OH, SWEET HONEY. It’s a delicious treat, a beauty treatment, a remedy for allergies and digestive issues, but most importantly, it’s a surefire way to keep your salon buzzing, insists Jim DeBerry, international president of Eufora. “The question I’ve heard most from salon owners during my 33 years in the professional beauty industry has been consistently this: How do you find great stylists to work in your salon? My answer is always the same: Become a honey jar.”

Finding great talent can be a labor intensive, time consuming and frustrating process, like chasing bees with a net. Wouldn’t it be nice if the elusive star hairdressers flocked to you? “When you become the salon every stylist wants to be a part of (aka the honey jar) everything changes and the bees come buzzing,” he says. “The fundamental challenge of any business is attracting, training and retaining good employees. The key word in that sentence is attract. You want to attract employees, not recruit them.

“Ideally, your salon would be so irresistible to stylists there’ll be a waiting list of prospective employees. This will also keep your current team on their toes. If a stylist knows there is someone chomping at the bit to take over their chair, they will usually strive harder to succeed. And if they don’t, it’s nothing to lose sleep over, because there is likely an eager stylist waiting in the wings who is the right fit,” DeBerry continues.

Creating the honey jar begins with the salon owner. Franklin Roosevelt once said the best test of leadership is to look over your shoulder to see if anyone is following you. If there is a constant turnstile of people leaving your salon, it’s time to look in the mirror and figure out why. To do so, DeBerry suggests asking yourself these three fundamental questions:

  •         Am I the type of person people want to follow?
  •         Does my salon offer the tools a stylist needs for career advancement and growth?
  •         Do my current stylists speak about the salon and its environment to others with enthusiasm and excitement?

“If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, then it’s time to ask why, so you can begin tackling your shortcomings,” he suggests. “As you do so, it’s critical to establish the types of standards you would require if you were a jobseeker.”

Every good stylist has aspirations and career goals. It’s a salon owner’s responsibility to help them achieve these goals. Get back to the basics of what a stylist wants out of a career—advanced education, strong marketing programs, a thriving culture and environment—and give them the stepping stones to get there.

Of course, hiring the right personalities plays a significant role in creating the honey jar, explains DeBerry. “When asked, ‘How do you train your employees to smile?’ Walt Disney always replied, ‘I hire happy people.’ The same is true in a salon. You can train skill, but not personality. The rule of thumb is to always hire people with attractive demeanors because a feel-good environment draws others with great energy...then train them to do great work.”