreciation to those who support her shines through in the community involvement Bobbei has pursued.
She and her team have participated in local festivals and school fundraisers. One event that particularly stands out is called A Day of Hope. It’s hosted at a local YMCA and organized by a church in the community to help families in need get access to school supplies, free dental screenings, vision tests, and other services. During the event, Bobbei gave out more than 100 free haircut vouchers. She also pledged to cut kids’ hair at a local shelter.
The Inspiration Behind Opening a Children’s Hair Salon Franchise
In 2017, Bobbei had just been named president of the Grand Strand Optimist Club, a civic organization with a mission to serve the youth of her area through service projects, fundraisers and more.
As the incoming president, the organization sent Bobbei and her husband on a trip.
“Most people get a really cool location like Hawaii or somewhere in Canada – they flew me to Albuquerque,” Bobbei said, laughing.
All kidding aside, she and her husband were able to take advantage of the trip to experience the local culture and enjoy some alone time together for the first time since their two kids had been born.
It was during this trip that Bobbei came to the realization that she didn’t want to be working for someone else forever.
She and her husband started searching for business concepts, focusing on the children’s franchise segment. Eventually, they found Pigtails & Crewcuts among brands listed as the top kid-focused businesses.
“We need this in Myrtle Beach – if anybody’s going to do this, we need to be the ones,” she remembers thinking.
After they had done their market research, it was a no brainer to go with Pigtails & Crewcuts, according to Bobbei.
“We’ve had so many people come to us and say, ‘I can’t believe it’s taken somebody so long do this here,’” said Bobbei.
Fast forward to today, and Bobbei’s kid’s hair salon has been open for nearly two years.
And one of the things she cherishes about being a part of the Pigtails & Crewcuts brand is the bonds she’s been able to form with other salon owners.
“It’s an amazing network of like-minded individuals that have experienced the same things that we’re walking through every day,” Bobbei emphasized.
She’s found kinship with others who were drawn to the concept because it’s family-focused and is imbued with great energy.