Delivering a superb service can’t all be about the technical. It’s important, but so, too, are those other skills that enable a service provider to sell products to clients, convince them of the benefits of additional services and make sure they don’t leave without booking their next appointment. These are the skills that will boost their income, but many new recruits to the industry, considering themselves creatives, are resistant to such ideas, and the schools are not doing enough to challenge this attitude.
At Design 1, we have always been good at training for technical improvement, but more recently we recognized we also needed to invest in developing a program that taught business and leadership. The opening of our own education center at our Plainfield location provided the impetus to introduce a more structured approach to those skills beyond the chair.
Most of our new recruits come straight from beauty school and are put on a one-year associate program, where they go through a structured training scheme that now includes regular sessions on business. All associates are now trained in ways to drive rebooking, introduce home care into the conversation and advise on take-home products. It’s all about keeping the narrative going and not missing opportunities.
The training makes them understand that by selling they are enhancing their creativity, not compromising and it builds their confidence so they are not afraid to sell. They are merely delivering what the client wants.
We reinforce the training by tying it in to trainees’ regularly monthly reviews with managers, where their goals and results are discussed. Our managers drill down into the data to check sales, occupancy and referrals, all those stats that reveal success. But our managers also are trained and empowered to seek out what drives each individual, to try to discover what will motivate them to push beyond their comfort zone. It’s not always money – it might be the idea of a trip to Disneyland or a new car. Making them understand that better sales means more money, which will allow them to achieve their dream is a major motivator.
But we don’t focus solely on the classroom to teach a creative how to be a salesperson or the manager to drive sales. We also have in-salon mentors to guide associates to greater success. These are senior stylists who will see the new recruit through her associate program. But perhaps one area where we differ from other salon businesses, is the way we utilize our newly qualified stylists to back up the nurturing of the mentors.
The lessons these graduates learned are still fresh and few bad habits have had a chance to creep in. They are motivated to prove themselves, to impress their managers and their colleagues. Appointing them as back-ups to the mentors has proven a great way to reinforce the learning they been through over the previous three years, plus it builds confidence in their own abilities.
The combination of classroom-based sessions, the mentoring program and active nurturing by managers is driving up sales but it also improving confidence in our young people, ensuring each is a rock of support for the next tranche of new recruits.