The staff you employ can make or break your aesthetic practice. Patients paying for elective procedures demand a positive experience with you and your staff every single time. If you let them down, they will go where they are treated better, and they’ll take their friends with them, too.
Frankly, your staff’s people skills are just as important as your procedural skills when it comes to growing your aesthetic practice.
If you have trouble retaining good staff members, what do you need to know and do to ensure your staff—both current and future—will be the pride and backbone of your practice?
STEP 1) HIRE STAFF
Patients will spend more time with your staff than with you, so it is imperative your employees be as committed to the success of your practice as you are. Getting a return on your investment of time and money will rest on your staff’s ability to bond with patients so they stay, return, and refer.
Your staff is the first voice the patient hears on the telephone and the first and last face they see at every visit.
Finding the perfect staff is an ongoing challenge. However, you can make sure that the odds are in your favor if you set clear and well-defined qualifications.
HIRE PERSONALITY, TRAIN COMPETENCY
The first rule of hiring support staff is to hire personality and train competency. You have probably hired people you thought would be perfect only to discover in a few short weeks that they are not living up to expectations set during the job interview. You may have other staff that you love because they’re very efficient with their work but have personality flaws that upset other employees—which can indirectly affect patients. It is much easier to train someone to do the job than it is to change their personality.
There are a few clues to determine whether the applicant will be a suitable employee for your practice. You need to feel your own personal sense of camaraderie with the applicant. You will be working with your staff for a good number of hours in your office. If you think that this is a person with whom you would be comfortable working, then you’ve got one check on your successful hiring checklist.
What about the rest of your staff? An efficient workplace takes off when everyone also gets along. When you do your interviews, make sure that at least one other member of your staff can sit in. Listen to their responses. New employees need to get along well with current employees. If a single staff member feels something is “off” with a prospective applicant, then you can expect some friction to occur in the future. You also need to balance the staff member’s opinion with your own take on the matter because, ultimately, it will still be your own decision that sets the course for your practice.
HIRE COMPETENCY, ENHANCE PERSONALITY
If you consider the qualifications that you’re looking for when filling staff positions, you always want people who are innately friendly, positive, and eager to learn. It helps that your staff is presentable, personable, caring, friendly, and compassionate. They should convey those traits to every patient at all times, on the phone or in person.
However, it is difficult to determine if a person can deliver such a high standard of excellence based on a single meeting. This is where recommendations and references speak volumes. Keeping in mind that efficient, enthusiastic, and well-trained staff members are your most valuable practice-building tools, you always need to be on the lookout for new employees from the following sources:
- Patients, vendors, and their friends and family
Personable and efficient staff always leave a lasting impression regardless of the industry you’re in. The opposite also rings true, however unfortunate. Therefore, listen to the opinions of the people who are most often in contact with staff members, and you will find the right person.
- Professional aestheticians in your community
When the demand is high, it’s also important that you establish partnerships with other professional aestheticians in your community. It’s better to have partners than rivals, right? Meet with the most professional aesthetician you know of in your community to see if she’s open to a partnership with you.
- Past employees of other practices or hospitals
Someone with experience in the aesthetic industry will have a foot in the door. This person will be attractive to you because she has inherent knowledge of the profession. She will not need retraining but will require reorientation to work in your practice.
People are always looking for greener pastures. It doesn’t necessarily mean a better paycheck. Sometimes, it’s just a search for a better work environment. However, be sure they know you have your own personal style and way of doing business, and they must adhere to that. You never want to hear that new hire say, “That’s not how we did it at the other office.”
- Salespeople at makeup counters
Believe it or not, they make great aesthetic support staff because they are already trained in the art of speaking and dealing with the public, and they have a fondness for sales. Also, their present job is related to the aesthetic industry by virtue of dealing with beauty products.
- A hostess or server who took good care of you when you were out to dinner or shopping
There are people who are naturally gifted at being gracious and hospitable in their job. It may be inherent in their personality, which could make them a good asset and credit to your practice.
- Online sources (craigslist.com, monster.com, etc)
Craigslist is the most popular place employees and employers turn to find one another. Place detailed and well-thought-out job descriptions in your online ads and ask for exactly what you want in terms of personality, skills, and abilities.
STEP 2) MOTIVATE THE STAFF
Now that you have your team in place, the challenge is to keep them happy and motivated so that they will always be on their best behavior. Turnover is expensive and can cost you in terms of patients, lost revenue, and disruption in your office flow.
Based on my many interviews with staff members in various practices, I’ve compiled a list of what employees are looking for in the workplace:
- Recognition and reward
It is every person’s desire to be acknowledged, especially in his or her chosen profession. Recognition doesn’t necessarily translate to awards and financial remuneration. It can even be as simple as a spoken “Good job!” or praise among colleagues to make your staff feel pride in their work and in their ability to do the job well.
