Monday, November 30, 2009

Striving for an A+ Workforce = Increased Bottom-Line


OK, not to confuse matters but I do think marketing your business is super important but if you are not training your employees you won’t be able to retain the clients you marketed to in the first place. Then it becomes this vicious cycle.

I can’t say it more, well-trained employees are vital to your salon or spa’s success. Studies have shown that the most successful, and productive employees are those who have received on-going training. They’re the cream of the crop, often having the strongest interest in the company’s future. In an ideal world, you would be able to hire people who already possess all the skills needed before coming to work for you. But I say, “That’s a pipe dream.”

So, that’s where training comes in. Not only does training arm your employees with needed professional and technical skills, but it also shows that you are invested in them and interested in bringing them with you into the company’s future. This helps keep workers motivated and involved.

The reason training is often considered optional at many salons & spas is because it is thought of as an expense rather than an investment. While it’s true that training can be costly, it's a long-term investment in the growth and development of your people - who ARE the ones bringing in the money.

To successfully gain an A+ workforce and increase your bottom-line follow these 5 helpful tips:

  1. Determine your needs. As you probably don’t have unlimited time or funds to implement an employee training program, you should decide early on what the focus of your training program should be. Determine what skills are most pertinent to address current or future company needs or ones that will provide the biggest payback. Ask yourself, “How will this training eventually prove beneficial to the company?”
  2. Promote a culture of learning. In today’s economy, if a salon or spa isn’t learning, it’s going to fall behind. Communicate your expectations that all employees should take the necessary steps to hone their skills and stay on top of their professions or fields of work. Make sure you support those efforts by providing the training needed to accomplish this goal.
  3. Choose quality educators and materials. Who you select to conduct the training will make a major difference in the success of your efforts, whether it’s a professional educator or simply a knowledgeable staff member. Having the right training materials is also important — after the training is over, these materials become valuable resources for trainees.
  4. Make it ongoing. Select a training time and space that’s conducive to learning. Choose a time that you can be consistent with, like before or after salon hours. And don’t limit training solely to new employees. Organized, ongoing training will maintain all employees’ skill levels, and continually motivate them to grow and improve professionally.
  5. Measure results. Without measurable results, it’s almost impossible to view training as anything but an expense. Decide how you’re going to obtain an acceptable rate of return on your investment. Determine what kind of growth or other measure is a reasonable result of the training you provide. You’ll have an easier time budgeting funds for future training if you can demonstrate concrete results.
Rewarding employees through certification and other incentive programs, tying training directly to company objectives and choosing the right methods for training are key factors in ensuring that the investment you make in employee training actually contributes to your bottom-line results.

Take a look at your business- Are you doing your best to have a trained and able workforce?

Ana Loiselle, Milday Business Coach

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Secrets To Becoming A Profitable Salon: Rev Up Your Retail!

One sure way to creating more profit is through retail sales in your salon or spa. This is no secret to anyone on a service level, however, we usually relate to this from the stand point of how can we grow retail sales to become more profitable.

Now this is important and most of the time we focus all of our energies here. This doesn’t necessarily mean more profit, it just means more sales!

The secret is three fold:

Create a retail marketing calendar for a 12 month period. This means you need to spend the time to research and get with your team so all of you come up with a plan over a 1 year period that you know will be sound and can highlight different parts of your retail business, always fluctuating and keeping it fresh. Keep in mind that once you create this plan it doesn’t mean you might not change it along the way and add any new or fresh approaches you may come across, the key point is to have the plan created.

Create a rigorous retail inventory tracking system. As a coach this is where most businesses I coach fail! We sell retail, market it but do not track our effectiveness. You have to be able to stay within a budget but most salons and spas do not. Your budget is 50%, meaning you sell, for example, $1,000 in retail; your budget to restock the shelves is $500. To really get more detail, you need to drive deeper, analyzing each line you carry and looking at each individual item, tracking your wholesale cost per item, your mark up cost and quantity purchased at wholesale versus quantity sold at retail. Go back over the past twelve months and really dig. You will be surprised at how many low performers you have.

Once you indentify this you can research further, looking at why top performers are moving and why slow movers are not and you can then create a plan of attack to do something about it. This can have a tremendous impact on profit!

Manage your retail profit differently. Most salon and spa owners I coach and talk to throw all sales dollars into one account and also use all the monies generated to pay the bills! This takes profit out of your hands! Typically you have 50% of retail sales used to restock the shelves, 10% paid out in commissions and 40% left for profit. This 40% number needs to be tracked separately and a plan created to utilize this dollar amount for other purposes than paying monthly bills. This money, when used effectively can help you pay off debts & loans, do more effective marketing and education, implement 401K plans, etc. Before you implement this last strategy please consult one of our coaches so we can support you to do this the right way.

As you can see there are lots of different ways to make your retail more profitable for you other than just selling more of it! Take that next step and learn more about how to make this work to your advantage!

Monday, November 16, 2009

If You Can Lick A Stamp You Can Lick Your Employee Problems

Wondering what to do with a problem employee? You are not alone.

As a Business Coach I’m often asked how to deal with everything from an employee who just can’t get along with their co-workers, to someone who’s consistently late, to a willing but clueless new-be, or of course the all too famous, “attitude problem.”

To deal with them effectively, it’s essential to understand the nature of the problem – is it skills based, or is it behavioral? Once you understand this, it gets a lot easier!!!!

