1 year since the relaunch of Delforge + Co and I am so grateful as well as excited to the future growth!
I want to feel good everyday, of course I do.
But there are some days when I look at everyone enjoying themselves on social media and having a better time than me and it gives me a sense of pressure that I should feel good all of the time....
So how can I overcome that and change my mindset?
I mean, I read all the books, listen to podcasts of some amazing mentors, public speakers, ted talks and sit on seminars of motivational speakers, but there are some days where I just can't change my mindset or don't know how to.
I have 2 daughters and as they grew up, by the time I got to work I had done ½ day already...
I remember the guilt when my daughter, who was probably around 7 years old, told me whilst eating her cereals as I was doing my make up, packing their lunch, ensuring that they had their clothes ironed, and listening to my oldest daughter talking french for a homework that was due, and I quote: “today mummy, I am going to be a Greek goddess!..”
Her cute smile sends a knife to my heart, smiling back at her with a mixture of panic and stress, thinking to myself, Valerie you really need to make sure you read the school notes!....
Not wanting to disappoint my gorgeous girl and having snapped back at her “can you remind mummy about these things next time you little 7 year old you?” (it’s a lot easier to shift responsibility at this stage than trying to admit to myself that I have missed out....), not wanting to resign to the fact that I might be loosing that one, not wanting to look at the clock as I know it's 7.30 am and we need to leave in 15 min, I run to the cupboard, find a white sheet, cut the middle of it, enough for my daughter's little head to fit in, frantically find a belt and ta dah, a greek dress is born.... add a three flowers, take a ruler and create the most brilliant (if I may say so myself) sword with aluminium paper... the ruler/sword is placed in the belt, et voila: a Greek ghost looking goddess with yellow flowers and an aluminium sword is ready to go!....
I am truly unsure if a greek goddess is meant to have a sword, never mind an aluminium one, but at this stage, she was so happy that I didn't care, I got away with it!.... As a teenager now I am sure it would be a different matter...
Off we go, school gates, feeling guilty from looking at other children with amazing elaborate costumes of definite greek goddesses, commuting at rush hour (say no more) and trying not to be late, I get to work and on the way to my cupboard of an office (it was a cupboard with no windows and no air), I have 12 conversations that add 12 things on my 80 to do list of priorities....
I have yet to have coffee nor to even take my coat off, that I am greeted with stressed managers and demands.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a senior manager or owner, you need to be able to handle all sorts, but understand that it’s 10 am, I have been up since 5.30 am, haven't even had time to think about my mindset and would have double dared anyone to ask me to seize the day and be the best that I can be, because by then, it's not the day that I wanted to seize!
I am not against any of this, it's important to listen to these talks and do everything you can to change your mindset but what I am saying is that some days, it purely adds to the pressure I already feel.
Sometimes I wake up and the sheer volume of things that needs to be dealt with doesn't make me smile... being in a business managing staff and operations can be lonely, difficult and stressful... I don’t want to go and feel the grass, I don’t want to smell the roses, I have enough on my plate thank you very much...
I feel that over the past couple of years, the wellness industry has generated a great positive impact on the way we behave, from being far more aware of the food we eat to the exercise that we take on.
I know now, having older children, that it is important to look after yourself but it is equally as important to set yourself realistic and measurable goals as it generates less pressure upon how to change your mindset.
Sometimes we are victims of things that are out of our control and have to deal with them somehow, and that is ok because it becomes your priority at that point.
Sometimes, we have down days and it is being able to recognise those and let them go as it will not always be like that.
Throughout the years, I found that the more I created habits to fall back on and taken control of my time, the more I could create better days for myself and those around me.
I learnt that a mindset is cultivated from the thoughts you generate but also from the processes you have in place, as small as they are, because in the long run they will make a difference to the bigger picture and your wellbeing.
I yearned to understand how to change my mindset and realised that it is important to take some time out of your day or situation. I do that with my 15 minute power nap or close my eyes time to switch off from everything and everyone around me (try it, it's amazing, at first set an alarm then your body will need just that to recharge).
The 3 Ps: Plan, Prepare, Present was taught to me a while back and I apply this to everything I do.
Planning generates less stress (greek goddess and all), prepare reduces difficulties and present allows your to communicate better to those around you and yourself for that matter.
Creating a mindset for yourself can be difficult, as much as changing habits, but it is the small details that will make the bigger picture in the end.
