Managing a salon or spa isn’t an easy task, even at the best of times. There is a constant need to balance the logistics of running a business with attracting and retaining clients within a competitive industry.
But there’s another area that provides a particular challenge to salon and spa owners: managing staff effectively and keeping them motivated.
Maintaining a cohesive team of salon employees is central to the success of your business. As a service provider, your staff is your superpower — if you can foster a supportive workplace culture.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at the ways that you can better manage your salon and employees. By following this advice, you won’t just create a more harmonious work environment; you’ll see a noticeable effect on your profits too!
What is effective staff management?
At the most basic level, being in a management position requires you to be in charge of a team.
Part of it entails making sure that your employees/staff have everything they need to do their jobs. It also means knowing how to motivate and nurture your salon employees. You need to be a leader who inspires people to follow your vision.
Effective salon employee management ensures that everyone is on the same page in regard to communication tools, collective goals, and the general ebbs and flows of your business. As the manager, it’s your responsibility to help make employees feel motivated and passionate about their jobs.
The benefits of effective salon employee management
The salon business is highly people-focused. Whether it’s interacting with staff, clients, or outside vendors, your business demands great interpersonal skills as well as effective management capabilities.
When your stylists, colorists, and other team members are happy and satisfied, your salon will reap the benefits in the form of:
Happier clients. Motivated salon employees tend to perform services better. This leads to a better business experience, which ultimately results in higher revenues and client retention.
Lower staff turnover. Staff who are happy and satisfied at their workplace are much more likely to stick around. According to TinyPulse, the average employee exit will cost the business 33% of their annual salary, due to the time and money it takes to recruit new talent. If you can retain that knowledge and experience over the long term, this is one of the biggest ways you can boost the profitability of your business.
A more pleasant day-to-day experience. Motivating your employees creates better salon conditions for yourself, your team, and your clients. A pleasant employee and client environment is a win-win for everyone, and encourages people to come back.
How to Motivate Salon Staff: 7 Tips for Managing a Salon and its Employees
Now that we know the benefits of managing and motivating salon employees, let’s look at the specific steps you can take to encourage your team members to bring their best selves to work.
1. Invest in training
Providing robust training should be a top priority for hair salon management. Individual salons will likely have a different approach to services and client relations, so it’s vital that new salon staff are brought up to speed on the runnings of your operation.
As a service provider, the key to success is consistency; by educating your salon employees on your approach and what makes your establishment unique, it’s much easier to maintain the quality of your offerings. Moreover, putting everyone through the same in-house program helps to build camaraderie among your staff and create a much more supportive environment.
What types of training should you offer? Consider the following:
- Brand training. Discuss your story and brand values.
- Interfacing with clients. Teach them what to do when clients walk through the doors, educate them on what to say, what not to say, etc.
- Administering your services. If you have specific processes or methods when it comes to cutting and styling hair, train your team accordingly.
Be sure to adopt multiple training methods. Use a combination of face-to-face sessions, educational videos, text-based tutorials, and on-the-job training to ensure that each team member understands and retains the necessary knowledge and skills.
2. Conduct regular staff meetings
Stellar staff communication is the backbone of effective salon management. If your salon employees aren’t sure what their roles are, or how to reach out for assistance when dealing with an issue, it’ll be difficult for them to feel empowered.
One way to keep communication lines open is to conduct regular meetings.
Now, it’s easy to come up with excuses to avoid holding meetings — there’s nothing new to talk about, they aren’t productive, they take up time when you could be seeing clients, etc. But meetings are a vital touchpoint for your whole team. They provide a consistent space for employees to air concerns, ask questions about procedures, or share ideas for how to improve salon processes. Failing to set aside time to raise employee concerns can affect motivation and well-being in the workplace.
Pro tip: Just because you are managing the salon, it doesn’t mean you always have to run the meetings! Setting up a roster so that other staff can take turns is a great way to promote responsibility.
3. Keep your employees connected to the business
It’s no secret that employees who feel engaged are far more likely to feel invested in the success of the business and to go above and beyond to carry out their role. Unfortunately, most employers aren’t doing enough to truly connect with their staff. A Gallup poll found that only 32% of employees feel engaged at work — which leads to lower productivity and overall job satisfaction.
You can prevent that at your salon by taking these steps.
Ask for feedback. It’s important that salon staff are empowered to speak up if they feel that there is a problem that isn’t being addressed. By holding regular feedback sessions with your technicians on a one-on-one basis, they are much more likely to feel committed to the business because they know that their perspectives are valued
Engage in regular goal-setting initiatives. There’s nothing more unmotivating than being in a job that has no clear KPIs or objectives associated with it. If there’s nothing concrete to strive for, how likely is it that you’re getting the best out of your employees? Goal-setting on both an individual and a team basis is a great way to maintain momentum and develop stronger rapport with your team members.
4. Talk up your team — inside and outside of the salon
Praise and recognition are proven to drive up motivation and performance, particularly in employees. Research by Survey Monkey found that 82% of employees are happier when they’re recognized at work.
To that end, here are some salon management tips on how to recognize and motivate your salon employees.
