On Sunday, I took time off in the afternoon to bring Julia to her old hair-dresser in a shopping mall. She did not visit this hair-dresser for many years owing to the loss of personal attention as the hair-dresser expanded her business and asked her staff to attend to her. However, Julia asked about this hair-dresser and I took her to her shop. I knew this hair-dresser and her husband for over 15 years and I did go for some hair cuts in the past.
Hair-dressing and veterinary practice appears to be very personal. There are clients who will specify that they want Dr Vanessa only and there are some of my clients disappointed with me for not being available when they have to consult Dr Vanessa.
It was great to see her again. No health problems at the age of 60. No high cholesterol level unlike many Singaporeans. "You look lean and mean," I said. "As if you don't have enough to eat."
"I eat only 2 meals a day," she told us her secret of being healthy as most older Singaporeans of over 40 years are on anti-cholesterol and high blood pressure medication. Here she was as fit as a fiddle.
"I don't eat meat." She does eat some fish occasionally.
Her business was booming as the economy has recovered and she had said: "During SARS, I had to ask my staff to take some days off not to work. Now, I wish they work every day!" So, business must be very good.
"How's your son doing in his veterinary studies in Australia?" I had seen him as a pre-teen in Canberra some 15 years ago. He is an Australian citizen and so his veterinary fees of $300,000 for 5 years will not be paid by his parents.
"He's got free education as a citizen," the mum said. "He gets $1,500 scholarship for the next 4 years. So I don't have to pay anything till the 5th year."
"How did he get this scholarship for 4 years from the Australian Government? What is the name of this scholarship?" I asked.
"He was the top 5% in his first year in economics. Then he switched to veterinary medicine. I don't know the name. All I know is that he asks me to pay after the 4 years in vet course."
Academic excellence still counts in any part of the world. Scholarship for the top 5% to motivate the student.
I saw her hand worn out through years of treating clients and washing their hair. "Veins are very big in the hands if you are a hair-dresser," she showed me her big veins above her hand and then another male hair-dresser.
She did share with me her business management and success. I always ask to improve my own practice. In her practice, no hair-dresser is allowed to write name and address of clients so that they don't poach clients. In veterinary practice, vets who leave the practice can download the customer data base and inform clients when they go elsewhere if such vets want to be unethical.
She gave me the hair-dresser appointment book which is excellent and told me what she used it for in certain product and service recording. I will use it and improve my management.