Making the grade as a new professional is never easy. Young people graduate from beauty school believing they can knock out a platform-ready look no problem, only to discover that the real world doesn’t work like that. Many find out the hard way that it takes more than a grounding in basic technical skills to become a fully rounded professional.
Landing a good job is only the first challenge new graduates face. All too many have come from schools that have focused on passing the test over the other essentials for developing a rewarding and long-lasting career. These "soft" skills include teamwork, communication, self-confidence, money management and business knowledge, and they are every bit as crucial as knowing how to do a great haircut or the perfect facial. And with Gainful Employment legislation in the pipeline, which will penalize schools with large numbers of students who end up defaulting on loans or earning too little to pay them back, it’s more important than ever to ensure students get their careers off to a flying start right from the off.
So how can you make sure that post-graduation euphoria doesn’t fade; that new stylists and beauty professionals have what it takes to build a happy and satisfied clientele, make money faster, stay in the industry longer and have a great time while they do it? If you’re lucky, your new stylist, nail technician or beauty therapist will have come from a school that specifically teaches these skills. Nuts and Bolts member schools do just this, developing interpersonal, communications and business skills, teaching students how to embrace change, how to "wow" their clients and how to build their retail.
But what next? Many beauty graduates land their first job only to be abandoned, left to sink or swim as training and mentoring comes to a grinding halt. Bad habits develop, confidence wanes, creativity is stifled under the pressures of growing and sustaining an appointment column. Passion turns into "it’s just a job," and the hunger to make people beautiful is lost along with the desire to keep on improving.
To keep recently qualified staff fresh and keen, employers need to instill confidence and a belief in the value of lifelong learning. They need training that takes them out of their comfort zone. Trying out and mastering new techniques will create challenges that raise confidence levels and broaden horizons.
Four areas to focus support for new professionals:
- Work on that consultation: Keep guiding new team members on how to talk to clients, look at scripts they can personalize, provide visual imagery they can use as a tool, role-play situations and build their confidence so they suggest changes and enhancement to even the most resistant of clients.
- Build on what they know: They should know the classic cuts and techniques and feel confident about them, so use those skills and develop them further by talking about and demonstrating subtle changes and easy ways of enhancing their services.
- Talk the talk: As every experienced and successful hairdresser and beautician knows, it takes real skill to keep conversation with clients going, so work with your young staff on how to talk about the services they are providing and cultivate client confidence. Get them thinking about other subjects and how they would keep the conversation flowing. Encourage them to avoid talking about themselves too much, a frequent flaw in the young.
- Reinforce retail: Constantly revisiting how to sell to clients will never be a waste of time, but it must start with knowing the products and understanding how to use them.
[Image: Mark Bowden via Getty Images]