Be specific when recognizing a job well done. Run-of-the-mill compliments like “Great job!” can get old. They’re also quite general and can come off as insincere. A more effective way to let your employees know that they’re doing well is by being specific with your praise.
So instead of saying “Good job today!” drill down on the action that your team member took. You could say, “Gina, the way that you handled Mrs. Smith’s concerns today was impressive. You really have a knack for calming down our clients!”
Specific words of praise like the one above show your team that you’re paying attention to their work, which makes them more likely to repeat that positive behavior going forward.
Promote peer-to-peer recognition. Encourage your employees to acknowledge their colleagues. Aside from providing positive reinforcement, peer-to-peer recognition can also build camaraderie among your employees, which improves overall performance.
Put the spotlight on team members in your social media content. Show your employees lots of love on social media. Feature them in your posts and credit their great work. If a team member styles a customer’s hair to perfection, take a photo and tag them. Doing so raises their profile and morale. Plus, it’s a great way to attract clients!
5. Run team-building activities
The personal care industry is pretty unique in terms of its staffing structure. With differing shift patterns and the rise of salon booth rental, it can be challenging for hair salon management to make everyone feel a part of the same unit. Some employees will cross paths rarely or not at all, which affects the cohesiveness of your team as a whole.
For salon and spa owners, this could represent a major problem for your business. A research run by CapRelo, found that one in four respondents (33.7%) said that they had considered leaving a job in the past due to negative team dynamics. If salon staff aren’t happy on the job, they’re unlikely to be performing at their best — which affects the productivity of your business.
Many of us cringe when we hear the phrase “team building”, as it brings to mind awkward group exercises. (Trust falls, anyone?) But when planned effectively and in consultation with your staff, these initiatives can do wonders for your team and company culture.
Activities that promote collaboration and creative problem-solving are a fantastic way to promote the value of positive relationships, both inside and outside of work:
Team lunches or dinners. Bring your team together outside of the workplace. This allows your staff to interact on more than just a professional level. When your salon employees know each other as people rather than just as co-workers, it creates a much more harmonious work environment.
Volunteering. Finding ways to give back to the local community is a really refreshing exercise for many businesses and their staff. It’s an excellent opportunity for your team members to bond over a shared activity, while also helping to strengthen the brand and values of your salon.
Check out this example from Well Kept Barbershop, they held a Christmas Party and Toy Drive, which allowed the Well Kept team to get together and mingle with guests — all while supporting a good cause!
Strategic planning activities. It’s a good idea to get your employees involved in the direction of your salon. Setting up sessions to brainstorm marketing strategies and service offerings shows that you value their input, which helps them to feel more invested in the business’s future.
6. Stay on top of conflict management
Any business owner will tell you that managing staff isn’t always smooth sailing; there can be personality clashes, logistical issues, and the pressure of ensuring that key business needs are met.
As the salon manager, it’s your responsibility to de-escalate conflicts and keep the impact on the wider workplace as minimal as possible. This means that you should always have a process for managing disputes when they do arise:
Promote an open and honest culture. The easiest way to resolve a conflict is to stop it before it gets started. Make sure you put a big emphasis on the importance of fairness and respect. This helps to give your staff the confidence to speak out when they feel that there is an issue that isn’t being addressed.
Take action early. If you see evidence of any strain between team members, step in and resolve the situation as soon as you can. Otherwise, this can lead to problems going unresolved and strained workplace relationships, both of which will have a negative impact on team dynamics.
Set up a formal system for handling conflicts. A more formal mediation process may be required if employees aren’t able to solve issues on their own. It’s always worth having a third-party HR professional on hand who can step in and avoid taking sides.
7. Offer learning and development opportunities
Providing learning and development opportunities is a no-brainer for salon management. Having a skilled team of technicians means being able to charge higher rates for your services, which is one of the biggest ways to improve your bottom line.
It’s also something that the majority of employees are actively looking for. According to the ITA Group, 76% of employees consider opportunities for career growth as being important to overall job satisfaction.
Why? Investing in your staff in this way is a clear sign of how much you value them, which inspires loyalty towards your business. Moreover, development opportunities provide space for your employees to upskill, which makes your establishment a desirable place for new talent.
According to Joe Mills, the owner of The Lounge Soho, having a proper training plan has helped them to bring in and retain valuable staff:
“Interviewees always ask about the training we offer. We can now demonstrate a clear career path for anyone who joins us and because everyone has an individual training plan tailored to their needs it ensures everyone feels supported, which maintains loyalty and helps us to retain good people.”
So, what kinds of learning opportunities could you offer at your spa or salon? Consider the following:
- Hold a weekly or bi-weekly meeting that focuses on a certain skill e.g. handling customer complaints.
- Have your staff take turns hosting a session on their favorite technique/treatment.
- Bring in representatives/trainers from brands whose products you use to hold sessions.
- Send your team members to industry conferences like the International Salon + Spa Expo (ISSE) so they can wise up on the latest trends and best practices.
Managing your salon employees isn’t always going to be a walk in the park. But by promoting the well-being of your salon staff and nurturing their skills internally, you will find it much easier to attract and retain team members. Integrating the above spa and salon management tips into your approach will help you create a more supportive workplace culture that fosters a strong passion for the industry — and builds a more profitable business overall!