4 Lessons Learned from Tabatha’s Salon Takeover

Recently, while indulging in my guilty pleasure – Bravo TV – I watched the show Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. It’s not one of the shows I usually watch, but this episode took place at Salon Bridgette in Swedesboro, NJ, where the mother and daughter of the salon owner, Bridgette Orcutt, also worked. The dynamics between these women and the impact they had on the salon’s employees, customers, and overall experience was enough to keep me glued to the set past my bedtime!

After watching the show, I realized there were valuable lessons to be learned from Tabatha’s Salon Takeover of Salon Bridgette; lessons I thought would be helpful for the National Association of Mothers & Daughters in Business members.

Lesson 1: In a mother-daughter working relationship you need to hold each other to the same standards and expectations as everyone else on your staff. No “special” treatment.

The dynamic with Bridgette’s daughter, Chelsea, was a lesson in what to avoid when working with your daughter. Chelsea had worked at the salon as a receptionist for five years and seemed to enjoy working for her mother. While pleasant, Chelsea did not exactly have the best work habits – sitting behind the desk most of the day, showing up late, not taking things seriously – and most definitely was cognizant of the fact that her mother was the owner of the salon. Bridgette, as her mother, saw nothing wrong with Chelsea’s behavior or attitude and did not welcome comments from her other employees about her daughter’s actions. The staff knew that the topic of Chelsea was off limits.

Bridgette did not see how not holding her daughter to higher work standards impacted the entire morale and tone of the business. The daughter had no respect for Bridgette, so neither did the staff. “If Chelsea can break the rules, so can we” was the attitude and message. Eventually, Bridgette lost all control over the salon, her employees and, ultimately, her own behavior.

Tabatha was spot on when she said if anyone in the salon should have “led by example” it should have been Chelsea. As Bridgette’s daughter, Chelsea does have influence with the employees and should support her mother (and the business) by stepping up to plate and following the rules.

Lesson 2: If Lesson 1 does not work, then the daughter (or mother) needs to find a different place of employment. My guess is they’ll eventually come around and find the balance, respect and boundaries necessary to make it a great working relationship, though.

At one point Tabatha suggested that maybe Chelsea should work some place other than the salon so that she could learn the responsibilities of being an employee. Fortunately, however, at the end of the day Chelsea got it and realized how much she wanted (and liked) her job and would make the changes needed to continue her employment. And Bridgette understood she needed to hold Chelsea to the same standards and expectations she had for the rest of her staff.

Lesson 3: If you borrow money from a family member, honor them and yourself by setting up a formal repayment plan and stick to it. Empowerment for all parties involvement.

Bridgette’s mother, Peggy, was not a “paid” employee, but she spent most of her days at the salon, cleaning and supporting her daughter in any way she could. Peggy was also a source of financing for her daughter’s business. Everyone loved Peggy but it became obvious she enabled her daughter’s management style and did not treat their financial dealings in a business-like manner: meaning no repayment plan. Tabatha was eventually able to convince Peggy to retire, spend more time at the beach, and hold her daughter accountable for paying back the money she’d borrowed over the years.

Lesson 4: There’s a difference between being nice and being commanding in an authoritative and positive way. The latter is much more effective, especially in a professional setting.

People like rules; they like encouragement and they need to know what’s expected of them.

Bridgette had owned the salon for seven years but was not able to take her business to where she had hoped or envisioned. Like most business owners there were several indicators, obvious only to an outsider, as to why that was the case. Bridgette was a super nice woman who asked her employees to do the things they should be doing (as opposed to telling them). She was often openly critical of her employees (even in front of customers). She had an overall negative attitude, and a passive-aggressive nature (Tabatha’s words…not mine). By the end of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, Bridgette learned to lead from a place of positivity, professionalism, and commanding in a constructive manner.

Are there any lessons you’ve learned from your mother-daughter working relationship? How did you establish boundaries and respect with one another?