Many business owners are reluctant to provide in-depth staff training for fear their newly educated employees will simply leave.
Of course everyone provides basic training on the products and services offered by the business – how to operate internal systems and processes, etc. But more in-depth, detailed – and hence expensive – training is often only reserved for long-term or very senior employees, if at all.
Yet as Jules Peacocke, founder of high-end Sydney salon Lily Jackson Hair & Makeup, explains, not training your employees well can actually cost you more – through lower sales volumes and poorer staff retention.
“We train a lot. We do a huge amount of education. We’re really dedicated to taking people on that really want a career in hairdressing,” she explains.
“I see hairdressing as a profession. I don’t see it just as an unskilled labour job, or a job that you don’t have to have any talent to do. I think there are those environments and you can pay $20 for that. We’re not that environment. We were never that environment.
“I don’t want my staff earning $30,000 a year. I want them being able to make a $100,000 or $200,000 a year, using their skills to have a great life.”
A big part of this, says Jules, is training staff beyond the basic service provision but in core elements of business and people skills.
“Our apprentices not only get an education in hairdressing, they get an education in business from the moment they start,” she says.
“For me, the artistry isn’t just the haircut. The artistry is in the translation of the service to the client. It’s in the translation of the services and the client retention, the retail recommendations and what that means for the business and for the team. What that gives us to be able to grow and to be able to develop and have adventures in the business.
“The government has said that you can get a person qualified in hairdressing in 12 months; we don’t think that’s possible so we work alongside government, but we do all of our own internal education.”
Jules adds that a big part of enabling this training to deliver returns at an everyday level is to enable staff to see the impacts of their efforts on the bottom line.
“They understand what KPIs are. We run a completely open book: everyone knows what the business is doing everyday. They have that available to them on their phone. We talk about money … We sit down as a team and we go, ‘This is our financial goal for this month. How are we going to get there?’”
Jules’ business partner Amajjika Kumara recounts an experience with an employee where bespoke training enabled that employee to transform their service offering, for the benefit of the business as well as the individual.
“I can remember once I was having my hair shampooed and the apprentice said [in a gruff tone], ‘Do ya wanna treatment?’ I went, ‘I beg your pardon?’ [He repeated in a gruff tone] ‘Do ya wanna treatment?’
“I said, ‘Is that how you talk to customers?’ [He replied] ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Well actually, you don’t talk to customers like that.’
Amajjika describes how she devoted time to train the apprentice on how best to upsell products and recommend particular treatments.
“God bless him, he implemented it, and he was our best person at recommending and selling treatments!”
Hear more insights from Jules and Amajjika on delivering superior customer service while generating healthy profits on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.