Employee training = investment strategy

I support Dori Soukop's comments in her blog entry, Business Training and Success, and would like to comment further.  She is right; spas and salons have for years relied on vendors to provide sales training, with the idea that we were "saving money" somehow by doing that.  And you may get lucky, you may have a vendor who has a great trainer that really gets your team excited  But how long does that last?  And what happens when the trainer is not so great? Yours is the brand that is at risk.

Another issue is that vendor-supplied training tends to be about vendor-supplied products, as you might expect.  Product knowledge is a crucial part of making sales of retail skin and body care.  But it is not the only thing; what about communications skills, customer service awareness, and even rapport-building skills?  You can't rely on your vendors for this; it has to come from you and your culture.

Now that we have trimmed our fat and we're lean and mean, we're ready to focus on top-line growth again.  The Wall St. Journal recently reported that many national retail chains, including J.C. Penney and Macy's, were shifting into growth mode and bringing back training that is focusing on growing sales.  Store managers and executives are being given bonus opportunities based on sales growth, not just cost control.  Said Penney's EVP of HR, Mike Theilmann, "We really want to drive the top line, and we think the best way to do that is by increasing customer service."  Now there's an idea!

In the spa business, we know that happy customers spend more and return more frequently, no surprise there.  Now, it's time to invest in a strategy that supports that goal.  Don't forget about the improvements in expense control that you've made in the last year, but let's start working on the top line again.  Develop your own in-house programs, tailored to your target audience, and augment that with resource partners who can provide more than just basic PK.  Then we can begin to capitalize on the hard work of the last 18 months.

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