2: Hiring and Training Employees
Almost everything in your salon business depends upon the competency
of your employees; therefore, the people you hire and the way in which
you train them is critical to your success. The idea is to find employees
who are going to earn their wages, not just collect them.
Hiring individuals with good personalities and good work ethics truly
can increase your sales. Customers feel more comfortable, secure and happy
when someone who is friendly and capable is aiding them. The employee
becomes even more important if you add retail merchandise to your salon.
Finding Good Employees
The most common way to find employees is to place a newspaper advertisement.
However, in order to attract the type of people you want to hire, you
must stipulate your high standards in the ad. Mention that you are seeking
an inside sales person with flexible hours in a pleasant, business atmosphere.
Mentioning the word "business" right off the bat indicates to
a potential applicant that he or she will need a professional attitude
in order to land this job.
It is also good to indicate that good phone skills are needed, as well
as having excellent rapport with clients. Mention the importance of appearance
as well. Being in the beauty/health field, it is important to have attractive,
neat, fit employees. This alone can create a salon image.
Always keep your eyes open for potential employees. Health clubs and
beauty salons are good places to find people who can convey the image
you desire. Employees have been known to quit without warning, so when
you come across someone you like and they express an interest in working
for you, take their name and number and begin a file. Then it will be
easier to find the right person without going to the trouble of advertising
when you need to.
Waitresses also are good candidates for potential employees. If they
work in a restaurant that's only open for dinner, there's a chance they
might need a daytime job. So if you're out eating and encounter a waitress
who's attractive, neat, attentive, personable and provides good service,
ask her if she'd be interested in discussing employment with you.
Your competitors' businesses also are good places to look, especially
if the defecting employee brings a copy of the customer list with them.
If you come across an exceptional employee while shopping your competitors,
make an offer, but keep in mind that there may be some drawbacks. If your
operating style is drastically different from that of your competitor,
you may encounter unexpected difficulties. The employee may have been
trained to work a certain way, and old habits are sometimes hard to break.
The employee also may have been trained to operate and explain different
Always conduct interviews in your salon and allow the potential employee
to take a session as part of the interview. Even if you don't hire the
person, you may gain a customer. By doing this, you also may see how they
react to the equipment and how well they understand its function.
Make sure you go over your requirements and expectations; they must be
perfectly clear from the beginning. A lack of communication is the most
common source of problems in an employee-employer relationship. Prepare
a written job description and emphasize selling retail items, as well
as tanning and/or add-on services as a primary responsibility.
Allow potential employees to do some of the talking because this is one
of the best ways for you to get a feel for their personality and ideas.
Do some role playing; pretend you are the customer and let them interact
with you. Act as a customer coming out of an initial tanning session,
and let them try to sell you a package or a product. This can give you
an idea of how well they will function on the job. If they are excessively
timid when role playing, it's likely that they will act the same way when
it comes to the real thing.
The Training Process
After hiring, break the employee in slowly. Pushing too hard may cause
a person with excellent work potential to become frustrated and discouraged.
First, give employees a package of literature from the manufacturer or
manufacturers of your tanning units. They also should be given copies
of your ads, fliers, customer cards, daily record sheets and any other
forms they will be expected to fill out. Have them read chapters of this
book and copies of the trade journals and explain that it is imperative
that they read all the information carefully. Review each form step by
step and have them spend the day studying them, preferably in the salon
so they can ask you questions at any time.
Allow them to listen, on an extension, to inquiries you handle on the
phone, and explain why you said what you did immediately afterward. Remember,
there is no better teacher than hands-on experience. Don't expect them
to get the hang of it the first few times--you probably didn't even do
that. Allow them to go through the phone procedure with you for the first
few days as practice makes perfect and builds confidence.
Supply the new employee with a list of the questions most commonly asked
by customers, and give them the answers, along with a detailed explanation
of why they are answered that way. You may want to give them a quiz at
the end of their training period, just to be sure they are capable of
being left on their own in the salon.
