As service-oriented businesses, the profitability of salons and spas is directly related to how much their employees can accomplish. Therefore, it is essential to properly utilize your staff and to give them the opportunities and tools to be productive.
The key economic concept behind all businesses is supply and demand. When your supply (appointment slots) equals demand, you will be able to maximize profit.
If there is too much downtime (supply is greater than demand) at certain points, try reducing the number of stylists working those shifts rather than have them just sit around. On the other hand, if you have a long waiting list (demand is greater than supply), is there a way to optimize your calendar to fit in more appointments (increase supply) or could you charge a premium during these peak times (although you will decrease demand, you will actually increase revenue)?
To find the right balance, run a couple reports and analyze the trends in your appointment schedules & employee utilization rates.
In a simplistic view, productivity can be broken down to the average sales over a period of time. While much of that focus is on improving turnover (how many clients you can serve), that should not be the only thing. An easy way to increase transaction totals is by upselling. Service add-ons typically have a higher profit margin than the base service. Further, retail sales don't even require any extra time or energy. By providing consultative services, you can educate the client on the benefits and usage of products to re-create a style or to make their color last longer. Through this process, clients will be more willing to purchase the recommended products.
Productivity is not only important for stylists and technicians. It also applies to management and front-desk personnel. By automating some processes, more can be accomplished and in less time.
For example, is it worthwhile to call upcoming clients to confirm appointments if you end up leaving a voicemail and they never get back to you? The idea behind it–reducing no shows–is great, but there is a better and cheaper (when considering wages) way to get this done: automatic email and text message confirmations.
It’s also been shown that multitasking decreases productivity as people need some time to re-adjust when switching from one task to another. While it’s crucial for someone to answer the phone, you can help your salon coordinator to better stay focused by reducing incoming calls when you offer online booking.
Focus on Strengths
Another way to get more from your employees is to focus on their strengths and experience. Are your top earners frequently spending time on tasks that can be performed by others?
For example, if master stylists are shampooing clients' hair, they may be taking too much time out of their schedule. By passing on these duties to a shampoo assistant or another team member (whose wage will be lower than the stylist), the hairstylist can serve another paying client during that time and the assistant.
Adopt a Team Mentality
Even more important than assigning responsibilities based on employees' strengths is the need to create a collaborative culture. You certainly don't want team members to look down on those who play a different role. Instead, they should be looking to help each other out.
Regardless of how you schedule employees or whether you send reminders, there will be times when an appointment slot isn't filled or a client fails to show. How can the stylist still be productive during this time? They can still contribute by re-stocking retail displays or cleaning the salon. Alternatively, they can coach less experienced team members or practice their own skills on a mannequin to improve skills, get faster, and become more confident.
Not only does it take time for a new hire to get up to full speed, they will need someone to guide them along (especially for more junior positions). This will drag down the senior member's productivity down as well.
By taking care of your staff, you can reduce turnover and thus cut down on the distractions it causes to your salon team. To improve employee retention, keep your eyes and ears open to find ways to improve morale and to continually provide opportunities/challenges for staff to grow and develop new skills.
The best way to increase productivity is through employee engagement. If they love what they do and are excited to come to work, they will be motivated to provide better service which will affect rebooking rates and your reputation (through reviews and word-of-mouth referrals).
Pay attention to your staff and learn how to motivate them. If you're still unsure, ask them during the next round of performance appraisals. Some may just want recognition (whether internally or publicly) for accomplishments, while others may respond well to incentives (e.g. commission or bonuses) and contests (e.g. the stylist with the highest customer retention percentage wins a gift card). If some employees aren't as motivated by individual metrics, you can set team-based goals.