The Journey

by | Farr Factor

Making a living in the tanning industry presents many challenges, and one of the more difficult is transitioning a great sales associate into a good salon manger. It’s not an easy task; you face the real possibility of ending up with a poor performing manager and losing a real asset at your front counter. Why?

Because the core attributes of a good manager are not necessarily in tune with those of a great salesperson. Excellent salespeople possess empathy skills and an approachability that is both inviting and trust-producing. The sales associate who can strike up an accord and a partnership with a stranger in a few minutes is worth their weight in… EFTs. And, although empathy is a critical component to the leadership skillset needed in a good manager, it has its limits to being effective in directing other employees.

A truly good manager/leader uses empathy to better understand their staff’s professional or personal issues, but knows where and when to draw the line. The old saw is that if you take the monkey off the backs of your staff, you’ll eventually have a “zoo” in your salon! Sales associates who are effective become nearly amateur “shrinks” for their customers. Sometimes, all a person wants when they come to a tanning salon – besides a good tan, improved self-esteem and relaxation – is someone to listen to their life’s challenges. That display of caring can work miracles for a salesperson to create rapport and a bond with customers. But, empathy has to be controlled with a manager’s usage of it. That’s a difficult transition for many would-be managers. They want to retain their sales attributes but need to know how to establish and maintain that arm’s-length relationship with their staff who seem to find new and creative reasons to not show up for shifts on time.

What’s the answer? Education. Attending seminars, workshops and trade event training sessions should be required duties of the aspiring manager. To start with, consider listening skills. The promoted sales associate needs to realize that listening is a powerful tool for understanding not only the staff’s issues, but also their passions. Passions are what really moves each employee. What do they want and like in life? If you don’t know that, you don’t know how to motivate a person. And you want to move them from sitting around and texting their friends while they’re on salon duty, to getting fired up to engage customers about their skin type, tanning needs and plans, tanning history, or their attraction to tanning bed bells and whistles.

Each team member is different in some dramatic and some subtle ways. A good manager learns that there is no such thing as one blueprint for managing people. At times, it seems that every staff member seems to be on their own reality show! So, with each column here in ist Magazine, I will cover the subject of leadership and how to help your high-performing sales associate to make the journey from sales pro to manager pro, AND raise your per tan averages – which raises your yearly net… and that’s a good journey for your business to take.

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