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How to Recruit Salon/Spa Employees in the Post Pandemic
May 2, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 4 Comments
From the day I entered the professional salon/spa industry in 1970, recruiting new and experienced employees has been a serious challenge.
Add pandemic-related disruptions into the mix, and the process of recruiting new employees has gotten more and more difficult.
Then, there’s the industry’s long history of high employee turnover. The more turnover you have, the more pressure on your recruiting efforts — especially in today’s tight labor market.
Many owners blame turnover and recruitment challenges on the growth of booth rental and suites — but even businesses that cater to independents are having difficulty renting/leasing space.
FACT: You can’t grow a service business if you can’t recruit new
Yes, the pandemic seriously rattled the economy and our industry. In the process, it proved that the days of “business as usual” are long gone.
So, what’s a salon/spa owner to do when want ads, online recruitment sites, and visits to schools, barely get a trickle of applicants — or no applicants at all?
There is no sure-fire fix that will have applicants lined up at your door, but there are seven factors to consider and, more importantly, reevaluate:
- Your company brand: Just as much as you want your brand to attract new clients, you want your brand to attract potential employees. That means your salon/spa must always show up on the radar of those looking for a company to work for. KEY: If you work hard at creating buzz to attract new clients, that buzz is going to attract potential employees. If your monthly new client count is low, you’re not creating company buzz. If your salon/spa is busy because service providers are busy with their request clients, you’re not creating buzz — and you have an accident waiting to happen if one leaves. A salon/spa can be busy and not show up on the “we’re a great place to work” radar.
- Differentiate the employment opportunity you offer: Are you offering a job or a career? Feel you’re competing with rental and suites? Your employee-based salon/spa can offer so much more than a “place to do clients.” KEY: Every study done on those that prefer rental/suites versus employee based, show they’re pretty much split 50/50. This means there are potential employees out there. It is critical that your “opportunity description” speak to individuals that prefer employee over rental/suites, as those opportunities are massively different. Here’s a snippet of how owner Chris Murphy at MaximumFX Salons in Austin, TX, describes their employment opportunity… “We are looking for the perfect team member. Working well under pressure in a fast-paced environment is a plus. Don’t let that last sentence scare you. One of our company values is Teamwork, so we lean on each other to make sure that we provide the very best experience for our clients. We are a specialized salon, this position requires a cosmetology license, completion of our apprenticeship program in haircutting, and demonstrating excellent customer service skills. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if you came to us and said you had some mad problem-solving skills. We’re looking for someone with a great work ethic and attitude!”
- If you’re hiring to get someone to bring “their” clientele — you’ve got bigger problems: If this describes your company, what you’re saying is, “We care more about the revenue you can bring than you.” KEY: Your salon/spa is growing if it has a high productivity rate and it’s time to add more revenue-producing hours that you’re confident you can fill. If your hiring mentality is to “build a new service provider’s book,” you need to rethink your business model.
- Recruit aggressively — even when you don’t need to hire: Damn near all owners agree that it’s vital to recruit aggressively all the time. Unfortunately, too many know it, but still wait until the need to recruit new employees becomes critical. That’s when rushing often leads to a bad, or desperate, hire. KEY: If no one in your salon/spa knows you’re actively recruiting, or that there is little to no effort to let prospective employees know you’re recruiting — it’s time to get on your recruitment game. The more and bigger you cast your recruitment net, the higher your chances are of attracting applicants. Remember, recruiting the best candidates takes a lot of lead time.
- Be innovative: Indeed, CareerBuilder, Craig’s List, and general “help wanted” ads can be pretty blah. Canvasme.com is an innovative recruiting website that reflects the creative nature of our industry. Here’s the link to MaximumFX’s Opportunity Description on Canvasme.com. KEY: Innovation takes effort — a lot of effort. Here’s another example from Chris Murphy at MaximumFX…. We’ve built some chatbots to help us with our recruiting and linked them to ads on Facebook with marginal success. We use the same chatbots and attach them to QR codes that we print out on stickers that we then stick on energy drinks. We stop by the schools and drop off the energy drinks for the students. Just trying to be creative.
- Don’t talk pay until you want to make an employment offer: One of the craziest things in the salon/spa industry is how fast “pay” enters the conversation. It sounds like, “So, how much commission do you pay?” During the interview process, finding the right fit for your company and its culture takes time. KEY: It takes multiple interviews to determine if you even want to hire someone and commit to a regular paycheck. Pay shouldn’t be discussed until a decision is made to hire an individual. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on commission or Team-Based Pay, the objective of new hire interviews is to reach that point where both parties are interested in moving forward. Then, and only then, does the pay conversation take place.
- New hires must have a road map: Too many owners talk about career maps in their want ads and during interviews — and don’t deliver. A promise to provide training that doesn’t happen, or happens on uncompensated time, is a broken promise and lack of full disclosure. Too often, rather than structured training, it means being an assistant. KEY: The integrity of your brand means delivering on the promise to your customers that all service providers are skill certified. Skill certification takes time, effort, planning, and execution. Hiring new employees and not preparing them to represent your brand is not how to build a company. It’s how to create turnover.
Here’s my challenge to you: These are some of the toughest times to recruit new and experienced talent.
Like all good things in business, recruitment requires a lot of hard work.
There are some fine employees out there waiting for a reason to submit an application at your salon/spa. Some are right out of school. Others are experienced and looking for the right company, culture, and team to bring out the best in them.
Be aggressive, be patient, and the right candidates will find you.
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