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5 Lessons from Tabatha Takes Over


To some people, Tabatha Coffey is a demonic elf who enjoys berating hardworking hairdressers for their sloppy work and poor attitude. To others, she’s more like the elfin queen who has the magical ability to pull a failing business back from the brink.

Either way, she’s one of the most entertaining business make-over mavens on TV. From a schizophrenic frozen yogurt shop to an out-of-control doggy daycare, when Tabatha Takes Over, the owners (who asked for her help but probably regretted it instantly) are forced to face the truth about what’s really wrong with their business.

Tabatha Takes Over

Do you want to keep your business from showing up on the next season of Tabatha Takes Over? Learn these five lessons and learn them well.

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1.  It’s your business – don’t expect your employees to run it.

Growing a small business is like raising a child and yet an alarming number of owners spend more time outside of their establishment than in them. Most said that coming to work was simply too stressful. Several even installed hidden cameras so they could monitor their employees remotely. Another was more interested in shopping than running her business. Worse than that, every one of them expected their employees to take up the slack.

As Tabatha will tell you, being a hands-on boss is vital. You don’t have to do all the work by yourself, but you have to be aware of everything that happens within the walls of your business. Part-time won’t cut it. If your business is struggling, you need to spend more time on site, not less.

2.  Clean counts

The first thing Tabatha does when she visits a business is take an inspection tour. Except on rare occasions, she usually finds layers of filth, damaged furniture and equipment and a lack of rules regarding sanitation. Now, knowing that you’re going to be on national television should be reason enough to dust the shelves, but the reality is, it’s hard to see the problems when you live with them every day.

Tomorrow morning, go to work an hour early and really look at the state of your surroundings. Move the couch in reception. Stand on a stool and check the tops of the shelves and anything that’s been in the refrigerator for more than a week needs to go. No matter what kind of business you own, cleanliness is essential for both the health of your employees and customers and for the first impression it makes.

3.  Your employees are an extension of you

Speaking of first impressions, while you can’t expect your employees to run your business, you can expect them to live up to your standards. That means having rules and consequences. In every episode, Tabatha shakes up the staff with a reminder that for the next week, they’ll be following her rules. Most quake at the thought because, for the most part, they’ve been doing as they pleased. They come in late, spend all day texting, use foul language in front of customers and dress inappropriately.

No one likes confrontation, but as a business owner, it’s your job to make sure your employees follow the rules and conduct themselves professionally. What happens when an employee won’t cooperate even after repeated warnings? Then it’s time to borrow a phrase from another TV icon and say, “you’re fired.”

4.  Family is family, but business is business

Dealing with employees is hard enough, but when your employee is your child, sibling or spouse, things really get complicated. As Tabatha has learned, running a business can ruin familial relationships. Often it falls apart because one person wants out but feels obligated to stay. Such was the case of a California bar owner and her eldest son. After the death of his father, the young man felt it was his responsibility to run the business but he was so resentful, customers went elsewhere rather than deal with his constant, sour mood.

If you have family members working for you, it’s time to sit and have a talk. Find out if you both want the same things and make sure there are no hard feelings regarding salary, hours and responsibilities. It’s better to find out now that your daughter hates the business than after she’s driven away half of your customers.

5.  You have to find your passion

Many of the business owners who ask for help have lost their passion. When they first opened their business, they were excited by the possibilities but the reality of keeping afloat in this economy has left them uninspired. It’s hard to come back from that. Hard, but not impossible. Tabatha gives the passionless a kick by reminding them why they got into the business in the first place. For a salon owner, it’s a make-over day for breast cancer survivors. For a beauty school owner, it’s about getting out of the office and back into the classroom.

Need more inspiration? Watch Tabatha Takes Over Tuesdays at 10pm on Bravo.

Tell Us What You Think

Why did you start your business? And what can you do now to reignite that old spark? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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(Pictured: Tabatha Coffey — Bravo Photo: Pete Tangen)

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