How 1 Bad Apple can RUIN Your Salon Spa

The EFFECT of Bad Apples
Christopher Brazy

The EFFECT of Bad Apples We all heard that “one bad apple can ruin the bunch” but how does that really affect us? Are you on the watch for them? Here’s how they’ve affected us in our own spa.

Client Effect
We had a talented massage therapist, came from one of those elite national resort spas, who’d been around for about a year or so, let’s call her “Mindy.” Mindy was at a new point in her life, she was getting married! This was a big step for her (as it always is). She was stressed about the planning, stressed about the relationship, stressed about the decision. So in the treatment room, instead of listening to the client, she did all the yapping. Went on about her life, which led to complaining about it, then about her job, she began losing focus on the client and the end result? A horrible massage. People were leaving MORE stressed than before they arrived! And to our (eventual) horror, no one told us! Some good friends of ours just quit coming and then months later eventually let us know why they had been gone.

If you aren’t keeping your clients, after going through all the expense of getting them, and are allowing another spa to step up to the plate and take them off your hands, you’re in a situation that’s worse than financial. You’re reputation is at stake, and that’s vital.

Spa Effect
Just recently we had one of those huge health club spas open up. One of our caregivers (Cinderella) applied there and was excited to be making a change (the “grass is greener” syndrome). Unfortunately she let this exciting news spread to the other staff. Now what do we have? Mutiny (ha!). Even the seasoned, long-term staff have fallen prey to Cinderella’s dream. Now not only do we have staff that is down in the dumps about being here, but they ALL are contemplating leaving. Never mind that the “dream pay” club-spa has gone from $10/hour plus 50% down to $9/hour and 20%, it’s still the greener pasture that they’re all heading to. And those that will stay on, insteaf of focusing on other perks and benefits, now have a feeling of being underpaid.

Another time we had someone who started their own business and was whining daily about the cost of advertising, not being able to afford his rent, how slow it was (welcome to the owners shoes), whine, whine, whine. The staff HATED coming into work if he was going to be there. No one wanted to be around him since he was such a downer.

We’ve even known of a single stylist stealing an entire salons staff (and client list!).

ALWAYS be on the lookout for staff that is unhappy. Speak with them immediately and identify if this is just a bad week or a serious issue. If they’re affecting the other staff, remove them instantly. Don’t worry about what you’ll do without them, worry about what will happen with them.

Bottom Line Effect
When we were located in the mall and open 80 hours/week, we were always under pressure to have staff available to take clients. The problem was (as always) there wasn’t enough business to keep the staff happy to hang around for it. So we would end up hiring not necessarily the best match for us. This was a double whammy. They’d have a bad effect on clients, and have a bad effect on staff. These explosive time bombs are just waiting to tear down all you’ve built up. Lesson learned?

“Never hire just anyone to try to cover your books. It’s better to go without and turn away business than to bring in the wrong people who will single handedly destroy your business.”

The cost of losing a client is horrendous. While it takes hundreds and hundreds of dollars to get just one new client if we’re not keeping them and turning them into regulars, we’re on a sinking ship.

The cost of losing employees is equally devastating, if not more so. Recruiting and training is expensive. Caregivers typically turnover every 6 months anyway, which is too often in the clients eyes. Having them leave sooner (either their or our choice), and possibly take people with them or damaging the spa in other ways takes considerable time and resources to rebuild.

So to sum up, watch out! We put these actions and consequences into our contracts and have “insider” long-term staff to keep us informed (they hate to tell on each other) and up to date. We also train our managers to stay in daily contact with them to make sure they’re performing as they should. Secret shopping is another way to find out what’s going on behind closed doors to keep you informed. Find ways to stay in constant contact with your staff. Once a problem is identified, immediately either fix it or let them go. The effect of keeping them on, to your reputation, clients, staff and bottom line is huge if you don’t.

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