The beauty and wellness industry is projected to add jobs five times faster than average over the next decade. Brands providing those services often rely on professional networks and trade publications to set and retool their strategies for hiring and keeping talent.
Here’s one more ingredient for your recruiting-and-retention secret sauce: insights, experiences, and recommendations from four industry leaders in the spa, salon, and medspa space. The panel discussion took place at Innergize 2023, the premier beauty and wellness summit hosted by Zenoti.
Marilyne Gagné, Founder and President, Dermapure Clinics
Jenny Perzanowski, Executive Director of HR, Douglas J Aveda Institute & Salons
Susan Haise, CEO, Edgeless Beauty Group
Larry Silvestri, SVP / COO; Past President, Chicago Cosmetology Association
These executives offer three keys for beauty and wellness brands to attract, engage, and retain top talent.
Key #1 – Training: How to provide an educational foundation for your talent and their leaders
1) Take a structured approach to training and find ways to give a little bit more.
Beauty and wellness businesses typically offer two types of training: technical and management and business leadership training. Larry Silvestri, a salon and spa industry veteran and past president of the Chicago Cosmetology Association, suggests providing technicians with a program that is structured and concise, using a learning management system as a reference library. He recommends setting your business apart by giving new hires more than just skills-focused training: help them promote themselves through social media, while ensuring that “all roads lead back to your brand.”
2) Make training sessions immersive and enjoyable.
If you add new equipment, products, or services at your shops, go beyond the standard vendor training. Marilyne Gagné from Dermapure says getting her clinicians and service providers experiencing a new product or service is her #1 priority. Doing so helps the team understand firsthand what patients are likely to feel. “That’s one part, but bringing them [the providers] together, spending the day to create an event, have fun – it’s very important for us,” says Gagné.
3) Help your front desk understand and own their impact on the bottom line.
Don’t underestimate the value of phone calls to your business, even if you offer and encourage online booking. Susan Haise from Edgeless Beauty Group mentioned seven out of 10 medspa calls being reservations that come in over the phone. She estimates each of those calls is worth $1,000, so make sure your front desk is “pepped and ready to answer the phone.”
Key #2 – Trust: How to establish it with your team members and ensure you deliver what they need
1) Understand what makes or breaks each team member’s experience.
Use employee engagement surveys to make your team feel heard. This tool may have helped Douglas J Aveda Institute & Salons reduce their yearly staff turnover from 45% to 28%, says Jenny Perzanowski, executive director of HR for Douglas J. She maintains that listening to and acting on employee feedback shows your dedication to their success.
2) Use training to give service providers an equal footing.
Larry Silvestri favors this approach for salons so that “everyone who ends up on the floor or is a hairdresser or colorist within your brand has the same nomenclature, the same foundation” to ensure the same baseline for all. This level of consistency creates trust within the brand that “we’re a team together.”
3) Be a servant leader and inspire your team to pay it forward.
Beauty and wellness brands are currently facing a limited talent pipeline – no one can afford, operationally or financially, to lose a talented team member. One way to gain trust is to truly care for your team. As the CEO of Edgeless Beauty Group, Susan Haise is passionate about serving her team. She feels her approach will inspire them to “do an amazing job serving the guest, patient, or student.”
Key #3 – Culture: How to anchor your top talent and keep them loyal to your brand
1) Make their experience feel like a long-term career.
On top of offering a great place to work, Jenny Perzanowski stresses the importance of ongoing market research on wages and benefits to keep her people happy and stay competitive. “As the cost of living goes up, our wages have to follow. We can’t just expect that the traditional 3% raise each year is going to keep them afloat and competitive in the industry.” She mentions offering a variety of benefits, including medical and dental insurance, and a 401(k) to help with retirement planning.
2) To protect your team’s overall health, don’t hesitate to let toxic superstars go.
Larry Silvestri explains that leaders sometimes make the mistake of investing too much time in individuals who don’t fit the culture: “We had a colorist that was in the top three in the company for a long time. We had to let her go because she was keeping the rest of the colorists under her thumb. If we’re truly talking about culture, you’ve got to make those tough decisions.”
3) Be as transparent as possible with staff and find ways to empower them.
To help her staff appreciate the peaks and the pits of running a business, Susan Haise trains and engages them to understand expenses like taxes on gratuity, healthcare, and cost of goods sold. Haise also appreciates the Zenoti MyZen mobile app for empowering team members in practical ways. With the app, providers can track their own performance, as well as their income and tips.