Salon Training Must Include Support Staff
It does not matter what kind of business you contact, the first impression often becomes the turning point to whether you continue to make the effort to conduct business with a company. It used to be just how the customer was greeted when they arrived at a destination, which is why so many big box companies now employ “greeters” at their front doors, sometimes handing out carts or wipes when you enter. Other potential clients were making a judgment the moment the person answering the phone said the name of the business after “Hello”, based on tone, modulation, pitch, and attitude. Today’s businesses also have to respond to digital contact, making certain that their website contact forms have quick, efficient responses to people who need questions answered, or to set up an appointment. Every point of contact requires the person doing the job be trained to the expectations of the company.
A salon is no different, in fact, the front-end person is more important in a salon than many other kinds of businesses due to the nature of the salon. Being personal, being inside people’s personal space, creates a subconscious vulnerability by its nature. It is human nature and the flight or fight response is quick to kick in if the person or method of contact to create a relationship does not nurture that contact, making the person feel welcome, invited, wanted, and even safe. Too many salons miss the point when it comes to the phone. Whomever has their hands not covered in shampoo or wave solution, or someone who is relegated to a “lower status” position and that their work is “less important” (often the nail techs, who very often are the last to have their hands and timing be free) is the one responsible for catching the phone. Does it affect the caller who wants to make an appointment? Absolutely, especially when they are made to feel like they are an inconvenience to someone, or interrupting their busy day. It also creates an unhealthy pecking order in your shop.
The Most Important Thing You Do Might Be Salon Front Desk Training
New clients are hard to come by, and cost money to obtain. It is important that the very first impression sets the tone for your salon, and it starts with your front desk receptionist. Whether smiling and greeting the walk-in looking for services with polite demeanor and helpful attitude, or offering the correct conversation carriers during a telephone conversation to set up an appointment, your front desk receptionist needs to know not only how, but be expected to conduct themselves as the face of the salon, because they absolutely are the first impression. Proper training in handling phone calls, booking appointments, using the scheduling software you might have, and even answering inquiries from clients needs to be part of the training your front desk personnel cover before they are allowed to act as representatives for your salon business.
A front desk associate needs to not only be able to schedule for your technicians, but also be able to correctly discuss the basics on products, procedures, how long an appointment generally takes, and any salon information asked. They need to be able to give accurate directions and information about your hours of operation. Knowing the forms of payment is important, especially if you have a salon that rents booths to some stylists and they only take certain forms of tender. It is both frustrating and embarrassing to a new client to get a haircut to discover that the stylist only takes cash and the client only carries a debit or credit card, and the ensuing back-and-forth that happens in front of the entire rest of the salon to arrange payment. This is never a win for the stylist, or the salon, as the new client, if they are tolerant of being singled out and do not feel like they are getting judged, probably won’t be pleased with not having been told when they made the appointment of the necessary payment arrangements. This scenario is far too common, especially in salons that have been around a while, and tend to assume everyone knows their and their stylist’s requirements by osmosis. Your clients, especially the new ones, do not have crystal balls.
Most Salon Training Programs Do Not Address Critical First Impressions
Your front end personnel need to be able to answer questions, set appointments, handle the software to process transactions, and sell whatever retail products your shop carries. They also need to be able to close the sale. Knowing when and how to ask for the appointment is critical for the person who acts as the gatekeeper to business coming into your location. This is especially true when you are working with employees and not just booth rental technicians. Your bottom line is affected by how well the person answering the phone knows how to read both visual signs for the customer in front of them, as well as verbal ones on the phone. They need to know how, and when, to ask for the sale in terms of setting up the appointment.
Front desk and other staff need to look the part and carry themselves appropriately. Many customers mistakenly assume that how the staff looks, i.e. their hair, their nails, their skin in a spa setting, speaks to the services performed at that location. While sometimes hairdressers do style each other’s hair, it is not always the case. If you need to establish as part of the job description (which you should have written out for many reasons) a dress code for the front desk, do it. It is your business and your survival depends on establishing a standard, look, and ambiance for your salon that is sustainable. Training should address not only how your front end staff takes calls, talks to customers, and books appointments, but how to suggestively sell your carried product lines, handle complaints, and basic safety knowledge for the location. Making your front desk staff a valued team member empowers them to be a solid, contributing member of your squad, and will increase your profits.