Cleaning duties can be a touchy subject, so be sure to specify your expectations
in the very beginning. Don't wait until after you've hired the person
to explain that some cleaning duties are required. It's possible they
wouldn't have been as interested in the job if they had known this and,
if that's the case, concealing the fact won't make them any more receptive
Employees always should clean equipment thoroughly after each use. The
cleaning may sound simple, but you must emphasize that it needs to be
done carefully and properly. Explain why it is necessary and what the
possible consequences are if it is done improperly. Go through the procedure
a few times for the tanning units, then have them do it while you're watching.
Don't be afraid to criticize; it is important that this procedure be done
Let your employees know that you expect them to keep the reception desk
as tidy as possible since this usually is the first impression clients
get when they enter the salon. If it is messy or dirty, the client automatically
will jump to the conclusion that the rest of the salon is the same way.
Be sure to stress to your employees the importance of enforcing the salon's
rules. Tell them they are never to extend tanning times or to allow clients
to tan without protective eyewear. Make sure they understand why, and
are able to explain the dangers of such practices to your clients.
The dress code for the salon is up to the individual salon owner. If
you are trying to portray an image of individuality in your salon, your
employees should do the same. You may want to set certain guidelines,
like khaki shorts and pastel-colored shirts, just to keep the general
image the same, but it's not usually necessary. Clothing can be fun, but
should never be risqué. Also, keep in mind that it should be loose
and comfortable enough to allow ease of movement when cleaning equipment.
If you find a good employee who you feel will stay with the salon for
some time, consider taking the employee to one of the trade associations'
training programs. The depth of knowledge that is presented, as well as
the opportunity to network with other salon owners and employees, is invaluable.
If you can't justify the travel expenses for any of your employees, still
give serious thought to going yourself. The knowledge you gain, as well
as the training manual, will be an asset to your in-salon training program.
Another, less expensive alternative is a correspondence training course
offered by some of the associations.
Rapid employee turnover is something all businesses want to avoid. In
addition to being costly in money and time, it also can cause problems
with other employees and client relations. In order to minimize this problem
treat your employees well.
Being considerate and generous to an employee will encourage him or her
to do more for you. Treat your employees in the same manner in which you
wish to be treated--with fairness and dignity. However, if an employee
has become very negative and doesn't seem receptive to reconciliation,
get that person out of the salon. The negative attitude will be transferred
to other employees and to customers, causing a great deal of damage to
the salon's morale and image.
An open communication policy can solve many problems before they develop
into major issues. Talking to your employees is of primary importance,
and let them know how you feel about their performances. If they are doing
a good job, tell them. If their performances are slipping a bit, let them
know you are concerned, and would like to know if there is some way you
could help get them get back on track.
If you have students working in your salon, school usually takes precedence
over work. Make every effort to accommodate their special needs and try
to develop a schedule that will work smoothly for them. If this is not
acceptable to you, don't hire students. However, at the same time, they
should be made aware of the special needs of your salon, and that you
are operating a business.
There is a fine line between being friendly with your employees and still
maintaining your authority. Socializing after work hours should be limited.
However, eating lunch together, when possible, is a good way to bridge
any communication gaps that may exist.
Try to be at the salon as much as possible since this lends itself to
better employee relations, as well as better client relations. Employees
generally are more responsible, and clients feel more secure when there
is an authority figure present, and it creates a more professional atmosphere.
Allow your employees to tan free. This offers incentive to them and gives
them real experience with the equipment, while helping you maintain salon
image. You also may want to give their family members a 50-percent discount.
If you spell out a policy on how much family members pay, you avoid having
your employees "guess" what it is. If you sell lotions and clothing,
give your employees a discount. They will probably wear the clothes while
working in the salon, and this gives your retail side a boost. Your clients
are more likely to notice the clothing on your employees than they are
on the racks.
Motivating Your Employees
Motivation seems to be big money these days. In fact, a huge industry
revolves around it. There are tapes, seminars and in-depth clinics devoted
to the subject. Some help devise programs to motivate a sales staff, others
teach managers to motivate their employees and still others coach people
in all walks of life to motivate themselves. None of this is free. Motivational
assistance, be it taped or in person, commands a hefty price. Why is that?
It's simple: motivation is big money because it can help a business bring
in big money.
