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Resources & Development - Training 1

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By: Zahira J. Coll

Recently, a friend and I wanted to do something pampering and special together.  I had been to a local Day Spa (very renowned) and had loved a particular pedicure.  Remembering this experience I suggested to my friend to go together and get the same service.

The awaited day came and we arrived for our appointments, we were offered a glass of champagne, given our lockers and off we went to enjoy the Jacuzzi and steam room.  When the time for our Pedicure came we were ready to be pampered.  We were seated next to each other in those “throne chairs” that make you feel super special.  To my “horror” as the service started I realized that the Nail technicians were not performing the same service on each of us nor where they performing the service I had bought the month before.  My friend had only read a description in the brochure but she looked at me with questioning eyes when she saw essential oils being dropped into my pedicure water and not on hers.  I did not want to make a big deal about it because the whole idea was to relax and enjoy together.  So I waited.  As the service progressed and things continued to be so different, I asked the employee how long she had been there.  She said to me “I started working one week ago”.  So I asked, “Have you been trained in the services here” to which she replied, “Oh, no. I have more than 5 years experience they did not think I needed any training, I took the brochure home and read it.” At this point my friend was paying more attention to my conversation with the employee than to her treatment, so I dropped it!   I wanted to know more but decided against it an opted for enjoying the service as much as I could even though it was not what I expected or bought.  I definitely will not go back to this particular Spa or recommend it.

Approximately two weeks later I was teaching a seminar on the value of training employees and how to make it fun for the staff.  I shared with the class my Pedicure experience and they were all as horrified as I was.  Most of the attendees were Salon & Spa owners and they could not believe that this could happen in such a renowned place.  So I asked them to share with me the training programs they used at their facilities.  How did they ensure that every single employee performed every service in the exact same way it was suppose to be?  Needless to say most of them did not have a structured and/or consistent method.   Some of them did not think they could afford any training program.  Yet they all understood the value of training, they all wanted to avoid experiences like mine from happening at their business.  Even those that had some sort of training program or method admitted to putting it in the back burner every time other more pressing operating issues came up. 

How Can You Afford Not to Train

Training is like staffing, it costs money, it requires a lot of work, effort and commitment and without it you, your staff & your business will suffer.  You will not be able to provide excellent service and stay ahead of the “big guys” (who by the way have the money, effort and commitment invested in training their staff).

Lets keep in mind that your customers, talk to their friends and they compare notes.  Customers like to get what they buy or read about, not something else.  Your staff will feel more confident in the execution of their duties if they are given guidelines and if they are shown exactly what we mean when we have written in our brochures descriptive words such as “transported”, “sense of calmness”, “soothing”, “therapeutic”, etc.  You will not have to deal with customer dissatisfaction because they did not get the service, as it was promise.   

If I Train Them Will They Learn?

It depends on how you train them.  Adults learn very differently from other age groups.  As individuals we all learn in different ways at different speeds.  You have to take all of this into consideration when designing your training plan.  That is precisely your starting point, an outline of what you want to teach them, in what time frame and what is the ultimate goal.  Ask yourself if you have someone in your staff that has the ability to explain things and/or teach others?   Do you like teaching others; are you comfortable doing it?  Sometimes it is more effective if the person teaching is a coworker, liked and respected by its peers.  

The second step is to SHARE, share with your staff why you want to have training, what do you expect to accomplish and sell them the idea. 

If you tell an employee you have to sit “in class” for 2 hours, they may go because it is mandatory but they will not learn much.  To be fair, if you have a commission based pay system when you ask them to attend a training they are losing income.  This is part of selling it to them, you have to come up with an agreement with your staff about how to pay for them to sit and learn instead.  Make it fun!

How do I train them?

I have found one of the most successful approaches to teaching adults to be similar to learning how to cook using recipes.

Before you schedule your first training session, take the time to prepare utilizing the recipe method;

·        Write each service in “recipe” format

·        Explaining every ingredient used and every step

·        List all the steps in the treatment in the order the should take place

·        Time the steps to ensure that the time allocated to the treatment is exactly what is needed (also this helps you to evaluate performance at a later time)

·        Have a meeting with your staff to read the recipes and discuss them.  Make corrections, after all they are the ones that will be performing the treatment.

·        Demonstrate the service step by step

·        Take pictures of the steps or draw them

·        Have your trainers demonstrate the services to the class, using class volunteers (people learn best by teaching others)

·        Have them practice on each other as you are observing and correcting when necessary.

·        Practice makes perfect. 

 Use visual aids, such as handouts, pictures or drawings, flip charts.   If you are very computer oriented a “power point” presentation with music and sounds keeps them awake and they will remember more.

 Did they really learn?

 When individuals know that they will be tested or evaluated they learn more because they pay more attention.  Some people have a competitive nature and enjoy participating in any type of score keeping process at work.  I have found that using some competitive game with small simple prizes gets everyone excited about the services and it allows you to verify who has really learned to perform them to your standards and who needs more practice.

 Evaluation process: Design a simple evaluation form with a built in point system, have the staff perform the service on the other staff members (receptionist, sales staff, and locker attendants).  They evaluate the services received (anonymously).  You then tally the scores and give prizes/certificates to the highest scores.  The lower scores go back to practicing before they can perform the service on a customer.

 There is an added benefit to this system.  Not only have you accomplished training your staff, when we involve other employees to received the services, they will be better able to speak to your customers about it and sell it from a personal experience.

 Another way of evaluating the outcome of the training program is to have them perform the service to a co-worker in front of you.  You will need to create an evaluation form (preferably with some type of point system).  In this case you are the one evaluating the process and how well they are performing.  The disadvantage would be that the exposure to the rest of the staff is limited and you will not have the added benefit of having everyone understanding all the services and selling them. 

Is it ever finished?

Let’s not forget training is on going.  Every time you add a new service, change an existing service or hire a new employee it all has to start again.  Once you have your system in place your materials and your trainers it is easier to keep it going. 

We all want to be creative and artistic, we want to add our personal unique touch to the things we do, but this is in direct conflict with our business “service” goals.  You and your staff would benefit by deciding together which services have to be “by the book” and which ones (if any) allow for flexibility and creativity.

When you set all this up and give it the priority it requires, you will be able to stay ahead of your competition by providing excellent consistent services to all your customers.  As an added bonus your staff will work in a more confident manner because they will now know exactly what is expected of them.

Lets not forget that the more we practice the same recipe the better it “tastes”.  Practice does make perfect

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