Stay on track

The role of a salon owner is a tricky one. Attracting new clients while making sure the existing ones keep coming back; keeping costs down while still creating a luxury experience; maintaining quality alongside efficiency – the job is no picnic. But a recent survey by software brand Phorest found that of all the challenges facing salon owners today, managing staff was the thing they found the toughest.

And it’s not surprising; with therapists spending a huge amount of their working day out of sight in a treatment room, it can be hard to keep track of who’s performing well and who’s missing the mark. Likewise, if you’re managing a large team, it’s not easy to be constantly on top of your staff’s retail sales, rebook rates and number of requests. And if the overachievers go unrecognised – and under-performers unpenalised – it can have a big effect on morale.

“Very often the big problem is that staff don’t actually know where they add value,” explains Phorest’s marketing manager Connor Keppel. “If you can sit down with them and say, ‘Did you know that you’re actually pretty amazing at this?’ you will see motivation go through the roof.”

Salon and spa software is often praised for features such as online booking, digital marketing, or allowing you to communicate with clients when they’re not in your salon. But in reality, the features that allow you to track staff’s performance levels, attendance and commission structures are arguably more valuable day to day.

Lisa Howles, a sales consultant at Premier Software, explains that her brand’s high street bestseller Premier Spa allows salons to set targets for treatments and retail sales. “All this will be generated in the reports, so the manager can see who’s performing the best and keep everybody on track,” she says.

Likewise, Keppel explains that Phorest’s software tracks retail sales and rebookings, as well as the requests made for each member of staff. “If you have two therapists in the salon, each week they might get the same amount of money. On paper, they’re both servicing the same number of clients and there’s no way to differentiate between them,” he explains. “But what we find is, if one is constantly being requested, she’s too busy to get to everybody, so the other therapist takes the overflow.

“On paper it looks like they’re earning the same amount of money, but in reality the reason people are coming back is because they want the first therapist. That’s why requests is a really important report – it will tell you who in the team is drawing clients to the salon.”

Mister Motivator

Data relating to staff performance is usually only for the eyes of the manager or owner reviewing the reports, not the staff themselves, which avoids any comparisons among the team. However, in some cases, revealing a small amount of information can boost motivation. “We have a feature on our software now where, at the top of every column where you have the staff member’s name, you can show monetary value,” says Howels. “So that shows them that if all their clients come in on that day, that’s their worth for the day.”  

Software also allows employers to set and track more complex commission structures for their team, as opposed to just offering staff a fixed percentage of all the money they take. “That’s a fairly standard way of operating,” explains Adam Chatterley, UK director of Gumnuts software. “But to me, that doesn’t actually incentivise people – they just accept that.”

Chatterley recommends banded commission, whereby staff would earn no commission if they take less than, for example, £300 in a month, but 3% if they bring in between £300 and £500, or 5% if they bring in between £500 and £1,000, and so on. “That’s a great way of getting therapists to think, ‘I’m actively going to try and reach those targets, because the more I sell, the more I make on everything I sell,’ so it’s better for everyone,” he says.

Chatterley explains that Gumnuts software will allow you to arrange banded structures, as well as different commission rates for different types of sales, such as retail products, individual treatments, treatment courses, vouchers, or memberships.

“Something else that seems to be coming through in our industry now is having a team commission, so making them work as a team and then paying therapists based on their contribution to that overall performance,” explains Chatterley. For example, he says including reception staff in a team commission means it’s in their interest to encourage clients to rebook, or to move an appointment rather than cancel it outright.

In review

When it comes to appraising staff, reports from software will give you a solid indication of how each team member is performing, so that you can set them realistic targets, and give support in areas where they’re not so strong. But more importantly, it can be used to show employees their strengths and weaknesses. “If you don’t have the facts and figures, it can turn into a blame game,” says Keppel. Phorest’s software prompts clients to rate their treatment and give feedback on their experience, which allows them to voice complaints or concerns they might have been embarrassed to raise face-to-face in the salon. “It’s a really good way to find out what your clients think about the way the team is dealing with them,” he explains. “It’s important, as a salon owner, to then sit down with your team members and say, ‘I know you’re doing a great job, but it seems like your client rating has dropped a bit recently. Is there anything we can do to help you?’ It just takes away the confrontation.”   

Slider image credit: Gumnuts