It’s time to dump Ulta stock

picture of scissors
image of Ulta store
Ulta store

Speaking as someone who used to get their hair cut at Ulta stores I can tell you I will never do it again. The company has completely incompetent management. Everyone from the board of directors down to the CIO must be kicked to the curb. To start with they obviously use AGILE (the first indication a company is about to go belly up.) How do I know this? They put a new appointment system in place several months ago (during COVID-19 shutdowns) and it is a hand polished turd.

With true Software Engineering you always have a flash cut back when installing a new system. There may be some data you have to massage out of the failed new system to put into the old system, but you always have a flash cut back. You hope for success and plan for catastrophe. This is Software Engineering.

With AGILE you hack on the fly and leave hand polished turds in production.

This is what Ulta did. This catastrophe double and possibly triple books stylists. Many of the good stylists are quitting. Some have simply started keeping an paper appointment book because you can’t trust anything in the system. The stylists are having to call back just about every loyal customer to tell them that the appointment they just booked is not real.

That is exactly my experience. If you want to know the best part, the stylist I liked at the local store quit over this system about a month before I tried to make an appointment. I don’t even know where she went. So far this has been the experience of everyone I’ve talked to who admits to using Ulta salon.

What does this tell us?

  1. Ulta has completely incompetent management from the board of directors on down.
  2. Neither the board of directors nor upper management actually use the Ulta salon. If they booked appointments via the Web site there was no way they could miss this. Most Ulta salons are so short staffed there is nobody to operate the phone. You cannot reliably make an appointment over the phone. They cut the staff and told people to use the Web site.
  3. Whatever portion of Ulta revenue comes from the salon is going to take a prolonged and massive hit due to this hand polished turd being left in production for months.
  4. It’s time to dump Ulta stock until there is a completely new upper management team as well as board of directors. They need a management team that actually uses the salon and the salon scheduling system. These people are just collecting a check. They are managing nothing.

Personally I don’t have Ulta stock held directly. I’m checking my mutual funds and ETFs to see if it is in their holdings. If it is, they are getting dumped.

Everyone can have a failed system. It happens. You don’t leave a failed system in production and just keep AGILE hacking at it as thousands of people keep adding the same “User Story” to your backlog and you keep waiting for the proper sprint to schedule it.

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