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Ten Characteristics of an Awesome Front Desk/Guest Services Employee

They used to be called “receptionists.”

Smile. Be pleasant. Answer the phone. Book appointments. Check clients in and out. What could be easier?

FACT: If you want to experience the most demanding position at a salon/spa — work the front desk for eight hours on a busy day.

Today’s front desk/guest services employees are an integral part of driving salon/spa growth, productivity, client retention, retail sales, and just about all essential critical numbers.

In celebration of these hard-working individuals, we give you the top ten characteristics of an awesome front desk/guest services employee:

  1. Servant’s heart with a commander’s brain: A service-intensive business like a salon/spa is a balancing act between customer service and business efficiency. The servant’s heart is the ability to make clients feel cared for. The commander’s brain is to ensure efficient client flow between service providers and maintain client scheduling on the appointment book with a focus on driving productivity.

  2. Ability to anticipate needs: All salons/spas want to deliver extraordinary customer service experiences. But going through the motions of checking in, checking out, answering the phone and booking appointments is far from extraordinary. In order for extraordinary customer service experiences to consistently occur, front desk/guest services employees must have the ability to anticipate client needs. For example, they should be able to “read” a client’s stress level with reassurance and extra personal attention. Anticipating needs unlocks the door to extraordinary customer service experiences.

  3. Attention to detail: How many Mrs. Smith’s are in your database and they’re all the same “Mrs. Smith”? How many appointments are made with an incorrect phone number or no phone number at all? How many appointments are scheduled incorrectly? How many missed prebooks and retail sales occur during the course of the day? It doesn’t take much to disrupt the flow of business, upset a client, miss simple opportunities, or stress out a service provider. Botched data, indifferent “it’s good enough” thinking, or incorrect appointments can quickly sabotage your business. The best salons/spas make attention to detail a non-negotiable.

  4. Task and systems oriented: Everything … repeat everything … at the front desk is task and systems driven. Even if you replaced your front desk with a technology solution like iPads or tablets, locking into tasks and systems is even more important. Operations Manuals and documented procedures, and the training to support them, are essential. For this very reason, individuals that are task and systems oriented are a must. Anything less is a compromise.

  5. Multitasks wisely: There are people that pride themselves at being multitaskers that appear busy as heck but get little done. An awesome front desk/guest services employee excels at establishing priorities, often in the moment. This means that the most essential task at the time is being addressed — most often to avoid a potential problem or upset client.

  6. Cool under pressure: The phone is ringing. Clients are waiting to check in while other clients are waiting to checkout. You’re on the phone with a client that wants to book multiple hair and spa services. Service providers are running behind and waiting clients are getting upset. If this scenario sounds like a nightmare to a candidate, it’s a bad fit and he/she won’t last long in the position.

  7. Never compromise a system or procedure: Consistency at the front desk means thoroughness. It means being accountable. It means understanding how vital systems and procedures are to customer service and the performance of the company. Awesome front desk/guest service employees earn trust and respect by doing their work and making it appear effortless.

  8. Essential for driving overall productivity rate: Front desk/guest services employees are responsible for the most precious commodity of salon/spa business — hours available for sale on the appointment book. It’s not just one column, it’s all columns. It’s everything from up-selling services and filling white space, to keeping clients off the waiting list when the time and skills are available. The hallmark of an awesome front desk/guest services employee is an impeccably managed appointment book.

  9. Ensures service providers prebook and recommend retail: It’s the service provider’s responsibility to recommend prebook services and retail products to clients. It’s the front desk/guest services responsibility to lock in prebooked appointments and “close” retail sales. This cannot happen if front desk/guest services employees don’t receive or ask the service provider for prebook and retail recommendations. The transition from service provider to front desk checkout must be seamless. Awesome front desk/guest services employees help keep service providers on task by requiring prebook and retail recommendations.

  10. Valued member of the team: Just like service providers, front desk/guest services employees are vital to achieving true teamwork. They are not second-class citizens simply because they don’t do services and lack a professional license. Most of all, they should not be regarded as minimum-wage/low paid employees. Any employee that meets the previous nine characteristics is a valued member of the team.

Here’s my challenge to you: How do these ten characteristics match up with your current front desk/guest services employees?

This doesn’t mean giving a printout of these ten characteristics to your front desk/guest services employees and saying, “This is what I expect.” That’s the equivalent of using this blog post as a hammer and de-motivator.

It means going deeper to understand what you and your company must do to properly train, coach and prepare front desk/guest services employees to meet and live these ten characteristics.

All owners understand the importance of a well run front desk. The intent of this blog post is to help you set the standard on what it takes to achieve these expectations.


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