Communication in focus


As passionate professionals you invest so much time and money in your ongoing development and for that you should be very proud. You are constantly updating your skills, techniques and product knowledge.  You challenge yourselves creatively and from a business point of view. I have the opportunity to work in many different companies, in a variety of industries and few invest so freely and as enthusiastically as you all do!

However… you heard that coming didn’t you… however, I think we also need to be aware that we are investing the same amount of time in inspiring, training and motivating our team in the area of communication.

Let me explain…

We understand very clearly that on the very first day that an enthusiastic new team member joins you, no matter how passionate he was, no matter how confident, you would understand that some training would be required. You would not throw a pair of scissors in his hands and say, “Well, you want to be a Hairdresser, there is a client, go see how you go!” Or, “So, you want to be a mechanic, there is a car, here is a screw driver see how you go”… Or you got the job in sales, ‘There is a customer go start selling this product you know nothing about”

Obviously not, right? And yet how often do we do that with service and client interaction… oh look there is a client at the front desk, go see how you go. I know you may be thinking well, it is just common sense isn’t it? Surely they can confidently walk up and welcome a client or customer into your business, well not always, and what if the client has a price enquiry or has a complaint, or a product enquiry… does your new team member have the skills to ‘win’ the client in that interaction? Has that been practised, does she know the words to say, how to say it to the standard that you expect? Because that IS your first impression and it is in moments like this that customers will be won and lost and just like we wouldn’t let them do a haircut until they had the training and we knew they could do it they shouldn’t be interacting with customers until we know they can do it to the standard expected.

And this goes for more highly skilled senior people as well that may apply for a job with us, so often we will do a trade test, check their skills… and then what about their consultation, sales and communication skills, did you check those out? Once again, so important, because we know that every job, every business is about the people! It is about having a vision around each and every client, a vision about all of the opportunities available the customer to look or feel better than when she walked in and then the creative communications skills backed up by a healthy dose of passion and enthusiasm, to inspire the client to buy that vision. I wonder how many employees have that concept of what they do, the bigger picture? And in our business it is our job as leaders to constantly inspire them around that vision and then make sure they have all of the skills required to fulfil that vision.

Communications skills need to be focussed on now more than ever. We are in the world have high tech and we are craving more high touch, perfect for those in high touch industries like Hairdressers and Beauty Therapists, however the young people are coming from a world now that is all about communicating with technology not touch… well touch typing and swiping on a phone or a tablet perhaps! It is about Facebook and not face to face, they all have phones but nobody actually talks on them, they just type on them! And so when they come into our work place we need to spend that extra time ensuring that they have the phone skills as well as the face to face skills! I mean they can’t text the clients that come to the desk from the back room, and tell them they will meet them in chair 5 in a moment. Ok, exaggerating, but you know what I mean, they need the confidence and the ‘skills’ to be able to walk up, look the client in the eye, welcome them and then win them, whatever the inquiry. And YOU need to know for sure they can do it!

So, how do we learn a manual skill, usually something like this… first by watching, and then by being shown step by step and then by doing and practising on models, and then when we are ready we are then able to go on the ‘floor’ and perform our skills on paying clients, and as your confidence grows you get more creative and do more advanced courses!

Well, that is exactly how we learn our communication techniques! You cannot learn a haircut just by watching it and you cannot learn how to effectively consult, educate and recommend just by watching somebody else do it, you have to actually practise and yes, I am sorry to say that is called role play. Now I am not sorry because it is bad, I am sorry because I know most people don’t like it and you will hear all sorts of excuses as to why they can’t do it… Oh, I don’t really say it like that, or… this is embarrassing, or… Oh, I will do it properly when I have a client… NO, NO NO! I need to hear you do it.

So we go through the process where you may actually give your team member a script…like on the phone. This is how I want you to answer the phone, these are the words we say and this is how we say it. Now practice it and then I may need to give feedback, perhaps ask them to talk with a little more tone in their voice, or a little more passion, or perhaps ask them to speak louder so as to come across more confidently. We then practice dealing with all the different requests you may get on the phone and then once I am confident that they can handle those or handle it when they can’t handle it, then I let them take the step of actually answering the phone!

It is the same with consultation, service and sales conversations. What open ended questions are used to start the communication? So initially we may require a script that we follow and add our personality to, and then once they are confident and comfortable they start to get ‘creative’ in their communication!

The moment a new team member joins our team they need to know for sure that we are as passionate and as focussed on communication skills as we are on the manual skills, because without a doubt they go hand in handwork together to win customers and have a successful business.

A great analogy to use with your staff is a Stage SHOW!

In a stage show a producer puts up money for the show (the owner), they employ a director (the manager), and the actors (the staff) are on the front line directly affecting the audience (the clients). First they auditioned for a part (the job interview), they were accepted to play the part (be a member of your team), they then learnt the lines (how to answer the phone, consult, service etc), they then had to practice the lines (role play) and get feedback (more enthusiasm, say it louder, add more tone and pitch etc) from the director (that’s you the leader), and then we the director was happy they were allowed to go out on stage and impact the audience!

No matter how long the show runs for and no matter how many times they have said the same lines over and over, and no matter what mood the actors are in today, they still have to sing and perform like its opening night! The audience (the customers) still pays the same ticket price (product & services price) as the first performance, so the expectations are that the actors will always reinvent themselves to give a passionate and enthusiastic opening night performance.

And so it is with you, you CHOSE to be in our show (your business), and so when the curtain goes up in the morning (the doors open), you are on stage and it is your show! And in the end no matter how good the set looks (the salon), no matter how good the costumes are (your outfit), or how good the props are (your product), what will win the audience (the client) is the performance by the actors (the team!)

So go and give your best performance every time the curtain goes up…

And keep sharing your unique Sparkle!

Julie Cross, Empowering … Energising … Entertaining…

Keynote Speaker/Trainer/Workshop Leader

Inspiration, Motivation, Service and Sales

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