If Harvard Business Review did a case study on TNG WORLDWIDE, readers would not believe the story. I lived through the story and still cannot believe it myself.
The coronavirus pandemic came and in a perfect world, this story would have never happened. But the world we live in has never been perfect and life is about dealing with each situation that is thrown at you. This is a true story on how I dealt with the coronavirus.
It was the fateful day, Tuesday, March 17 that I will remember for a very long time. That is when Governor Whitmer shut down the state. Three days later I would have a Zoom meeting with my employees announcing layoffs, pay cuts for salaried employees and store closures. It was a reminder of what happened in 2008-2009 but with much different ramifications.
Just a week earlier I was on the phone talking to doctors about N95 and KN95 masks. There was a tremendous shortage and they needed them. We sold 3-ply face masks for years, but not medical masks. That was the start of our transformation.
The rest of the transformation was expedited from my previous strategy that began in 1991, accelerated in 1997, and fast-tracked in 2015: Sell only TNG branded products. With the shutdown in place nationwide, only essential businesses were allowed to remain open. Due to the fact that TNG already manufactured many essential products, we were allowed to stay open. Products including hand sanitizer, EPA-registered disinfectants, hand soap, 99% IPA and face masks became hot items (and still are and always will be) and we made them all. Because of my relationship with my factories, together we were able to keep up with demand and stay in stock.
It was during this time that each morning around 2:30AM, lightening bolt thoughts would enter my mind and wake me up. These were new ideas scorching my mind and then I would wake up and put them into action. I’m not kidding, it was like living in a science-fiction movie for weeks (and truthfully, we are all living in a sci-fi movie right now).
With salons and spas closed, our business soared selling to first level providers. It was at this time that I truly understood my strategy all along was the right path and then one morning the lightning bolt told me to discontinue all third-party vendors. Not a single one stepped up to the plate to supply me essential products. In fact, none of them stepped up to the plate to supply any beauty distributor. In a crisis, you learn quickly who your real partners are. My customers already knew that TNG was the best company to work with, this only confirmed it.
At this time, I had another TNG employee meeting and this time, told those that we kept on everyone was back to work at full wages (even an incentive added for DC employees) and let’s rock forward. It was a great moment.
It was during this time that I also thought that I needed to transition THE INDUSTRY SOURCE to TNG WORLDWIDE and create a special platform for my most loyal customers. Voila! DIAMOND PARTNER membership was born. It was also the perfect time to update our logo and brand promise. No longer The Beauty Experts (although we always will be), but the new focus was on life’s essentials and comforts. Bam!
My focus then turned to additional essential items my customers needed. Fast forward to today, TNG is in stock on just about every single item, from Non-Contact Electronic Infrared Thermometers, to face shields to face masks to hand sanitizer and next week, touchless infrared dispensers for soap and hand sanitizer. It has been a non-stop whirlwind.
To get the word out to our customers, I created a series of Town Hall meetings to explain the transformation of the company and why we would no longer carry third-party brands such as CND, OPI, Nufree and others. It was in fact the very first meeting in which I was very passionate about my history growing up and how I got into this business and my ultimate pivot of my career.
It was also the meeting in which I was very passionate about the nail industry and I talked about the Vietnamese, how the first generation came to America to start nail salons, how hard they worked and even slept in them because they worked 24/7 and had nowhere else to go. It was then when I talked about the current state of affairs I said some stupid and insensitive things. Luckily, I was called out on it 10 days later and learned first-hand what it is like to be a total idiot and the happenstance when you screw up in social media. It was quite the humbling experience.
The great thing about America is freedom of speech. Another great thing about America is the ability to apologize publicly so you can move on without being prosecuted. I did a live video apologizing and then did a written apology. They say that good things come from bad and in this instance, it was so true. I never did business with Vietnamese salons, for more than 25 years I did business with Vietnamese distributors. This lesson taught me well but it also put me in touch with hundreds of Vietnamese nail techs and for that, I am very grateful.
The good news is that my next few Town Hall meetings went on without a hitch. Listen my loyal readers, I don’t know of any other CEO in the beauty business that has reached out to salons and spas like me and has assisted them not only with their PPE needs, answered hundreds of questions in regards to opening but also very vocal and direct with the direction that the new post-pandemic economy is going to take. If I never opened up, sure, my life lesson would not have happened, but in the end, history will show my passion for my customers comes first.
Last Thursday and Friday were two of my biggest days in business. Thursday, we opened America’s first PPE store, TNG WORLDWIDE COMPANY STORE. It was a grand celebration for our employees and customers. Every customer that entered was given a temperature check, good news is that everyone passed. Then they were given the choice of wearing nitrile gloves or using spray hand sanitizer and face mask (many had their own). And then they were free to shop. It was great to see their smiling faces (I could tell by their eyes) and seeing them buy everything they needed.
