Print this page

Salon Spa Management Marketing Profit Building Articles

Professional Beauty – Nov/Dec 2009

By Caroline Nelson

How to Build Salon/Spa teamwork Culture

Recently when I was delivering a seminar to a large group of salon and spa owners I mentioned the necessity of building a strong teamwork culture. One of the delegates in quite an abrupt manner said she was feed up with hearing about teamwork she only wanted to learn a fool-proof formula to get good staff and then to be able to keep them for the long term and not just for a few months. But from her attitude I could well understand how she might have trouble finding good employees and let alone retaining them.

Now no one has a fool-proof formula for every staff management issue but there certainly are ways and means we can adopt that will give us the best possible outcomes with finding and keeping the best employees. In fact from my experience good salon management often attracts good quality applicants. Because we are a small industry and many aestheticians know each other the word quickly gets around who are a good company’s to work for and who aren’t. So while finding the right employee is a given. Creating a work environment they want to stay working in is
also vitally important.

Having in past covered some of the best way to find good staff in this issue I am going to just concentrate on the methods of building strong salon or spa teamwork. And the benefits to you the business owner, your employees and your customers this will bring.

I know you realize that in a team-oriented environment everyone contributes to the overall success of the business. But what you may not know is that building an effective teamwork culture takes all kinds of skills and input from management all the way down to the most junior team member. From a management angle it requires the manager to have an understanding of human nature. To realize that we are not all alike – and what a boring world it would be if we were. Be able to show respect to every employee and to be able to communicate your directives or information well.
Being able to lead by example and inspiring and motivating the team as a whole. But your employees also must contribute in fact to be good team members they have to like working in a team. And this is not always the case with some diva employees who want to run their own race. This can be a problem that will need resolving before you ever get the team your business needs.

So while there is a wide variety of theories about how to develop a strong teamwork culture all agree there needs to be a strong leader. A leader who realizes their key role is one of coaching their members to achieve their best. Now the problem here is that while every salon or spa owner I ever talk to knows this, there are very few who take the time to do just that. Coach their team. And while there are many reasons why this doesn’t happen, by far the most common is the owner or manager is too busy treating their own clients doing the book work and all the other little things necessary to keep the business doors open.

In the busy life of a manager something often has to slip because there are just so many hours in a work day and most of us can’t stretch time any further. But you know you could easily liken this too many modern day family situations. From necessity most women hold down full time jobs run the home, care for the family and generally try to be a Super Mum. And, we all know what happens if they try keeping this up for too long? The kids who are often left to their own devises may become difficult to control stop doing their school homework and household chores and pick fights with each other. And you know without constant guidance this is just what happens to our employees. They act just the same as naughty children doing everything they can to gain the managers attention. So what I am saying is you will never have a good teamwork culture unless you invest the time into making it work.

So now assuming you realize this and you have decided that you will free up the time to spend developing your team just what come next in the process? Well first research tells us that team failure most often happens to teams who don’t really know where their going or even why they are heading that way. Don’t keep your employees in the dark be up front about where you want the business to go and what part you see them playing in the overall goal plan. If they clearly understand the Vision you have for the business its goals and the part they have to play you will be amazed how uplifting this can be for them. They now have a strong purpose because they now know the big Picture and that their role is very important. You will have a team with a shared purpose complementary skills and a commitment to reach its goals.

Now we all know that all work and no play makes for a very dull Jill. So be sure to realize that the best teams need to have a little fun ever now and then. They need to let off steam kick back and enjoy themselves. They should love coming to work. They should enjoy having a joke (clean one) with each other because a good laugh makes a working day much more pleasant. People who like each other always work well together.

Once people enjoy working together they will be happy to listen to the opinions and respect the feelings of each other. So as the leader you need to ensure that the work environment offers a safe and secure place for them to share and co-operate with each other. Everyone must be prepared to pitch in fill in for each other and share the workload because they understand that the work must be done and for the sake of the team.

If you have a good team on board, your business will be propelled quickly towards its goals but you must set very clear plans. For instance if you want to increase retail sales by 25% over the next three months you would need to set out a Action Plan to achieve this goal. Develop a flow chart setting out the steps the resources required, and list any training necessary. This will show the team how they will be able to achieve the 25% retail increase without being left to ‘muddle through’. The most effective teams require contributions from all members with specific performance expectations. By sharing roles each team member will be empowered inspired committed and motivated by the Action Plan.

