Survive and thrive during the Christmas rush

Every salon owner knows that while Christmas can be a very profitable period, it is also the time when management and employees can suffer ‘burn-out’. At this hectic time of the year the entire team will most probably need to work harder longer hours, with less recovery time. So what are some of the ways you can look after your team so the business survives and thrives during the Christmas rush?
In this article I am going to share some tips for maintaining the team’s energy, managing stress and ways your business can get the largest bite of the Christmas spending cherry.
But to make any improvements we first need to look at past performance i.e. what happened last Christmas:
1. When did the business start getting busy leading up to Christmas?
2. Did you have a Christmas marketing campaign?
3. What were sales last year?
4. Which days were busiest?
5. How did extended trading hours affect sales? This is vital information if you trade in a shopping complex.
6. How well did staff rosters work?
7. How did treatment room scheduling go?
8. Were there any noticeable staff ‘burn out’ issues - did staff sick days or late for work arrivals increase?
9. Did you hold a staff party before or after Christmas?
10. What were the biggest challenges during this period?
From experience working with numerous salon owners over many years, I am amazed at how many do not keep records of how their business performed during seasonal trading periods or promotional campaigns. If you don’t have this information how could you be certain what worked well and what didn’t, what should be changed, improved or deleted. My suggestion is that you keep a daily record of the following:
• Date, day and hours opened
• The promotion or special offer running
• Cycle the promotion is in i.e. first week, second week etc
• Any supplier support i.e. in-house visiting representative in attendance, posters, or counter displays
• Advertising or marketing currently running including newspaper adverts, direct mailers, signs in and outside the business, emails etc
• Staff training – of the promotion and daily ‘focus’ mini meetings
• Number of responses from any advertising or marketing
• Number of staff rostered on, including hours worked
• Takings: separating treatment, retail and Gift Certificate sales
• Average hourly treatment productivity of each team member
• Number of new clients
• Number of re-bookings.
Having this information will help reduce management stress and make the likelihood of future marketing success much more certain. Taking time to plan any marketing whether it is seasonal Christmas marketing, launching a new service, or product, or special offer will ensure the maximum profitable results. So the key to reducing management stress is advanced information through planning and implementation of the plan.
Staff Burnout – work place stress management
Stress and burnout are increasingly common in the beauty industry. In an industry where employees are often helping clients to manage their stress, if they themselves are weakened by overloaded treatment scheduling, both client and therapist will suffer. Ultimately the business will lose clientele and employees. So it is in management’s best interest to protect the health and welfare of their team.
Studies have shown that when people are under stress, their thought processes narrow. In the beauty industry this narrowing of attention is demonstrated by lack of empathy to the client because the therapist is too focused on themselves and not ‘in the moment’ with the client. Clients view this as indifference by the therapist and it is a statistical fact that 68% of clients who stop coming, stop because of the indifference of attitude on the part of a staff member.
In addition, if the therapist is not focused on the client they will miss opportunities to up-sell and up-grade services. And if they are running behind schedule and have other clients waiting they will not take the time to recommend retail nor re-book. Work stress also increases staff sick days and late for work arrivals.
There are numerous easily implemented ways to help reduce work place stress, streamline procedures and thereby improve employee performance. In the case of reducing Christmas work related stress, go back to the list of 10 past performance indicators in the beginning of this article. With this information you can make adjustments and improvements from past experience. For example some of the things you could do:
1. Staff roster adjustments to get maximum efficiency.
2. Employing additional therapy staff earlier rather than later so that they are fully trained up and working at the highest productivity levels.
3. Employ a junior ‘tea and tidy’ girl to go around before and after therapists setting up and cleaning up treatment rooms.
4. Send laundry out.
5. Employ a receptionist (if you don’t have one) for the busiest times.
6. Avoid over-booking if possible.
7. Make sure you allow recovery time – give treatment variety so therapists don’t suffer RSI – no one can do massage after massage.
8. Streamline all procedures.
9. Name or colour code treatment rooms so as to make bookings easier and so everyone knows where they are meant to be.
10. Provide energy snacks i.e. small packs of dried fruit, diced up fresh fruit, tubs of yoghurt, protein drinks etc – a small cost for keeping your teams energy level up.
And one final thought, why not have your Christmas work party either in February when things have quietened down or even a ‘Christmas in July’ celebration. This way the entire team will be able to relax and enjoy, they won’t be over-tired and will be able to really appreciate the celebration.
Have a very happy and profitable Christmas trading and should you need any help in future planning for your business’s success I would be happy to support you.
© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2007

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