Does your salon and spa recruiting strategy suck? Try this.

March 17, 2017

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

It seems like every day, I hear salon and spa owners complain about how hard it is to get quality candidates to interview for positions inside their businesses.  Does it seem like nothing is working? Resumes are barely trickling in and you occasionally have an applicant stop by. If this sounds familiar, keep reading. Guess what, you’re not alone.

In our salons, we’re not opposed to hiring experienced stylists, but our preferred method is hiring and training recently graduated cosmetology students.  And while there are a lot of students in cosmetology school, only twenty percent of them are really worth interviewing (there’s that 80/20 rule again).  The problem is trying to identify who makes up that twenty percent.  Add to that, the problem of getting to them before your competition does.  That’s right, everyone in your market is competing for the top twenty percent of talent in schools today.  And guess what, the smart salon owners are already doing things to connect and establish relationships with these students long before they graduate.

If you’re not careful and don’t have a solid recruiting system in place, you’re going to end up with sloppy seconds and thirds.  When you look at it that way, is it really surprising that we struggle to find good stylists and spa therapists?

Now, understand that you can be on the right side or the wrong side of this the coin.  Let’s make sure you’re on the right side!   There are many things you can do to build a solid recruiting program.

Start small and continue building on top of what you put in place. The key is to keep the pipeline full of candidates whether you are currently hiring or not. Allow me to share an idea that is super simple, easy to implement and fun!

The first order of business is to figure out how to separate the herd if you will. You need to quickly identify who the twenty percent are. The easiest way to do this is to test them. Yep, test them. So, how do you do that?  It’s easy. Host an in-salon/spa class and see which students show up!

Actually, there’s a little more to it than that.  Here are some simple steps to planning a recruiting event in your salon or spa.  Follow my recommendations and you’ll be shocked at what will happen.

1) Host An Event, Not A Class 

The millennial generation is all about being hip and cool.   They are all about fun and learning in unconventional ways. The idea of going to a class on their day off from school doesn’t sound fun to them. Plan for a class, but call it an event and you will find a bigger response to your invitation. Helpful tips: a) plan your event on a Sunday or off day and b) limit the event to a maximum of 3 hours.  We have found that 1pm-4pm works best. c) Set a date four weeks out and then promote it during the four weeks leading up to the event. Hit the schools and get in front of the students and talk about the event.  Post on social media, etc.. You’re gonna have to put some energy into this in order to get results.

2) Meet Them Where They Are

Why do we always think that we have to teach something cool, like ombre techniques or avant-garde hair styling to lure students into signing up for a salon/spa event?   While that might seem cool, you have to remember that these students can barely hold a pair of shears.  Why not offer some foundational content that they can learn and then turn around and apply when they return to school?   That’s going to leave a more lasting impression on them than some cool haircutting technique.  A technique that they will easily forget right after the event. For salon events, I would recommend a basic “The Art Of The Finishing – Styling/Finishing” event, a “Makeup Foundations” event or even a “Chairside Etiquette” event. For spa events, teach them about “ 5-Star Spa Consultations” or maybe an event around something as simple as “Mastering The Art Of Brow Waxing”. Remember, anything you teach will be like nectar from the Gods to these students. Keep it simple and you’re sure to hit a home run every time.  We know this from trial and error.

3) It Has To Be Fun!

Always remember that you are really hosting a recruiting event, not an educational event.  Yes, they will learn something by attending, but in the grand scheme of things you are recruiting first, teaching second. With that in mind, this event is an opportunity for you to show off your salon/spa culture. Invite existing team members to come and meet future professionals that are coming to the event. Encourage them to network and talk to the students about what it is like working in your salon/spa. Allow some time during the event to talk about your salon culture, your training program, your benefits, your core values, and your salon/spa purpose. Remember, the top twenty percent of students will be the ones that show up. You better believe they will be interviewing you and sizing up your company just as much as you will be interviewing them. Be prepared and plan to impress them. Have snacks and beverages available for them, be sure to have a fun playlist made in advance to set the tone and energy of the event. Lastly, have some fun door prizes! Back bar product and salon tools are always a big hit.

4) Keep Score

It’s always best to create a spreadsheet and keep track of the following information: Student Name Cosmetology School Email Address Phone Number  Anticipated Graduation Date – This is key for future followup! It’s a good idea to have a sign-up sheet the day of the event so that you can track attendees. Over time, you’ll start to see who repeatedly shows up at your events. It’s not a hundred percent guaranteed, but those are the students who are digging your culture and are quite possibly a good fit for you. They’re the ones that you want to nurture and keep in touch with up until their graduation date. Attached are a few promotional posters that we’ve created over the years that promote our in-salon events. Give it a try in your salon or spa and then come back here and let me know how it went.

Bonus:  Below are some actual posters that we have created for in-salon events.

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    July 30th, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    This article is short but so full of amazing ideas and advice!

  2. Chris Murphy

    July 31st, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Nora Flor

    April 26th, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Omg!! Chris this is a game changer!! I’m thinking about tying this into our re grandopening. 😆

  4. Chris Murphy

    May 10th, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Cool! Let me know how it works out for ya!

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy