In this month’s article we wrap up our series on communications within the salon. We’ll take a look at areas of communication that should be included in your communications policies.
Because of the internet the salon computer is a very powerful communication tool and very open to abuse by staff members.
Make it clear that the salon computer and internet connection are for salon business purposes only and that you have the right to intercept and monitor all communications that are sent out from that computer.
If staff are using the salon computer for Facebook, Gmail, Skype or any other form of electronic communication they may be in breach of your computer usage policy and communications may be tracked.
This does not mean that you are necessarily going to install software to monitor your staff members usage of the salon computer but leaves the door open if you require. More often than not staff members are careless with their misuse of business computers and will leave themselves logged in to their social networks and other electronic communication mediums, which means that you do not need to “hack” in to their accounts to track any abuse. Let them know that they must not complain about their right to privacy if they are caught using a prohibited and non-private computer for their private communications.
Staff members using the salon computer for personal use also raise the risk of obtaining viruses and other unwanted content.
Internet Usage Policy
For most businesses these days the use of the Internet is a very common platform from which to communicate with the outside world, not least of all clients. Sadly, though, the internet is an area that is sorely abused and this abuse can cause disruptions to business as well as extra cost to the salon.
Internet abuse is not limited to staff using the salon computer for internet access. Now that wireless networks are common place at work and smart phones use internet data all the time and if staff can get it for “free” from the salon wireless connection they definitely will. Therefore either you need to include a section on this in your internet usage policy that either prohibits staff from using the salon’s internet for their smart phones or you need to monitor their usage. Usually it is easier to prohibit access altogether.
Salon Email Account Policy
If staff members send emails from your salon’s email address it may have implications on your business depending on what is said and to whom it is sent. Therefore you should make it clear in your salon email policy that staff members are to always communicate in the best interests of the salon and its clients. This means not being rude to clients via email, not sending private emails using the salon account, not sharing private information about other staff or clients from the salon.
SMS Account Policy
If you have a salon bulk SMS account staff may try and use this to send their own private messages to friends and family. Staff should be made aware that, unlike email, SMS messages cost the salon money and should not be used for private communication.
Social Media Policy
Because social media has a “broadcasting” effect it has the power to instantly reach masses of people. The nature of interacting with social media is one where you say whatever is on your mind, as it pops into your mind.
Now in our imperfect world even the best of us have bad days at work. These bad days are often caused and/or aggravated by another staff member, a boss and very often a client and because social media goes wherever you go (on your phone) it means that you can post message before you have had time to cool off and think about what you should say. As a result you may end up posting something on Facebook or Twitter about how much you hate another staff member, or how annoying your last client was.
Because your place of work may be listed on your Facebook (or other social media) pages clients and other members of the public may view this type of information, which may negatively affect your business.
If a staff member is having difficulty with you the salon owner or other staff members on the team they should not be venting their frustrations online but rather directly with you and/or the other staff member/s they are having trouble with.
Apart from negative experiences with colleagues, employers and clients staff members should avoid posting information relating to bad behaviour like how they arrived at work with a ridiculous hangover after an outrageous party the night before. Posts on social networks, apart from affecting your business image negatively, can also end up getting staff members into trouble with you as their employer and even with the law if they make and admission to doing something illegal.
General Cell Phone Usage Policy
Apart from the abovementioned abuses and control of communication technology within the salon the simple matter of talking and texting on a cell phone still remains the most noticeable problem relating to cell phone usage in the salon. Therefore, it is only fitting to put together some sort of cell phone usage policy that staff must adhere to.
After speaking to some salon owners about this matter they all agree that it is a problem, but generally also agree that cell phone usage cannot be over regulated.
Part of the reason for this is because cell phones are now part of our culture. For example, if you ban cell phone usage altogether during work hours there will probably be a number or relatives panicking because they have not been able to get hold of their loved one for more than three or four hours. These days we are in constant contact with our friends and family and completely cutting someone off for eight hours plus may cause them to become quite grumpy.
It appears therefore that limiting use of cell phones to certain times and to certain areas is the happiest medium. Generally stylists should not be using their cell phones at their work stations but rather out of sight of clients.
They should also only use them when on their breaks so that they are not disappearing every thirty minutes to send a text or make a call.
A new issue that one salon owner raised was the fact that some staff members who did not have smart phones were cut off from others who were frequently on their Blackberry chat service. This not only creates a communication barrier between staff members but also a social barrier as those with smarter phones are almost part of a special club that you can only join if you can afford to.
Another problem raised was that salon clients would communicate directly to the stylist’s cell phone if they were running late or if they were cancelling their appointment. This breaks down the salon’s control over the booking and managing of clients because the stylist may or may not inform the salon co-ordinator of the client’s status. Therefore clients need to be made aware of the salons policy in this regard and the salon would need to decide on its policy of stylists giving out their number to clients.
With so much technology available and so many new communication methods appearing all the time it is very difficult to create a communication policy that will be manageable and enforceable. Therefore you need to be clear on a few simple principles which include what may or may not be communicated, who may be communicated with as well as when, where and how communications may take place.
Within these policies staff should get an understanding that basically anything they communicate that negatively effects the image of the salon, whether it be something rude or even just unprofessional, could end them up with disciplinary action. Therefore the golden rule should be for staff members to always ask themselves: “If I communicate like this now, how will it impact the salon I work for?”