Top 8 Strategies for Associate Set-Up

by MaLissa Young

There are many things to keep in mind when starting a new Associate. Here are a few ideas to make the process smooth, efficient, and equally beneficial to the associate, stylist, and salon!

1. Journal
Give your associate a blank journal in which to keep notes. If you say something that you want your Associate to remember, tell the Associate to write it in the journal. A new color formula, haircut technique or special verbiage are all helpful items to write down.  Every day, the Associate should write down at least one thing that they learned.  This will help them stay focused and remind them that they are always learning something even if they’re thinking “we’re not doing anything new, I’m ready to out on the floor now!” The Associate should share the journal with you each day before leaving. Not only will you be surprised by what the Associate is learning;  it will help you determine the success of your training.

2. Hands On!

When performing a service, ask your Associate to hand you what you need – shears, brushes, foils, etc. Not because you can’t do it yourself, but because it shows the guest that your Associate has a purpose while letting the Associate observe your actions up close. An Associate tends to pay more attention if you give them something to do!

3. Shampoo
Your Associate must be better at shampooing than you are. This helps your guest feel comfortable later when the Associate is performing more and more of the service. Tell the Associate that you’ll know they are finished training when I hear the guest report, “that was the best shampoo I have ever had. You can let her shampoo me ANYTIME!” Do not move past this training until the Associate is at this point. We never want the guest to experience thoughts of “I guess that was good enough,” because this results in guest loss.  Don’t forget you have a lot more to teach an Associate — the “shampoo” test is a good indicator of effectiveness to come.

4.  Daily Debrief
Schedule 5-15 minutes to do a daily debrief with your Associate.  Ask these three questions:  What worked?  What did not work? What will we do different next time?

5. Plan!
Every month, create a lesson plan for that month. Christy Crites from Java Salon in Wichita, KS goes through the Associate manual every month and maps out what it will look like on a blank calendar. She journals what the focus will be for each week and what models her Associates will need. This not only helps Chrissy stay focused; it helps the Associate see what is yet to come and what type of models she or he will need.

6. Talk in Turn
To help make the guest feel as comfortable as possible with your Associate, tell your Associate to be careful about when and what he or she talks about while you are working on the guest. Generally, whomever is working on the guest should engage in conversation with that guest. Otherwise the guest might be confused about how to interact with an Associate and whether to engage them in conversation.

7. I use the following four-step process to train an Associate on a new item:

  1. Have the Associate watch you while you explain what you are doing during every moment. This can be done while working on your guests.
  2. Have the Associate perform the service on mannequins until you feel like they are ready. They can shadow you on a mannequin next to you while you are working on your guest. You will be able to see how they are doing and step in when necessary. It also is a great way to teach them timing for services.
  3. Work on your guests together. For example, if it is basic color application, have the Associate apply the back while you apply the front area.
  4. When the Associate performs your services beyond your expectations, they are ready to support you at a new level of servicing your guest. The last step is to walk away . . .  and let them shine!

8. Visit our Associate Program page to learn more about getting an Associate Program started in your salon!