best practices ... training
New estheticians are more sophisticated and educated than ever. "The schools have really stepped up to the plate," says Papageorgio. "Schools are running better business models and turning out better graduates." However, this has put pressure on spas, she continues, because today's new hires have higher expectations for what comes next.
"Today, salons and spas must offer a structured, organized way of training new people," Papageorgio explains. "You can hold weekly classes or assign the new person to a mentor—however you want to do it. Spas that do well with this concept are the ones that flourish. Your number one commodity is your people. Invest in them."
Canavino suggests incorporating a minimum 30- to 90-day entrance program to take new technicians "from license to confidence." It's not enough to bring in a manufacturer's educator to do product knowledge, she adds. "Someone just out of school doesn't know your culture, may not have all the skills and probably doesn't have the confidence."
Training doesn't end with the entrance program, either. Says Canavino, "What doesn't work is training staff and just expecting it to happen—without having a manager to make sure they're carrying out what they learned."
Papageorgio agrees that the managerial staff must conduct ongoing, if perhaps informal, coaching throughout the staff member's career. "Coaching opportunities are everywhere," she says. "Just walk onto your floor and notice ways you can direct your staff's performance. You can have a coaching conversation about any simple thing; you just clarify what you expect from the person. People want to follow direction, and doing this continuously means you won't have to give redirection."
Supervisors tend to let things go the first time or two and only intervene when the staffer has done something wrong over and over. By then, the owner is exasperated. Best practice is to bring up the issue immediately. "You're not allowed to save up," says Papageorgio. "That's when it becomes conflict."
It's also best to be direct; the management person who notices the problem should be the one to mention it. Says Papageorgio, "When the manager informs the employee, 'The owner saw you leaving your towels around,' the staffer becomes defensive, develops a 'bad attitude' and sends the whole thing into a downward spiral."
Spa staff can be a greater challenge to monitor than salon staff. Notes Canavino, "Unlike supervising a hairdresser, you don't have the advantage of seeing spa staff work. They close the door." That's why it's important to include retailing and marketing in your initial training program and follow their client retention numbers closely.