Stealing Talent
  • Maggie Franklin
  • March 13, 2009

There used to be an interesting job out there called “corporate headhunter” where people actually got paid to find people who rocked at their jobs and then offer them new jobs.

 

Like some guy would call you up one day and say, “Hey, I hear that you are the BOMB plumber. You know, Danny and Dad’s plumbing is always looking for good workers. They’d be willing to pay you double what you make now, plus full health benefits and a 401(k) plan. Would you like me to set up an interview?”

 

And, of course, YOU would think he’d gone completely off his rocker because, after all, you do nails. But, well, you get the idea, right?

 

Well, the BF and I are both pretty BOMB at what we do. And both of us are motivated more by personal satisfaction with our jobs than by material compensation, which means we both find ourselves in the position of wondering just how it is that we are well into our 30s and still renting a tiny house and still not living on a boat? But we don’t hate going to work every day, and at the end of the week, we usually feel pretty superior to the average American because of it — even though we’re at home vacuuming while many other average Americans are on their boats.

 

But the BF does occasionally hear from other employers in his field, inquiring as to his current level of satisfaction with his employer and making enticing offers to improve his condition if he were to make a change in his daily commute. But no one has offered him a boat yet, so so far he’s stayed put.

 

It got me to thinking: No one has ever come around offering ME a “better” work environment. Why not?

 

In all fairness, I have owned my own salon for a good many of the years I’ve been doing nails. I guess it does sort of seem like a moot point to go out and try to recruit talent for your salon by soliciting another salon owner.

 

Or maybe I’m just not that good. Which is totally preposterous, of course! So it must either be that I owned my own salon or maybe that’s just not what salon owners do with nail techs.

 

I know it’s not an uncommon practice to try to lure hairstylists out of their current comfort zone. But I don’t really know of a salon owner who has purposefully gathered information about local nail talent and then approached a technician with the specific purpose of making an offer to entice her to switch salons. Which differs, in my mind, from the occasional “Oh, well I have a station for rent if you’re interested” proposal that comes up in response to hearing a nail tech express dissatisfaction.

 

Besides, what would you offer? I mean, really? I’m talking about approaching someone who already has experience, a clientele, and at least a local reputation for greatness. Especially in today’s booth rent-centric work atmosphere.

 

What would lure me away from Attitudes right now?

 

Walk-in traffic? I don’t need it, and I don’t particularly want it in the times when I am slow.

 

Lower rent? How long is that going to last?

 

A private room? Hmm ... sometimes. But then again, the private rooms at Attitudes have been open during my tenure and I have chosen not to ask about the option. I like being involved in the salon goings-on.

 

See? With an employer/employee relationship, there is more leverage available to the owner of the business to build a team that commands respect in the community and in the industry. You could offer higher commission rates, longer — or paid — vacation time, retirement options, paid education opportunities, health benefits. With booth rent, you really only have something to offer to new talent — more advertising, mentoring, walk-in traffic, maybe snacks for clients. But if you have the brightest, bestest, shiniest, newest salon with all the bells and whistles, you don’t need to go to talent, the talent will come to you. Because the people who have reached the pinnacle of their profession want to be in an environment that communicates such to their clientele.

 

Or, the people who have built a clientele and don’t need bells and whistles are perfectly content to stay put in a private salon on the road less travelled where the booth rent is reasonable and the salon owner is content to let each renter run her business her own way.

 

Which kinda got me to thinking about the current salons in town. I don’t really see much in the way of salon owners actively trying to recruit talent. As in, build a team that is comprised of the best at what they do that draws a discriminating clientele that insists on quality. Basically, I don’t think there’s a “OMG, you have to be gooooood to work there” salon in town because I don’t think there’s a salon owner who is putting forth the effort to build a “OMG, you have to be gooooood to work there” salon team and reputation.

 

So maybe booth rent really is killing the salon industry? Filling it with lackluster salons and apathetic salon owners who don’t care about the quality of what’s representing the salon so much as that the rent is paid?

 

 

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