No matter what business you're in, it's a proven fact that motivated
employees are more productive than their ambivalent counterparts. People
who want to do something and want to do it well will do a better job than
those whose main interest is just getting it done. Motivation is very
important because motivated employees make the salon money.
However, experts warn that a motivation program must be more than just
a reward system for exceptional sales and customer service efforts. Although
rewards should play a role in the overall program, it's crucial for the
working environment itself to be motivating.
One thing often overlooked in creating such an environment is the existence
of detailed job descriptions. Because it's much easier to do a job when
you know exactly what is expected, it's important for employees to know
what they can and can't do. Poor understanding of what is expected will
tend to detract from the quality and quantity of work produced, as will
job descriptions that require an employee to be doing two things at once.
In a tanning salon, no assistance is required while customers are using
the equipment, so one or two employees can handle customer service simultaneously
and many administrative and maintenance duties.
However, if you offer ancillary services such as nails, day spa amenities,
hair services or nutritional supplements, the necessary work can be broken
down into two and possibly three specific positions, and one person is
going to have a tough time doing all three. After all, one person cannot
be the ideal front desk receptionist, properly attend to clients and conduct
salon tours and program explanations, all at once.
Another element to creating a good, motivating working environment is
you, the salon owner. One of the best things you can do is be there yourself,
setting a good example. In addition to being there, you should make the
employees feel that they are a part of the business. If they can see how
their job fits into the overall function of the business, they'll be much
more likely to want to do a good job.
And even better than just letting them see how the overall salon goals
are set and achieved is having them take part in the process. Don't fall
into the trap of assuming that employees are only working for a paycheck;
feelings of involvement and accomplishment actually may be more important
considerations. Motivation comes from belief in a process or product.
The more involved the employees are, the more they'll believe.
Incentives And Rewards
When designing an incentive program for your employees, don't limit yourself
to cash or percentage rewards. Although they can be effective, money isn't
always the best incentive. It is important to appreciate employees in
the way they want to be appreciated. Non-monetary rewards can be aimed
at three different kinds of personalities: feeling, logical and action
types. Each type will be best motivated by a different reward.
The first group--the feeling type of person--is best motivated by recognition
and by some demonstration that they are valued. Rewards that provide the
best incentive are things like a plaque on the wall in the salon, employee
of the month awards, mention in a customer newsletter, flowers and similar
The second group--the logical employees--need to have quantitative goals
to achieve. They like to see exactly where they stand, be it on a board
or graph in the office or whatever. Then they can mark their progress
against the chart, striving to reach a clearly defined target.
Finally, the active type of employee isn't motivated by money so much
as by what it enables him to do. That is to say, money is a means, not
an end. It makes sense that the way to focus this person on a goal is
to reward its achievement with fun, active things. A few examples might
be tickets to concerts or sporting events, mini-vacations, restaurant
gift certificates and similar activities.
The key in all cases is to make sure the reward is something that the
person values. If you don't present the goal and reward in the employee's
language and value system they either won't see it or will become confused.
Also be aware that few people fit exactly into one category; most are
a combination of more than one. Take some time to observe and evaluate
what kind of people your individual employees are before structuring an
Yet, your employees should be made to understand that their paycheck
is their reward for meeting their job requirements. Be sure to set their
goals beyond that minimum. That is to say, they are only entitled to a
bonus reward if they go beyond what already is expected.
Finally, you can't motivate your employees to achieve specific goals
until you have some for the salon yourself. A problem in the tanning industry
is that many salon owners never define their mission.
The salon's goals may be to reach a certain dollar figure in accessory
sales. They may be to achieve a certain percent occupancy. They may be
to increase the number of three-times-a-week tanners by a specific amount,
or even to increase the number of referrals by a set factor. Hopefully,
the goals of your salon touch on all of these areas. In the course of
achieving them, however, keep the salon's focus consistent. If you're
adding accessory lines, make sure they fit in; don't dilute your purpose.
The importance of setting up a detailed program to motivate salon employees
cannot be denied. In so doing, the salon owner makes a statement about
what is valued, be it increased sales, improved customer service or, better
still, both. It's been demonstrated time and time again that motivated
employees are productive employees. Productive employees will, by definition,
bring more income into the salon, and that's what it's all about.