A mentoring program is an important component of any salon training program, but how does a salon owner structure it so it's beneficial for both the new talent and the salon? Don Bewley, who has been a stylist, an owner of five salons, and is the founder of Eufora, stops by and talks with Stacey Soble, editor in chief of SALON TODAY about the importance of a salon mentorship program, what the mentorship relationship looks like and how a stylist can go about finding their own mentor.
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SALON TODAY: Why is it so important for a salon to establish a mentorship program?
Bewley: The first eight years I owned salons I really didn’t understand what I was doing, and I realized I didn’t have every magic thing that every hairdresser needed to be successful. As I grew I started to understand that a mentoring program was the way to go. The first time that I really did the mentoring myself, I hired an assistant and they would watch me cut hair, they would do my shampoos, they would do my blowdries, and they would listen to me talk about product and how to do the hair. And it really started to work.
But as the company got bigger, I realized we needed to expand the program if we were going to grow. Funny enough, the first person I mentored became my educational director. She really became head of the mentoring program and she would teach the blowdries, shampoos and how to talk to clients. But as we grew we needed more than that. So then every Monday night, we had a mentoring program and the young assistants would come in with live clients and work with the educational director and that’s where all the mentors came from. It was really fun, and we began to understand how to match the right mentor with the tight mentee. You want to make sure you matched them with the right personalities together – that you matched a mentee with someone who would take them to the next level.
SALON TODAY: What does that relationship typically look like? What’s the give and take?
Bewley: You know it’s really funny, sometimes it’s kind of a love-hate relationship. Sometimes the best teacher is your hardest teacher. The mentor has to offer total integrity at all times to the point that sometimes it might hurt your feelings. And the best thing a mentor can offer is their god-given talent. And, yes, the mentor doesn't have every answer for everyone, but they need to give 80 percent of what that mentee needs. And, what does the mentee need to give? They have to make a true commitment that this is the industry they want to be in, that they want to be as busy as their mentor. They have to be hard workers. They have to have a tremendous amount of energy to keep up. They have to make sure that the mentor's clients are taken care of. They are learning to deal with different personalities. They are learning the better they service, the more respect they get. They are learning their verbiage is very important; they are learning they need to know product knowledge. And, it all starts with giving a great shampoo.
SALON TODAY: How does the mentorship help the new talent build up a book?
Bewley: Well, part of it is, the mentor really needs to teach the mentee how to market, how to go out with their cards, how to talk. And, one thing I see with young people today is they are really texting and emailing. So in our salons we were really teaching them how to have a conversation with someone so they were really comfortable handing someone their card, even at a grocery store.
SALON TODAY: If a salon doesn’t have a mentoring program, how can a young stylist find one on their own?
Bewley: Interestingly enough, we are fortunate that at Eufora Corporate we have 170 educators work for us, and if you ask them how they found us, they will all tell you they saw a class and maybe they saw Mickey do a haircut or Stevie D do a haircut or Connie teach a class and they looked up to them and said they want to be like them. And, if you ask all our educators how they got involved with us each one will tell you they have a mentor somewhere in Eufora. As a young hairdresser, I always suggest to always try to hook up with a company, to try and find that person who turns you on. And, if you see someone working on a stage or someone working in a class that inspires you, ask if they will help you. Ask if you can get their cell number. If you don’t put yourself out there, nothing’s ever really going to happen.
In the salon, I’d look for the busiest stylist, the one with the most clients. They might not be the most talented, but they are do something right and they have something to teach you. In the salon scenario, not everyone can be a mentor. When someone calls you their mentor, it’s a very humbling position. No matter what age you are, or how many people you know you’ve changed their lives.