The Magic of the Front Desk Employee
The front desk employee in any business, even beauty businesses, can make or break its success. It’s the first tier of the contract with clients, or potential clients. The way this employee talks to or deals with clients can either bring back clients or repel them forever. A beauty specialist in a salon represents herself, but the front desk employee represents the whole business. It’s so vital to have a professional, qualified front desk employee that it can be a costly mistake to hire someone with no relevant background, at minimum wage, and with no proper training on how to take care of the front desk responsibilities.
Do You Have to Have a Front Desk Employee?
A front desk employee is not there just to answer the phone or register clients. If she has been trained well enough, she can be your best marketing agent. She knows the business, clients, employees, and services, and that is why she is the best to represent your business. Your front desk employee can be in charge of your social media, maintaining the website, talking to potential clients and vendors, and in many cases, even resolving clients’ complaints.
For some businesses like Medspas and Clinic, having a front desk employee is practically mandatory, but for smaller businesses like spas and other beauty salons, the value that a designated front desk employee can bring definitely outweighs its cost.
Front Desk Employees Should. . .
. . .Have Extensive Knowledge of the Business
As a business owner or manager, you should know that your front desk holds a critical position in your business, and thus, your front desk employee needs to know a lot about the business. You need to involve her in all non-confidential meetings, though she may need to be in some of the confidential meetings as well.
Some of the capabilities of your front desk employee go back to the time you were hiring her. If you want her to take care of your social media, maintain the website, work with a computer, and so on, those should be part of your hiring description.
The vast majority of your front desk employee’s information and knowledge about your business is accumulated over time and is considered as coming with experience more than just previous knowledge. If you lose your front desk employee, a new one has to spend a great amount of time and many trials and errors to become familiar with your business. If you find a good front desk employee, you should take care of her in terms of salary, insurance, and other benefits so she is motivated to stay with the business.
. . .Represent Employees
The front desk employee represents other specialists in the salon and gives the first impression. When clients call or walk in to the salon, they ask about the specialists and their qualifications. The front desk employee should have and memorize a short intro, less than two minutes, about each specialist in the salon, and about the salon as well. These intros should be short, precise, exciting, and just a little detailed. For instance, you may say, “Kylee is one of our best hair stylists. Her clients love her especially for her talent in cutting men’s hair.” These intros are best when prepared with the help of the specialist.
. . .Know Clients
A front desk employee that can remember the name of each client and a little bit about them is one of the most valuable assets to any business. People are impressed when they hear a front desk employee call them by name and ask questions that indicate she is familiar with them and is interested in the client’s life. We have all experienced the welcoming nature of a front desk employee or manager calling us by name and asking us about something that interests us.
People tend to talk about their personal lives when getting a service in a beauty business. Sometimes when they are emotional, they may reveal very personal aspects of their life. The front desk employee and all specialists in the salon should be aware that under no circumstances are they allowed to gossip about or share the private information clients disclose.
. . .Never Be Condescending to Ignorance
As a front desk employee or a beauty professional, you definitely know much more than your clients. Clients may ask very basic or even seemingly-stupid questions, and it happens quite frequently that the front desk or specialist replies in a condescending way, implying the client should have already known this, thus offending or hurting the feelings of clients.
The main reason people ask questions is they don’t really know the answer. Some people may ask a question over and over, not because they don’t know the answer, but because they are anxious and looking for reassurance. A front desk employee will have many of these kinds of clients who keep asking questions, and they may have to respond to the same question numerous times per day, so they should learn to do it in a kind, gracious way.
. . .Never Talk Negatively About Anyone
People will always compare specialists or businesses to each other; it is a normal part of our culture. This culture plays out badly in some salons. Often when you ask about another salon or specialist, the front desk employee or specialist does not stop themselves from saying bad things about them. It has never helped any business to trash-talk others and does not lead to a more positive outlook on their own business. Gossip can destroy the work culture in a salon, and it’s even worse when the front desk employee is involved in this unhealthy habit. Make strict rules about gossip to stop it from infecting your business.
