To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March 2020 I spoke to a business women who has achieved great success with her salons and earned the respect of her peers throughout the UK beauty industry.
Sara Shoemark is the owner of Glow Beauty with 3 successful salons in Wrexham, Chester and Mold. With a glittering collection of beauty awards (29 at the last count), she’s highly regarded and admired within our industry, and a regular judge at the national Professional Beauty Awards.
Sara is also a client of ours. Working with her on a daily basis I can’t help but be super impressed by her passion for delivering world class standards.
So, I persuaded her to share how she ensures her team deliver such consistent service excellence. And I think you may be surprised by how she uses her most experienced therapists – I certainly was…
What does first-class service and quality mean to you?
Exceeding client expectations, making them feel welcome and important, and showing we care is what Glow service is all about.
We call our culture and approach the ‘Glow Show’, and for me there are two parts: personalisation and back to basics.
1. Personalisation for beauty clients
Every client is different, and we constantly ask:
- How can we create a personalised experience so it’s super special for this client?
- What can we do to make their visit truly memorable?
To do this my Glow Girls understand that they must adapt to their client, rather than expect the client to adapt to us.
Listening and observing is central to personalisation so we can understand each client’s wants and preferences. It’s often the smallest gestures that really count. Say a manicure client arrives shivering on a wintery morning, listening, while observing their body language, means we can immediately offer a cosy hot water bottle for their knee.
Another thing we do is to record relevant client details centrally (GDPR compliant of course) and use it to give the absolute best service and care on every visit. This can be as simple as noting Mrs D. always comes in her lunch hour and is always pushed for time, or that Mrs G lives on her own and appreciates a bit of a natter.
2. Back to basics for the salon team
We all know that first impressions really count and when you’re frantic in salon it’s easy to overlook basic manners. I’m talking about the essentials which I drum into all new Glow staff:
- please & thank you
- dress standards
- using the client’s preferred name style
- body language
- cleanliness & hygiene
- and of course, the highest levels of expertise and professionalism. I’m passionate about continual training.
Clients now have so much choice today and we need to ensure they choose Glow.
Working with Glow I’ve experienced your client service and standards which are utterly impressive. Day-to-day how do you achieve this?
Our secret is simple. It’s our Glow front-of-house.
I believe our front-of-house team is the key to delivering outstanding, personalised client service and quality standards day in, day out.
Each beauty salon has two ‘Managers’, but they’re not management in the way many people think about it. They are our most experienced therapists, yet they spend most of their time on the front desk rather than behind a treatment room door. We don’t have separate receptionists as such.
I wish I could think of a better word than ‘Managers’ for them as they are certainly much more than admin managers – perhaps ‘Ambassador’ goes some way to describing them – as they support, mentor and give hands on help to the therapists as well as delivering outstanding care to our clients.
Taking your best therapists away from doing treatments sounds a brave business move. Tell me what persuaded you to take this unusual step.
Absolutely it’s brave! And I confess it’s a bit scary to start with, but I’ve always done it.
Front-of-house is probably my favourite place to be as I can see and influence everything and everyone. I suppose it started at my first salon in Wrexham when I stepped back from being a therapist and took over the front-of-house role to support my team.
As my therapists grew more experienced, the best ones stepped into this front-of-house Manager role too. It was ‘rinse and repeat’ when we opened the Chester and Mold beauty salons.
I’m fascinated how you financially justify having your potentially best earners in this front-of-house role Sara.
Your most empathetic, experienced and skilled therapist can earn say £65/75 doing a treatment behind closed doors for one client.
But put her out front and she can bring in 3, 4 or 5 times this amount in the same time. Instead of focusing on just one client, Glow’s Managers constantly advise multiple clients and support their team.
Done well, it’s an exhausting role. And those I trust to be Managers must really care about Glow, our clients and our hardworking therapists. They must also be totally committed to the business, understand our values and communicate these consistently, while acting as both a role model to therapists and a Glow ambassador to clients.
Talk me through what your Managers do on a typical day.
It’s very full on! Here are just a few things that might crop up:
1. Personalising the Glow experience for each and every client
Each Manager starts our ‘Glow Show’ by meeting and greeting clients with a warm, personalised welcome. As experienced therapists themselves, they understand the beauty treatments and the clients inside out.
For example, they might take time with a client to chat about their skin and beauty concerns and agree a Treatment Plan explaining they will be overseeing, rather than doing, the treatments. This is true personalisation and something a more junior therapist is unlikely to have the time or perhaps the confidence to do.
2. Nipping problems in the bud ensures clients leave delighted
No matter how strong your training and systems are, problems will arise. I work with our Managers to ensure they feel confident and empowered to deal promptly, calmly and professionally with difficulties as soon as they arise.
My team understand that client problems, or even a hint of a problem, must never be ignored. They must nip it in the bud before it escalates.
Let me give you an example: Clients will occasionally be late and this does, understandably, stress therapists working to a tight schedule. I train our Managers to manage any delays professionally, calming both the client and the therapist.
So sometimes the Manager needs to step in and do the treatment herself if the next client has arrived, or work alongside the therapist to get the treatment done in the reduced time.
Never have sharp words
One thing I drill into my team is never blame or rebuke a client who is late – clients have long memories! At Glow the client is always right (even when they are wrong). It’s part of our service excellence approach.
3. Helping our therapists deliver outstanding client service every time
Our Manager’s role is to help a therapist rather than merely tell them what to do. And I train our therapists not to be afraid to ask for help if they need it.
We educate therapists to confidently read a client so if they sense a client is not 100% fabulous with the treatment, perhaps has gone quiet, they know they must address this immediately and reach out to the Manager. They love the fact that the Manager is at the front desk, and can step in to help and support them if asked.
I insist we deal with the slightest niggle there and then – it’s too late once a client has left. It’s far better to nip it in the bud while they are in the treatment room than let it fester and turn into a public complaint.
Our Managers are empowered to do whatever it takes to ensure a delighted Glow client, even when it’s the client’s fault.
Your Managers always impress me when I speak to them. But how do your most experienced Glow Girls feel about moving from client work to this role?
They see it as the ultimate honour.
It’s a highly coveted job as only our best therapists get offered a Manager role. You need to be knowledgeable, respected, caring, loyal, calm, positive, enthusiastic, articulate, and be prepared to work very hard with an exacting eye for detail and a passion for exceptional client care.
Our clients deserve and get the very best we can deliver
Our prices are high compared to our competition as delivering excellence doesn’t come cheap. This means our entire focus is the client and giving them an amazing, super-special experience, whatever happens (and stuff happens!).
We’re in market towns and if a client has a so-so experience then she’ll be likely recounting it at the school gate later that afternoon to 30 local mums.