When I hear people talk at conferences about retention, I feel the topic is skimmed over and not really addressed. I see this from salon owners who are proud of the retention they have at their salons and yet, when asked for their retention rates, these same owners have fairly standard benchmark retention rates.
As a salon owner in this day and age, we need to think harder about why our teams stay and grow with us. We are dealing with a workforce that needs more than job security and a manager that tells them what to do.
I feel at this point I might have something to offer my peers and potential owners down the line. I have been a salon owner for 14 years. Of our starting team of 12 employees, we still have 3 employees who have remained with us in the entire time. We currently have an existing team of about 120 employees, and every year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of approximately five employees. I’ve found that many former employees, who have left for other opportunities, contact me to come back to us because they soon realize that the other “opportunities” just didn’t stand up to us. People stay!
Currently, our industry is one of which is being discussed constantly in the news. It is known that technical jobs are the wave of the future, yet employment researchers are ignoring our current salon employees’ interests and desires. The data expressed by multiple outlets, including the National Association of Colleges and Employers student survey report and research by Rochester College, shows that new professionals coming out of universities are more thoughtful about their career choices and social responsibility and less concern about their debt created or future salary than finding that employer they can believe in. I believe our potential and existing employees feel very much the same! This made me want to know more about how to keep my staff on target and happy.
Since my questions about the future weren’t answered in the research, I turned to my own team for some guidance. Yes, that’s right, I work on the belief that if I want to know what the employees are thinking, I just ask them, and here's what I heard: “I LOVE my job,” “We are a family,” “You care about all of us to talk to us when we need it,” “We work with some awesome programs because we care as a team,” “Pyara and you just command respect from anywhere I go.”
Back up a second. So, this had nothing to do with money. It had to do more with feelings.
So, just how do we make people feel good about the company and its owner?
When I sat down to consider what makes our retention so good, I noticed a few specific points where we stand apart from the herd. Some of the things we do differently focus on how we can help our employees in having a better quality of life and support system, making our workspace more familial:
Clarify Your Culture: Starting with the hiring process, we create a baseline introduction to our world. We lay out our culture to prospective employees to clarify for them that this is more than a job, this is a place you can make your own. We discuss our social responsibility and how we give back with events like raising money for clean water and the work we do with Hello Gorgeous, an organization that provides complimentary, professional makeovers to women battling cancer.
Solicit Opinion. We ask our employees, “Where do you see yourself next year?” Use this to begin your one-on-one meetings. Use the meeting time to work on an individualized plan to help them realize their goals. When their goals are hit ,everyone feels better, but then, when they are missed, you can go back over the plan and correct issues that prevented them from hitting their goals. They really appreciate this personalized and self-directed attention.
Find a Way to Be Present. It is important to give employees face time. As an owner with 120 employees, I cannot spend each day with each employee being their “everything.” Instead, I think outside the box in order to make personal connections with individuals. I send texts about daily performance directly from my Zeezor app to make sure each individual knows that I’m aware of what they are doing and how they are performing. Additionally, I devote one night a month for “birthday dinner” where I invite everyone out that has a birthday that month. I make sure that they receive an appreciative experience where I feed them and talk with them.
Develop Well-Rounded Education. Education for your service providers is important. We all tend to think of education for stylists and service providers as providing technical classes. What about business building? What about life coaching? Organizational skills? People need to have skills for working and growing themselves as well as working on their craft. It shows them they are building a career and being with your company is not just a job.
Be Consistent in Your Management. Consistency is key! Have a handbook. Update it regularly. Hold everyone accountable. Don’t treat people different because you like them. Make them all special to you but make sure you hold them all to the salon rules. When you let one person get by with one thing they all start thinking you are playing favorites, not holding other people accountable, and you will eventually lose respect.
Look in the Mirror.This is the tough one. We were lucky enough to have Luca from Pyure salon be my coach and take myself and members of my team through the emotional rollercoaster of having them tell me what they needed from me and what improvements they needed. And you know what? It was so powerful. My team felt heard, and I got the kick in the butt I needed to be a better leader. We all need coaching and mentoring. After that, I took the opportunity to hire a business coach to make sure I was working on the business, myself and holding myself accountable and always having my actions questioned.
Be the Boss You Would Want to Have. Are you reading a great self-help book? Share it. Would you need kindness in a certain time of your life? Give it. Stop thinking always about the bottom line, we are in an industry that depends on people and loyalty. If you give to your team it will come back to you and grow your business and create your own impervious tribe!
Christine Perkins is the owner of Pyara Spa and Salon, with two locations in Cambridge and Burlington, Massachusetts.