The Care & Compensation of the Salon Professional

by | Farr Factor

There are as many “plans” for compensating staff as there are hairs on the heads of most tanners; so much depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Here’s what doesn’t work: Not paying commission on entry-level memberships sold with the belief that salon consultants “owe” you that effort within the base wages you already pay them. “I’m not paying them something for just doing their job!” That’s where the fundamental disconnect occurs.

Especially at minimum wage, paying someone for doing their job means expecting them to show up on time, properly groomed, parking their own private issues behind them at the door and accepting that cleaning up someone else’s “DNA” all day is a must. Want someone dedicated to selling membership packages that are a huge bennie to you? Then they have to have some skin in the game, and not just at the higher game or higher EFT levels.

Remember, the entry-level membership is one of the most important EFT memberships to sell. “What? Level-one tanning is the most important? John you are getting old.” The entry-level EFT is usually the toughest to sell (or a first-time membership to a new or previous salon guest), because you have to convince your client that they are safe to surrender the all-important and most personal banking or credit card info to you. Selling level-one members up to higher levels is somewhat easy compared with getting a person to trust someone else with an automatic funds draw. But the math is important to look at, too.

If you have a salon PCA (unique annual per customer average) of say, $80, and your level-one EFT membership is $19.95, you need only keep that tanner on board with their membership for five months and you’ve earned more than what your average unique client spends for the year. Any monies that you get committed above your annual average PCA will end up being monies ahead. Yes, some folks opt out after only a few months but many stay on for a full year or at least 8.5 months (industry average).

Want to ramp up your memberships dollars? Get your team to sell the heck out of “membership” as an accepted concept, whether it be level-one or a package for the occasional guest who knows tanning well and wants to use specific equipment (Don’t we wish we had a whole lot more of those?) I would take 100 level-one tanners with memberships any day over ten who tan at the top level; they are a somewhat captured audience to whom I can upsell to a higher level tanning experience. And, as those level-one members are upsold, they tend to become more loyal to the salon because of the uniqueness of your higher level equipment versus the competition’s. Once those hordes of converted level-one members are converted, your competitor’s cheaper entry-level price becomes less attractive.

Last to discuss is the issue of base wages: paying minimum wage … really? Let’s say you’re a responsible, reliable, naturally warm personality with salesmanship and mature judgment. Would YOU work for $7.25 an hour? It’s very rare that someone with those attributes would, and even rarer, that they would stay for any appreciable time. Yes, incentives can bring up that average hourly pay; but it’s tough grabbing the attention of a real sales rock star in the recruiting process if your opening gambit is, “We start you at minimum wage.”

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