There is an old saying that I think perfectly describes the successful team. TEAM means ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’. You might like to make this your team’s mantra. Your job as the manager, is to take each great individual aesthetician make them into a team that operates as one.

Where some salon and spa teamwork culture falls down is where the manager finds it hard to delegate. They want to be the one who makes all the decisions and therefore although they have all good intentions they gradually squeeze the spirit out of their team. For the team to survive and grow you must allow your team to be involved in problem-solving and decision-making – especially if the outcomes are likely to affect members. While you are the ultimate decision maker to keep your people committed they need to be accorded a balanced participation in the decision-making.

But ground rules must be set. And these rules apply to all from management down. Management must and should provide all the necessary tools for any projects undertaken by the team and to be available for any guidance and coaching. While team members must be prepared to commit to the self-discipline necessary to complete tasks to the expected high level and to be responsible for their own actions.

You will recall that in the beginning of this article I mentioned the salon owner who had a very aggressive staff management style. And the reason I bring this up again is that I believe that motivation comes down to two main driving forces. They are that people will either do things out of fear or love. The fear way of staff management has long had its day and if you try to control your employees by this you will be on the ever rolling wheel employing training and quickly losing staff. I suggest that your challenge is to inspire your team by creating a work environment they love working in. And not have a team who can’t wait till the end of the week so they can get out of there.

In this industry most salon or spa teams are relatively small in size but this doesn’t mean they can’t be highly focused and high energy teams who believe passionately in the work they do and the accomplishment they achieve. But remember you are the pivotal point in your team’s world and your high expectations and leading by example will encourage your team to reach new heights. And enjoy the journey along the way.

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2009


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit:

BeautyNZ Nov/Dec 09

By Caroline Nelson

Exceptional Customer Service is Very Profitable

There is a saying in the beauty industry that “customer service is the most valuable service we sell”. And there was never a more truism said. Because it is an absolute that without a loyal customer base and a steady stream of new one’s most salons or spas would quickly sink into the “red”. Providing great customer service will put your ahead of the somewhat over crowded market place of competing businesses. It’s what your business needs to keep loyal customers and attract new referral business. In this issue we are going to talk about how to provide exceptional customer service and also how we can use it to build a more profitable business.

Firstly I don’t believe in trying to fix something that isn’t broken. So if you are currently providing exceptional service you may not need to read this article any further. But then how do you know it's exceptional unless you benchmark it against your competition? When did you last do a "secret shopper" survey on them and how did your business compare? How is your repeat business? Do a large percentage of clients re-schedule at the end of their treatment? And how many of your loyal clients refer their friend and loved ones? If you have any concerns in these areas then maybe
your customer service needs a little shake up.

You know having the best facility, equipment and products does not always guarantee good customer service. In fact this was brought home to me very forcefully recently when I was on holiday. I had heard and read (paid advertising and possible paid PR) quite a lot about a certain up-market spa and looked forward to what I imagined would be a very enjoyable, relaxing and up-lifting experience. Unfortunately I was sadly mistaken, it turned out to be one of the worst spa experiences I have every received. It didn’t matter about the fortune invested on the facility, prestigious
product range, fancy brochures, or the enormous amount of paid advertising, the lack of good customer service let it down big time.

Every employee I came in contact with gave the impression they did not want to be there and therefore the level of service was just appalling. Now I gathered from the grumblings of my therapist that they all felt under-valued, over-worked, under-paid and very unhappy. I was told that they had all spoken to the management about their grievances and was told "Tough luck you should be so lucky to work at such a prestigious spa, if you don’t like it leave". From the vibes I picked up I expect this situation would ultimately lead to a mass walk-out. The trouble is that in the mean time this unpleasant atmosphere invaded the whole spa and certainly didn’t make customers feel welcome.

But on the other hand if you have a team of happy staff what a difference that can make. In every way but most importantly happy staff means greater profits for your salon or spa. Providing good quality service is a way of selling and promoting your business. It creates loyal clients who come more often spend more and this results in increased profits.

Are you and your staff listening to what the customer needs?

