Management Practices

Mind the Culture Gap With Your Front Desk

Stacey Soble | March 30, 2016 | 8:07 AM

As the leader of the Front Desk Division for Summit Salon Businesss Center, Kristi Valenzuela coaches salon owners to be mindful of the culture gap that often exists between the front desk staff and the rest of the salon team.

“Whether owners are designing a retail contest or scheduling education, the front desk is largely left out,” she cautions. “Enrolling them in the activity engages them in the salon’s culture and strengthens the overall team, which can result in increased productivity and profitability.”

Valenzuela offers the following recommendations for weaving the front desk team into an overall business success culture:

Rebook Percentages: “Salon owners know that increasing the rebooking rate can increase a stylist’s productivity, but it also has important an impact on the front desk. When salons rebook guests at 60 percent or higher, the phones slow down and the front desk team can offer guests better customer care,” Valenzuela says. “Next time you design a contest that encourages stylists to rebook, create an equal contest for the front desk team. For example, if the salon as a whole increases from 50 to 60 percent, all the front desk team members have their names entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card.”

Performance-Based Goals: “I’m a strong believer is developing goals for the front desk and rewarding them for their behavior,” Valenzuela says. “The reward can be a cash bonus, a day off or an opportunity to increase their hourly pay rate. When you engage the front desk team with goals and rewards, they begin to see themselves as part of the salon culture, and not the subculture.”

Training on Services and Products: “If you were shopping at a Bath and Body Works, you could pick up any item and ask someone with a name tag a question, and that employee could tell you the price of the product, any applicable promotions, directions on how to use the product and even its ingredients—they are that well-trained,” Valenzuela says. “Unfortunately, in our industry, too often you can ask someone at the front desk about a product and they freeze with their mouths wide open, then say, ‘Let me get someone who can help you.’ This is confusing for the consumer. Develop a stronger, smarter front desk team by encouraging them to attend product education sessions, where they can learn the details about a product, use some samples or get styled using the product.”  

For more front desk advice and training materials, visit the front desk division on or email Valenzuela at [email protected]. Check out her 200-page workbook and accompanying CD that talks you through developing scripts for your front desk team.

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