After the Covid lockdown, the first order of business for many salons was to go on a hiring spree, and that’s just what Centre Salons and Spas in the Denver area would have done. But a limitation of ten people in the salon at a time, including staff and guests, made it tricky to bring in potential stylists. By summer 2021, it had been two years since the salon had actively recruited.
“Students attending school at that point didn’t even know who we were,” recalls Keli Kenyon, who owns the four Centre locations with Jim Pacifico and ordinarily would have had a couple of recruitment sessions at the local Aveda Academy by then. “They weren’t reaching out.”
Raising the salon’s profile began with figuring out how to relate to new professionals and stand out from the crowd while communicating the culture of Centre Salons and Spas. Kenyon thought snow cones might make a good introduction! Last July she and some of her team brought a snow cone machine to the school and distributed handouts that explained the salon’s culture pillars, complete with QR codes that took students to the application page of the website.
This was well-received and a great preview to the bigger deal coming up the following month: the school’s Industry Day, when salons presented themselves as employers.
Making a “Big Splash”
“We knew we had to make a big splash, so I asked the school whether we could have the patio to ourselves,” Kenyon says. “I wanted to make it ultra-fun. We had a popcorn machine and cornhole toss games. I knew that young people are into any kind of reading, so we also did Tarot card readings.” With a theme of “See your future with Centre,” the Tarot cards would predict exciting things for the students’ professional days ahead. As students waited in line for their reading, Kenyon’s staff could mingle and talk to them. Each side could size up the other to determine whether it might be a good fit.
“It was a perfect opportunity for them to get to know us organically,” Kenyon notes. The team handed out affirmation cards with uplifting messages and little gifts like quartz crystals to serve as a reminder of the salon.
“We want them to succeed in their careers and live and breathe positivity,” Kenyon says.
Old-fashioned candy was waiting on a table, and a carnival wall provided the perfect selfie backdrop. Another key idea was a raffle offering prizes of shampoo-and-blowout by the salon’s mentors. Not only did the salon capture contact information from everyone who entered, but the students who won would then go to the salon to redeem the prize. Essentially, this would become a followup interview so both student and salon could evaluate the possibilities.
“One of the winners was brought to tears because the mentor helped her so much!” Kenyon reports. “She’d never had a stylist who could manage her curly hair as well. The mentor educated the student about her own hair! She wasn’t used to that kind of communication, so this helped her understand what a great consultation and experience was like.”
Keeping It Going
For 2022, Kenyon’s plan is to reach out also to the nearby Paul Mitchell The School. For presentations, she’s not resting on her laurels. Students like stickers, pins, temporary tattoos—all the bells and whistles. But what does a new professional really appreciate? Education. So for the Aveda Academy’s next Industry Day, Centre Salons and Spas is preparing to really impress the students by bringing in iconic educators, including Van Council and Oscar Bond, who then will conduct classes for current staff at the salon.
“We’re calling in some favors!” explains Kenyon. “Recruiting is a big deal; you have to put money into it. Some people say they can’t believe all that we do. But it gets our name out, and it shows the students that, to us, they’re worth putting in time and effort.”
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