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Consistency, preparation and planning are key when it comes to introducing the right people into your business.

One thing we know for sure is the lack of time a service-based business physically has in their appointment schedule, yet on the other hand, an absolute need for consistency when it comes to providing exceptional treatments for your clients. While the old ‘sink or swim’ tactic used to work when it comes to introducing new employees into your business, these days that method doesn’t quite cut it.

Once you’ve completed the most difficult part and landed your ideal new candidates (congrats to you, the industry is experiencing a real shortage of great therapists right now!) it’s time to incorporate them into your team. The bridge between school and workplace, level of skill set, value alignment and cultural expectations are just some of the aspects of the onboarding process a business owner should consider. That being said, this process can come with its own challenges, including time, training, and financial investment, so we thought we would put together a few strategies that may help you save on one or more of these.

Create An Online Folder

Utilising a central technology platform such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Trello for your business which house all of your relevant documents and files will come in handy for storing and easily distributing information, particularly if you recruit regularly or hire multiple recruits at one time. Think of the convenience of having one neat online folder and one simple link every time you onboard someone, instead of multiple links, documents and emails flying through your inbox. Here, you can store and sort soft copies of your product ingredient information, copies of training certificates, employee detail forms and other such documents that you wish to share with your team and send them all within a matter of minutes.

Dedicate a Digital Onboarding Guide

One of the first documents in your new online folder should be an onboarding guide, and we don’t mean employment contracts or personal details. We recommend creating a guide for new practitioners describing your business in intricate detail including your business values, culture and goals, as well as your branding, tone of voice and personality so new employees can really understand your business and how they fit into it. Here, an employee code of conduct should be clearly outlined to set any expectations you have and too to benchmark behaviour from day one. Your onboarding guide should also outline metrics like your operating hours, uniform and presentation standards as well as pay and superannuation details. If you’re unsure how to get started on building your onboarding guide, we’ve created a 27-page template that’s sure to get you off to a flying start.

Introduce an Induction

On their first day, be sure to have a think about the key things you wish to teach new staff right off the bat – this would be considered the ‘induction shift’, which is generally a three-hour shift to introduce an employee into your business. The induction shift can be a mix of conversation between outlining and reiterating information found in the Onboarding Guide, as well as a business tour, car parks and lockers, team introduction, uniform distribution, daily operations, appointment schedule run through and perhaps (if time permits) a buddy treatment with your senior therapist. If you have a Manager or Receptionist in your business, this is the perfect opportunity to give them some further responsibility by delegating some or all of the induction tasks to them to facilitate.

Training, Training & more Training

Though your new employee is sure to have some school and industry training under their belt, you’re most likely going to want to get them up to speed as to how your business uniquely services its clients. Start by creating a training matrix of specific training they will need to complete over a six or twelve-month period such as customer service, software, practical, retail and interpersonal training and set dates as to when and how you are going to schedule this training into their appointment schedules. To save time down the track, consider filming some of your treatments or client scenarios and creating training videos for new recruits to watch once on board. This will really help you in that awkward new phase where it can be difficult to find time and availability for in-person training. These can also be stored, you guessed it – in your shiny new digital onboarding folder! Utilise digital training as much as possible, so as to avoid flexibility/availability-related issues. If you’re lucky enough to stock brands with killer online training solutions, provide any details in your online folder as well. Jot down the login details to any online portals and platforms, and create a list of any documents that new recruits need to download from there.

Perfect your Procedures Manual

To ensure complete consistency between one therapist and another, your business should be run by a procedures manual aka; what if (insert problem) happened? This will take the pressure off therapists continually asking questions and feeling embarrassed about doing so, while also freeing the constant onslaught of phone calls to business owners which could be easily avoided. Your procedures manual should be housed both in hard copy in your staff room for easy access as well as separately in your digital folder too. Here, you should include signature greetings, scripts on how to answer the phone, your snack or refreshment offerings as well as treatment sequences and product usage amounts. If you value consistency within your spa, salon or clinic, this is an absolute must.

Do Doubles Treatments

Another tip we recommend when training new therapists is, for those who have a couples room, to throw them in the not-so-deep end with a senior therapist. This works exceptionally well for therapists whose skills you are confident in or wish to facilitate an educational role in the future. It assists new employees by allowing them to perform treatments whilst showing them the ropes when it comes to your signature rituals/starts and finishes, where products are stored, quantities to use, etc. These aspects can be picked up easily by good therapists simply by watching, and in a couples scenario, it’s quite normal for one therapist to take the lead on greeting, showing through to the room, and explaining the treatment anyway, with consultations being conducted individually. Not only will this allow you to get your new therapists started on treating right away, but will save a lot of time and cost on training.

Ensure They Feel Welcome

Even if you yourself go to great lengths to make your new staff members feel welcome, do your best to ensure the rest of your team does too. Particularly if you have a large team or lots of casuals that rotate around depending on different days, it can often feel very lonely and overwhelming for a new team member. Try and schedule a little team meet and greet at the start of the day, or if you really can’t, make an announcement in your respective team group chat. One option is to send a message to your existing team privately saying “we are welcoming a new team member *insert name here* tomorrow, please make them feel welcome”. Another is to add your new recruit to the group chat with an announcement saying “please welcome our newest team member *insert name here* who will be joining us on *these* days and give your existing team the chance to say hello virtually.

Whether you are recruiting once in a blue moon or recruiting en mass, consistency, preparation and planning are key when it comes to introducing new people into your business. Start by setting yourself up for success by spending a little time creating your online folder, building your onboarding guide or organising your treatment protocols into your procedures manual, both yourself, your existing team and your new employees will thank you for it!