“A $200k hairdresser is not going to be with a $55k hairdresser,” she says. “They know who to hang with to rise up to the next level of mentorship without me telling them. As they go up the ladder, they find a new partner to walk with along the way—someone who is at their level—as some stylists jump over others on their way up.”
Marc Rockquemore, owner of two New Identities locations in the Tampa area uses a structured approach to mentoring that goes hand in hand with his four- to six-month associate program.
Rockquemore prefers to hire top candidates right out of cosmetology school to go through his education. After a three-step interview process in which Rockquemore and his top educators jointly decide to hire an applicant, the new stylist is assigned to work alongside one of the top five or six educators at New Identities.
“Sometimes educators will have a couple associates they are working with, sometimes none at all,” says Rockquemore of the natural hiring fluctuation.
Each month, Rockquemore meets with the educators to go through each associate and how they are doing, forecast when they are graduating and any other issues. However, graduation is not guaranteed—only about 50 to 60 percent of associates pass the written test at the end of each of the four sections of the program. Working with their mentors/educators is key to success. Rockquemore also learned the keeping his educators on the same page is a major factor to a successful program.
“One time we had an educator who had two associates who both bombed and we couldn’t figure out why,” he says. “So with the next associate, we sent her to test out with another person, and come to find out, at least half the info wasn’t covered that the educator was supposed to be teaching.”
Rockquemore discovered the educator was cherry picking what she taught and then adding her own stuff.
“That educator hasn’t had an associate since then—three times in a row a failure—we felt like we needed to get her better grounded on our expectations.”
But out of this problem came a fail-safe solution Rockquemore relies on for consistency. “When an associate is ready to graduate, I send them to the other location to test out with another educator,” he says. “Then we know everyone is covering the same information at same pace.”
Mentors in Chief
Rockquemore’s strategy of leading and mentoring his top educators is a technique many owners employ in their programs. But there are just as many owners who like to be hands on and mentor stylists right alongside their educators. Either way, leading by example sets the tone for a successful program.