How often do we hear customers tell us that their hairdresser or beauty therapist was too busy talking about herself, to listen to them? And of course the end result is that they the customer did not get what they asked for or wanted. Is this happening in your salon or do you have employees who have taken the “tranquil peace and quite” approach so far that on the whole they fail to communicate with the customer on any meaningful level.

We must know and understand what makes the customer tick if we are ever going to fully service their needs. We are in the business of solving beauty care problems, recommending solutions and making customers happy, or even happier. Therefore developing good communication skills within our team is the key to fully servicing customers needs. And ever time a customer is listened to and understood you can fulfill more needs, address more issues or solve more problems. This eases your customer’s life, increases their trust and makes them happy to do business with your

Good communication hinges on really listening and understanding their needs wants and desires. Making sure the need is understood by clarifying “So Jane your main concern with your skin is ……. Is that correct?” Ask any additional questions that will provide more information. Observe the customers reaction – body language etc. Using your professional knowledge subtly start to educate. This lifts creditability and a relationship of trust will develop. Once credibility has been established the customer will be prepared to hear recommendations and the “action plan” of how she can achieve her beauty care goals. Through the whole process the therapist must examine the messages that are being sent and the messages she is sending to the customer.

The Ten Golden Rules of Exceptional Customer Service

To make Exceptional Customer Service an integral part of your business operations first everyone on your team needs to recognize that customers are the most vital ingredient of the business, and vital to their job security. Without customers the business would cease to exist. Therefore it should be part of salon culture to continually develop the Customer Service Policy. The mission is to exceed “Customer Satisfaction” on all and every level.

The Ten Golden Rules

  1. Know that this is a SERVICE industry, we are in the business of servicing customer needs, wants and desires, and the only way we can do this is to know what those needs, wants and desires are. Expert consultation analysis diagnosis and recommendation at all times. And never forget who really pays the wages – it’s the customer.
  2. Become an exceptional Communicator. Communication is the Heart & Soul of Exceptional Customer Service – the method & style you use to transmit & receive information from the customer. Communication includes; Talking, Listening, Rapport building, Questioning, Understanding, Presenting, Clarifying, Gentle Honest Persuasion, Getting the commitment and finally Relationship Building.
  3. All communication between therapist and client/customer should be efficient and effective. The customer should be clear that the message was understood and that you received and understood the intended message sent. Listen to their words and tone, watch body language and be aware of how they feel – show empathy.
  4. Identify and anticipate their needs, wants and desires. In the beauty business clients don't just buy products or services. They buy the experience of good feelings and solutions to problems. They want to feel Beautiful and Desirable and their therapist is in the position to offer this “Feel Good” fix and should be anticipating their every need.
  5. Making all customers feel important and appreciated is vital to the business success. Treat them with respect and as VIP Guests. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but always be sincere. They will value this sincerity and it will go a long way in developing customer loyalty and trust. Always be mindful of ways to increase their “Salon Experience”
  6. Help them to increase the service value by honest professional recommendation. Remember we may have the best services and home care in the world, but if customers don't know about them or understand how these services or products can help solve their beauty problems, they will not be able to benefit. So always take the time to educate them. They will love you for it.
  7. Appreciate the power of "Yes". Always look for ways to help your customers. And if you can’t do things exactly like they have asked make alternative suggestions.
  8. Know how to correct things and be happy to offer an apology. When something goes wrong fix it. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win, they hold all the cards, credit cards that is. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.
  9. Give more than expected this is what will set the business apart from the competition and will help to build the client base. Give customers what they can’t get elsewhere and they’ll keep coming back.
  10. To give Exceptional Service the therapists will need to believe in themself which will builds Self Esteem and Confidence. Believe in the integrity of the services and products builds your team and the salon’s creditability.

Good Customer Service increases sales

Let now talk about the customer benefits of good service because this is where you will make sales increases. This entails up-selling or add on sales which I have mentioned in past articles. You might ask “how does selling the customer more each transaction help them?” One of the best examples of how great customer service can pump up your sales and increase profits is found in the motor vehicle industry. To a car sales person its not only about selling the car that meets the customers driving requirements .i.e. a car that gets them from A to B but also selling the extras that
delivers a great driving experience.

