Recruiting fresh, young designers to your salon can be a challenge, but for most salon owners the answer is not far away. Your local cosmetology schools are a great resource, with a constant crop of new talent looking for their soul mate salon. Developing relationships with these schools is a vital way to recruit stylists and invest in the future of the industry. This month, find out how you can build a relationship with your local school and what you can do to make your salon stand out in the crowd.
Freshen Up Your Image
Are you thinking about a remodel, even just a fresh coat of paint? How about putting in a new computer system, where stylists can look up appointments and record formulas? Do it, says Jill Kohler, owner of Kohler Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"Today's beauty schools are in such a renaissance. Salon owners really have to look at changes and renovations or they're not going to attract top talent. Schools aren't what they used to be, and students have an expectation level they're not going to go below," she says. "Look around the salon and make sure you're in tip-top shape and you're bringing your A-game to the table."
Volunteer to Teach
What better way to build a relationship with a school than going in and teaching students using your real world experience? That's the way Kimberly Bordeaux, owner of Salon Bordeaux in New Haven, Connecticut, has built a strong and steady relationship with her school.
"I chose the local school where my first top stylist came from. I loved what she brought to me and the skills she had," says Bordeaux. "Find a school that is in your neighborhood, go in and set up an appointment and talk to the teachers. I go in once a week for an hour or two and teach a topic like business or make-up, or just answer their questions. The key, though, is consistency-you get to really know the students."
Invite Students In
It's easy to find the students that are truly motivated when you invite them to your salon so they can see how classroom education translates in the salon.
"We have an open door," says Bordeaux. "At the end of the school day, students can come by and shadow at the salon. We go over people skills, how to greet the clients. We introduce them to products. Basically, they learn all about the salon business. They get to know you and your business, and you get to know them. You have to hire people that you get along with and who understand your mission, vision and business. By volunteering your time, you get to share that with them, they get to see it, and that's the way you find out if you have a great fit."
Make Yourself Available
Sometimes it's not enough to send along staff members to talk to students at a local school-especially at a job fair or industry day. It's important that you, the owner, to show up to talk about your salon-your mission, your vision, your passion and what your salon is all about.
"Owners are the very best people talk about their own salons," says Kohler. "We usually have about 30 local salons come to the school on industry day, and every once in a while, a salon owner will send someone else to visit because they are too busy. And those top salons don't do as well that day. Unless a manager is just unbelievable, I wouldn't take that risk."
You can hear more from Jill Kohler on maximizing your relationship with local schools at this year's Salon Today 360Â°, taking place May 4-6 in Chicago. Visit www.salontoday360.com for more information and to register.
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