You’ll very often hear salon owners tell you how their team is absolutely essential to their success, and quite right too. Obviously paying them accordingly is one part of the ‘thank you’ needed to make sure they get on board and help drive the business, as is investing in their training and development and helping them improve with experience. But how can you really get the most out of them to help deliver your vision to it’s full potential?
Our team is a mixed bunch of people from 18 up to 40-somethings (me included) with only one man (yes me again). Although we do lose people along the way, we also work hard to acknowledge what we need to do to encourage and help them deliver our plans.
The problem is that this is something that is often easy to overlook or take for granted. But, making sure your team deliver the company vision is 100% down to your ability to communicate it. How can you expect them to offer certain levels of service if you’ve maybe never explained how or, more importantly, why?
Your Brand Vision
When you set up your salon, you probably had a vision on how you saw it. From the decor of the rooms to the logo and brochures; the complete experience is what drives you. Having that kind of vision for your salon brand is essential to make sure you know where to go and you must make sure you share that vision with the people who matter.
Many salons (in my opinion) spend far too much far too early trying to get the details right, all the while ignoring the very element that will deliver the brand experience – shared communication with the team. Branding is not just about logos and adverts and if your staff or clients disagree how you see your brand, then you are doing something very wrong.
Ask Your Team
Do you team know your vision already? Is it clear to them and does it match your ideals? Why not ask them to tell you what they think you brand stands for now, unprompted?
Leave it completely open, give them a blank piece of paper and get them to write down how they see your brand. They may find it a hard question to understand (they are not marketers) so frame it openly for them. Something like:
Right, when you see the golden arches, what brand do you think of? How about a single tick? Or an apple?
So those companies have a brand that you recognise. When you think about why they are special in their own way, why do they stand out for you? WHat’s your favourite brand? What stands out for you about them?
Now, in the same way that you relate to your favourite brand, write down what you think our company stands for. What are we trying to achieve so that people automatically think of us in a certain way? What is our brand all about?
There’s a very good chance you are in for some surprises.
We did an exercise two years ago where we took the entire team from all three salons to a hotel for a day. One of the sessions we ran was all about branding. After a brief introduction to brands, everyone broke off into groups of four to go off for an hour and discuss what differentiated our salon offering – the things that we do that are above and beyond the day-to-day job of doing beauty treatments.
We gave them a simple branding guides sheet (feel free to download and use) to guide them and help them ask and answer questions between themselves.
The exercise was incredibly illuminating (for us and our team) because it gave us all two very good insights:
- It made the girls realise that they go well above and beyond the normal ‘shop’ mentality when it comes to their clients. Stories were shared about experiences that demonstrated their own levels of excellent customer service.
- It gave us the start of our internally branding communication – the story we sell to ourselves.
The Story We MUST Sell To Ourselves
When your business is fully committed to customer service – and a successful salon must be – your team must buy-in to a collective ideology of what “us” is. Without it, your team will potentially be offering a very different client experience which may help them individually, but it does nothing to help you build your brand.
From our workshop, we came up with an strapline – initially used for internal purposes – which we’re also now using as part of our entire brand approach with a ideology built around two key words that came up time and time again during the session:
Passion & People
We effectively created this strapline on the day and it fits perfectly with our own goals as a business. Beauty is the product/service and to some respects it’s a given, but without the essential elements of passion and people, it’s nothing.
We also created a booklet for everyone – a small four pager that outlines what we are trying to achieve and, in broad terms, what everyone’s role is in making it happen. This whole process also helped us establish more clearly what our role is in making the brand happen, not just today, but moving forward and after the euphoria of a ‘day-out’ has worn off.
So, that was two years ago and this is what we’ve learned that is pushing us to push even harder with our internal branding. We made some mistakes since then and we let some stuff drift, but once again, we have come back to it because time and time again (no one is perfect) we realise that the essence of our brand is often overlooked, internally.
- Teams change – since that session we have quite a few new members of staff that didn’t experience the day – we need to do it again and we need to do it more regularly. It’s an expensive day to run, but perhaps more expensive to our business if we don’t do it.
- We need to create reminders (for ourselves and the team) about what our responsibilities are – collectively and individually. That also means spelling some stuff out that some of us take for granted. For instance, explanations of why grammar in email is important. These are simple details that are often left to slide.
- Cheerleading. We need our leaders to be cheerleaders (and that includes me). If the managers did nothing else but look to lift our teams in each salon, that would add so much to the complete brand experience and our bottom line.
- We need to keep thinking about our brand experience and how it needs to evolve. Customers and the shopping experience are evolving and we need to make sure we don’t get left behind.
- We also need to keep addressing a major question – who are our [ideal]clients? How can we evolve and transform our brand so that we keep in touch with them.
Top To Bottom Communication
Every person in your team needs to understand why they are important for your brand. They need to understand the overall idea, they need to buy into it and they need to take part in its development. If you think you can do it by yourself, you are wrong.
If you have ever been into an Apple Store you will understand what I mean. The products are exceptional yes, but the levels or service and the way the products are discussed, delivered and sold is so very different from other stores.
Don’t replicate it though – like many retailers seem to be trying to do – develop your own style that suits your brand, you clients, and your wallet. Start small, implement changes step-by-step – let your brand evolve.