I’m hearing this a lot lately and it’s a situation that can easily leave us salon owners feeling vulnerable and helpless.
Why do employees leave? That is the million dollar question. I don’t think any of us really know the answer because the reason is different for every employee. It is like the client who decides not to return to the salon. There can be many reasons. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it isn’t. Maybe they didn’t feel that our service and quality matched our pricing? Maybe we didn’t stand out compared to other salon experiences. Maybe they got laid off and could no longer afford our services? Maybe they just wanted a change and wanted to try a salon closer to home?
Whatever the reason, we will always have clients who leave us and the same goes for our employees. It’s part of running a business. Still, it hurts. Maybe that’s why people say entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. You have to have thick skin!
Now, just because we know that employees will eventually leave us doesn’t mean that we throw our hands up in the air and capitulate. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to create and foster a work environment where employees want to stay for a while, a long while. We are the ones responsible for the culture. We are the ones responsible for the work climate. Every salon business model has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s easy for employee-based salon owners to say things like, “Salon suites are taking over!” or “I can’t compete with salon suites!” I call BS on all of that. You CAN compete with suites because the suite concept isn’t for everyone, just like employee-based salons aren’t for everyone. And believe me when I tell you that there are crappy salon suites and thriving salon suites, just like there are crappy employee-based salons and thriving employee-based salons.
It’s time to start paying attention to what’s happening within your four walls. That’s where you can make a difference. Start by practicing gratitude. Most salon owners care deeply about their employees and practice care and concern for their well-being. We want our employees to succeed and have healthy careers at our company. There’s an enormous outpouring of pride when we see someone on our team flourish. The problem is that salon owners get can be buried and distracted by the tremendous pressures of running a business. We’re constantly putting out fires and spending a good portion of our time problem-solving.
It’s easy for salon owners to get stuck at the 10,000 foot level and we fail to come down a few feet and connect with our staff. I’ll be the first to admit guilt on this one. Oddly enough, the connection with our staff is where the secret sauce is! It’s takes practice and commitment. Your authenticity must be intentional in your efforts to connect with our teams.
When I say ‘connect with your staff’, I don’t mean go to happy hour every week or get all up in their personal business. Just be present every now and again. Ask them how they are doing and be approachable. Your team wants to connect with you. It’s up to you to do it. It can be as simple as marking out an hour of your day to disconnect from your computer and phone and be present in the salon, interacting with your team.
Allow me to share a new thing we just did at our salons last month. Our leadership team came together and decided to practice gratitude by hosting a team member appreciation event that lasted an entire week.
The intention was to have something special planned every day of the week. We had a lot of fun planning out the daily agenda. A side benefit that we weren’t expecting was what happened during the time leading up to the event. It made us really re-focus on our team when we were deciding on what we were going to do to show our appreciation and gratitude. Having to plan and execute a week-long event literally forced us to focus on what really matters. The actual exercise of planning it out made the whole experience that much more memorable and lasting.
“Our leadership team came together and decided to practice gratitude by hosting a team member appreciation event that lasted an entire week.”
Attached is our one-page plan that outlined what we did each day to show our appreciation. We established a small budget to pay for the swag bags (much of the gifts were donated), food and beverages and other supplies.
Is there something you’ve done recently to show appreciation for the contribution you team members make? Please share your comments below so others can get ideas.