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Culture Club

By: Camille Hoheb
Posted: June 10, 2008, from the November 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Generally, performance-based pay provides estheticians with the greatest earning potential without decreasing a medical spa’s profit margin. Incentives not only motivate, they also foster a sense of empowerment and responsibility. Team members look to themselves—rather than at you—to increase their paychecks. Employers who utilize performance-based pay may elect to provide bonuses for both service and retail. It is more common, however, for estheticians to receive an incentive on retail products sold, along with their hourly base and tips. The percentage usually ranges from 7–12% on retail sold. This multipronged approach can be very lucrative. Some medical spas have instituted a universal “no tipping” policy for all staff. It is important to develop a vision of hiring and compensation because it is a reflection of the business’ culture.

Putting your best foot forward

First impressions matter. Just as you have high expectations of your new team members, they will have the same of management and the training that is provided. It is critical to deliver a well-thought-out, comprehensive employee training program that is scheduled conveniently and administered in a fun, enthusiastic manner. Dry material doesn’t stick. Training with creativity and passion will provide the desired work environment for your medical spa team and set the working foundation for future team meetings and day-to-day operations.

It is said that variety is the spice of life, and this can hold true with training. There is a lot to be learned—including scheduling software, retail products, performing a consultation, up-selling, cross selling, loyalty building, customer service etiquette, and hands-on learning for new equipment and products. Create a curriculum and an agenda, and optimize training by partnering with vendors’ and manufacturers’ clinical educators. Make it fun and interactive. You might want to start with presenting a training goody bag that includes the agenda, training materials, skin care product samples and healthy snacks, such as whole fruit or energy bars. Don’t underestimate the importance of pausing for breaks throughout the day. Consider offering cucumber treatments for sore, strained eyes if working with computers, or lead an invigorating walk around the block to get the blood flowing. Test your team members throughout the session to monitor objectively how the information is being retained and understood. Just as you started training by presenting small gifts, you may want to end on a high note with a catered lunch and graduation certificates.

It is important that all team members attend the same preparation sessions and are cross-trained in scheduling, telephone skills, consultations and product knowledge. It also is imperative that electricity, running water, inventory and equipment are available. As standard as this sounds, training can be limited by an unfinished build-out, and such an obstacle is a sure sign of trouble. Nothing defeats team morale more effectively than not providing the proper tools and adequate training.

The three C’s

Having a job completed in a certain manner and at a specific level of quality requires recruiting the correct staff, providing solid training and instilling the need for constant communication, cooperation and coordination. It is critical to obtain assurances from your team members that they are competent and comfortable with the information imparted during training. If you hear that more is needed, provide it—this is your responsibility. Invest in your team, and you invest in your business. Instruction often leads to maintaining the quality and service level that first was introduced. It is human nature to develop a comfort zone throughout time and to gradually stray from standardized procedures.