Thanks to all my time management and procedures, I now have time to feel the grass and smell the roses and appreciate it, but the days I don't feel like it, I don't beat myself up about it, I don't look at my social media as everything is planned and scheduled so it runs itself but most of all I know that I have solid foundations to fall back on, so never feel guilty about feeling down anymore and able to let that day go to start a better one the next.
As well as procedures and habits, consistency needs to become your best friend when you want to change your mindset. Be consistent at being kind to yourself and the changes that you are making....
In the meantime, I read all the school notes that were handed in, never got to have the most elaborate costume in the school however..... I think that deep down I prefer an aluminium sword made from a ruler......
Valerie Delforge - Founder and CEO of Delforge + Co
Judge, Key Note Speaker, Commercial Trainer & Coach for the Beauty Industry
Become Commercially aware
What a week it's been! And now it's great to have a sunny bank holiday to take a step back, reflect on the success of the Delforge + Co launch event and the journey I've taken to get where I am today.
I'm so grateful to everyone for all the support they've shown. Not only were there a great number of people at the event but I received many, many really encouraging messages. I could easily use this blog to thank every single person responsible but, don't worry, I will do that individually.
Seeing my boss from my time at Clarins (over 20 years ago!), the lovely Kim Grassby who took 2 hours to get to the event, was really humbling and highlighted how much I've learnt from the journey so far.
It helped me to realise that every job I've had over the past 25 years has given me something back.
As manager of large teams early in my career, I became extremely operational.
The key, however, is to remain commercial and that comes once the operation is in place. There's no point, in my view, to try and gain more customers until you're completely secure with operational procedures.
Strong operation will create a strong business and one that does not haemorrhage money (from bad recruitment to poor stock management). And the best customer journey will ensure you're building a brand that everyone wants to come back to.
Growth starts within. You then flourish and reach further. In other words, build from within your team and existing customers, then attract and retain new customers. This also translates if you work alone.
To me, operation is at the core of the business. Without it, the foundations will remain very shaky and this will in turn damage the all important customer journey.
Someone once asked me when I was Head of Spa Operation for Steiner, what operation actually meant?
I took a moment and said:
"If you think of the business as a cake, operation is the cream that makes all the ingredients stick together. The smoother the cream, the smoother the finish"
Operation is never at the forefront of the business but it affects everything. And it's the decisions you make as operations manager that will result in happy customers and an easier day to day working life for your staff.
I remember Kim saying to me: "Valerie, what do you think is the most important thing within your business?"
"Staff, training, motivation", I said.
"Nope - your stock." She replied.
She went on to explain that without stock you cannot retail and without retailing you cannot reach your target. Conversely if you have too much stock you will waste the budget on products that just sit on the shelves.
This is why I'm a stock fanatic! Whether it's professional or retail stock, every penny counts.
My own beauty salon made me look at costs, costs and costs!! Every penny was mine. I learnt from the mistakes I made and paid for them! But I also learnt from the success I enjoyed through all the activities I created and the consequential financial growth.
UR Beautiful by Urban Retreat with 80 lines of stock, working with hairdressers and managing a brand new venture gave me the insight into how a strong operation can help you survive shaky beginnings.
Tina Robinson, my boss who became my mentor throughout the years, made me realise how important the commercial aspect of the role was. Also how crucial it is to inspire productivity into each member of staff. After all it's thanks to the staff that money goes in the till.
She always used to say, "You are only as good as your last month's figures". A harsh but true statement which still makes it's mark on everything I achieve.
L'Occitane made me scrutinise the details and what I felt sometimes was unnecessary became what I lived by. There is logic in the cliche, 'the devil is in the detail'.
You cannot deliver if you have not looked at every aspect of your business.
It's when I joined Bliss Spa that all of the above became important. It took me over 3 months to ensure that operation was up to scratch and working from within. Ensuring the team were functioning without any glitches. It was only then that I was able to network locally to generate a buzz around Bliss as a Spa and brand.
At Bliss, marketing, networking, PR, digital media and brand rebuilding was at the forefront of everything I did.
As the Head of Spa Operation for Steiner, I was managing the managers and ensuring they reached their goals with detailed analysis of their plan of action.
All my working experiences have made their mark on me and every situation has further expanded my knowledge. But at the end of the day, there is one goal and one only - the needs of the business.
