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The 10 Characteristics of an Ideal Front Desk/Guest Services Employee

FACT: Front desk/guest services employees are key players in salon/spa growth, productivity, profitability and brand identity.

The days of the “receptionist” to greet and check clients out are long gone.

In today’s systematized salons/spas, the front desk is as much a command center as it is a check-in/check-out point for clients.

Beyond the givens of providing customer service, scheduling appointments and ringing up service and retail sales, the responsibility of driving salon/spa critical numbers is paramount.

Service providers may “do the work,” but front desk/guest services employees organize the work, sell the work, and exercise extreme influence on pre-booking, client retention and productivity rates.

These efficient multi-taskers must also be technologically savvy to fully utilize the power of today’s modern software applications.

There is no doubt that finding the right fit for these key positions can be challenging, but just as much as any skilled service provider, they must be hired, trained and retained.

To provide salon/spa owners with a baseline hit list, here are my TEN No-Compromise Leadership characteristics of an ideal front desk/guest services employee:

  1. Front-line sales person: Yes, first and foremost, this is a sales position. The inventory being sold are “hours on the appointment book” and, of course, retail. Beyond services and retail, there are gift cards, memberships, packages, wedding parties, special offers, and more. It doesn’t matter if it’s face-to-face or over the phone, selling time and products in any and all configurations requires the employee to have a passion for sales just as much as customer service.

  2. Anticipating client and team needs: While service providers must focus on that one client in their care, front desk/guest services employees must have a 360-degree awareness to not only identify customer service and productivity issues, they must be forward-focused enough to anticipate challenges before they occur. As they scan the salon/spa, they must be answering these two questions;

  1. Is there a client that looks upset, unsure, uncomfortable or in need of help?

  2. Is there a service provider that’s running behind, needs help, has a difficult client, or just needs some assistance to ensure delivery of the best customer service experience possible?

  3. Product knowledge: Your salon/spa has a retail area stocked with product. Those products are not part of the decor. They’re products that help clients maintain their hair and skin between visits. Selling professional retail has one very basic rule: You can’t sell what you don’t know. That means it’s imperative that front desk/guest services employees receive the same product knowledge training as service providers. They should be capable of guiding clients to the best products based on needs. They should know product features and benefits. Finally, they should be trained and comfortable in the process of closing a retail sale.

  4. Systems consistency: Salons/spas must have their systems dialed in and locked in. For the front desk to be an operational command center, the employee must be thoroughly trained on your systems for customer service, customer service scripts, efficient appointment scheduling, and many more. The ability to follow procedures is a key requirement for this position.

  5. Drive overall productivity rate: Productivity rate is an outcome of systems and responsibility to those systems. Pre-booking drives productivity rate. Pre-booking on prescribed maintenance cycles drives frequency of visit and therefore, productivity rates. Creating those extraordinary customer service experiences drives first-time and existing client retention rates. When these systems and disciplines are combined, overall salon/spa productivity rates achieve and maintain benchmark status. FACT: Productivity rate is as much the responsibility of front desk/guest services employees as it is service providers — perhaps more so.

  6. Look the part: The concept of “dress for success” will never go out of style. If an interview candidate doesn’t arrive looking as if he or she looks the part, chances are they won’t look the part when on your payroll. Hair and make-up should reflect your brand. For spas and Medical spas, professional dress is a non-negotiable. Lastly, every front desk employee should be wearing a name tag.

  7. Thoroughness and accuracy: If your client data base has six Mrs. Smiths and they’re all the same Mrs. Smith, your data base is corrupt. If mobile phone numbers are missing or incorrect, your data base is corrupt. If email addresses are missing or mis-spelled, your data base is corrupt. If service appointments are casually made leaving 15-minute gaps, your productivity rate and revenue opportunity is compromised. If add-on services aren’t charged for by service providers, your revenue is compromised. If service pricing is not correct at checkout, revenue is compromised. FACT: Every year, tens of thousands of revenue dollars are lost due to carelessness and lack of attention.

  8. Genuine client care: There are individuals that can make a client’s day with their smile. There are individuals that have a service demeanor where going above and beyond, to ensure client care and satisfaction, comes naturally. Likewise, there are employees that have indifferent “I don’t care” attitudes. They may be great on the computer and in completing tasks, but being a “people person” is not their skill set. FACT: Indifference cannot exist at the front desk.

  9. Connecting point between client and service provider: At too many salons/spas, there is a natural friction between front desk/guest services employees and service providers. Service providers can blame front desk for not filling up “their column” or booking the “slower” service providers according to established time standards. And the list goes on. FACT: Front desk/guest service employees and service providers are on the same team and working hard to grow the company. Leaders must maintain a unified team. Front desk/guest services employee training should include, and monitor, the synergy between front desk/guest services and service providers.

  10. Keep it “calm” but “get it done”: This position not only requires the ability to multitask, it demands the ability to remain calm through the inevitable chaos that can occur at the front desk. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when short-handed during busy periods. The right employee has a calming effect on the entire salon/spa while getting their work done thoroughly and accurately.

Here’s my challenge to you: Search long and hard for the right candidates to fill this position. Interview based on these ten characteristics. Train thoroughly. Inspect and correct frequently.

After reading these ten characteristics, it has to be clear that this is not a minimum or close to minimum wage position. If you allowed your service payroll to get out of control at the expense of properly compensating front desk/guest services, it’s time to do a complimentary coaching with Strategies.


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