Walk-In Woes- The Shift To Appointments
Walk ins! This, for many, is how they are used to things working when it comes to getting a piercing. You walk into a studio, let them know what you want, wait for a bit, and get pierced! This is how piercing has been for many many years. Some studios offered appointments and even requested them for some services, but largely clients are used to just walking in, waiting, and getting pierced. Covid however, has changed this. Due to requirements and suggestions from the cdc and health department many studios are appointment only, or primarily appointment. And this has been a difficult change for some folks. So, today, lets talk about walk ins vs appointments, and why this is likely going to be a permanent change for the piercing industry.
From a piercer perspective, there are some strong pros and cons to how we schedule our days. If we accept walk ins, we give clients freedom to come when they are ready. It often allows us to see more clients in a day, and removes the pressure of no call no shows for appointments. On the downside, there can often be a long wait for walk ins, sometimes pushing 2 and 3 hours. It also means we don’t always know what is coming in each day, which can make days unpredictable or overwhelming.
As a piercer I have, since I finished my apprenticeship, offered some services by appointment only. I loosed up on this when I first moved to Nashville and I have since gone back to it. I don’t see a reality where I ever go back to offering genital work, advanced oral piercings (cheeks, dahlias, paired tongue piercings, vertical philtrum and labrets) or surgically altered piercings (navels after laparoscopic surgery, after tummy tucks, after lipo, breasts after augmentation or reduction, or working after top and bottom surgery) and piercing corrections on a walk in. These are services that sometimes take me a full hour to prep and mark correctly, and the last thing I want to do is to feel rushed and pressured through such an important and precise piercing. I want to be able to take my time, mark and remark, sterilize extra jewelry, and truly be through. When we are doing advanced work like this the risk to our clients is much higher, and we need to respect that by taking our time to be exact.
Beyond that, knowing exactly what I have scheduled each day helps me mentally prepare for the day better. I can monitor my schedule and usually only schedule 1-2 advanced services a day- allowing me mental rest between them and allowing me to be at 100% for everyone I see that day.
I have been a piercer doing high volume walkins- I’ve done 60-80 piercings in a single shift. I hated it. I did not enjoy just getting people in and out of the door, I didn’t love not having the time to take with each client and I’ll be honest by the end of the shift I was tired, and my work was not always as good as it could have been. Piercers are human, and part of how we do our best work is making sure we are at our best all day long. A huge element of that is appointments- having enough time for each client and service, being able to manage our days so we only have a few high stress/high precision/ extra difficult piercings a day and we can balance things. When you are coming to me and asking me to pierce your genitals, or your nipples, or your cheeks. I want to do those well! I want to make sure everything is perfect. And a huge factor of that is my mental and physical state going into the piercing.
I know this is a shift that is very different and unusual for many clients. You have spent the last few years walking into a studio and getting whatever piercing you wanted whenever you wanted. It’s unusual to need an appointment, and disappointing when you are ready for something today, but we are booked for 3 weeks. And it’s never been this way before! And I totally understand that is a large change for many.
As a result, I’ve dealt with people complaining, yelling, threatening me, leaving bad reviews, etc. We had a client threaten to blow up the building and who was crawling around our cars, needing a bomb dog to come out. I've been spit at. I've been told I'm horrible and worthless. Over asking people to schedule an appointment so I can ensure I can properly prepare for and do their piercings. I’ve had clients drive 4 hours without an appointment for a service I list everywhere is appointment only and then get angry when we can’t squeeze them in. And when I do, my appointments end up late and then they are angry. And I’m doing services that are hard and challenging back to back to back. Sometimes I have no time to eat or use the bathroom. It feels like a no win situation. Clients who are used to walk ins are very upset things have changed, and if I don’t take them they get angry. If I take them for these services, I push back my scheduled appointments and they are rightfully angry. Either way folks are mad at me, and if I make the exception to make everyone happy I burn myself out.
I hope, by writing this and trying to share this perspective I can hopefully help explain these changes within studios and help clients understand why things are shifting this way. Covid may have been the initial motivation but honestly I’m not interested in going back. I don’t want to feel rushed or pressured through piercings. And I think most clients want good piercings- piercings that are straight, that are correct, that are well placed. I think if a client is nervous they probably appreciate being able to take time and slow down, make you comfortable, work at your pace and not feel rushed or forced through piercing. Most clients appreciate being focused on, being cared about, and knowing beyond a shadow of doubt their are in great safe hands. And appointments are, 100%, the way to do that.
Studios may not all be appointment only, but if they require appointments for certain services or with certain piercers please respect that! Know that these appointments are required so we can offer you the best service possible. It’s not to make your day harder or make it harder for you to get a piercing. It’s so we can ensure we provide you with an amazing service, every time. Please check your studios policies throughly before coming in, understand they may be ever changing as covid is, and please respect those changes. I love piercing you all, I love seeing you all, and I want to do the best and safest piercings possible!