Why your reception staff should never have a dull moment.
It’s a universal annoyance to walk into a salon—busy or not—and be ignored by staff. And while any staff member can greet, your front line person plays a crucial role when it comes to building a relationship between your salon and clients.
“We want our front line to create an unforgettable experience for every guest from the moment they walk into our salons,” says Chantal Puddicombe, the former general manager for Zennkai and Megahair salons and Education Director. “The coordinator…is the bridge to all information that passes to and from our guests.”
Vasile Tsinokas, co-owner of Valentino’s Grande Salon in Whitby, ON, also believes great customer service skills are the foundation of a solid front-end team. “They’re the first and last people in contact with clients and can make or break your business as far as I’m concerned,” he says. “Many salon owners and managers don’t realize the receptionist role should pay for itself in terms of how much they can generate promoting services and retailing.”
Here’s how to maximize your receptionist during downtime.
1. Make spending time with clients necessary.
Tsinokas’s large salon balances great customer service and generating cash by delegating tasks to the front-of-house team. “Have a retail coordinator who can spend five or 10 minutes with a client. It’s the difference between that person walking out with four or five products as opposed to zero,” he explains. “We don’t rush to cash out clients because one person is in charge of the money, another retails and so on.”
2. Make a clear list of duties.
“There shouldn’t really be any downtime,” states Tsinokas. “We have downtime lists for when phones aren’t ringing or clients aren’t around, with tasks like restocking, cleaning shelves, merchandising stock and so on.”
Puddicombe agrees, adding, “We believe the busier the salon looks, the busier the salon will get.” From follow-up calls thanking guests and ensuring they were satisfied with their visit to ongoing education, Zennkai’s coordinators are constantly working with management to build service retention and retail revenue.
3. Let them use technology to increase business.
One of the most daunting areas of front-end expertise is technology. “Not only does the salon software book our appointments and track our cash, it can also filter so much information on our business,” says Puddicombe. Tsinokas says incorporating complex and powerful software can be “intimidating, but when you challenge yourself and step out of the box, that’s when you grow.”
Deanne Kelleher, head of education for Milano Software, explains that a front-end team member can gather invaluable information, allowing for better communication with the customer. “You can update and track mailing lists, birthdays, memberships, spending habits and so on. It’s more than just a booking system, it’s a solid marketing tool.” Make sure staff understand the importance of this data and let them use it to monitor and improve services.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of Salon Magazine.