A Commitment To Training
The role of a modern, professional beauty therapist and aesthetician is complex to say the least.
Not only does she require the para-medical training of a nurse but is now expected to understand technical product chemistry and pharmaceutical ingredient lists. Then there is the responsibility of being a receptionist, cashier, cleaner, retail sales person, data entry analyst, psychologist, counsellor, time management expert, accountant, post master, marketing guru and window dresser..And thats just before lunch and after performing such varied treatments as gel nails, a Brazilian bikini wax, a pedicure, a body wrap and a facial.
Dont worry; the afternoon is easier with a lash perm, a wedding party make-up and some Microdermabrasion. All performed to exceptionally high standards and despite her sore back from the three full body massages and her throbbing headache because she skipped lunch to fit in a couple of brow shapes, her customers feel that they have been absolutely pampered.
Now I know that this account is tongue in cheek and over exaggerated, but it really isnt that far from the truth either. I marvel at the incredible range of skills simply expected of therapists today.
Which leads to the reason for writing this article.
You see, I dont believe that owners can expect therapists to learn all of these skills simply because they completed a one or two year training course at a beauty school.
As owners and managers who want our girls to be able to cope effectively with the increasing demands of the job and maintain high industry standards, we must be prepared to provide continual and varied training in all aspects of their role.
This is an industry of change. Think back just five short years ago..
- Computers were in only a few salons. Now it is normal practice to have a computer system for accounting, data basing, marketing, stock control and even your appointment book.
- Who would have thought that Brazilian waxing would be as popular as it is today. It was rare to provide this service three years ago, now it is commonplace and salons are even offering this service to men!
- What we knew about the effects of antioxidants like vitamins A, E and C was very limited. Now these vitamins pervade most products, are the cornerstone of much of the new product development and dominate glossy magazine articles worldwide.
- Dermabrasion was like sandblasting the skin. Now the technology in this area is so advanced that it has become a mini industry of its own.
- Lasers were things that NASA scientists played with. Now they do everything from removing hair to eradicating fine lines and performing non-surgical face lifts.
- Who would have thought of men utilising a beauty salons services. Now professional men have manicures, male waxing is not unusual and massage is a part of mens wellness programmes. Male clients now make up a significant percentage of salon turnover. There are even male exclusive salons to cater for the specific needs of male clients.
- AHA peels were around, but who would have thought of combining AHA and BHA treatments together. Now we do.
- Business coaching and specialist marketing help were a rarity in the industry. Now there are many salons across Australia that take advantage of these industry experts and are reaping the benefits of this specialised help.
- Three years ago a degree course for this industry at a university was not available. Today it is.
And the list could go on for many more pages....
My point is that with such rapid and constant change in just about every aspect of the industry, it is an owners obligation to provide ongoing professional training. Just as it is reasonable to expect therapists to be committed to keeping up to date with industry education.
Lets take a look at just a few of these areas:
With some basic computer training staff can be expected to perform duties such as;
- Mail merging letters and marketing materials
- Using data base programmes to find clients who havent visited for a while
- Check client histories to determine treatment programs and home care reports
- Check for birthdays or thank first time customers for choosing your salon
- Offer new treatments to clients who have never tried that particular service. Eg. Offering a facial deal to waxing clients
- Send out reminders for specific treatments or when products must be nearly finished.
- The opportunities are endless. But most salon owners put a computer in the salon. Teach staff the very basics and just expect them to cope. With some proper training, down time in a salon can become highly productive.
Its not good enough simply to declare, Youre not selling enough, and you have to sell more products! This area of the business alone warrants the hiring of professionals to come into your salon and teach the skills of how to retail. So often we just assume that everyone can sell product.
The fact of the matter is that it requires a set of learned skills to do it well. These skills need to be practiced and honed in order for staff to feel confident and successful.
Many therapists, (especially the younger girls) feel very awkward and uncomfortable at the prospect of selling retail products. Very few therapists find that selling is an easy part of their role.
Regular sales training can help to increase profits in this area considerably.
You would be amazed at the tens of thousands of dollars of equipment that is stored in salons across this country.
Thats right stored!
When I look at the salon figures of most establishments the number of treatments that utilise this equipment is minimal. Galvanic, iontophoresis, high frequency, electrolysis and diathermy, slimming, G4s and so on. Now there is nothing wrong with the equipment.
It all does a great job in treating the client, but it is not getting used regularly in salons that dont continually pull it out and train their girls on how to use it.
I am amazed at how poorly many therapists cope in the role of receptionist. The number of booking lost over the inability to convert a walk in or telephone call is staggering.
A simple measure of counting all the incoming calls for just one day and comparing this figure to the number of bookings taken would have most salon owners reeling in shock and horror.
Well, the way to change this is to train therapists in how to answer a phone correctly, how to convert an inquiry, how to add on an extra service or up sell to a higher priced treatment. The results from this sort of training are instantaneous.
It is almost impossible to regularly sell items you know nothing about. Attending product schools, having product training and tests should be an integral part of the life of every therapist. Try incorporating this sort of training into staff meetings. Have a focus product for all staff for each week of the year. You can make it seasonal with masques during the autumn, exfoliants over winter, summer sunscreens and body lotions,
By regularly adding to your salons treatment list you not only keep your clients interested, but also improve the range of services of your staff. Why not include lymphatic drainage training during winter or autobronzing during summer. Teach an AHA pedicure during the spring sandal season or the use of ampoules and serums under facial masques in autumn. Encourage staff to show each other their techniques in facial massage or body massage routine.
Skin Analysis and Diagnosis
I believe that the role of a beauty therapist is to treat peoples skin. There is only one way to effectively achieve improvement in your clients skin and that is to diagnose, treat, prescribe and educate people as to their skins specific requirements.
Therefore all therapists need to be constantly trained in the latest developments in skin assessment.
It takes experience to correctly diagnose a skin condition and recommend the appropriate treatment and home care.
This experience comes from practice.
As you can imagine I could cover innumerable areas within the salon and discuss why they require attention during training.
The truth of the matter is that I think that a training plan is essential in making sure that therapists are covering even a tenth of what they need in ongoing training.
A training plan looks at areas of weakness in your team and addresses them with specific training in the areas of most need. It plans when to repeat or recap previous training, (Because heaven knows that you have to tell them more than once!).
As well as incorporating training available from colleges, product houses and the various professional trainers that come to town. This way owners and managers can plan training up to six months ahead and match training to specific promotions or seasons.
A detailed training plan also demonstrates a commitment by owners to providing professional training for staff of that salon. Staff can plan their social life around training dates, specialist trainers can be booked and owners can address problem areas within the salon systematically instead of haphazardly.
The other benefit is that staff actually feel important in the organization. They believe that because time and effort is being put into their personal and professional development, they are important to the organization. When training is regular, expected and of high quality, staff have a sense of the importance of their professional standards. Often it helps unify a group and can lead to a more stable and better-equipped staff.
Everybody wins. The customer gets better treatment and customer service, the staff member improves her skills and the owner should have a happier, more stable and interested staff who are efficient, knowledgeable and accurate in their duties.
It is far too easy to point the finger at our staff and blame them for everything that goes wrong in the salon. Or blame the schools for not training the girls to a high enough standard.
The truth is that all salon owners and managers must take responsibility for the ongoing, planned, professional training of our staff. It is imperative if we are to continually delight our customers and keep up to date with the latest industry trends.
I also believe that it is important in maintaining a stable, interested and competent team. In an industry where every week there is an exciting new idea launched somewhere in the world, we run the very high risk of being left behind if we dont take this responsibility seriously.
How often do you provide training?Is it planned well in advance or spur of the moment?
Is it regular (weekly or fortnightly)?
Do you cover all areas of the salon including tasks such as cleaning, reception and retailing?
When was the last time you hired the services of an expert to provide training for your staff?
Do you have a training plan?
Do you have services on your price menu or equipment in your rooms that are rarely chosen or used?
Can your staff effectively and efficiently undertake all the duties in the salon including all the services you offer?
Maybe its time to start planning some staff training!
2005-2008 Paul Carbis