Keeping all your stations filled with qualified nail professionals is critical to the success of your business, whether you are a commission based or booth rental salon.
Paula Gilmore is a salon owner and nail industry consultant.
Keeping all your stations filled with qualified nail professionals is critical to the success of your business, whether you are a commission based or booth rental salon. The pool of eligible nail technicians available to fill your stations can shrink drastically in months or even weeks, so waiting until you have several positions open and then beginning to look for nail technicians to fill than can spell disaster for a business.
We sometimes lose sight of the fact that a good staff is our most important resource. Knowing where the quality people are and how to attract than is a major challenge for most salon owners. The open market and the school source are two major areas for recruiting new employees. We’ll look at the open market now and investigate recruiting new graduates from schools in my next column.
Open Market Recruiting
Newspaper ads: Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you are short a staff member is to put an ad in the paper. It can be effective when there are technicians looking to make a change, but the bill can add up pretty fast when you keep it running for a long period of time.
When placing an ad, consider the area you want to reach. Most people don’t want a long work commute so it’s usually effective to use just the local papers.
How much do you want to say in your ad? Sherry Williams, nail department manager of Mitchell’s Salon and Day Spa in Cincinnati, Ohio, starts her ads with “Read Clientele,” and includes education and benefits. Marlene Kurland, who heads four nail business locations, begins her message with “Business Is Great!” and gets a good response from it. There are different opinions about mentioning the type of compensation you offer. I think it’s best not to until the interview when you can adequately describe the variables. Be sure to include your salon’s location to reduce calls from people who live too far away.
Posters and signs: If you want to post a sign in your front window, be sure it’s tasteful and reflects other advertisements that customers will be seeing. Having a sign in the window, though, can backfire with clients. They may start to think: Why have people left? Aren’t you busy? But if someone sees it and becomes a great addition to your staff, then you’re the winner.
Your local beauty supply distributor might have a bulletin board or space in its newsletter for employment ads. Make sure your flier reflects your salon in a positive way and includes an intriguing offer such as special training, marketing, or bonus systems.
Direct mail: Any marketing manual will tell you direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to get a response. You can request a mailing list from your state board of cosmetology for a fee. You can select the list by zip code, type of license, etc. Then you can create a direct-mail piece that will entice prospective staff members to call for more information. Mae Hare, owner of A Place for You in Encino, Calif., used this method and had a great response.
Staff referrals: Hare also encourages her existing staff members to refer a fellow professional to the salon for employment and gives than a $200 bonus if the person is hired; she rewards her staff with a $500 savings bond if the new person stays at least six months. (Caution: This may cause conflict with other salon owners in the area.)
Radio spots: Lots of people listen to the radio and some of them might be looking for jobs. A radio spot can be a great pull for customers and staff if worded properly. Check for costs and track your response to see if it's effective. A local station in my area offers a segment for employment opportunities at no charge. Check your area for similar programs.
Recruiting open house: One of the best ideas I've heard in a long time came from Williams. When Mitchell's Salon and Day Spa opened yet another location, they held two grand openings; one for customers and one for prospective staff members.
Using a mailing list from the state board, they invited all licensed operators in their city and presented them with a gift bag of product samples and an employment application. They were then treated to service demonstrations from existing staffers. What a great way to check out new talent and to get a new location off to a great start!
Create a recruiting package: Open you get that all-important call from a prospective employee, what would you like her to know about you and your salon, and how effective are you if you happen to be with a customer when she calls?
If the person sounds like “a live one,” why not have an already-prepared recruiting package to send her? Get her name, address, and telephone number so you can check back with her after receiving your package. This will put your salon in a professional light and will guard against misinformation.
Your package could include such things as background on you and the salon, your mission statement, salon fees, compensation plans and benefits, and an employment application.
Track response and follow up: Be sure to keep notes on any of the methods you use to attract new staff members. Keep an open-door policy with curious professionals in the area and remember to appreciate the staff you already have. Good luck!
The Big Recruiting No-No
As we try to improve and upgrade our profession, there is one recruiting practice that is extremely damaging to us all as business owners. Most owners that I spoke with agree that calling another salon to solicit its staff, or even worse, posing as a client to recruit staff during a service in another salon is ethically wrong. While everyone has the free choice to stay or go, she should make the decision on her own, not because someone has come into the work place to disrupt existing staff. I only hope that business owners who engage in in this type of sneakiness will be on the receiving end of it some time.