I have had plenty of time to watch the news and to think about those who are going through so much anguish and worry.
Two big hurricanes and a massive earthquake in such a short time. As always, you want to know more and then when you get all the news, you wish you hadn’t seen some of it.
It makes me think about my work journey. For Joey and me, our work, our shops are all entangled in our lives. We remember life events based on shops that were under construction.
This week though, while I have been laid up with a new knee, I have had time to think about the past.
For me, Hurricane Andrew though far away from me in miles, hit close to home. The Supercuts shops in Miami were severely damaged and one of our franchisees also lost their business office. She shared, that the worst part wasn’t necessarily having lost or damaged businesses but not being able to get in touch with all her people without her central office. That chilling feeling stayed with me and I had our office create for me then a list of all of our people and their phone numbers that I carry with me to this day. I will admit to having finally saved it into my Google Drive instead of little folded papers, but I have it.
Our stylists mobilized to help stylists who they had never met who lived far away. Different shops had different fundraisers but almost all of them involved the stylists donating their tips. We were of course proud to match those donations and we sent off a check to help with the damage caused to Supercuts stylists from Andrew.
Next of course is the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. I soon realized that having everyone’s numbers wasn’t quite so valuable when I had no phone service. Just to be clear, we have shops in Northridge, that were at ground zero for the earthquake and the freeway that fell down was between our house and the majority of our shops. Sitting on the grass with our children, wondering about our own house in the darkness was a feeling that even today makes me tear up. Piecing back together our business is something that still makes my heart warm though. Before, we could leave our neighborhood, or talk on the phone, our people had mobilized to take care of each other and to take care of our customers. Our Northridge shop, had no back door and the strength of the quake had jammed the front door closed. The manager couldn’t get in. After a particularly strong aftershock she checked again and the front door unlocked. We had no water, so she bought water from her swimming pool at home and we used it for the toilets and we opened. Two days after the quake, each shop, on their own, just did what they had to do to get open. Shops that had running water offered free shampoos to residents who did not. The managers made their own decisions. Did we have stylists scared to come to work? Of course. We also had stylists who seemed to know that getting life back to normal was important for them but also for our customers. People who couldn’t go to work could drive to their neighborhood Supercuts and maybe leave feeling a little bit better. Neighbors would bring us water or share snacks. We were in this together.
Of course it isn’t fairyland. Driving was terrible and scary and there are always idiot looters. Joey and I went out to deliver payroll knowing that it was crucial that we got paychecks into our people’s hands so that they would know that we were doing our part too. Some shops suffered from the amount of residences whose homes were red tagged in their area or businesses that could not get re-opened. Stylists lost their apartments or possessions, often their tools. Franchisees from across the United States supported our people just as we had with Hurricane Andrew. The first check that came into us was from Florida, from the franchisee who had lost so much to Andrew. She said, we are here for you, just as your people were here for us.
My message? Out of scary event can come a little good. You cannot imagine holding a teamwork activity that starts with, there is a terrible natural disaster and you can’t get a hold of Cheryl and Joey – what do you do first? We lived through that real activity. We learned about each other and what is important. My heart hurts for all those who have to put back together their homes, their lives and their businesses. I hope they have amazing employees to help them the way that we did.