What Would You Do: No More Receptionist?!
A quality front desk staff plays a key role in helping salon life run smoothly. Booking appointments, answering the phone, managing schedules, dealing with difficult clients…they wear a lot of hats.
But high turnover for front desk staff is a real problem for salons, and it can be hard to find a front desk superstar who’s in it for the long haul. One salon owner recently sent out an SOS to the BTC Community.
“I’m a salon owner, and I’m wondering: should I just eliminate the front desk altogether? I’m currently looking for ANOTHER front desk receptionist…we’ve been through three in the last year, and they just do not seem to be catching on, even after months on the job. I feel like my stylists would be much better with their phones, apps etc. Have any salon owners done this? Stylists, what do you think? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! This time around I want to make sure we do the right thing.”
Getting Rid of Your Receptionist? Big Mistake.
“I’m not even going to sugar-coat it, not having a receptionist sucks. It’s a huge inconvenience to have to stop in the middle of a service go answer the phone or do any type of desk work. Not to mention, not every stylist in the salon always takes on the responsibility of helping with the phone and whatnot.” –Brooke Adams
“It’s really annoying not to have a receptionist. There needs to be a ‘barrier,’ otherwise clients think they can walk up to you and have a full conversation with you while you’re foiling another client’s hair and that’s rude. Not to mention having to answer the phone every two seconds when you are in the middle of a service with a client is frustrating and makes you look unprofessional.” – Tessa Bocca
“Large/busy salons should have receptionists. Clients pay for individualized attention! Small salons don’t necessarily need receptionists. When working alone in our small salon, I’ll let the callers go to voicemail and return their calls in-between clients. If a client is sitting in your chair, it’s their time.” –Denise Lewis Burns
“Before eliminating your receptionist, see if there’s anything you’re doing that could be making it hard for someone to catch on. If you’re sure it doesn’t have anything to do with you, you’re paying FAIR wages and you have trained them properly, talk to your stylists and see how they’d feel about having to book clients themselves.
How comfortable are they with giving their personal phone numbers out and having calls/texts during non-business hours? It could be more stressful for your stylists and their work quality could suffer if they have to juggle scheduling and answering phones while also dealing with clients in their chair. Will any of your policies be affected? For an example, do you have a ‘no phones on the floor’ policy? How would you navigate walk-ins? Do your stylists each have their own prices? How will you communicate this to a walk-in? Will suddenly eliminating a receptionist confuse your clients or hurt your salon’s reputation because clients who were used to having 100 percent of the stylists’ attention now have to deal with interruptions and not getting the quality service they’re accustomed to? How busy does the salon get? There are many things to consider before cutting out a receptionist completely.” –Katherine Sillaman
“I owned a salon for 15 years and at first did not have a receptionist…best thing I ever did was hire one! I also paid her commission on retail if a stylist did not recommend products and she did it herself! Our retail sales went through the roof! She also pre-booked clients and kept people from walking in and going straight to their stylist to “visit.” –Gayle Running
“I have worked at a high-traffic salon (with TONS of walk ins) with no receptionist. I will NEVER work like that again. Clients pay for our time and care, not for us to have to leave to attend to the front desk. I lost a few clients for that reason.” –Diane Glumac
Small or Booth Rental Salon? You’ve Got Options
“I haven’t had a receptionist at my salon for 15 years. I think it takes away from the personal connection with my guests and none of my independent contractors have ever said anything. I hate handing my guests off to someone and walking away. We still run old-school appointment books, and everything is good!” –Jewel L Phillips Kirk
“My salon is all independents, and we don’t have a receptionist. We have a system that works great. We actually prefer not having one.” –Jolee Owen
“I work in a small, four-chair salon. We don’t have a receptionist, and I don’t feel like we’re missing anything. We use Rosy Salon Software, and it works well for us. Whoever is free at the moment answers the phone. Our guests understand, and appreciate, that we don’t drop everything to answer the phone (hello, voicemail), and they also know that they have the option to book appointments online. We each check out our own guests but support each other if someone is running behind. We function like a team.” –Mike Muniz
“Back in the late ‘80s, I opened a six-chair salon and installed individual phone lines at each station. Our stylists were renting space, and it was their responsibility to answer their phone, book their appointments and manage their money. It worked extremely well for all of us. I’ve never understood how anyone could be comfortable with a receptionist having control over their daily schedule and financial potential. I’ve done this work for 40 years and would never change it.” –Jennifer Benner Scovell
“I work in a salon with no receptionist. I’ve never known anything but booking my own clients. With the way technology is these days, people like to text and email, so that allows me to get to them when I can. I use an app that allows me to have my ‘book’ with me at all times, and my clients can book online if they wish. I can double-book where I’m comfortable and choose to give myself extra time based on my client. I can’t imagine having a receptionist handling my life—I just have to be in control I guess.” –Stephanie Boyd
OK so…maybe you’re not quite ready to get rid of your receptionist altogether. Here are some tips for making sure they stick around.
Pay Them What They’re Worth
“I’ve been a receptionist in a salon. I can tell you that a salon owner who actually pays well will attract an employee who is dedicated and willing to learn. A few more dollars above what the competition pays its front desk makes the employee feel valued.” –Shane Sandoval
“We often don’t pay enough to get someone who is serious about the job! It’s an important position and can make a huge difference in customer experience.” –Madelaine Clark
“A good receptionist is worth their weight in gold. They know how to book, how to up-sell, how to retail and most importantly how to run and organize a busy salon. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression and that often comes from a professional receptionist.” –Natalia Starr
It’s All About the Training
“As a full-time receptionist who has seen plenty of others come and go, I believe it’s all in the training. It must be thorough, and everyone should be trained the same way. Having a specific way to do things will help not only your receptionists, but your business. Train them properly and they will do the job properly.” –Bethany Guthrie
Consider Hiring Cosmetology Students
“People in beauty school are excited about the industry and willing to work until they can get a chair. They’re so much easier to train as well.” – Tina Todorovski
“I started as a receptionist/shampoo boy at a high-end salon while I was in school…eight years later I still refer back to things I learned there while working on my clients today in my own salon! It’s a win-win situation to hire a cosmetology student!” – Cj Burke