The new car purchaser is generally after a better driving experience and this is often one of the reasons they are purchasing a new car and not a second hand model. So how does spending more money increase their driving experience? Well consider the music buff the sales person sells the extra of a premium sound system. Would this increase the music buffs driving experience. Every time they got in their beautiful new car and heard that pure sound it would put a smile on their face. Where as, the safety conscious driver might desire the curtain airbags that only come as extras. This increased level of safety would certainly enhance their driving experience. I’m sure you are now starting to see how by selling the extras the car sales person is not only providing great customer service but the increased sales are helping him reach his sales targets and supporting business growth. So selling extras make the better experience and increase profits.

Can you now start to see how this type of enhanced customer service could work in your business? Because, to be honest just how many customers in your business go out your doors each day having only had the basic experience? Even the smallest service can be upgraded. For example the customer who comes in for a eye brow wax who mentions she has just come from the hairdressers and had a new colour there is a good possibility she also needs her brows tinted to compliment her hair. And why not put the effort into upgrading all basic facial clients to experience your high performance facials. They will be getting a treatment that delivers far superior results and they will truly get the best experience or are you happy for them to only have your basic facial experience. I bet not. Then you need to train your team to sell the sizzle of the upgrades just like the car sales manager does. Start enhancing your customers experience because just like the car purchaser who quickly forgets the extra cost of their new sound system your clients will remember the great treatment they had not the fact it cost a bit more. This technique can also be used in retail selling for example by selling the extra serum won’t most clients skin benefit more than just using the basic cleans, tone and moisturise routine.

In addition the better the customer experience the more likely they are to share their delight with friends, colleagues and loved ones. So your referral rate goes up. So my suggestion is to train your staff to make customers happy and you will be laughing all the way to the bank. In my next article I will be discussing Understanding Customer Behaviour – and how it increases Sales. For more expert advice please contact me.

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2009


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit:


APAN article Sept/Oct 2009

By Caroline Nelson

Your own salon - Getting it right in the beginning

The dream of almost every graduating aesthetician is to one day open their own salon. If after working in the industry for several years and gaining valuable experience the next logical step for you is to start your own salon. Or if you are new to salon ownership then this article may provide the information you need. Because getting it right in the beginning will save you money headaches and possibly the future heartache of business failure.

But before we go any further lets see if you have the qualities and commitment necessary for operating a successful aesthetic business. Remember just because you are an excellent aesthetician does not necessarily mean you have the ability to be an excellent business manager. While it is essential that you have a passion for aesthetics and that you envision your new business being committed to providing customers with a high quality service, it’s not all that you require. As a business owner you will also be required to establish staffing procedures and policies, create marketing opportunities, supervise day to day operations, monitor the finances, and attend to all your legal business responsibilities. So owning your own business is not a piece of cake. It is in fact hard work so before you go ahead make sure you are prepared for the long haul because a successful business is not made overnight.

Having said all that, there are also unlimited opportunities to make money and a stable financial future for your self and your family when you go into business. How successful the business will be and just how much money you make largely depends on the initial planning and the amount of time and effort you put into your enterprise. So don’t be fooled that it will be easy to succeed because the beauty business is a very competitive one.

And those who do not have a good business plan and the correct strategies in place, along with a strong desire to be successful will often fail or at best have a business that just pays its way. And operating a business that just pays its way and limps along from one week to the next is unfortunately where many salon owners often find themselves. In many case this could have been avoid by good planning and realizing that one person can not have all the answers knowledge or expertise. By seeking the help support and advice of other business professionals such as a lawyer; accountant and beauty industry specific business coach these businesses could have grown and prospered.

As one of the leading industry specific business coaches in Australia I am often called in by a stressed business owner when the business is starting to fail. And while I can generally turn the business around and into profit I would have loved the opportunity to be in at the commencement so that many of the pitfalls and stress could have been avoided. And also many thousands of dollars saved. In this article I will endeavour to offer the advice that could save you the stress of a failed business. But for a more in depth support please contact me - details at the end of the article.

The Business Plan – if you plan to succeed

Firstly you will need to create a Business Plan. A well-prepared business plan is essential throughout the life of your business, not just before you start. You will need it later on to guide your focus, to prepare for expanding the business or to help implement new directions, technologies or products. Before you start your business, a business plan will ensure that the business is feasible and that there is a well laid out blueprint for action. The business plan will cover critical business decisions made at the start, for example organizational structure, partners, initial debt, etc. It will be geared to the initial funding or capital requirements from a bank or investor.

