Training is not optional for success
by Faye Murray

Here are two facts that as a salon owner you should be aware of:

 It is becoming more difficult to find hairdressers with the required skills.
 Now that the apprenticeship period has been shortened, the intensity of training needs to be accelerated in order to achieve a satisfactory result.

These two points could have a serious impact on your business again this year and you need to recognise that they exist. They are not going to go away. You have to change the way you operate your business to minimise how they affect your business.

Those of us who have been part of the hairdressing industry for a long time have seen many changes, some good some not so good, but with each change if we want to grow we must alter the way we do things.

I can remember when hairdressers (willingly) attended training once a week. That has become very difficult in recent years with many salons now trading 3-4 nights a week. This pressure limits the willingness of the staff to train.

So how do you implement training into your salon to achieve sustainable success?

Because training is not an option for success…it is vital for success!

You need to commit to training because we have highlighted that recruiting perfect people is not going to happen, so you must be prepared to invest in training for senior hairdressers and apprentices that is ongoing and synonymous with your salon’s objectives. They now have the option of completing their training in much less time so to maintain a suitable standard more focused training is needed.

Training is an investment that you need to commit to, to ensure the quality you expect in your salon.

What happens if I train them and they leave?

What happens if you don’t and they stay?

As old as this saying is, it is no less true today than when it was first said…

So the reality is that you need to structure your business so that training is a permanent part of your culture. That way you can get what you need to provide a high level of service to your clients.

Have a Strong interview and trial process

Every salon should have a written induction procedure and checklist to welcome and introduce new talents to the salon. This is a step-by-step procedure that allows you to ensure they completely understand how clients are to be treated in your salon and how your salon operates. It makes it easy for everyone. This is one of the things that as a coach we help salons develop. Using a template as an induction procedure can be created easily and used for every new team member.

New Staff Assessment

You need to accurately determine as quickly as possible what the new persons various skill levels are.

Explain to them clearly that the evaluation is not about looking for negatives, but is an opportunity to become aware of any areas that might need improvement. A training plan can then be put in place.

To assess their hands-on hairdressing skills it’s necessary for them to work with models so that you can objectively evaluate their work.

Some of the other areas to assess by observation or questioning might be:

Client Service

 Telephone manner
 Appointment taking
 Price quoting
 Consultation process
 Re-booking techniques


 Recommendation of in-salon services and treatments
 Recommendation of take home products

The main thing is to have a comprehensive checklist of all areas of assessment. Any that remain unchecked are areas that may be impacting on your level of service.

Your training plan should include the details of what you are going to train, who is to be responsible for the training and when it is to be completed by. This will ensure that there is commitment from all involved.

Technical and Product Training

We are very fortunate that the companies that support us with wonderful products also understand the benefits of providing structured training and education programs. They not only train in product knowledge and use of new products and techniques but also add to the hairdresser’s competence and knowledge with hands on skill training. Take full advantage of this and include it in your written plan.

Communication and Sales Training

Recognise that this is a skill that needs to be learned. You will very rarely have a team member who is 100 per cent in this area. The key is to do as much as you can yourself and then to use an outside expert to reinforce your message.

It is often said to me after I have conducted a training session that the message given is always received and accepted more readily by everyone than when the salon owner does and says much the same thing.

As a service to our clients we go to the salon to provide training in this area. This is important to do several times a year to keep the energy levels up and keep the team really focused on client service and the points of difference that make you special.

Don’t allow any team member to practise on your clients unless you are confident they have all the skills. Before they take any clients make very sure they are ready to WIN them. After all that is the reason you are in business and will stay in business.

How to structure your Apprentice Training

More people who have the option in their particular state are choosing to do in-salon training for their apprentices. To ensure this is a success you must work very closely with your registered training organisation and work together to complete the training plan.

Whether your apprentices attend college or do in-salon training they must commit to being very involved in the training.

Don’t try to have a ‘one-size fits all’ plan. Tailor it to suit your salon’s needs.

Focus on the things that you need the apprentice to be good at first so that they can be useful in the salon. If you are a salon that does not do perming you would never spend time training your apprentices in this area. However, If you do lots of foiling and creative colour work than this should be put at to the top of the list to start with. It will be more interesting for them and you will have a trained person that you can trust to complete your biggest money earning services.

Give the apprentice responsibility for their progress. Set them goals to achieve. Train them on how to do the skill, make them responsible for the repetition that is needed to perfect the skill. You don’t have to hold their hand every step of the way. As the trainer your role is to teach and mentor not to drag them through it.

I usually recommend that training is best done over shorter rather than longer periods. This means into your working week, plan to have specific time set aside for apprentice training. You must stick to it once it is set. They get bored with long blocks so spread it out. Focused training in this way will assist you to progress the training at a good rate.

Maybe you allocate someone else on your team to assist with training. As the salon owner you have lots to do during a week. By delegating this responsibility it frees us your time and also gives a great sense of satisfaction to your team member who becomes a trainer.

Training is an investment in your salon’s success. It is not a maybe, it is an absolute must. Have a good look at what you have in place in your salon for training of both your senior hairdressers and your apprentices. Does it meet your needs and expectations? If yes, Congratulations. If no, you need to make some changes or sit back and be prepared for a lot more problems to come your way.

Faye Murray is a coach and trainer with the Your Coach team working with salon owners to develop businesses throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Coach details: NSW Malik Arunachalam 0408 458 997 Sandy Chong 0414 852 498 QLD Kym Krey 0403 042 312 Faye Murray 0409 342 653 WA Di Ford 0417 982 637. Visit the website to receive a one hour free coaching session and to enrol to receive free monthly business and marketing tips.