What to look for in great employees

By Beth Caron

Always be recruiting. That’s the number one rule for anyone who wants to hire the best employees. For Great Clips franchisees, recruiting and retaining great stylists is one of the most important and challenging parts of the job.

“We’re recruiting all the time, let’s just put it that way,” says Great Clips franchisee Cheryl Stensrud, owner of six salons in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “We’re recruiting regardless of whether we need staff or not.”

Excellent employees are usually people who want to keep learning new skills. Cheryl capitalizes on that by using herself as an example of how a stylist can advance at Great Clips.

“I have been with Great Clips my entire career, right out of beauty school. I started as a stylist—I was hired by the founder of the company,” Cheryl tells potential hires. “You can be by the chair or you can become a manager or a franchisee. That’s one of the best selling points in terms of recruitment.”

MORE: Great relationships with cosmetology schools lead to great stylists

Sometimes it’s easy to spot a good prospect even before you know how well they cut hair. Shana Kolodziej, recruiting resource specialist at Great Clips, Inc., is a former stylist. Shana looks for these traits that indicate a recruit may have what it takes to be an exceptional employee:

  • Appearance: First impressions are always important, especially for a customer. We want them to feel comfortable when a stylist calls their name.
  • Ability to communicate: Can they carry on a casual conversation? Do they have good facial expressions and can they show excitement?
  • Determination and ambition: Do they have goals in life? Do they strive to be better and better at the job? It could be as simple as wanting to become an assistant manager. That shows the drive to be a better person.
  • Flexibility: Do they have realistic expectations of the demands of the job?
  • Technical skills: This is obvious, but can they cut hair? If they have the basic concepts, there is a good foundation for a manager to be able to teach and grow the person as a stylist and great employee.”

MORE: The traits of a successful stylist

Perhaps most important, Shana says, is whether stylists feel they are doing valuable work: “When stylists feel their skills are valuable, they will perform better, become brand loyal and have the drive to help others around them. Stylists feed off the energy and excitement in the industry.”

Management consultant Jim Schuchart, writing for HubSpot’s marketing blog, adds two more character traits to the picture of a good hire.

  • Coach-ability: “If a person is open to coaching and has a burning desire to get better, you can work with them and shore up their weaknesses. Hiring people who are coachable means your team’s talent will always be growing.”
  • Curiosity: “People who are genuinely curious won’t have to pretend to care…. This person won’t be shy about asking questions. And curious people usually ask the best questions. The curious person will also learn about marketing, product, support and everything else going on in your shop. They’ll adopt best practices and offer suggestions for improvement.”

Current employees are often the best source of good prospects for any business. If employees are happy and feel appreciated, they will share that positive experience with friends who might be looking for a new job.

Another excellent pool of new employees? Former employees, according to Cheryl, who says that a lot of her stylists who leave, either to open a business or go to a full-service salon, come back. “They miss the security and the camaraderie.”

“If I’ve got a great stylist who’s been with me for years and wants to leave to do something else, I always tell them ‘I hope you have success but, if it doesn’t work out, there is always a place for you here.’”

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