- A stress-free environment
Admittedly, there is no such thing as a totally stress-free environment. Your staff will understand that there will be days when Murphy’s Law is in effect—anything that can go wrong will go wrong. What turns the tide is if the stress comes from unnecessary personality clashes, performance issues, or other internal affairs that break down the efficient system you’ve built.
- Opportunity for growth
Nobody wants to view their job as a dead end, and as much as possible staff members always want the opportunity to move up the ladder and grow as a person and contributing member of your team.
- Ongoing training on new topics
The aesthetic field is a fast-paced environment, especially with the speed of the development of technology to enhance procedures and treatments. Your staff’s qualifications and your practice’s standing in the community are increased when you implement new skills and processes.
- Organized work environment
Nothing beats an efficient, well-oiled system. If everyone recognizes their place in the system, you’ll enjoy smooth-running processes. It also helps that everyone is trained to know how to handle most of your practice’s systems and functions. At any time, any one employee should be able to take over when needed so there’s no disruption in the daily work.
- Clear understanding of expectations
One of the biggest complaints I hear from staff is that they did not fully understand what was expected of them. As a result, they would use their best judgment, only to be reprimanded for not doing it right. This leads to embarrassment, low self-esteem, and unhappiness with the job.
This is easily remedied. Write down all job duties in detail. Take the time to explain and train exactly what you expect of each staff member. Don’t just say, “Answer the phone.” Specify how to answer the phone and provide scripts for answering general questions, as well as how to properly describe procedures and how to close the appointment. Don’t leave anything to chance.
- Competitive salaries
Whether you want to admit it or not, people in the office talk, especially about salaries and wages. When you give your staff the salary that they deserve and it’s one that’s competitive enough within your practice and can stand scrutiny even when compared to the rest of the industry, there will be no reason for them to quit. The point is, don’t be cheap. Pay good wages to good, competent staff so they stay put.
- Incentives—financial and otherwise
People will easily work for you, even with a lower salary, if they feel that the incentives they get are worth it. It may be financial, or it may be perks of the job that only you can provide. Part of these incentives can include attractive working conditions or hours, complimentary services, a discount on retail products, continuing education, feeling appreciated and needed, and so on.
- Ownership in their work
This translates to taking pride in their work. Regularly acknowledge that your staff plays a major role in making the practice a success. It means patients that recognize your staff’s dedication to the profession. It comes from colleagues building an enviable working relationship to achieve common goals for the practice.
This is actually the backbone of any profession. When a group of like-minded people work hard to put their differences aside to create harmony and work efficiently in their chosen profession, success can be achieved. Do whatever you can to build a happy, friendly workplace where your team gets along.
STEP 3) ESTABLISH GOALS AND INCENTIVES FOR YOUR STAFF
It is human nature to work more efficiently, enthusiastically, and effectively when you understand the goal.
The way to achieve success in the workplace is to formulate aggressive, quantifiable, measurable goals; write them down; and then share them with your staff. Staff members can then wrap their minds around specific goals much more easily and keep themselves on the right track in terms of performance.
For example, rather than write, “We will be successful this year,” write, “We will perform 10 aesthetic procedures per week.” Be sure you get staff members to support these goals. You can post these goals in a place where you and your staff will always be reminded of them. You want them working with you, not against you, to grow your practice.
People respond better when they know that they’ll find a reward at the end of the day. You need to know your staff’s needs, wants, and requirements to feel part of the team. Meet with every staff person individually to find out what motivates them to bring their best to the table every day.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that incentives will cost you your business. The primary reason why employees leave jobs is not because of money but because they do not feel valued and appreciated.
Simple praise goes a very long way in developing an employee’s self-esteem and self-worth, and it won’t cost you a cent. It doesn’t even take too much time. You don’t need to write a thank you note (although that’s a good idea) to acknowledge staff when they’re doing an exceptional job. Heartfelt words can go a long way toward creating happy, loyal staff members and a great team. Consider the following list of incentives you could offer your staff members to help turn them into motivated, conscientious team members:
- Commissions—based on revenue-generating performance;
- Team cash bonuses—based on percentage of monthly revenues, referrals, or repeat customers;
- Complimentary services—when you reach a certain goal or milestone;
- Continuing education—to increase their skill set;
- Promotion—opportunity for growth;
- Flexible hours—especially if your staff wants to balance between kids, work, school, and other personal issues; and
- Personal acknowledgement—especially when you praise him or her in front of other staff members.
DON’T FORGET TO CELEBRATE
A team that wins together should celebrate together. Give your staff members several opportunities for bonding together. When team goals are reached, go out to dinner together or to a play, or even plan a weekend activity away from the office. These events are fun and will be remembered for a lifetime. Also, this kind of group activity will carry over to the office, ensuring a continued healthy workplace atmosphere.
Catherine Maley, MBA, is president and senior marketing strategist for Cosmetic Image Marketing, which specializes in patient attraction and staff training for aesthetic practices. She can be reached at (877) 339-8833 or .