Ye of little faith

I have a three boys now. Our four year old is in the stage of learning to tie his shoes. Imagine if my attitude towards him was “oh, my son is just never going to be capable of doing this”. Or when it comes to dinner time I simply let my two year old continue to mash his food into his face rather than teach him to use a spoon or a fork or if I decided that its just too hard to potty train him and I leave him in nappies forever.

Not only would this perpetuate the problem of having children that are not capable of doing things that they really ought to be able to do themselves but it would also send a message to them  (and others around them) that they are somehow inferior to other children and not capable of being taught or held accountable. What a sad scenario this would be.

Then why do owners, managers and administrators continue to treat salon staff in this way?

Are salon employees lesser human beings than all other industry employees on earth? When integrity, basic common sense, basic literacy and basic numerical skills were apportioned were they absent on that day? Does it somehow happen that as soon as you accept a job in a salon that you are somehow downgraded to the maturity and competency level of a child?

The answer must be a very definitive “NO”!

Attitude reflects leadership

The question then, is who is really to blame for the inadequate levels of internal salon management that seems to be prevalent amongst so many salons around the country?

I believe that ownership and management perpetuate the notion that internal salon administration staff are simply not capable of all doing anything that may be expected of them if they were to work in another industry.

The reason I say this is because this said on many occassion. So, if the person who hired you does not believe you have the same basic capabilities as your peers in other industries and they don’t expect it of you then why would you ever believe you are capable of or expected to perform at a similar level.

Case in point

I recently wrote an article about the importance and benefits of simply providing salon clients with a printed receipt. As a result of this one action there would be a number of other benefits that occurred as well. I also used supermarkets as an example and the fact that you would NEVER walk out of one of our big supermarkets without being given a receipt for your purchase.

However, in salons it is all too common that sales are not even entered as they occur. On far too many occasions the salon staff would manually calculate the sale (on a calculator), take the money, give the change and say goodbye. Then later in the day they may (or may not) enter the sale into their system.

Are the staff hired as cashiers at our supermarket chains mentally or physically superior to their salon counterparts? What then is the difference? I suspect it may be linked to the expectations / requirements / demands of management and ownership. They simply would not tolerate a staff member who does not comply with their point of sale procedural requirements. Salon owners and administrators not only tolerate it but they perpetuate it by taking the stance that salon staff are just not capable of anything better.

The salon environment in perspective

In my opinion the operational environment lies somewhere in between a private doctors office and a supermarket. In a doctor’s office the environment will be very calm and quiet. Patients will be required to first make an appointment, then on arrival fill in detailed personal information sheets relating to their medical and insurance details. Without this information you are unlikely to be able to engage in a consultation with the doctor – it’s not negotiable and administration staff will be the gatekeepers that ensure proper procedure is followed. After seeing the doctor you would be presented with a bill, either in person or via the post.

In a supermarket the environment will be far livelier (almost like organized chaos). Unlike the doctor’s office you will not have to fill in any personal information, but you will have to go through one of their check out points. Have you ever tried to get out of a supermarket without buying anything? You feel like a caged criminal trying to escape. It’s almost like the only way to get out is to buy something first.

Now, in a salon environment you have a bit of both. Have a lively environment with more people coming and going than a doctor’s office but not as many as you would have queueing in a supermarket. You have clients providing you with some information like name and number when they make a booking and perhaps a little more information when you do an in salon consultation. Then when they leave they pay for whatever service or product they purchased.

So if a salon is positioned somewhere in between then surely the protocols should be somewhere in-between as well? If you think about it salon staff are required to operate at a level that requires both the ability to work under pressure and also to be able to handle a greater variety of operating procedures as far as transactions go. So the assumption would be that of the three the salon staff member would be the most highly skilled, trained and accountable. Or not?

The root of the problem

The problem is not that salon staff are incapable, the problem is more than salon management and ownership do not believe in their staff or do not know how to develop their staff or do not care to develop their staff. This is very sad when you consider the effect it must have on a staff members motivation levels.

In our company, whenever something has gone wrong, whether it is a process that has failed or something else that resulted in a complaint from a client we as management always have to acknowledge first and foremost that it is a management failure that has resulted in the occurrence. The only exception might be if a staff member is deliberately refusing to comply with what is required of them, but then again see point number one as it is management that hired the wrong person in the first place.

Therefore, whenever you hear yourself saying “my staff will never be able to do that” or “my staff just make so many mistakes” then remember the fact that ultimately you are responsible for everything that takes place in your salon. Your current structure is perfectly designed for the results that you are currently getting. If you want different results then the change has to come from you first and a good starting point is to put a little faith in the human beings you have working for you. Without this any positive results that occur will simply be incidental. If you are humble enough to realise that you may be the root cause of the problem and are trying to get it right but finding it difficult to get the results then perhaps you are the one that needs to get help in order to achieve this.

However, its no good for you to simply try and hire someone to make all the problems go away for you. This is another very common problem seen in the hair industry, ie the flamboyant artist refuses to take responsibility for their business and hires an outside business person to run everything for them. I have seen this fail more times that I have seen it succeed. You have to get involved yourself. You cant flip between hiring someone or doing it yourself. It requires both, hiring the right people and being involved in the process to develop your team and get the results that you expect, require and ultimately demand.