I want to give you an example of all of this:
I went for a facial as I needed to feel good before the launch party. Something local as time was not on my side. So after reading some reviews online (this being one of the deciding factors as a customer) I decided on an £85 facial in what seemed like a lovely place. Until, that is, I lay on the bed and found the ticking of the clock was so loud I couldn't hear myself think! That was bad enough but then the music, which had been mostly muffled by the clock, suddenly changed to reggae! Now, don't get me wrong, I like reggae but not when I'm having a supposedly relaxing facial! Then out of nowhere a stampede of feet, a dragging of boxes, banging of doors and hoovering. I asked the therapist what was going on and she said they have a delivery on Wednesdays which makes a mess which they have to hoover up.
After my facial, I was asked to get changed and go to reception - the therapist was nowhere to be seen. A glass of water was visible but I was not offered it and even though I'd had some kind of consultation at the beginning, I was not told what I needed for my skin, not recommended to rebook but asked if I wanted a loyalty card. I suspect the receptionist was on some kind of commission for the loyalty cards as not once did she ask if I'd enjoyed the experience.
Yes my skin looked brighter and she was a good therapist, but no I will not go there again. The facial alone is not enough - the experience is what the customer wants regardless of the price they pay. After all they have many places to choose from. Admittedly £85 is not a high price for a facial but a treat nonetheless and to me the whole operation failed.
Who said it was ok to hoover when there is a customer enjoying a treatment? Why not choose a quiet time to put the delivery away? Why not invest in a broom? Why have such a huge clock in the room when digital clocks are available in Argos for £9.99? How can you retail after a facial when the therapist is busy with other clients? (after a facial is where the customer will spend the most) and who should offer the water? The receptionist? Or should it be the therapist at the end of the treatment? And why give out a loyalty card when you have not assessed if the customer enjoyed their time with you?
it's all of these details which go towards making a spa experience a great one. And always remember to offer the cherry on top in order to entice your customer back and ensure they become a regular and valued customer.
When I launched my consultancy agency last week I wanted to create something that would provide answers to every aspect of the businesses. I have a passion for delivering results and a love for people management. Working with owners and managers will give me the opportunity to utilise all the tools I have learnt on my journey so far. I have been enlightened by so many people on my way here - too numerous to mention. Everyone I have worked with has played a part in the development of Delforge + Co - I cannot wait for the next chapter. Last week's event was a stamp that I was keen to make, and I want to thank you all for being a part of it.
Valerie Delforge - Founder and CEO of Delforge + Co
Judge, Key Note Speaker, Commercial Trainer & Coach for the Beauty Industry
Become Commercially aware
Yesterday I woke up feeling tired and a little anxious. A great deal is happening at the moment so I'm conscious of my time management affecting everything I do.
Pushing things forward for the agency and the business academy, although really exciting, is not just pressure but a reality I have to manage every day.
I woke up not wanting to go to yoga (been quite religious with it lately as it helps focus my mind - yoga is saving my sanity!) I had loads to do before I left to see Sinead and work on the content for the Academy, so I cancelled yoga. Now a mixture of guilt and pleasure as I realise I can get on with loads of emails instead.
It was raining. Rain, rain, rain. One of those days when you want to stay in bed, watch, TV and drink hot chocolate. But no, that's not going to happen Valerie, so snap out of it and get ready!
Out I go, take my car and drive. My mind full of thoughts. I should have gone to yoga, I must do this, have to do that, who needs what, priorities for today, this weekend, next week. My mind on overdrive.
Traffic light, Hammersmith, thoughts keep rattling in my head. No make up as I have the bright idea of taking a mask to Sinead for a girly day of work, dressed for staying in (don’t even want to mention that!). Then I see it - smoke! Smoke so heavy it comes into my car and stops my rattling mind; “Oh the guy in front of me has a smoky car!”
Oh no! It's not his, it’s mine! No! OMG! OMG! OMG! what do I do? I'm going to burn alive (dramatic, must come from my French roots!). I manage to take the car to a side road, even park it and stop the engine.
All I keep thinking is WHY???? Not today of all days! I have sooooooooo much to do! Stupid car, what next!?!
And it rains and it rains and it rains……
I call the insurance who call the road assistance, going to be an hour, you have time to go for a coffee she tells me nicely. I need to purchase a parking ticket. Last thing I need is to get a fine. Of course the machine only accepts coins, not one of these new ones where you can phone or use your card…typical….got no change. Take the risk of going to a cash point, buy some bits from the corner shop, get change, go back to the machine really not dressed for this weather - getting soaked!
Go back to the machine, money ready. But suddenly half of it falls from my hand and to my horror, £3 of it goes down the only drain in the vicinity! (told you, French dramatic!).
