Unless you’re a sole-trader and have no employees, chances are the biggest stressor you’ll have in your salon or spa comes from managing and motivating your own team members.

After all, your team is responsible for providing and up-selling services, selling products, re-booking clients, and delivering outstanding customer service. All of which form the cornerstone of a strong and viable salon business.

When reviewing Key Performance Indicators for my clients, it’s always blatantly obvious which figures belong to the business owner and which belong to team members. I normally see a huge difference in productivity, with service and retails sales being substantially higher per client in the owner’s column.

Why does this occur, and even more importantly, what can you do about it?

Well, the absolute truth is that most employees will never care about your business the way you do. To expect them to is totally unrealistic. After all, why should they take home your worries when, in their minds, they are simply employed to provide services and sell some retail?

It is your business, and therefore the responsibility to ensure it’s success falls squarely onto your shoulders.

Having a great team can go a long way towards having a much more successful and stress-free salon. But having a motivated and productive team doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a process and one that anyone can learn if they’re prepared to do the work and persevere.

Personally, I believe having a first class team around you can make the difference between enjoying your work and ending up with burn-out.

Below are the 6 key steps you need to follow to build the perfect team.


Step #1: Hire Slowly and Carefully

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating again. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude.

Here’s what I recommend you look for in a prospective team member:

1. Must-have skills – these are the skills that your new employee must bring with her to the position. Make sure you understand what the difference is between a ‘must-have’ skill as opposed to a ‘would-like-to-have’ skill because they have very different priorities in your selection process.

2. Look for a positive, can-do attitude. You want team members to be supportive to other members of your team including you; willing to go the extra mile for your clients; keen to attend training and learn new skills or update existing ones; and motivated to achieve personal and professional goals.

3. Great references from past employers. These are often the people who’ve experienced the ‘real’ person behind the interview facade. Make sure to speak to more than one past employer to get a fair overview of the person. You don’t want to be influenced by a simple personality clash your prospect may have experienced with a previous employer.

4. Would-like-to-have skills. Sometimes it’s a plus when a new employee can bring skills to your business that you can learn or benefit from, but remember these are a bonus and not a requisite to do the job.


Step #2: Provide Initial Training

No matter how fantastic and well-trained your new employee may be, they need to be trained in how your salon delivers services, sells product and provides customer service. On top of that, they need to understand your unique salon policies and procedures so they become a productive team member as quickly as possible.

I often see salon owners make the BIG mistake of simply hiring and then immediately setting their new employee to work with clients. Whether she has the highest level of education or decades of industry experience, every new employee needs sufficient training in how your salon operates.

Without this, you stand the real risk of being inconsistent in the services you provide and this can eventually lead to client loss.

Get structured, have everything in writing, and take the time to guide your new employee through your training material. The time you invest in this process is invaluable and will save you heartache and stress in the future.


Step #3: Set Performance Goals

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” — Earl Nightingale

If a team member is under-performing, then I will bet cents to dollars that the team member doesn’t have any performance goals in place.

The truth is that most people (you and me included) only achieve average performance unless we have goals to drive us to a higher level. Your team members are exactly the same.

Setting goals isn’t that difficult, but there are a few rules to follow that will help you to set good goals; ones that are more likely to be reached.

1. Be SPECIFIC. If you want your team member to reach $60 dollars per client in services by the end of the month, tell her that. The same goes for her retail sales, re-bookings, new clients or anything else that you want her to achieve.

2. Make your goals MEASURABLE. If you can’t measure it, you can’t monitor it. Never simply say “you need to improve your …..’. Make sure both you and the team member can measure their progress toward their goal. Measure results daily for the best outcome.

3. Ensure your goals are ACTIONABLE. For instance, if you expect your team members to sell a certain volume of retail product, but you don’t keep enough in stock, then they have no chance of making the goal a reality. Same for service goals. If there are zero clients walking through your doors, then team members can’t pull service dollars out of thin air. Make sure you’re doing your bit to allow them to reach the goals you set.