. . .Wear an Appropriate Uniform
As I mentioned earlier, the front desk employee is the first tier of your business. She has to wear her uniform, and it must be clean. If you are a business owner, you should not compromise your business with the laziness of your employees. In my own businesses, I sometimes have had to send an employee home just because she didn’t wear her proper uniform. If you are serious about your business and your rules, everyone else would be serious and follow the policies.
. . .Effectively Represent the Business
The front desk employee is like the logo of your business. She is a living representation of it. Your front desk is a sample of your business, and she has to represent it well. For instance, if you are providing a weight loss service and your front desk employee is inactive and eats unhealthily, it is counteractive. The front desk employee in your beauty business should be a perfect sample and model of your field. If you are doing massage therapy, your front desk employee should be notably calm, relaxed, and happy—and the same for estheticians and other beauty service specialists.
. . .Be Treated as Your Most Important Client
As a business owner or manager, your front desk employee should experience all the services offered in your salon for free. She needs to believe in you and your business to be able to talk about it positively and accurately. As a matter of fact, receiving regular services should be part of the front desk employee’s job duties.
. . .Maintain a Positive Attitude
Unfortunately, this is one of the problems not only with the front desk employee, but with everyone else in the salon. If we’re dealing with a personal problem or are just having a bad day, we may not be in a good mood and may transfer our bad mood to everybody around us. In the case of the front desk and its high-demand job, it is even worse. This employee has to deal with many people, and her negative mood can adversely affect the business.
You can use the 30-days challenge to make it a habit to dissociate your personal life from your professional life. In any of my businesses, when someone is not in a good mood, I send him to the gym or to go for a walk or whatever to change his mood. In the worst case scenario, I’d rather my grumpy employee be at home than in the salon.
. .Know How to Say “No”
A front desk employee has to say “no” many times throughout a day. For example, if people ask for a service that you don’t offer or for a discount, instead of just saying “no,” she can sandwich the “no” in between nice words. Make it a habit and culture of your business that everybody, including the front desk employee, is super polite to people even if they are not potential clients.
. . .Be Well-Trained for the Position
Don’t expect your newly hired front desk employee to know everything about your business or even how to treat your clients. You need to have or prepare a policy or, as it’s called, an operation manual that details everything in everyone in the salon’s job descriptions, including the front desk. You can also write a mission statement and post it as a sign that reminds everybody about your goals and the way you treat your clients.
If you are hiring a front desk employee, try to hire people who already have worked in a highly-respected business like Nordstrom; they bring culture from those businesses that may benefit your business.
. . .Be Empowered to Make Decisions
The front desk employee of a beauty service business is the first and last person clients meet. There are many complaints and questions that the front desk employee must resolve without the need to consult the manager or owner. Over time, train and trust your front desk employee to make decisions and resolve issues.
. . .Deal Effectively with Troublesome Clients
A single troublesome client can ruin anybody’s whole day. The front desk employee is the first one to face such angry clients. You and your front desk employee should understand not to personalize the issues in the salon. If somebody is rude or mad because a service she paid for didn’t work out the way she expected, it is about the service, not about you. Rude and impatient people are everywhere. There is no way to avoid them all together, so your front desk employee should be mentally prepared to deal with these situations.
. . .Keep Their Work Area Neat, Clean, and Organized
The front desk is a window to the whole salon, so it has to be clean and organized. There is a Japanese system called “5S” about how to achieve this level of order in your work area. You can adopt this system for your front desk employee to follow.
5S is composed of five words that all start with the letter “S.”
2. Set in Order: Organize your desk and work area in the order in which you use the items. You can use labels to indicate what should be where.
3. Shine: Everything should be clean and shiny.
4. Standardize: For every procedure and task in your business, there should be a standard. For example, you can have a bulleted list of how to clean the salon or how to register a client step by step.
5. Sustain: The process of 5S should be a part of your business culture and habits. You may try the 30-days challenge to incorporate 5S into your mind as a long-term habit.
. . .Respect Clients’ Concerns
When somebody is coming to your salon, let’s say for a wax, for the front desk it is just a 20-minute wax, but for the client, it is 20 minutes of pain, discomfort, and stress. The front desk employee should respect clients and help them release their anxiety. For women specifically, they may relax and be calmed when they talk. So, let them talk and don’t interrupt them.