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A Trained Eye

After visiting literally thousands of salons over the past twenty years, there is one indisputable truth. – The best salons also have the best-trained staff! It’s true, today’s cosmetic client is really quite savvy, they know the difference between merely qualified and well–trained staff. More and more, well-trained staff are becoming a point of difference for top salons as our customers are reading and asking about the new equipment and products they see in the numerous glossy magazines.

Let’s face it, with the advances in technology, product ingredients and procedural techniques our industry has experienced over the past five years, it has become almost imperative that post-graduate training of some kind is undertaken on a regular basis – Just to keep abreast of industry standards. So, I thought it might be appropriate to look at some of the industry training available.


Product suppliers

Traditionally product supply companies would offer product knowledge training and some technique training on the basic procedures that they expected to be performed in the salon. This is still the case and remains one of the most popular post-graduate training areas in the industry. In fact, one of the primary factors in choosing a product for my salon is looking at how good their training programme is. Salons require regular product training opportunities so that when new staff are employed, they do not have to wait too long for a product school to attend. Ask potential suppliers for a training calendar when choosing a new brand. Also, ask about who will be the trainers. How experienced and qualified are they, what is their background and how long have they been working with the brand? Another vital decision-making factor is to ask if they will be available to provide specific in-salon training for your staff.

A few of the product suppliers have even gone the extra step of providing advanced training in areas such as business management, staff management, advertising and promotions. Their commitment to training goes beyond just the promotion of their products and extends into helping you grow your business.


Colleges and Universities

Throughout New Zealand and Australia, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of courses ranging from Certificates to Diplomas and Degrees. However, the numbers of therapists returning to a training college to retrain in areas they have forgotten or to learn new training on advanced equipment and techniques are still very low. This shouldn’t be the case. Short courses are now available in specific areas of the industry such as electrolysis, Brazilian waxing, spa treatments, nails, IPL and laser, skin needling and more. I believe that this is one industry where continual professional training is what sets expert therapists apart from average therapists. Many of the courses can even be completed by correspondence reducing the inconvenience of time and the distance required to travel to a good college. Most of the better colleges now offer postgraduate studies in the evening as well as their daytime classes.


Experts and Consultants

Then there are a number of industry-specific consultants that are available for both salon management training as well as staff training. (I have travelled the world lecturing at expos and conferences, and I am happy to say that the level of industry training in New Zealand and Australia is as good, if not better than anything I have witnessed around the world). Owners cannot just expect that their staff can retail. They cannot just expect that they can manage the reception area or have excellent customer service skills. These things need to be trained and they are often not a priority for the colleges. This type of training is as important as knowing products or how to wax. There are enormous amounts of money lost in salons from staff not being able to convert inquiries at the front counter or failing to recommend home care products to clients that will buy from somewhere else.

There are even experts available in areas such as advanced skin analysis, shop fit-outs and merchandising, advanced equipment training and team building.


Expos and Conferences

I love attending the various world expos that I get invited to. It gives me a chance to see what the industry trends are, what new products are available, hear a variety of industry experts and learn new techniques in treatments. Here in New Zealand and Australia up to four expos each year are held and many of the larger product suppliers hold annual conferences as well. I encourage every therapist to get along and be a part of events such as the Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne Expos. Here you have the opportunity to listen to speakers, watch demonstrations and get excited by what is happening in our fabulous industry. There is little doubt that staff members that have attended these events come back to the salon re-invigorated and far more focused.


Staff Meetings and In-Salon Training

Regular information sharing in staff meetings and in-salon training sessions is another way for staff to keep their training up to date. I believe it is the duty of salon owners to provide specific in-salon training on a regular basis, which directly responds to staff performance and procedural issues. I see many staff members underperforming and hear salon owners complain, but little or no specific retraining is made available to the staff concerned. Consequently, we see little, if any, improvement.

This, in-salon training, needs to be well-planned, not ad-hoc. It is probably the most effective training your staff will experience when it is well-planned and conducted with a specific purpose in mind. I stated earlier that the best salons have the best-trained staff. They also have well-planned staff meetings and training sessions. These salons not only provide team training but also have individualised training plans for all staff members where staff attain skills ranging from treatment procedures to management duties. Your staff work for you. Not the product company, not the equipment company and not the computer company. It is not professional enough to simply wait for these organizations to provide training opportunities for your staff. Every owner and manager must provide regular salon-specific training for every staff member if they want that staff member to improve their performance.

Now I have heard the arguments that it is expensive to train staff when they just leave or are tempted away by other salons. I personally think that this is something of a fallacy. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, however, my experience is that staff that are given fantastic training and personal development opportunities tend to be far more loyal because they see the commitment that their owners have made to furthering their professional education. They also see the results of their training in their performance figures and in most salons that means extra dollars in commissions and bonuses. Most salon owners look upon training as an expense. Yes, it costs time and money. But when you change your thinking from expense to investment you will see the benefits of better-prepared staff, higher services and retail figures, greater rebooking rates, a more professional environment and most importantly more profit.


Happy training.