4. Be REALISTIC. Take into consideration where your team member is right now in her performance. Expecting your biggest under-performer to suddenly match your top performer in 1 month is unrealistic in most instances. Set realistic goals for each team member if you want them to keep moving forward. Small successful steps are going to work much better than 1 large, but unrealistic goal.

5. Set the TIME-FRAME. Are you setting daily, weekly or monthly goals? If you want your team member to reach her goals, then she must know when you want that to happen by. If her re-booking is only 15% but you want her to reach 30%, be sure to tell her when you expect her to achieve this. Will it be a fortnight, a month or 3 months? Put an end-date on every goal.


Step #4: Motivate, Motivate, Motivate

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar.

One of my favourite quotes. This is perhaps where the most perseverance on your part will need to be applied. Taking your team members to a motivational meeting now and then and expecting that motivation to last, is a pipe-dream.

We all need to be kept motivated so we keep moving forward, and when it comes to team members, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of management.

Not all people are motivated by the same thing, and while performance bonuses are always welcome, sometimes they are not enough to truly motivate a team member to a higher level of performance.

Dr. Gary Chapman, who initially authored The 5 Love Languages, went on to expand his thoughts on how to use these same concepts in the workplace to increase the feelings of appreciation in team members. He states that all people will relate to at least 1 of these 5 ways to show your appreciation, and in turn, this will increase a team member’s motivation to improve their performance.

Thus, the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace were born. They are:
1. Words of Affirmationuses words to affirm people
2. Acts of Serviceactions speak louder than words
3. Receiving Gifts people like things to feel appreciated
4. Quality Timegiving someone undivided attention
5. Physical Touchappropriate touch (pats on the back)

The secret to using these motivators is to find which ones apply to each individual team member, and then using them regularly (the more the better).

One way to identify who will respond best to each motivator is to look at how each team member behaves currently. People tend to give out the type of appreciation that they also like to receive, so watch your team members carefully to identify their motivating behaviours and then implement them into your motivation strategies.

If you like this concept, there is a book available on the subject called The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Dr. Gary Chapman.


Step #5: Review Performance Regularly

Performance reviews are generally few and far between in most salons and spas, and that’s a great pity because it deprives your team members of the opportunity to find out how they are travelling as part of your team.

Performance reviews aren’t simply about delivering bad news or negative feedback. They can also be very useful for letting a team member know how happy you are with various aspects of their work, and if something is in need of a little improvement, you can also discuss this as well.

Giving feedback on performance that’s not quite up to scratch can actually be a very positive experience if you know how to make it that. By offering guidance, support and sometimes additional training to a team member, you can help them to break through the average performance barrier that’s holding them back and become a much more valuable team member.

Most people like to know how they are performing, and if possible, perform a little better when possible, and this is why developing good performance reviews can enhance your team’s performance.


Step #6: Provide Ongoing Training

One of the reasons that salons lose valuable employees is that there is a lack of ongoing professional development offered.

There’s no doubt that the beauty industry is moving ahead in leaps and bounds, and although not every new modality is right for your salon, it’s important to keep up to date with suitable new technology. And of course, this means keeping your team members skills up to date also.

But it’s not just new technology that deserves skills training. Existing treatments, retail sales and customer service training is something that should be provided regularly. It’s good to refresh treatment techniques, learn from each other and set new goals.

I recommend you create a Team Training Calendar for a 12 month period, and get some feedback from your team on what kind of training they’d like to receive. Build your calendar around a blend of topics and find guest educators (suppliers and manufacturers fit the bill here nicely) to deliver when possible.

Even senior team members can deliver training in areas where they specialise.

Selecting and nurturing great people is what will deliver your perfect team to you. Don’t simply hire in haste and hope for the best. Don’t believe that it’s up to your team to keep themselves motivated and educated.

You are the Team Leader and as usual, all good things filter down from the top.