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Does your spa, salon or clinic have a dedicated someone working in AND on the business, ensuring smooth operations, growth, and a happy team? In this industry, it isn’t uncommon for the director to be working in the business taking physical appointments most days, but if taking on too many, this doesn’t leave them much time to work on the business. This leaves the reception staff to take care of all business admin, bookings, sometimes social media, and practitioners to carry out appointments, with nobody in between. And when this happens, if you don’t have a dedicated practice manager, you could be not just missing out on prime opportunities for growth, but your business operations may begin to suffer over time. A practice manager can not only lighten the load for the director and the reception staff by carrying out admin, stock orders, rosters etc. but should be focussed on opportunities for the business to grow – from marketing strategies to improving operations and customer relations that will lead to better retention.

At this point, you may be thinking “if my team have any problems going on, or ideas for the business, they would tell me”. But this isn’t always the case. It can be daunting for staff to approach their director, particularly if that director A) is swamped with appointments all the time, or B) it hasn’t made it clear to the team that complaints or ideas are always welcome. They may feel their issues or ideas are ‘too small’ to take up the director’s precious time or unworthy of what can feel like a very formal complaint. Another benefit of having a dedicated practice manager working with your team (other than allowing the business owner to focus on practicing or allowing them to step away from the business) is that your staff will know that that person is there for exactly that reason: working alongside the team to hear their feedback, make changes, and improve operations – always.

So what are some signs that your business could benefit from having a practice manager?

  1. You (as the owner/director) don’t have time to work on your business. If there are certain goals you want for your business, changes you want to implement, or initiatives you want to add, like redesigning your menu or updating your salon software, but you have put them in the ‘some day soon’ basket because they’re not really urgent – a practice manager could be the perfect solution. Be honest with yourself: if you don’t make time for these things now, when will you ever? Get them off your list and get them done by outsourcing. You could even consider introducing a temp role for a practice manager on a short term/project basis just to help get your changes up and running before returning to normal.
  2. You don’t feel like you really know what’s going on in your business. If you as the director don’t spend much time in the business, in the treatment rooms, speaking with your team, understanding what’s happening on the ground – how can you really know if everything is running smoothly? Does anyone have any concerns? Are standards still being met? Is thorough cleaning being carried out? Does everyone still maintain your vision for the business and are passing this onto clients with every step? Is there any team drama, attitude or power struggles developing because there is no clear leader? This can also lead to our next point…
  3. Your team lacks motivation. This can happen the director isn’t around very much, and there is nobody working amongst the team to keep them striving towards something. Without having someone to envoke a sense of belonging, to set both team and individual goals, to ask what their needs are and ensure they are being met, and to remind staff of the bigger picture that they are a part of – you can end up with therapists that just tick the boxes; who come in at the start of their shift, do the bare minimum, and leave again. A practice manager is on the ground working with your practitioners, encouraging them to share their obstacles, reminding them “this is what we’re working towards”, and constantly asking “what can we do to improve?” It’s basic human nature to want to be part of a tribe, so ensure your business has a leader that can make your team feel that sense of belonging to get the best out of them. Stay tuned for our May digital magazine for more on how team motivation could be killing your business!
  4. Your business is stagnant, not growing. If the director is busy with appointments or away from the business, the practitioners are also busy with their appointments, and the reception staff is busy managing the appointments, orders and admin – that is fantastic. Having a busy flourishing business is of course the ultimate goal, and we applaud you for that. But just because you are getting by on your current capacity doesn’t mean you couldn’t grow and reach an even greater potential if you so desired. This goes back to the ‘bare minimum’ we mentioned earlier. Could your business be doing even better? Could you expand?
  5. You’re passing on opportunities because you don’t have the resources to facilitate them. Here’s a great example – across the Beaute community, we’re seeing a huge wave of interest in dermal science studies right now from beauty therapists wanting to improve their education and specialise in skin. But with dermal clinician studies comes placement, and although we know countless clinics that could benefit hugely from taking on a dermal student (who has almost completed their 3 year degree) they won’t take them on because it simply ‘isn’t something they do’. Most of the time this comes down to not having someone in the business who can oversee, manage and delegate these types of things, but imagine what you might gain if you did? A fresh, enthusiastic mind for up to 30 hours of free work in your clinic, able to educate and inspire others less qualified among your team, and potentially a trial run for your next employee.
  6. Your staff aren’t developing their skills. Most of the great successes throughout our industry believe passionately in always learning and taking every opportunity to educate themselves. If this is a worldview that you as the business owner share but simply don’t have time to pass this ethos down to your team, this is another thing a practice manager can help with. They can be in charge of sourcing training for your team, registering for external training sessions, finding the most relevant conferences to attend and organising tickets, and communicating with your team on what type of knowledge they are lacking and how to improve this.
  7. You have a manager, but they are also one of your therapists. How can they have time to really focus on, and make improvements to, the business if they spend most of their days in the treatment rooms? We do agree that it helps when the practice manager is an experienced therapist, as they have a deeper understanding of the needs of your team. However, filling up their days with appointments is going to take their heads out of building your business and into caring for clients, which are two totally different spaces. It can be difficult to flit constantly between the two, and slow down the creative process and business-building initiatives.

If you still feel that a practice manager is not a worthy investment, just remember, they earn their wage by growing your business. They aren’t just there to ensure everything runs smoothly as it is – they are your ideas person. They should be making small improvements to ensure you are the best you can be, your go-to person for bringing fresh ideas to the table, bringing in experts in the areas you need help with, and really growing the business from the ground up. As we mentioned earlier, your business could be operating successfully as it is. But there is always room for improvement. The question is, do you want to improve and grow, and take what you have to the next level? Perhaps a practice manager can help you get there.