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The Secret to Engaging Service Providers

Happy guests equal a happy business. Satisfied clients fill up future appointments and buy more product. But I’ve seen some salons spend so much energy on perfecting the ultimate client journey they forgot to consider the experience of their service providers – the men and women on the salon floor delivering that fabulous guest experience. Yet they are just as important as the client to the success of a salon business.

I spend a lot of time working with independent salons, helping them create systems and procedures that will define their salon, something most ISBN members have in their DNA. But there is a danger, at our level of provision, that the systems that seem so obvious to us in management are less clear to the service provider.

The language we use to inspire and motivate can alienate and intimidate. Failure to provide written (online or offline) details of roles and responsibilities can frustrate. Opaque progression routes can cause attrition and erode retention rates.

The first step to clarity begins with a defined career path for every service provider. It must be completely transparent – set out in the handbook, discussed during induction and referred back to during reviews. Your people need to know that if they achieve A they will be rewarded with B. They need to know exactly what A is – be it a certain level of productivity or an enhanced level of technical skill – and what benefits it will bring, in terms of additional responsibility, promotion and money.

The next step is a recalibration of the language used by many salons. It’s obvious that overly complicated commission-based remuneration will blind your team to any potential benefits, but it can also breed distrust. If it’s the way you do it, at least keep it simple.

But believe it or not, creative types are often not motivated by making the salon more money. Simply saying if you sell this much, you will earn this much money won’t rock their boat. That’s why education centered on increasing sales can be deeply unpopular among the team. Instead, knowing how their achievements will affect their career journey as well as increasing their pay packet will often provide the motivation needed.

Following on from the last point, setting out how education will help them progress is part of the transparency required to truly engage your team. If you have low attendance at training sessions then you need to look at what’s in it for these individuals. You must have the processes in place to be able to communicate to each person how the education benefits them personally and how it fits into their career development.

This can be done by assigning mentors or coaches from among your team. An efficient way to deliver education, setting up a mentor system can also be highly motivating if the mentor is slightly further along the career path than the mentee. They are able to share experiences and discuss exactly what is required to advance.

Creating a culture of transparency leads to greater engagement, better skills sets and enviable team retention, which directly contribute to a flawless guest experience and a secure business.

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