Skills based performance problems are those that can be typically addressed through training. This includes customer service skills, technical skills, and retail sales skills. If you’re hiring new talent right out of school, who have no previous experience in sales or customer service, (don’t kid yourself - they don’t), then you’d be wise NOT to underestimate the time and effort it will take on your part to train them. The rewards for this however, will be a happy, productive employee who is motivated to stay because they understand how to be successful and they feel like they are learning. Whenever in doubt, teach – learning is a very powerful motivator, especially for Generation Y employees.

Behavior based problems are more difficult to address and will not be fixed by training. A different approach is called for here. Many of you may go for the “3 strikes and you’re out” model of discipline, which might very well work for you as long as you stick to it! If an employee is on their 4th 5th or even 6th strike and they’re still around, then you’ve clearly sent a message that you tolerate bad behavior. (Lateness, rudeness, disrespect, a lack of ability to get along with co-workers and an “attitude problem” are all typical examples of bad behavior.)You have also, of course, sent that message not only to the offending employee, but to all your other employees.
Here is a 6 step process for dealing with a problem employee:

  1. Meet with the employee and describe the his or her specific skill or behavior issues
    • Talk about the issues, not about the employee's poor effort.
    • Describe the results of the employee's performance.
  2. Describe the expected standards of employee performance Be specific. Don't say you have a “poor” attitude; instead list specific occurrences that illustrate problematic behavior. 
  3. Determine the cause of the issues
    • Does the employee lack training, skills, knowledge?
    • Is there a lack of motivation, incentive?
    • Are there external factors involved (family, financial, etc.)?
    • Are there factors beyond the employee's control affecting the performance? 
  4. Ask the employee for solution(s) What could the employee do to improve this situation? 
  5. Discuss each solution with the employee
    • How will this solution help with the employee's problem?
    • Discuss your solution(s).
    • Try to jointly improve upon the solutions. 
  6. Agree on specific actions to be done and a time frame to implement them.Arrange for another meeting in the future to track the progress/results of the solution.
Believe it or not: fixing an existing problem is cheaper than recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement employee. A problem employee who is “rehabilitated” could become one of your Salon or Spa’s greatest assets one day.

Bottom line: The trick in dealing with problem employees is addressing the problem quickly and finding a solution to rectify the challenge -NOT putting a bandage on it or turning your back all together.

Ana Loiselle, Milady Business Coach

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Salon & Spa Employee Training - The Best Investment You Can Make!

As a salon & spa owner you have to work less behind the chair and in the treatment room. The future success of your business hinges on it! One way to get there is your ability to create, implement and follow an effective training program for your team. Their ability to grow more rapidly in there confidence, communication and technique equates to sales growth! Period!!!!

There are four important areas to focus on to make this happen:

  1. Technical Training: Be sure to have a set training day at least once a month where you block out 2-3 hours to train your team on technique. Some salons & spas I have worked with, in my career, get even more aggressive blocking out time once a week. Consistency is the answer here!
  2. Business Training: Working with your team to train them to be a better professional in the areas of consultations, retail sales, and customer service helps them build their self-esteem and growth. Again establishing a set and consistent time for this with support you in your success.
  3. Personal Development Training: To me the single most important way to develop an employee (and the most over looked) is to find out what personal goals they have and what they want to accomplish in their life. Finding ways to develop these desires through trainings, suggesting books to read, etc is an effective way of showing your employees you care and for building morale.
  4. New Hire/Assistant Training: Develop a rock solid, scheduled training program for any assistant that supports them in getting out on the floor or in the treatment room quicker will not only assist you a growing a team but will help in the reduction of employee turn over. Also be sure that you have a set new hire training plan for any new-be, whether they are experienced or inexperienced. Be sure to get your team involved in leading these trainings, which will only make them more confident and foster an environment of perpetual growth!
I recommend that you take some time in the next 2 weeks to look ahead to 2010 and plan out your training calendar. Make sure you rotate in the above four areas consistently to support your team to keep growing and prospering in the coming year. In the end, the more you train, the more they grow and the more time you have to focus on your future path!

Steve Gomez, Milady Business Coach

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Can You Pass the Salon Leader Vs Manager Test?

Did you know there is a difference between leadership and management?

A commonly coined phrase says that leadership is “doing the right thing” and management is “doing things right.” This shows how the two skill sets need to work together. In order to be fully rounded, you MUST have the ability to manage the day- to-day tasks of your salon or spa, while seeing the opportunity for change and the big picture. Demonstrating good leadership skills without the management skills to support it, will leave you with an inability to execute on your vision. Likewise, being a good manager without good leadership skills will cause continual challenges in motivating your team and producing the results you are trying to manage to. Being able to blend these two styles is truly a unique skill set.

I recently came across an excellent book by Warren Bennis called "On Becoming a Leader." In his book he describes his view of the differences between managers and leaders as follows:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates. 
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original. 
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops. 
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people. 
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust. 
  • The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it. 
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. 
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. 
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon. 
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates. 
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it. 
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person. 
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.
This is a great list and should cause you to pause and reflect on your behavior and ask, "Where am I spending most of my time? Doing the left hand tasks or doing the right hand tasks?" Which one am I stronger in? Weaker in? Which one do I want to be? Or do I want to do both?"

Understanding the differences between leadership and management can ensure that you know when and how to apply each set of characteristics for given processes in your salon or spa.

Ana Loiselle, Milady Business Coach