A warm reception

 ZING Salon coach Jay Chapman explains how a good receptionist can increase your salon’s bottomline.

I am often asked “When do I know that I can afford a receptionist?” and my response is often the same:  You can’t afford to NOT have one

Booking appointments and taking calls in the middle of a heavily booked day in a salon or spa is undeniably inefficient and could be costing you more money than you think.

So, can a receptionist really generate income for the salon? In short, yes.  Here are my tips for hiring a stellar front-desk operator who will move your business to the next level.

Firstly, we need to recognise the missed opportunities that occur daily in our salons and spas.

Following are some examples of everyday situations where money could be walking out your front door.

The gaps: you’ve seen them. A busy day, but full of 15-minute gaps that waste time and in turn, chew up opportunities to look after more clients and larger services. Train your receptionist to manipulate the book in a way that frees up time with your therapists. It’s no-brainer.

Upgrades: It baffles me how many salons don’t have a plan for upgrades or add-ons. It’s a simple and very effective strategy to customise your clients’ service and create a strong point of difference.

Retail sales: More often than not your therapist will be recommending take home care during the treatment, but fail to close the sale when it comes to checking out. Whether they run out of time, feel too pushy and/or simply choose not to, it’s the role of a receptionist to seal the deal and keep the team accountable. They are your eyes and ears.

Here is your first task. Make a list of three add-ons for your facial treatments and ask each client booking this service if they are interested in customising their treatment. An Indian head massage, a foot spa, an eye or lip treatment, or even just to extend the time for the treatment. It’s simple and the conversion is at least 70 per cent.

Who to hire? A beauty therapist, or not?

It’s a huge misconception that your front of house has to be a beauty therapist to really know how to run the book and do their job effectively. Rubbish! If you advertise for someone who has previous experience in the beauty industry you may be missing out on capturing the attention of a star employee. A receptionist has a similar role in most organisations; the main difference is that they will be booking beauty treatments and not doctors’ appointments or cars in for a service.

Take Danielle, for an example. Danielle worked for the founder of ZING in her salon as a receptionist a few years back. She was amazed how much her role had in common with her previous receptionist role at a veterinarian clinic. Instead of calling the next day asking how the client’s hair was, she would call asking if your dog had had a poop yet  same-same but VERY different!

Psychometric testing

We are not all cut from the same cloth, That’s why I always recommend  you have any potential candidate for the role of receptionist  undertake some form of psychometric testing. This will give you an insight into how they will fit as a part of your team and also uncover the strengths a receptionist needs to flourish in the role.

A balance of being able to build rapport quickly, multitask, and display keen organisational skills is something you should be looking for. Remember you can teach skill but not attitude!

Policies, procedures, structures and systems

Have you ever met an effective team member who has bluffed their way through a role and had long lasting success? I’m guessing the answer is no! One of the cornerstones to being a successful beauty therapy business is having policies, systems, structures and procedures in place and removing guesswork out of the equation.

Would you let your therapist perform a treatment without training or following a system? The same rules apply to your receptionist. They need a job description; scheduled tasks and systems to follow so they know exactly what, when, and how to fulfil their role.

Test, measure, review and repeat

A receptionist is a part of your team and will need to attend all staff meetings and product and treatment trainings. They will be the first point of client contact so they will need to keep current with trends, product, and treatment knowledge.

You and your receptionist need to have a sound understanding of what it is you are trying to achieve with their role. They are not there to just answer the phone! Benchmark their performance and have a one-on-one weekly meeting to track the following KPIs:

  1. Upgrades
  2. Rebooking
  3. New client rebooking
  4. Retail sales
  5. Client retention
  6. Phone enquiry conversion
  7. Promotion sales

Your receptionist is a part of the pack and needs to be treated as such. This is not a set and forget option; you need to make the time each week to get the best results for your team, your business, and most of all, your clients.

A great front-of-house will add value to your clients’ experience, free up time for your team and increase your bottom line. If this has not been a part of your plan to grow, then I suggest you go back to the drawing board and consider adding a stellar receptionist as a part of your future goals. You will never look back!

Jay is a ZING salon coach; for more information visit www.zingcoach.com.au, find video tips on YouTube or read ZING leader Lisa Conway’s book: Your Salon Team – the salon owner’s guide to finding, motivating and keeping great staff.


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