By understanding and committing to the principles of good management, your business can succeed and even flourish. Are you doing all you can do when it comes to smart scheduling, customer relations, employee management, and analyzing the numbers behind your business decisions?
Tardy Clients Mucking Up Your Schedule?
Instead of making other clients wait to fit in a latecomer, Sahar Slosser of Anatomy Day Spa & Boutique in San Diego, trained her staff to put the burden back on the customer — nicely, of course. “We tell them, ‘We’re sorry, but we won’t have time to do all your services today. Would you like to skip the facial this time?’ Pretty soon, they get the idea.”
The Customer Is King
Great technical skills are, of course, the foundation for repeat business. But humans also crave human contact, and providing that is the key to customer relations at A Robert Cromeans Salons, based in San Diego. Cromeans’ simple motto: “The customer is king.”
“One-time customers are the worst case scenario for sales. You want at least six to 10 experiences. That gives you back on your investment in advertising,” says the motivational speaker and artistic director for John Paul Mitchell Systems.
Cromeans looks at the receptionist — whether it’s you or a front-desk staff of five — as the first point of contact for clients: handling appointments, coordinating between nails and other services, selling retail products, and serving cucumber water or cappuccino.
He trains employees in what he calls “the name game” to establish a connection between technician and client that helps cement customer loyalty. “You have to use their name eight times or more to establish the connection,” Cromeans says. “It’s the sweetest sound to anyone in the world to hear their name. The more you use their name, the less they feel like the three o’clock appointment.”
Customer service becomes a way of upselling your services, too, Cromeans counsels. By paying attention to what your customers need and like, you can tailor additional offerings while making them feel special. In addition to suggesting paraffin dips, luxurious massages, and smoothing exfoliants, think ahead about nail add-ons that reflect upcoming holiday themes, gift baskets, and gift certificates. Let your customers know well in advance about these specials so they can think about them.
Even booth renters and one-tech salons can add value to their service with the help of a tech-in-training who can serve refreshments, hand the waiting client a magazine, pick up dirty towels, handle the cash professionally, and wash cups, he advises.
Employees Need Love, Too
To give great customer service, you need a great staff that is as committed and excited as you are. This, in turn, makes them more productive and naturally warm with clients.
Once he hires his employees, Cromeans keeps them focused with flexible hours and on-site childcare. He says this makes sense for a profession that attracts young women who never imagine that a family may be in their future. It can pay in retaining well-trained staff.
“If you’re a small shop, try making arrangements with the daycare center up the street. This lets them think of their jobs as a career path. We’re not offering just a three-year relationship,” Cromeans suggests.
Medical insurance, paid vacations, 401(k) savings plans, and bonuses are important perks for employees, but how to work them into your already tight budget?
Try offering these benefits as rewards for reaching goals, such as increased retail sales. Even minimal policies offer some security, and are more affordable now than they were just five years ago, Cromeans says. And “well days” could be awarded as paid time off to outstanding employees with perfect attendance.
Continuing education helps everyone see a better future for themselves. Call up the companies whose products you use and ask them to train you (or your exceptional nail technician) as an educator for salons in your area.
Even in the most positive environment, conflict can arise. Vicki Benner tries to see conflict as an opportunity to build trust and teamwork in her role as nail department director for the Chazios/Bladez Salon in Lake in the Hills, Ill. “Conflict only occurs when people care about the issue,” Benner observes.
Listening is the first step in resolving conflict. “Listen carefully, from the heart. God gave us two ears to listen and only one mouth, so use them accordingly. And take the time to thoroughly think through both sides of the issue,” Benner advises. She then asks the people involved in the conflict to think of two possible solutions to their problem.
When the mistake is her own — despite her best efforts to set a good example — Benner earns her employees’ respect by asking their forgiveness and promising to try harder. By working through the problems together, everyone learns and grows, Benner says.
No matter what size your business, reaching your dreams and those of your employees is what good management is all about.