If you require outside funding from banks etc the business plan will need to very in-depth and it is suggested that you get assistance from your accountant. you wish to set up shop in a shopping centre you will often find that they will require you to present your Business Plan so they can see if your business will be viable and can succeed through the term of the lease. Also once you are in the business, a business plan helps you track how you’re going. Business planning is an ongoing business activity – you should regularly review and revise the plan throughout the life of your business. Part of your business plan is the marketing plan.

The Marketing plan

This is a gutsy part of the business plan covering marketing and promotions, selling strategies, pricing and results. The ‘link’ between your marketing plan and the resulting business plan is vital. Marketing attracts and retains the customers and ultimately ‘drives’ the performance of the business.

You can use the ‘five Ps of marketing’ as a structure to discuss your marketing plans:

  • the right Product (services and retail)
  • the right Price
  • the right Place (location)
  • the right People (staff, business experts and customers)
  • the right Promotional strategy

Marketing strategies

Your marketing strategy involves selecting a target market, developing an appropriate mix for each and allocating the resources necessary to achieve its goals. It is important to understand that the practicality of your business plan is determined to a large degree by how realistic the sales forecast and the supporting marketing strategy are.

Four variables shape your marketing strategies for meeting the customer needs:

  • product features
  • quality of product
  • level of service to the customer
  • price – and this must be profitable to the business

You will need to decide the Branding of your business – how do you want your business projected to the general public. How you position your Brand will influence the services you hope to provide and this in turn will dictate the type of equipment or products stocked. A cautionary note here – I often get called into help a failing business that has not successfully Branded and their potential customers are receiving mixed messages. Not good for business. An example of this would be a salon that projects itself as very clinical offering high tech services but stocks a skin care range that can not support the services. This salon would have been better stocked with cosmeceuticals. Alternatively a salon that concentrates on delivering the more traditional pampering services might be best to stock an aromatherapy or organic product line. The services and products you stock must also be suited to the demographics of the trade area.

Choosing the right location to start your new salon can also be a big determining factor to its success. The major points to consider are first what particular area or suburb do you want to locate and are there any specific site within that area that would suit. Then ask yourself is the population base large enough to support your business? Are the demographics compatible with the market you wish to attract? What is the competition like in the area? Is the available site the right size for your business – large enough for growth but not too large that you are paying an unnecessarily high rent.

The physical layout of the business is also extremely important and must be practical but aesthetically pleasing. When choosing a site pay particular attention to the shape of the premises because unusual shaped premises can be harder and more costly to fit out. In addition they often have hard to use areas and thus wasted space. And where are the plumbing and electrical outlets situated? By keeping all plumbing within a certain area you will save valuable dollars. There are many savings to be made in the fit out so make sure your draftsperson and builder are very aware of your budget. The amount of money to set up a salon will depend on the quality of salon, the fixtures and fittings you would like to project this quality, the equipment you need and your stock inventory.

The amount of money your business will need to generate to break even and then to make a profit will largely depending on your variable expenses for example wages, supplies, cost of goods and your fixed expanses like rent, utilities, insurance etc. You will need to know how many services and/or retail sales you need and if they are achievable. If it doesn’t stack up than you will have to decide if the idea of opening your own salon is feasible, or could you adjust your plans and make it more feasible. And any decision you make must be based on the goals you have for your intended business.

There are also numerous operational issues you will need to decide on. For instance are you going to employ people and if so will they be employed as casual, part-time or full time employees. You may even decide on contract staff. What are the qualifications and qualities you desire of employees? And will you be offering a good staff training program and introducing an effective systems of incentives so you can recruit and retain valuable staff?

Once you have a team of employees you will need to furnish them with the tools to perform at the high standard you desire your customers to receive. This will require you to provide them with all the necessary equipment and products to successful perform the services. It also means that you need to provide them with a formal salon staff policies and procedures manual so they are able to deliver a high standard each and every time a customer receives a service in your salon. Your salon staff policies and procedure manual is the “Blueprint” necessary to enable your team to provide a consistent level of service that will lift it above the competition.

Quality Customer Service is essential through the life of your business but never more so than in the early establishing of your business. It is important that both you and your staff go the extra mile and happily meet the customer’s needs wants and desires in their aesthetic services and home care requirements. If this is done you will be a long way towards establishing a strong and loyal customer base.

