What Can Tabatha’s Contracting Shop Takeover Teach You?


Okay, so recently I was told about a show called Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. Tabatha takes over a failing salon, shapes up management, then leaves. Finally, she randomly checks in later to see if the lessons stick.

I find this interesting. What if a new HCA came in for 2 weeks and did what Tabtha did — tears through your contracts shop, departs then checks in.

My guess is that while you may not like many changes a Tabatha would put in place, you would (a) learn a lot, and (b) better appreciate your workplace.

And what happens when your Tabatha HCA checks in three months after she left? Would you be doing things the old way or the new way? You’d probably stick with the old ways since change is hard and Tabatha is an outsider who doesn’t “know the way you do business”. (Side note: the way you do business isn’t unique). Still, the new ways planted seeds in minds and forced contracting officers to question their assumptions and methods.

While we can’t have Tabatha breathe fire down our necks and wreck our shops, we can use this post as an opportunity — I challenge you to question your contracting officer in one thing today. It doesn’t have to be big. Just challenge. Come back later and see if your challenge would have made a difference.

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John van Santen

Challenge: contract files that approach the gold standard we learned about in contracting classes – containing all relevant, critical materials and nothing else (size matters); sufficient to hand over to another KO to administer without additional assistance (the “hit by a bus” scenario); keeps OGC and OIG happy if sued or audited.

Paul Homan

Thanks for posting this. I actually feel that I learn a lot of management and communication techniques by watching this show and Tim Gunn on Project Runway.

I recently watched a Tabatha follow up episode that showed salons who had followed her advice, versus the ones who did not. The ones who followed her advice had thrived with minimal employment turnovers – others who were contented to continue their bad practices had seen little improvement (or worse) in their salon’s profitability.

Tabatha is tough, but she has a great management style. Tim Gunn, however, is not “tough” but he does employ and equally great management style of subtlety. Designers who listen to his advice often do well and most are amenable to his suggestions.

Both come from a place of wanting their “proteges” to be successful, and put that out front in their interactions with them. Sometimes in a government workplace it can often feel that auditors or efficiency experts are trying to work against the employees that are already there. I really appreciated this blog! Thanks for writing it.