Scott Missad is president of the International SalonSpa Network, the global voice for the...
Scott Missad is president of the International SalonSpa Network, the global voice for the multi-location salon and spa segment of the professional beauty industry. He is also CEO of the Gene Juarez Salons and Spas Group in Seattle.

Go into any salon and you’ll see three types of professionals.

The first is rocking it with the clients, saying all the right stuff, fully booked and pushing retail off the shelves. Same location, same day, there’s the second type of professional hanging around the salon, booked and doing their thing but with a bunch of openings. Then there’s the third; they are in the backroom with a group of other like-minded souls, each telling the other what they need to be doing. Not one of them has a customer but all are listening intently to one another. It’s the same salon, same day, same product mix, same air conditioning, but three very different personalities.

Since the beginning of time, our response to the last two has been to try to motivate them. We send them on education courses or to tradeshows and they come back all enthused until real life sets in again, and they return to the backroom to gripe. It’s not working. Motivation as a solution is a myth. Motivation doesn’t change behaviors and we won’t change anything until we change behavior. Behavior follows expectation so we need a new approach to shift expectations and we need it fast because the disruptions facing this industry are really going to shake us up. Even the first type of stylist is going to be seriously challenged and it’s up to us to help them cope.

At Gene Juarez Salons and Spas we have developed the Six Pillars of Future-Preparing so our teams are ready for the future.  

1. Fact-based decision-making.

If you want peak performers you need to show them what peak performance looks like. I don’t mean tell them, I mean show them, with everything backed up. You want to make your team great – but how do you measure great? You can’t. You need to be able to measure what peak performance is. If you asked your team how many do a comprehensive consultation, 95% would raise their hand. Ask the client’s opinion and it would be only 10%. So you need metrics to show your people such as occupancy, request rate, client per occupied hours, product per customer as well as growth revenue.

2. Build personal communication skills.

Don’t focus solely on creative and technical training just because this is what gets them excited. It doesn’t last. Teach them how to create deeper connections with the client. What we have over e-salons, suites and the Amazons of this world is the 30-60+ minutes we have with that client in the chair. We need our people to make a connection with them so they will keep coming back. That means great consultation, selling to solve their problems.

3. Technical skills

These are important but the client often can’t recognize the difference between an ‘OK’ haircut and a great haircut. They will, though, notice if their stylist doesn’t know how to do a current look. She’s no longer coming in with a photograph, she’s coming in with a link to a YouTube video and your people need the skills to be able to understand how that cut or color is achieved and how to recreate it.

4. Sense of belonging

We need to create internal and external communities that support our professionals and guide them to deliver 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. We have mentorship programs, where our best people look after the weaker ones so they get better and their understanding of how to connect to the customer improves.

5. Individual recognition

Reward them with a solid compensation program that recognizes longevity, milestones and achievements. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – it could be booze or gift cards. Individual recognition isn’t just limited to rewards; we also need to offer flexibility. In my business, we will allow our people to trade time, but we don’t have them swapping days so they come in when their clients don’t know they are in and then sit idle all day. We bolt on the hours to their day so they simply work longer when they are busy. Everyone wins: the client, the professional, the salon.

6. Segmented training

If you do group training then you risk your good guys getting bored while the weaker ones become intimidated by the better ones. Separate them out and create personalized, specific training for their needs.

At the end of the day, our job as owners and leaders is to create opportunity; it’s their job to seize it. But while all opportunities are equal, outcomes are not. We need an approach that helps them appreciate this very simple fact. We need to empower them so they have a positive, determined attitude that enables them to cope with the challenges, from within themselves and without, that could and do hold them back from success.

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