If you decide after taking everything into consideration that you have the necessary passion, drive, commitment and the start-up money then I would suggest that you may be an ideal candidate for operating your own salon. But one final word before you start looking for the perfect location go an do a business management course at your local TAFE or through your states Small Business Resource Centre who provide numerous informative seminars and workshops. Read everything you can and consider employing a industry specific business coach to guide you through the mine field of starting up in what can only be described as a very competitive industry.

In the next issue I will be discussing Savvy Marketing to build your Beauty Business.

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2009


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit:


Professional Beauty Article Sept/Oct

By Caroline Nelson

Getting the best out of your Staff Training Program

Simply speaking the aestheticians or therapists you employ can make or break your business. And it’s not only their ability to perform treatment procedures to a high level of proficiency but also their attitude and customer relations skills that affect your business for the good or bad. Your employees are on the frontline of your salon or spa and the impression they make will determine the success of your business.

Because no matter how much time effort or money you invest in promoting your business how customers bond with your staff will determine if and when customers rebook and revisit your facility. So it goes without saying that a team of efficient, happy, enthusiastic and well-trained employees can be the most valuable business asset you can have. And while training can seem a luxury when you are trying to keep your business running, one of the benefits is that employees who are learning and growing tend to stay with a job longer. And we all know the benefits that a long team committed employee will bring to the business.

There is no doubt that staff training can be beneficial to your business. And it should be considered as a great opportunity to up-skill for both you and your team. The most important consideration is to design your training program around desired outcomes therefore the first priority when creating your staff training program is to outline the goals you are hoping to achieve. And while there may be many goals and desired outcomes in goes without saying that most should lean towards increasing service and retail sales. Identifying your training needs is the first step to establishing a relevant and effective plan for your business.

What to do before designing your Staff Training Program

The business needs - start by assessing your businesses current growth needs and how they are meeting your Business Plan objectives. Identify what areas may currently not be meeting these objectives. For example you may identify that your retail sales are not reaching projected goals. This would then imply that you would need to improve employee’s product knowledge in addition to training in communication skills; improved or advanced consultation and analysis; selling skills and even customer service. Training in all these areas might be required to deliver an overall sales improvement that would meet your business objectives.

Assess staff skills and needs – the main reason of an appraisal is to review employee’s performance and potential. It also identifies where any problems exist which in turn can highlight a need for training. Appraisals can benefit both employers and employees by making it easier to identify strengths and weaknesses. It also allows you to identify skills gaps which can be filled by training. And as an employer don’t forget yourself, you may benefit from training in management and leadership.

What does a good aesthetic Training Program contain?

Be very clear on the training goals you wish to achieve. Your staff training and development program can and should include one-on-one and group training. One-on-one is when you undertake to mentor an individual employee. The employee may be a new team member or someone who requires extra training or encouragement. Mentoring these individuals will help them perform better, improve morale and aid them in quickly gaining skills. While many business managers feel their time is too important to devote to an individual employee if you want them to grow and help your business succeed then this level of training will be necessary. And if you can’t provide it yourself use existing experienced employees to support staff at all levels, improving their knowledge or performance in their role, or supporting them as they take on new roles.

Be mindful that mentoring is not simply answering questions it is about promoting a professional relationship that fosters guidance and support during the mentee’s development. It offers huge benefits to the mentee supporting the development of self-confidence as they take on their new role or tasks, increases their ability to handle responsibility and helps them feel part of the team’s success. A good mentor creates open and supportive two-way communications. They provide constructive feedback and advice. And do not give only negative feedback but instead give a balance of praise and constructive feedback on how to improve. They must also support the mentee to make goals specific and realistic with target dates and monitor progress and help them adapt plans when necessary while providing ongoing encouragement.

Group training is when the team go to workshops, seminars or trade events and these are great in developing the team spirit. Or it can be in-salon training. For maximum results you need to have a good mix of both.

