Everyone accepts that Christmas is the one true crazy season for the beauty industry. There arent enough hours in a day and even if there were staff are worked to maximum capacity. In years gone by I have written about marketing ideas, displaying Christmas stock and preparing your salon for this wonderfully busy and profitable period. But this year as we start to think about our Christmas planning, my thoughts have turned to how we can prepare our staff for the inevitably hectic weeks of December.
Every year salons contact me with problems concerning staff just before the Christmas rush. And every year I wonder if there had been more planning and concern for the staff members needs would the problems have occurred in the first place. Many of our team are just not well enough prepared for the deluge of customers, lack of breaks, no days off, longer hours, new stock lines, special deals, time constraints and greater demands placed on them. Consequently many find it difficult to cope, necessitating time off or not being able to maintain the high standards expected in the salon.
Remember that outside of work they are also experiencing the demands of Christmas.
Social functions, family celebrations, Christmas shopping and holiday planning can all lead to an exhausted and very emotional employee even before they set foot in your salon.
I know what you are thinkingAll employees should ignore boyfriends, family and all social functions. They should get someone else to do their Christmas shopping, they should all be in bed by 7.30pm, tell visiting family they are not at home and concentrate solely on their work in your salon. Well thats not going to happen! So best we start planning to help them prepare for what is always our industrys silly season.
Plan Time Off
By asking for requests for time off early (September / October) and having rosters prepared months ahead, all staff get the opportunity to plan their social functions and family celebrations well in advance. It also gives you the opportunity to roster some days as breaks for employees or to set aside days where staff can be on-call if needed. Research has shown that when staff are aware and can plan for busy periods they are able to cope better whilst in the workplace.
Experienced therapists know what lies ahead and appreciate that forward planning has taken place to enable them to have days off. They are also more likely to accept changes in rosters to accommodate extra trading days, late nights or 24 hour trading in some of the major shopping centres.
Make sure everyone knows
what the Xmas gift packs
and treatment specials are
It is essential with many special gift lines, Christmas parcels, summer deals and gift voucher packages that staff are fully trained in each treatment, that they know the products in each Christmas pack, prices are remembered and times for treatments are adhered to.
The only way staff can be expected to remember all of this is if they are given the opportunity to prepare well in some in-house training sessions. Physically going through the procedures step by step, noting times and product use as well as taking apart the various packs to understand their value. Because more special deals are offered at this time of year staff require more direction and more time to learn them all.
Plan and discuss with staff now what sales targets, number of gift packs, retail targets and average dollar spend per client should be. Calculate realistic goals for staff based on a set percentage increase on last years totals.
Explain how you arrived at these targets or allow staff to be involved in the planning of targets so they believe that the agreed target is achievable.
By having clear expectations set out well in advance, staff are better prepared and more likely to achieve the set marks. They have an exact idea of what is expected of them and can plan how they are going to achieve these goals, often increasing their sales in weeks leading up to December in preparation.
By allowing staff to be involved in the planning for Christmas they tend to take on some of the ownership for the extra duties that are required of them. The setting up of additional retail displays, window dressing, organising gift certificates, stock control, rosters, coordination with shopping centre managers, newsletters and VIP evenings are just a few of the seasonal tasks that can include staff involvement in the organization. By involving staff better communication of information usually occurs, which in turn means staff feel more in control with the extra pressure of the season.
Health and Nutrition
As much as we plan to be organised, too often girls will miss breaks, go without meals, do extra hours and squeeze in more clients. In an effort to maintain their strength, supplying light, healthy snacks, plenty of water and energy sustaining supplements can really help staff get through a long and hectic day. Providing these things for staff to grab whenever they have a break will often mean less complaints and greater willingness to alter break times to suit client needs.
There are many tasks around a salon that can be undertaken by non-skilled staff, making the best use of qualified therapists time. A number of salon owners I work with utilise family members and friends to take over duties such as washing, folding of towels, cleaning basic areas such as floors, taking away rubbish, checking orders, displaying stock, mailing newsletters even answering phones and doing banking. All of these menial tasks are a regular part of a beauty therapists role during a normal week, however they become an extra burden when we are trying to treat as many clients as we can over the busy Christmas rush. Extra help in these areas can really assist staff to see more clients and to get away from the salon at the end of each day on time, ready for another busy day to follow.
Christmas will often mean many more late night trading hours. Organise for security staff in shopping centres to walk staff to cars often parked a distance from the shopping centre. For smaller salons, try to have staff finishing their shifts together so that they can leave the salon in a group. Do not ask staff to carry large amounts of money around, or leave staff alone in the salon if it can be helped.
