A native of Toronto, Nino DeAngelis has worked in Canada, Europe and the U.S. for renowned salons including Toni & Guy, Vidal Sassoon, Christophe of Beverly Hills and Mario Russo. He has been a master stylist for more than 20 years and a successful salon owner for over a decade. His talent, business philosophies and two product lines (Runway New York & Runway Milan) have been featured in publications including Elle, Salon Today, Vogue and broadcast on TLC’s A Makeover Story. He shares his time between his award-winning East Coast salon (Runway Salon, Newburyport, MA, 978-463-0006) and his West Coast clientele (Los Angeles, CA 310-909-9770). Visit RunwaySalon.com for more information, or visit the Facebook pages for each salon: West Coast Clients and East Coast Clients.
Building the right team is essential to a successful salon. Any experienced salon owner knows that filling a position with the wrong candidate is far worse for a business than being short-staffed for a period of time until the right candidate comes along – so here is some helpful insight as to how YOU can be the successful candidate who lands the job and excels in your career as an assistant, stylist or salon coordinator.
YOUR RESUME SHOULD BE FLAWLESS
Right from the get-go, think of your resume as a paper version of yourself. A salon owner can receive dozens of resumes a week for any one particular job posting. A resume that does not look professional (grammar, punctuation or spelling errors) is not going to compare to the resumes that have been well-prepared. If your resume is sloppy, an owner or hiring manager will wonder if your professional appearance and/or work are just as careless.
If you do not have a lot of job experience to list, spend more time including an ambitious objective on your resume. Always keep your resume to one page and remember to have a list of references available to bring to your interview. References (names and phone numbers) from former employers are best, and if you don’t have a lot of previous industry experience, recommendations (written letters) from your cosmetology school instructors are the next best option. If you need help with a resume, ask someone you know who excels in writing/grammar or works as a hiring manager.
PREPARE YOUR OWN QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE INTERVIEW
The best business relationships are ones that are mutually beneficial for both the employer and the employee. Owners are not the only ones who should be proactive in deciding what factors are important to them before entering the interview process. Applicants should consider asking questions such as: What type of continuing education will the salon provide? What expertise/mentoring can the owner and/or manager provide me? Is there room for growth in the company? Make a list of a few well thought out questions to bring with you to your interview. Wait until the interviewer has finished asking you his/her questions and then ask yours. Be careful not to ask questions you could have found out by doing a little research on the company, or that have no relevance to you getting the job, like: What year were you established? Remember that this is not you just asking questions for the sake of asking questions; this is you expressing your sincere interest in a position by asking relevant and intelligent questions pertaining directly to the job you are applying for.
ASSISTANTS: WORKING YOUR WAY TO THE TOP
Assistants usually learn about their million and one responsibilities fairly quickly in this industry: the importance of portraying a professional appearance, being punctual, checking personal baggage at the door, paying attention to the ever-changing schedule, proactively prepping the color trays, sweeping floors, changing the Barbicide® and giving the most amazing shampoos. The one thing most assistants have in common is ‘the itch’ to get their own chair on the salon floor as a stylist – but have patience. This is an industry in which you work your way up; you don’t become the best in the business overnight and feeling ‘entitled’ will get you nowhere fast. Take your time to learn the ropes and build a solid career foundation. Listen to your mentors and others who are willing to teach you. If you take the best of what they’ve learned, and learn from your own mistakes along the way (because everybody will make them), you have enabled yourself to have the potential to leave your own legacy someday. Don’t rush it.
STYLISTS: AVOID THESE FOUR BIG CAREER MISTAKES
If you want to excel in your career as a stylist, here is some advice to help you avoid common career pitfalls:
PERFECTING THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE
Building a rapport with your clients keeps them coming back. Sounds simple, right? No matter how long you’ve been styling a particular client, his or her appointment should never be about you… and especially not about your problems! Listen to your clients and what they want. Focus on want your clients to leave saying to other people about their experience with you as a stylist (remember that every client’s friends and family are potential referrals). Do you want them loving their hair because you did a precision job, or do you want them leaving knowing all of your personal drama? When you’re the client, are you paying for a phenomenal haircut or your stylist’s latest gossip? So pay attention, stay on schedule for your clients and keep accurate and consistent records. Chances are, if they love their hair, you’ve earned the trust of a new client for life.
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH RETAIL SALES
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are not in the business of product sales. Selling products is absolutely part of your business. You need to think of products as tools – just like a blow-dryer or flat-iron. How can you expect your client to achieve the same look at home you created at the salon without giving them the same tools you used? You can’t! If they don’t get their products from you, they may end up choosing all the wrong products for themselves at the local store.
If you work in a salon with many product lines, break it down for yourself and take the time to learn one complete line (or even a single product) at a time. Educating yourself is key to understanding the products, the ingredients, how to use them and ultimately recommend them to your clients. And be careful not to get in the habit of selling your favorite products…always recommend what is best for your client’s hair. You can usually pick up great pointers by watching the top-selling stylists in your salon to see how and why their recommendations are effective. Learn from the best.
CONTINUING YOUR EDUCATION
This industry changes so fast. Stylists that were trained thirty-years ago were trained completely differently than stylists that are trained today. Organized in-salon classes where co-workers can share their individual expertise are highly beneficial. The seasoned stylists tend to know the tricks of the trade and the recent graduates often bring the newest techniques and the hippest trends to the table. Everyone can learn from each other and expand their talents. It’s a win/win. (BSD Note: Many schools also offer cosmetology continuing education.)
DON’T HAVE EXPECTATIONS ABOUT GRATUITY OR WHAT IT MEANS
Always remember that gratuity is a gesture, not an entitlement. Not receiving a tip is not always a reflection of poor service; sometimes it’s a reflection of a person’s financial hardship. Be respectful of clients, regardless of how they tip.
SALON COORDINATORS: MULTI-TASKING MASTERS
Salon coordinators project the in-person image and the over-the-phone voice that represent the identity of a business. Being accurate with booking, keeping the stylists on schedule by letting them know their clients have arrived, having impeccable manners and providing cheerful and professional customer service are all important to being a great receptionist. Thinking like a client and providing the type of service you would want to receive is the type of service you should strive to provide every day. You only get one chance to make a first impression. And if it’s a good one, clients will expect the same treatment upon their return visits so you have to bring your ‘A-game’ at all times.
Because salon coordinators are often more interested in the business aspect of the operation, this frequently makes them ideal candidates to move up to assistant manager and general manager positions. Increasing sales, generating new client leads through effective marketing campaigns, improving productivity and being able to effectively manage a variety of personalities are four of the most important responsibilities in a management role. Mastering your role of being able to handle all that is thrown at you as a salon coordinator means it may be a good time to talk to your owner about taking on more responsibility.
In conclusion, the absolute worst quality any employee can have is treating work like a job. “If you find what you love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Find what you are passionate about and continue to work hard every day towards a successful future. Even when you think you’ve reached the top, keep striving for new success because the possibilities are endless.