Tips for Developing an Effective Training Program

  1. Assess your business gaols and how training will help these to be realized
  2. Complete a needs and skills analysis to determine the real need for training and development
  3. Make sure it will solve the problem or skills development issue
  4. Be sure you are training the right employee for the right position as there is no point taking the time to train an employee who has neither the talent necessary nor the temperament or interest to successfully fill the position
  5. Make sure that the employee/s understand the necessity for training and how the training will positively impact on their job
  6. Make sure the employee is committed to improvement otherwise they will view the training as a waste of time and invalidate the training potential
  7. Design your training to include clearly stated objectives that each employee is fully aware of
  8. And make sure there are measurable objectives (not just a wish list) i.e. you want retail sales to improve and by providing the training and any additional tools necessary you expect a 20% increase in retail sales over the next three months – be very specific with the expected results required
  9. Provide each employee with a schedule of the training times, dates and content. Explain what is expected of the employee during the training session for example if they are attending an off site training they should be required to take detailed notes and hand in a report of what was learnt and how it will help them reach their individual and salon goals
  10. Explain that the learning outcomes of training is the employees responsibility and that you require her to take the training seriously during and after the session and that she must undertake to complete all assignments given and apply the new learning and skills to her job

Be aware that a highly skilled employee will soon become bored and frustrated if they have to constantly sit in on training sessions designed many levels below their skills level. Therefore the more skilled employee’s training needs may be best provided by sending them to out-of-house advanced training courses. This will raise their morale as they learn new information and skills they will feel more valued and will be more likely to stay in the job for longer. On the other hand group staff training might focus on general topics, such as communication skills, treatment procedures, customer service and retail selling. The most important consideration is that the training program is designed to lift the performance of every member of your team regardless of where they fit in the overall staffing structure. Also as often training is provided on the job or in-salon make sure that each training session keeps to a set program and does not become a chat-an-coffee.

Evaluation of the Training Program

Evaluation is another key part of the training program and it is vital important for any changes or improvements that may be necessary of future programs. You need to know what worked well and what may not have. By doing this you will be making sure that the money spent to provide training and the staff time used during training was money well spent. Keep in mind that for training to be a long-term success it must consistently move the business forward and help you meet your Business Plan objectives and make your vision of success a reality.


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit:

Beauty NZ July/Aug 2009

By Caroline Nelson

Salon Survival: Profit Building Strategies during tough times

Don’t fall victim to the “doom and gloom” of the media because with a few simple changes to business operations your business can prosper even in the current uncertain economy. It’s the perfect time to rethink the way you do business and incorporate new ideas to gain maximum benefit from expenditures, customer relationships, and staff. While the bottom line profitability will depend on sales growth. Fortunately with planning, realistic goals for sales increases and an action plan to achieve these goals your business will survive and thrive.

How to meet Sales Goals

Sales goals can be met by meeting customers ever evolving expectations. Up until recently many aesthetic customers were looking for anti-ageing treatments and products. Now they are looking for de-ageing services and products that literally turn back the clock. If your salon or spa has up trended and provides any or all of the latest technologies and high level cosmeceuticals then it is perfectly positioned to reap the benefits of these new consumer demands.

Also you can vastly increase sales and quickly if you train you team to “Create sales opportunities”. Firstly think of how many sales opportunities may currently be walking right out your salon door. Ask yourself if every customer that comes to your business is being fully serviced? And the way to find this out is to see how many customers just have one type of service, for example waxing but have never had other services such as facial, body massage or pedicure.

Everyone of these single service customers are a sales opportunity in the waiting. They are current customers that you don’t have to spend to get through the door because they are already existing loyal customers. They already like you and your team so it shouldn’t be hard to convert them to additional services and retail products.

Up-Selling & Cross-Selling

Up-selling and cross-selling not only increases sales but just as importantly it adds value to your customer relationships. For example if a customer is just having the same old waxing service each time she comes in wouldn’t it be beneficial to her if she could have it removed on a more permanent bases with IPL or Laser. Or the customer who keeps having a pampering facial would her skin results improve if she had a micro-dermabrasion treatment? If the answer is yes and she hasn’t been presented with these options then this is a lost sales opportunity. And from experience it is know that employees who aren’t trained to up-selling and cross-selling often do not offer the customer additional services or products. They take the easy way and just do the service the customer has scheduled for. Potential profits could be walking out the door every single day. Can you afford that during the current tight economy?

What is up-selling and cross-selling? Up-selling is selling a higher value service or product. For example the customer who is booked in for a classic pampering facial. During analysis the therapist notices a skin condition that would benefit by a more high tech service. Before commencing the classic facial she informs her customer of the skin condition and offers the more effective service. If time permits it would be done on the day or the customer scheduled for this service during her next visit.