Its easy to do, you get so busy yourself that you can sometimes forget to thank staff for all the extras they do. I know you pay them for these extras, they are part of the job. But saying thank you, giving a card, buying some flowers or something similar to say that you really appreciate their efforts goes a long way to maintaining staff morale and enthusiasm. Staff retention surveys conducted across Australia over recent years have all concluded that the major factor for staff to choose to change employment is the perceived indifference of their employers towards them.
In other words they dont think their bosses care about them or the work they conduct. A simple sincere thank you can go a long way to showing you really do care and appreciate their efforts.
Over the past few Christmas seasons, a few salons I am involved with have attempted to explain to family members and partners what Christmas in a salon is like. It is almost pre-warning them that the staff member in question will be required to work odd hours, often extra hours, be exhausted at the end of a long day and need their support more than ever if they are to maintain their professional standards over this chaotic period. In this way, family members appreciate the extra pressures that are on your therapists.
Because they are also aware of what is about to happen we have found that they hassle less about the time spent at work or the unavailability for social functions and the tiredness. It is important that your staff have good support from home, especially as many still have the responsibilities of being a wife or mother. One of the best ways we have discovered of achieving this is to have a social event for staff and immediate family where apart from the social interaction, a plea for their understanding is requested. By holding such an event in late October / early November everyone can ready themselves for the retail season that lies ahead.
Every year we are faced with problems concerning our staff at Christmas. It seems almost an inevitable circumstance. However, by making sure we think carefully about how we manage our staff through this busy period, the number of problems experienced can be drastically reduced. Happy, energetic, well trained, involved and motivated staff equates to increased profits, less problems and greater staff retention. Take the time now to plan out how you are going to manage your team this Christmas it will be well worth it!
Paul Carbis not only provides valuable advice through his articles in Beauty magazines, he is available to visit your salon and assist you with your Christmas planning. Paul travels regularly throughout Australia and New Zealand and is able to help salon owners with planning, advertising, marketing, staff management and staff training in areas such as retailing. His expertise as a specialist in the beauty industry has been recognised overseas where he is a writer for a number of international magazines as well as a guest speaker in many of Europes major expos and conferences.
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
We are hearing more and more about the potential dangers of preservatives in cosmetic and skin care products of late, and there are thousands of documents in circulation in print and on the web that confuse the issue by providing such a variety of conflicting ideas and data that people simply do not know who and what to believe.
The question of real substance in these dangers or just the application of creative marketing by manufactures of natural products needs to be explored for us to make an informed decision.
Lets start by putting this whole preservative thing in perspective.
Preservatives are not only in our skin care, Cosmeceuticals, make-up and toiletries, but also in our food.
Common preservatives in our skin and hair products include parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol, tetrasodium EDTA (ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid) and formaldehyde.
Typical preservatives in our food are calcium propionate, Methyl and propyl parabens, disodium EDTA, BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene).
These preservatives are included in products to render them safer to use or consume by preventing and controlling microbial growth, thus increasing shelf life before and after end-user purchase. We are exposed to preservatives on a wider scale than we would like to think.
The reality is that many skin acre products (including many with animal and plant extracts) could have a more detrimental effect without the preservatives than with them.
It is estimated more than 90% of all personal care and cosmetic products contain one or more of the paraben family of preservatives, and with the time it takes for products to ship from overseas manufacturers via storage at your wholesaler/distributor to your shelves and finally your customers, months may have elapsed before the product is finally used.
With airtight packaging and controlled storage this is not as bigger problem as it used to be, however once opened, without some form of preservative, damage to the product from air, light and the growth of micro-organisms (eg, bacteria and fungi) can occur.
This could have a far worse effect on the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes than the presence of a preservative would. In a worst-case scenario, the product will start to go off and may even start growing potentially pathogenic organisms.
When talking preservatives, there are always questions about how much is actually in the product, and it is not uncommon to find poorly formulated, mass produced (read cheap) products with higher concentrations (up to the maximum permissible levels) than more modern, intelligent formulations.
The higher concentrations of preservatives in some products may well be responsible for the allergic reactions and other unsatisfactory client experiences, in fact it is reported that preservatives are the second highest cause of skin irritation in formulations. (Fragrance is the highest)
Products that contain animal by-products such as hydrolysed collagen will also logically require a good dollop of preservatives to keep the microbes under control.
One of the most potentially detrimental combinations is the use of high levels of preservatives in a formulation with penetration enhancers. The skins barrier
defence systems are there to provide a chemical barrier, so when used in purely cosmetic formulations (foundation and colouring agents) there is little chance of the preservative getting any further than the epidermis. In corrective skin care products this could be a different matter, and the preservatives could cause skin irritation due to them reaching greater depths. As previously mentioned this is not so much of a problem with intelligent formulations that require fewer preservatives.
Preservatives get bad press
In addition to claims that preservatives are responsible for causing allergies in susceptible people, (including dermatitis and other side effects) the bulk of concerns revolve around safety and toxicity.
Most of the negative press preservatives get refers to two common types of preservatives; Parabens (butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben) and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (2-bromo-2-nitropane 1-3 diol, DMDM hydantoin).
The attention parabens have received is related to very limited studies that distantly links them to breast cancer due to their weak estrogenic activity and their presence in breast-cancer tumours.
A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2002 evaluated the estrogenic activity of parabens in human breast-cancer
cells, with the very technical findings of the study showing evidence of a weak estrogenic effect on cells in a way that could be problematic for binding to receptor sites that may cause proliferation of MCF-7 breast-cancer cells.
In this study, the parabens were administered to laboratory rats by both oral administration and hypodermic injection into the rats skin. (A far cry from topical application in the minuscule concentrations of cosmetics!)
Another widely quoted UK study that researched the use of paraben preserved deodorants identified parabens in breast-tumour samples supplied by 20 human patients, however there was no conclusive proof that the tumours were caused by the parabens, or even that the parabens were absorbed via topical application or via food intake!
It is important to understand that parabens are not the only substances that have estrogenic effects on the body. There are many chemical and herbal substances that facilitate estrogen-antagonistic activity, with botanical medicines such as phytosterols a typical example.
Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are less used in modern formulations, but still have an indistinct spectre of carcinogenic effects attached to them. This concern started back in the early 90s, when it was discovered that when formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (such as 2-bromo-2-nitropane 1-3 diol or DMDM hydantoin) are combined with amines (such as triethanolamine), a compound known as nitrosamine forms. It has been known since 1956 that nitrosamine (in its various forms) is a carcinogenic, however because the amount of preservatives used in cosmetics is so small, the problem was viewed as inconsequential for cosmetics users and no subsequent study has shown it to cause problems for people using personal and skin care products containing these formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
As with the parabens studies, the research relating to carcinogenic properties of nitrosamine was undertaken by feeding it orally to laboratory rats in a different concentration than would be absorbed by the skin.
Preservative free & natural preservatives?
We know that any cosmetic or personal care product that is truly
preservative free will usually have a short shelf and usage life. Even products that make claims (although exaggerated) about their natural content often utilise parabens as a preservative. They justify this because some parabens are classified as food-grade substances.
(A truly creative way of twisting the facts!)
With regard to natural preservatives, it is interesting to note that parabens actually do have a natural origin. Parabens are formed from an acid (p-hydroxy-benzoic acid) found in both raspberries and blackberries.
There are actually a number of natural organic substances with varying ability to inhibit microbiological growth in cosmetic formulations, and these are used in addition to, or replacing traditional preservatives to help satisfy a more green thinking consumer market.
The most obvious are essential oils, with Neem Oil, Vitamin E (d-alpha Tocopherol, Honey, Rosemary Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extract, caprylol glycin (a plant derived lipo-amino acid) and Sodium Hydroxymethylgycinate (organic preservative plant derived from the amino acid glycine) also used.
Despite some opinions that preservatives are toxins and the allegations of parabens being the cause of breast cancer and liver problems, we must be rational with the way that some of this adverse data is interpreted. It is so easy to take findings from an experiment or study and twist the facts to support a belief or agenda. Again, let us put the facts in to perspective.
In a majority of studies in to detrimental effects of chemical compounds, the dosage of the chemical is far higher than average exposure. Ingestion and injection methods are used to deliver the chemicals to the test subject. These methods deliver dosages hundreds if not thousands of times higher than would be normally experienced.
To date, there is no comprehensive research regarding the long-term effects of low-dose paraben use, and no one has yet evaluated whether it is the consumption of parabens or their application to the skin that is responsible for their presence in human tissue. There is also insufficient data to testify exactly what the presence of parabens in human tissue means.
With this knowledge, most of these toxic claims could be reasonably considered not applicable to cosmetics, as preservatives found in skin care are only used topically and not systemically. The concentrations of preservatives in formulations that have penetration enhancers still deliver far less chemicals to the body than ingestion, and to date there is no conclusive study to indicate these compounds reach the bloodstream.
What all the researchers who are studying the issue of toxic effects of preservatives agree on is that the information gathered to date is hardly conclusive and at best ambiguous. We must keep an open mind and in the absence of conclusive proof, do what we can to choose formulations that have more effect than side effect.
In Europe, the home of beauty and skin care products, European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (COLIPA) assert that parabens are hydrolyzed in the skin and that they do not enter the bloodstream.
Parabens are also not officially identified or listed as an endocrine disrupting chemical by any government or regulatory organisation in the US, Europe or Japan.
However with such interest and divided opinion regarding parabens, Americas FDA is conducting its own research to determine what this all means for human health.
We will wait for this report with baited breath!
2006 Virtual Beauty Corporation