Thursday and Friday were the conversion of THE INDUSTRY SOURCE to TNG WORLWIDE and it was a monumental task that eventually went smoother than anticipated. It was all made possible because of our great web and support teams. It was the official transformation of the company!
One last note: We truly have the best employee team in the business. The demands over the past few weeks with air shipments, record number of orders and deliveries and working within the guidelines for safety and health have been tremendous. Yet through it all, we have had not one case of anyone being sick and not only that, everyone has forged even greater relationships with each other to make the customer experience and 100% customer success the best ever.
I want to close this chapter by saying thank you to my team, to my loyal customers, my loyal factories throughout the world, my BUB and everyone else that helped me and TNG through this transition. I cannot wait for salons and spas to reopen and most important, we are ready for business in the post-pandemic economy because of you.
Here we are, in the last hurrah of the 2010 decade, wondering where the last ten years went. Hey, I still think about Y2K and 12/31/1999. That seems like forever ago and it seems like yesterday at the same time.
The next two weeks are slow and easy with most of us taking holiday time off, shopping, getting ready for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, college football bowl games and our favorite activity of all: Eating and drinking. No school busses, traffic is light and hey, next weeks temps are in the 40’s and sunshine. It won’t be a White Christmas, but it surely will be enjoyable.
With New Year’s Day falling on Wednesday, even the 2nd and 3rd will be slow with schools still closed and people extending their vacation time. The real action starts Monday, January 6. So what is the action going to look like?
That depends whom you are talking too. Look, it’s a new year and the start of a new decade. The optimist in me looks at this being one of the best times to move forward, embrace change and start off fast. And that is exactly what TNG is going to do. The pessimist in others might look at this time period as just another week, another month, another year that is going to be no different than last year or any other year. Those individuals will fall further behind.
We are going to see a new era of change unlike any other era. The likes of Tesla, Amazon, 5G, AI, biotechnology are just in the early adopter phases of product and technology roll-outs. By the end of this decade, everything we own today in technology will be obsolete and most likely, so will our SUV’s and pickup trucks. Biotech drugs will be introduced at a much faster pace and many cancers will become curable or at least manageable. The average life expectancy in 2100 will be 115 due to all the changes that will take place.
But for now, none of the excitement that will change our world will happen in the beauty business. It will continue to be product driven by celebrities and influencers. Surely this too will change but what new medium will appear to make that change happen? When Coty buys a 51% interest in Kylie’s company for $600 million, you know we are near a tipping point. And speaking of Coty, they are still trying to unload the P&G brands they bought just a few years ago along with OPI, GhD and a few others. It looks they will have to wait until 2020 just like Revlon who has yet to find a buyer. One thing is for certain, the beauty business will not get easier in the new decade.
For TNG, I am staking the company on product innovation, best-in-class customer service (we are like Delta, best service year after year), and best value proposition. If you look at most successful brands moving into 2020, they are all brands that sell their products at list price (no discounts), offer the highest quality and are in stock. These brands include Costco, Trader Joe’s, Lululemon, Apple, and ALDI. And for a peak at the master of branding building, look no further than LVMH who just bought Tiffany for a cool $16B. In fact, Bernard Arnault is the richest man on earth amassing a fortune over $100B and growing faster than Jeff Bezo’s or Bill Gate’s.
I’m super excited about 2020 and at my age, there are not many decades left to get excited about so this is perfect timing! Regardless of what the new era of change takes place, one thing is for certain: Girls from the ages of 6 to 96 will continue to get their mani’s, pedi’s, hair cut-colored-highlighted, and take in the occasional massage and facial. That is the sweet spot, beauty services, and we will continue to lead the way in nurturing this niche segment.
Safe travels whether you are staying home or on the road, safe and healthy new year and look forward to connecting in 2020.
The Premier show in Orlando was two weekends ago and by all counts, was well attended. Perhaps some 30,000 crowded into the Orlando Expo Center with rolling carts to snap up bargains, walk through the flea market environment and catch some real deals at the Salon Centric close-out party. For those that call Premier a success, shame shame on you. How is our industry going to grow and prosper in this environment? It’s not.
That’s why TNG Discovery was such a gamble. Some 25 salons and 25 suppliers relaxed at the Four Seasons Dallas Resort & Club for three impactful days. By the end of the event, everyone knew everyone by first name and it was almost like camp letting out with people exchanging business cards and phone numbers. In a speed-dating format, each salon had 20 minutes to learn about each of the supplier’s offerings and then move on to another table to learn more. In all, salons attended more than 20 meetings. This was intermixed with plenty of food, fun and enjoyment at night, all in a very relaxed inspirational environment.
There were no screaming hairdressers on stage vying for attention. There was no music turned up to 120db so loud that you couldn’t even think. In fact, there was no music. There were no rolling carts although salon owners walked away with plenty of sample bags. There were no lines in the bathrooms, no wristbands, no hand stamps and no eating lunch on the floor. There were no models parading around three-quarters naked with hair that not even E! would show on TV.
TNG Discovery actually treated salon owners as business people and get this, intelligent conversations took place all day long. People actually learned, listened and wrote ideas down. They were intrigued at how simple it was to increase their business, their bottom line and low and behold, sell stuff they never thought of selling before.
But the real gamble was this: Were salon owners ready for an event of this caliber? Would they demand platform artists and models? Would they demand to buy goods onsite? Could they be in one room all day long?
The answer was self-evident from the moment the program started. It was eerily magical. It was truly a discovery.
Listen, the Four Seasons is the Four Seasons for a reason. Those that want the absolute best do business with them. We were surrounded by many other groups yet they performed flawlessly. And TNG is TNG for a reason. It is now readily apparent that trade shows are done for us and we will focus on those salons and spas that love doing business the way business should be done. Wow, what a concept.
Follows is a short recap video taken at TNG Discovery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxw6VHcPo8U
New Year’s Eve is in two days, wasn’t it just New Year’s Day 2010? I’m celebrating by having a few friends come over for dinner and watch the Time’s Square ball drop at midnight. That is of course I can stay up that long!
Do you know why it’s called Times Square? In 1904, the New York Times opened their new offices and pleaded with New York to change the name from Longacre Square to Times Square.
What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Most likely eating. Favorite foods include crab legs, lobster, steak and shrimp.
I’m not sure what I’m going to remember about 2010 five years from now. There were plenty of disasters, a sick economy getting better, the rebirth of GM and Chrysler, the Spartans winning the national championship, OPI and Essie being sold, and the end of the occupation of Iraq.
Gas is $3.18 a gallon and going up even more. Isn’t it strange that the media isn’t commenting on this like the first time it surged past the $3 a gallon mark? I know GM with its Volt and Ford with its Fiesta is smiling all the way to the bank.
Did you make your New Year’s resolutions yet? Forget it, 95% of them are broken after the first week.
What were your favorite new products introduced in 2010? For sure the iPad is #1 followed by the iPhone 4. I can’t recall any beverages that got hot like Red Bull or Vitamin Water in years past.
It appears credit cards will be the next item to disappear. Smart phones will have all the credit card info and you will line up the smart phone at the cash wrap to pay for transactions. No signature required.
I read that the next technology to hit ereaders will be paper. Paper is the perfect medium for electromagnetic particles that when configured a certain way, appears just like ink on paper. And like paper, the reader can be rolled up and once used, can even be disposed of. Apparently this is 3-5 years out.
2011 will be another interesting year. Growth will continue in third world countries (Vietnam for example is booming); Europe will still be constrained by its debt while the U.S. will continue its recovery. Unfortunately, housing will remain weak and unemployment will most likely stay above 9%. With commodities at all time highs, and continuing higher, one wonders if and when prices will start to go up. Pressures to keep prices down and increased productivity will remain powerful incentives to keep prices in line. At the salon and spa level, look for more of the same. Hospitality will see more occupancy at the higher end properties as businesses open their purse strings to more travel and events.
TNG is ready to rock in 2011. thebeautybook Spring 2011 edition and The Industry Source magazine are both in the mail and we have plenty of new initiatives ready to go. One of the most exciting ones is our new capability to customize and fill 8 oz. and 16 oz. bottles for the salon/spa/hospitality industry. Another exciting area is the launch of black 15in1 which has had numerous press mentions from its celebrity launch event. Also, we just updated theindustrysource.com to show real time inventory so when customers order online they will now see stock on hand.
And last but not least, thanks for being part of my blog in 2010. I’m excited to launch the video blog in 2011 and have some fun with technology. Have a safe, healthy, and successful 2011.
Happy New Year!
Our first major event in TEXAS is coming to Dallas Sunday, January 23 at the historic Granada theater. FRINGE is about food, fun and fashion and will highlight the best guest artists from Davines, Michael O’Rourke (Michael himself will be on stage!), Kemon, Joico and more.
Tickets go on sale December 1. This amazing event inclusive of everything is only $25; $50 VIP includes preferred seating, valet parking and a couple other surprises.
More information on FRINGE will be on our website, tngworldwide.com, towards the end of November. In the meantime, if you are going to be in the Dallas area, save the date. This is going to be one no-miss event!