Should Smartphones Be Allowed On The Salon Floor? That is the question.

March 28, 2016

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smart phone, iphone, technology, salon, spa, aveda, austin, texas, computers
When I’m teaching a class, hosting a webinar, or networking with other salon owners, I’m often asked, “Chris, what is your company policy on smartphones? Do you allow your stylists to use their smartphones at work? Is your team allowed to have their phone on the salon floor?”
My answer is going to shock some salon owners because it’s a big fat YES! Yes. YES. YES!  Hell yes, I allow my staff to use their smartphones at work.  And here are the reasons why:
1) Marketing
We spend so much time telling our teams that they need to be busier, but we command them to promote themselves with antiquated self-promotion techniques like handing out business cards.  Times are different and if you want to compete in today’s marketplace, you have to learn to innovate, adapt and embrace the new way of marketing.  We are in the middle of some revolutionary times when it comes to technology and marketing.  In fact, the television is no longer the “1st screen” for marketing.  The “1st screen” is our smartphones and the television is now the “2nd screen”.  I mean, really, that’s HUGE!  Let’s just use Instagram as an example.  Instagram is a perfect social media app for our industry because it’s image-based.  Imagine one of your stylists posting a before and after shot of a client (with their permission, of course) for all of their hundreds, maybe even thousands of followers to see.  Additionally, they’ve tagged your salon’s location in the post.  Um, hello?  Need I say more?  It’s kind of hard to do that when you have a work climate that frowns upon the use of smartphones at work.  Some might argue that you can control things by having a “salon iPad”.  In my opinion, that’s just another way of showing your team that you prefer command and control tactics to address your fear of change.  Why add another layer of friction? Having one or two “salon iPads” is better than nothing, but it creates bottlenecks in workflow and makes it difficult for team members to truly be social when marketing their work and the salon.  Our job as the leader in our company is to create lift, not drag.  Don’t make it more difficult for your team when it comes to marketing and promotion.
2) They’re here to stay.
For the dinosaurs who are afraid of change and innovation, I have a news flash for you: SMARTPHONES AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE.  So, stop trying to ban them from your salons and spas.  To say, “I’ll never let my staff use their smartphones at work is like telling your kids they’ll never be on social media.”  Just like your kids are hiding from you on Snapchat, chances are, your employees are still using their phones at work.  I guarantee they’re using them during their lunch breaks, in the restrooms, every time they step outside the back door.  It’s just part of our new reality.  Get used to it.  Focus on creating an environment and culture built on trust and you’ll find that it’s not so bad after all.  And for those of you afraid of stylists using their smart phones to gather client information for staging a walkout, I’m here to tell you that disgruntled team members can do that without using smartphones.  Besides, your stylists are friends with all of the clients on Facebook anyway.  You might be thinking, “Yeah, but why would I want to make it easy for them to do it?”  My response to that is simple.  Folks, here you have stylists promoting the salon like you’ve asked them to do, but only in a different way that you’re used to.  If you’re afraid of team members stealing, then I’d be willing to bet that you have bigger issues going on in your salon or spa; TRUST being the big elephant in the room.  Figure out a way to foster a work climate that has high trust and a culture to support it.  Do that first, then worry about smartphones.  Maybe you need a reason to show your team that you trust them in promoting the salon?  Perhaps allowing the use of smartphones in the salon is the answer to building trust?  You know your culture better than anyone, so only you can make that decision.  

3) Why fight it?
I mean, seriously.  What’s the point?  So many people say, “It’s just unprofessional. It doesn’t look good.”  To me, that’s another BS excuse.  It’s just another lazy excuse for leaders not to lead!  In fact, when a salon owner tells me it just doesn’t look professional, it kinda makes me mad.  Come on guys.  Make it work for you!  It’s all about setting your expectations and creating a culture where team members recognize that it’s a privilege to be able to use their smartphones at work.  Connect with your team.  Explain the do’s and don’ts.  Most importantly explain the “why” behind your intentions and actions.  I agree.  A stylist walking around with a smartphone tucked into their back pocket looks unprofessional.  So have a conversation with your team about it.  Spell out what is acceptable and what isn’t.  You have to figure out a way to usher in new technology, innovation and new ways of doing things if you want to survive and compete with the competition down the street.  I don’t know about you, but I’m surrounded by a ton of healthy competition in my market.   It’s time to get with the program!
Now it’s your turn. Do you allow your team to use smartphones on in the salon or spa? To what extent are they allowed? Tell me your thoughts in the comment box below.

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  1. Paula Filippi

    March 28th, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I was one of the owners saying “it’s not professional” However… I had to adapt to what’s going on in our world. No longer is it just the millenials stuck to phones, all ages are dependent on our phones. Yes we do have to set guidelines and then trust the team to follow those guidelines.
    Changing All Ways!

  2. Chris Murphy

    March 28th, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    I was that salon owner too Paula! It really is amazing how much things have changed even in the last three years! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Paula.

  3. Denise Zeydel

    March 29th, 2016 at 7:57 am

    We absolutely let our team use their phones. Most of the team is very professional in how they use them. My question would be what if you have to have the repeated conversation with a particular tech, what is your consequence?

  4. Chris Murphy

    March 30th, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Hi Denise! That’s a very good question. I would do everything I could to handle the repeat offender separately because it wouldn’t be fair to punish everyone just because you have one team member that is causing problems. Normally, I get down to the “why” behind these situations as fast as I can. I would explain they “why”, spell out my expectations and consequences should the problem continue and then follow through. That way, when the team member, starts to get written up, and consequences begin to escalate, (possible suspension, and then termination) he or she isn’t surprised. We spell out our intentions to call them out “in the moment” when we see them breaking the rules and give them fair warning. I can say that we’ve never suspended or terminated anyone for excessive cell phone use. Coaching normally does the trick. The other side to this is that I normally find that culture plays a key role in managing offenders. When the majority of your team is onboard and respectful of your policy on cell phones, they normally do a pretty good job policing it for you.

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy