Customer Service

The First Impression [Really Does Count]

Often overlooked, the front desk position in every salon has the power to make (or break) the first (and last) impression a client has of your establishment. Here we show you how to turn your front desk from asupport position into a profit center and customer service gateway.

Even if you don't have separate booking and check-in employees, take Weiner's advice and train your front desk employees well. "We offer intensive training and pay a training wage until they have had time to master their job duties and take a test on services," she says. "And I take it to the extreme — the front desk staff members' hourly wages depend on how well they do on the services test."

In addition to understanding the services, the salon coordinator needs to be knowledgeable about the products. The salon coordinator should be able to name and describe what products you use and carry. She could become your best retail salesperson if you give her the tools. When distributors and manufacturers' educators come in to talk to you and your nail techs about new products and do product demos, the salon coordinator should be included in this training.

We all complain that nail techs don't retail enough, well isn't it because often they are so closely booked that they don't have the time to spend with the client after her service? The salon coordinator does. She can help techs retail to clients when their polish is drying or when they are paying for their services. But make sure that you don't take the salon coordinator for granted. Make her want to sell by offering her incentives or commission on retail items sold.

Blue says, "Our technicians often don't have time between services to close the sale on retail items, so it is up to the front desk employees to have that product knowledge so they can close the sale. And they definitely get commission on retail sales."

I'll Be Happy to Help You

OK, I am getting a little ahead of myself here. (It's just that I get so excited about the thought of empowering the salon coordinator to sell services and products that I jump ahead.) Your front desk employee needs to be trained on properly using the phones. She needs to understand what the atmosphere of the salon is and she needs to be able to relay that over the phone. This is the first impression that you will make on a new client, so you want to make sure that it represents your salon. You want the voice of the front desk to be equal to your promotional material, your web site, and any other elements of your salon. The front desk staff at The Spa at Margo Blue always answers the phone with "Welcome to The Spa at Margo Blue, how may we nurture you?"

Create a script. Have the salon coordinator rehearse it. Set up different scenarios and teach her how to respond to everything that might come up. She already knows the services that you offer and the products that you use, right? She knows how long it takes each nail tech to do each service and she can upsell for you right over the phone.

One great idea from the Cowans is to keep a Rolodex at the front desk that can be used as a cheat sheet. In it you can keep service descriptions, tech specialties, and directions from major highways and intersections. You can customize this Rolodex to include whatever you can think of that would be useful to your salon coordinator at a moment's notice. Weiner keeps a product knowledge book behind the front desk so the staff can look up information to better serve clients.

An Integral Member of the Team

So now we have a salon coordinator (not a receptionist) who has been trained on the phones — she can handle any caller's requests and she represents the voice of the salon. She has been trained on the services, the products, and the techs. Why not go one step further and let her in on the goals and expectations you have of the salon? The salon coordinator sees every client coming in and out of the salon. She hears the compliments and the complaints. This person is probably your best person to ask: "How's business?" By knowing what your daily, weekly, or monthly goals are, she can tell you how close you are to making them, or how far over them you already are. And by knowing how close you are to making those goals, she has the power to cross-promote services and send clients home with retail items that can help push you over that goal.

One of the biggest obstacles that the front desk employee encounters is the lack of respect she receives. Often, nail techs and stylists don't take this person seriously, which transcends down to clients not: taking her seriously. And in the end, she doesn't even take herself seriously because she is overlooked and left out of meetings. Don't let this happen. By incorporating the salon coordinator into your training, your meetings, and your team, you, as the salon owner, are making a statement that the front desk is just as important a position as any. You must endorse this position. If the rest of the staff knows your feelings on the front desk position, it will carry on clown to them.

"They need praise and respect," says Blue. "And often they don't get it. I encourage my techs and stylists to treat them well, respect them, offer them complimentary services, and generally to make them feel included."

According to Terriand Steve Cowan, it is every team member's responsibility to create a "WOW" experience. And it all starts with the front desk — properly answering the phone, greeting guests when they walk in, helping them with their coats, getting them beverages, and making sure they are comfortable until they sit clown with their technician. And after the service, it is the front desk employee who asks, "How was your experience today? Can I offer you this great product to take home to help maintain your manicure until your next visit? Would you like to schedule your next nurturing experience while you are here?"

As you can see, there are many things that your "salon coordinator" can do to help you meet your goals. Now, don't you think it is worth the extra time and effort to turn your receptionist into an empowered salon coordinator who is happy to come to work each day because she is an important member of your team?



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