The same goes for retail skin care. Many customers keep buying the same moisturiser they have used for years. It is easy for them and the therapist. The trouble is it may not be the best alternative for the skin. Is there one that would achieve a better result? Or maybe the skin would respond better if a serum was used under the moisturiser. It is the professional therapist’s duty to be constantly monitoring the skins progress and encouraging the customer to purchase the products that offer the best results. By training your team in the techniques of up-selling not to be mistaken with over-selling they will gain a new attitude towards sales and learn the skills to overcome customer resistance.

Cross-selling on the other hand is about introducing customers to a completely new service or product. For example the customer who comes in for a leg wax and while performing the service the therapist notices the client’s skin is keratinized. She could suggest a salon exfoliation prior to the next wax or suggest a retail body exfoliation for home use. Equally while she is doing the wax instead of just talking chit chat she could be educating her client on the other services the salon performs. You should also authorize your staff to offer introductory trial treatment offers so the customer
can experience the treatment benefits. Once they have achieved results it will be easier to convert them to a regular user of this service.

Every salon owner knows that sales growth is a key indicator of the health of their business. Fortunately, with a little planning, some sales goals, and then taking positive action, sales growth will happen. The secret is to establish aggressive but realistic goals and then develop the specific actions to achieve these goals. Most of these aggressive actions are not directed at the customer but instead at your employees. During times like we are currently experiencing we must require more from our team. But equally we have to provide the tools to support them to reach the sales
goals we set in place.

Designing Profit Building Strategies for your Business

If you want to start lifting sales then you must make a strong commitment that this is now part of your profit building strategic plan. Once you decide that this is the way forward for the business do not be influenced by employee negativity. After all this is your business you have made the investment of your hard earned cash and you are taking all the financial risks.

The first step is to make up-selling and cross-selling part of the job description of each employee – no if buts or maybes. It must be part of the job and therefore working in this business means that every team member must be willing to productively perform to reach company sales goals. Ideally before you hire staff this requirement should be clear – for existing staff it must now become the way of the future.

Now that you have established that these Profit Building Strategies are part of the overall business plan you must support your team in all ways possible to reach both the salon and their individual sales targets. This requires developing your team’s communication and selling skills. While not everyone on your team will be born sales people with guidance all can learn the fundamentals that will vastly improve their selling abilities.

The key to encouraging your team is to help them build their confidence and the way to do that is through education – technical skills development; product knowledge; analysing skills and communication / people skills. Technical and product knowledge go hand in hand with personal experience.

All employees must be using and enjoying the benefits of the services and products they hope to sell. If they know and love them they will be excited to share this information with their customers. But it goes even further, if you truly want to build a powerful profit building team you will need to invest in additional education. Your team not only needs the underpinning education of skin structure, skin types and conditions but they need a through understanding of skin care product ingredients their benefits and the results the customer can expect. Knowledge is a very powerful selling tool and the more knowledge the better equipped they will be to make the sale.

Also when you are looking at Profit Building Strategies you must take into account not only sales goals but budgets. Profit or net income before taxes is what every business should be striving for. Making a profit is the most important objective of a business because without profit the business would soon close. So to increase profits you must raise revenues and up-selling and cross-selling will help with this. Or lower expenses by reducing the cost of providing the service or product. Ideally increasing revenue and decreasing costs to provide the sale would deliver the highest profit.

The cost of sales is what you pay out for the services and products you sell. The total cost of producing a service is comprised of the total product used to perform the service, the total labour, and the overheads. But often in the beauty industry the single largest cost is out labour costs. This is why it is vital to build streamlined services into your service menu and to educate your team members to provide the service in a time effective manner. Increasing hourly productivity will be the difference between sink or swim in this economy.

And finally one of the easiest ways to grow your business and build profits is to increase retail sales. You already have regular customers now all you need to do is to get your expert knowledgeable therapists to connect with their customers and share that knowledge. Your goal is to get all your existing customers to start buying all their skin care needs from your salon. And for regulars who currently purchase skin care make sure they are introduced to any new and exciting products that will further their skin care experience in your salon and secure their on-going loyalty. Do this and the benefits will be happier customers and increased sales.

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2009


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit: