How to Be Prepared When Top Service Providers Leave

July 10, 2017 | By Bruce Hourigan | No Comments


As a leader of a company, you develop relationships with your team members.

They show up to work without fail for 5, 10, or 15+ years without missing a beat.

You can count on them.

You attended their weddings, went to their baby showers and paid your respect at the funerals of their loved ones. They have been to your house for holiday gatherings, and even babysat your kids.

Then, one day, they walk into your office and give their two-week notice — as if two weeks is really going to give you enough time to prepare for how this will impact the business.

Needless to say, the emotional impact is going to be troublesome, as well.

As the conversation continues, the employee swears they are not going to take any clients or formulas, and when asked, they vaguely explain that they are still unsure of where they are going.

You let them stay the two weeks because you’re busy, and you want to trust them. However, in the weeks following their departure, the no-shows and cancellations by their previous clients become more and more prevalent.

This scenario is an ugly truth that has played itself out for years in our industry. 

And the cost, setting aside the emotional, can be very expensive to business, especially when it’s a senior service provider that leaves. We speak to owners regularly who report $50,000 to $100,000 of lost business when these top producers leave.

So what’s the best defense?

Here are eight No-Compromise Leadership strategies to deal with (and hopefully avoid) the departure of a highly-productive service provider. We’ll divide this list into two parts:

Take a proactive approach (before they leave) on how you run your salon/spa…

1. Create careers for your employees…not just jobs. Too often, owners do the “I’ll pay you 50%” and the rest is up to you. No education, no vacation time, unpaid mandatory meetings and those “commission lowering” back bar charges.

Have a written multi-year growth and compensation plan that all employees can understand. Show your team how they can progress and prosper in their careers within your company. We call these plans Broadbands here at Strategies.

2. Communicate consistently with your team. Daily huddles, monthly one-on-one coaching sessions, quarterly and yearly performance reviews…you’ve got to do them. Keep an open conversation on where you are taking the company, and how each employee plays an important role on the team. And be sure to acknowledge the successes of the team members publicly. (TIP: have a stack of gift cards in your office and hand them out for jobs well done.)

3. Remember that the words “thank you” are free. Too many owners overlook this very simple gesture. EVERYONE likes to hear “thank you” from the boss.

4. Create a business that fosters relationships with the clients, so they become loyal to your company…not just one service provider’s column on the book. Your culture should encourage a comfort level for clients to see all service providers. This will build trust to the team, and not just one person. Get to know the clients who support your business. Get clients connected with your brand and culture through social media, email communication and social community events. Communicate with them every chance you can.

5. Provide your trusted, loyal team members with the extras they deserve. They have helped build your business from the ground up and are always there for you. The perks must fit into your cash flow plan, but extra vacation time, advanced training in national academies, paid personal time are just some of a number of ideas or opportunities.

The idea is to make working in your company more attractive than going to work down the street.

When a highly-productive service provider leaves…

6. Keep your emotions in CHECK. You are the leader, the rest of your team and customers are closely watching how you respond. Take the high road and calmly communicate your plan to move forward with your team. Remember, they are as shaken as you are in many cases. Do the same with the clients. This is a time of uncertainty for everyone. Determine if you plan to have the employee stay for their two weeks. What does that transition plan look like? At this point you need to be making decisions that are in the best interest of the business and the rest of your team.

7. Quickly create and send out emails/letters to all your clients. State that the employee is leaving and assure them that the rest of your team will take care of them. You may consider an offer to try another team member at your company. The key here is to stay clear and positive with your communication. Do not get dragged into whatever ‘story’ is being told. Keep yourself above that noise. This shows professionalism to everyone in and around your company. It also sends the message that the door is always open to any customer that may elect to return in the future, should they leave to follow the service provider who has left.

8. Remember that not all the clients will leave. Our experience is that 50%-60% will stay within a business if handled properly (remaining professional). It can be a risky move for a highly productive service provider to change companies. Many factors will impact a customer’s decision to stay or leave – travel distances to the new company, culture and environment of the new business, willingness to try another service provider within your business. These are just some of the factors that will directly impact a client’s decision.

Here’s my challenge to you:

Take the time to be proactive in your company:

  • Create a salon or spa which keeps highly-productive team members engaged in a long-term career path.
  • Build a business whose clients are loyal to the brand, and not just one service provider.
  • Be prepared for change when it happens. It will. (Read this blog post on how to be ready for the unexpected in the salon/spa).

Let me know how you make out.

Categories: Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up

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