Not my day I keep thinking, come on Valerie! I have £1 left, put it in the machine. It leaves me enough time to have a coffee - this is the only way forward. Not my day, not my day I keep thinking.
Costa coffee, warm, plug to charge my phone. Phone Sinead. We chat and chat, got so much to do. Frustration and guilt from the morning of non yoga, it’s not my day, i don't have time. I seriously don’t need this. Sinead reassures me as only Sinead knows how.
I go back to my car, time has passed and the ticket will run out. The heavens open and heavy rain pours down. Really should have worn something else!
The promise of having a rescue man within the hour has not been delivered. I phone the insurance company, their wording is carefully rehearsed: “We aim to send you someone within the hour.” “We aim”! Frustration mounts. I could still get to Sinead if only they would hurry. We could still do loads of work, must do loads of work, have to!
I am in the car, soaked, annoyed and playing a game on my phone in an attempt to calm myself down.
An hour and a half later along comes this lovely man. He looks into everything, has a gentle go at me for not looking at my oil levels and brake fluid - that is another matter! He then finds the water tank has a leak - I cannot drive the car! This is getting serious - I cannot believe this! I am now incandescent. Today day is not going to plan!
I have to wait another hour for a recovery van. Need more change for the parking meter. Much more careful this time - one learns quickly when it comes to money and drains!
Then go back to Costa. Food, drink, phone charging. The recovery man comes along quickly, don’t even have time to eat my sandwich. Never mind, I will eat in his van.
Rain, rain, rain.
We are in the van, I finish my food. He is lovely, talking about life, his wife, five children. My mind is still going round in circles - should have, could have, must have. Thinking of all the things I now need to do. Adding the car to my to do list!
Suddenly, out of nowhere, his van breaks down! No! seriously?! Yep, this is for real - his van breaks down!
So here we are waiting for a recovery van for my recovery van man who is in the process of recovering my car!!!!
We burst into fits of laughter! Cannot stop laughing. Now it's the other drivers who are getting hot under the collar. We are on double red lines, right next to a traffic light - not ideal.
Then he says: “I promise you, this has not happened in all my days of rescuing people.”
I mean, I believe you but WHY MEEEEEEEEE????? WHY NOWWWWWWWW???? I am so BUSYYYYYYYYY!!!!
As I sat in his van waiting for the other recovery van, I manage to let the day go, see the funny side and realise that today was not meant to be the way I had planned it.
Since I am now not far from home, he suggests I go home and he will call me when the recovery van comes. He said it should be within about 40 minutes. Great! Forget about letting the day go, I can get on with my work!
I go home and work, work, work. I have so much to catch up on after such an awful day.
An hour and a half later fear strikes me. I mean seriously, I have left a complete stranger with my car, my keys and my possessions in the boot. Ok it would be an elaborate way to take someone’s car but seriously Valerie, you don’t even have his number!
How do I explain that to people? Someone stole my car - I gave him my keys! I am so gullible. It is not my day, and it’s not just raining, it's pouring!
I walk back to where I left him waiting for his recovery van - stressed! What if he's left with my car and my belongings! (more French drama!). The 5 minute walk feels like an hour. I didn’t even take a coat I was in such a hurry to see if he was still there. I'm getting soaked again. But by now, I don’t care, I just want to see if I still have a car!
To my relief I see him waiting in his van, my car behind, I can breathe! I step in his van, tell him what's been going through my mind and we laugh again. Apparently the guy that is rescuing him is new and doesn't know what he is doing! Of course, because that's the way today is going, right?!
Then he said, “Sometimes, it’s not about luck, you just can’t control certain things, you need to let them go as it will happen anyway.”
What a great reminder, I have read this on numerous occasions. I teach time management and tell people how sometimes life can take an unexpected turn and all of a sudden your priorities change. it’s how you deal with it that matters. Why couldn’t I see this today?
Life takes over, you forget your beliefs and worry about things that are out of your control. But it's important to know that if you've built the foundations, you can go back to them when everything goes crazy around you.
Today is a new day. Yesterday's crazy car shenanigans has inspired me to start something new on my blog and schedule days off in my diary. Learning from the bad days in order to improve on future ones is the only way forward, and we all have the power to do that.
We carried on laughing and talking. I let the day go, got home, stayed in bed and drank hot chocolate. Maybe I simply needed a day off!
Valerie Delforge - Founder and CEO of Delforge + Co agency and Business Academy
Consulting agency and Business Academy specializing in the Hair and Beauty industry