Reposted from Salon magazine’s February 16, 2017 article.

Education is key to keeping your team happy and your salon successful. Here are some creative tips on how to introduce education into your salon and get your team excited to get involved.

Before deciding on any training, you need to determine where your staff complement is at in terms of experience. Terry Ritcey, a former salon owner and current education director at Redken 5th Ave, says identifying everyone as new, experienced or at a master’s level will give you a good foundation from which to develop your curriculum. Whether your team is made up of experienced pros or new talent, Ritcey, along with Michael Levine, owner of A Michael Levin Salon Group in Vancouver, and Ramsey Sayah, owner of Texture Hair Salon in Ottawa, offer up their tips and advice for keeping staff on top of their game.

Create a Level Playing Field

Here are three simple ways to gear education to hairstylists of any level:

Comp stylists for trade show tickets: Offer to pay for trade show attendance, where nearly everyone working at your salon will find something appealing. This often gives hairstylists a chance to see celebrity hairstylists and platform artists that they may not have otherwise.

Set a quota but keep the details flexible: “We make a certain number of courses mandatory for staff at each level,” explains Ramsey Sayah. “I’ll tailor that according to what the stylists need. I look at what the brand offers each year and we invest our own money in education for them.”

Know when to not push: “Treat your staff the way they want to be treated,” says Levine, adding sthat some stylists only want to show up, cut hair and not be pushed. That’s okay if they are meeting their retail goals and doing good work—that’s really the bottom line.

Education Ideas for New Salon Staff

New talent are the stylists who understand the principles behind all cuts, colour and styling and have up to two years of experience. At A Michael Levine Salon Group, they hire from the ground up: “We have a tiered system and we don’t just hire anyone who has worked anywhere.”

Here are three creative ways to engage new staff:

Create a brand they want to be a part of: “Entering competitions is a big part of being challenged and it feeds younger staff,” says Sayah, who makes it mandatory for his staff to compete.

Offer strructured  and consistent learning: “They go through this system and develop a degree of mastery of our work,” explains Levine, “so they have the foundation and we want them to branch off and find their own voice.” As for consistency, at A Michael Levine Salon Group, all new hairstylists are on a one-year trainign programs that includes a set number of hours dedicated to learning and education.

Build confidence through opportunity: “For less experienced hairstylists, there is a fear, but when they see those who have done it a bunch of times and then when they do it that first time, they realize the benefit for themselves,” says Sayah. Pushing new staff to take on different challenges and opportunities can build their confidence and fuel creativity.

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Education Ideas for Experienced Hairstylists

These stylists focus on advanced cutting or colouring techniques, hands-on experiences and developing advanced knowledge and understanding of trends. What these stylists are looking for is practical learning: “They can learn from their own work by being attached to it,” says Levine. “The most important thing is to know that you are not good enough yet. The people that work harder often have a need to develop an understanding of the cause and effect of what they do.”

The following are three creative ways to keep experienced hairstylists interested in learning every three months to keep up on seasonal trends:

Go digital: As the industry advances, Ritcey says that timewise, it makes sense to go with more digital, independent learning for senior hairstylists because they want short snippets. Then, they can go back to it if they want and it will keep their attention.

Emphasize mentorship opportunities: “When senior staff mentor less experienced ones, they become more bonded to the rest of the salon team,” says Sayah.

Replicate their work: “Verbalizing how and why they are doing a technique a particular way allows them to create a repeatable system,” says Levine, adding that this will help them learn to pay more attention to the detail of their work and take their expertise to the next level.

Education Ideas for Master Level Hairstylists

Very senior education programs, including ones that focus on business such as Redken’s Salon Summit, are the salon education programs to focus on for hairstylists at the master level. Consistent training is key for master stylists. Along with offering opportunities to teach from what they’ve learned at intensive training abroad, keep education limited to about two or three times a year. Be sure to also offer these stylists creative outlets, such as offering to host an evening event at your salon or an alternate venue that showcases a collection these stylists have created to help recharge their creativity. (You can also have your experienced stylists and new salon staff help out with the nitty gritty and prep work.)

Here are three more ways to promote education for master level hairstylists:

Splurge on travel opportunities: “More advanced hairstylists love to go away to attend training. Many will take the opportunity to build a vacation around their training in London, New York or simply Montreal,” says Ritchey. Offering these travel opportunities will also show your senior stylists that they’re valued in your salon.

Keep it short: “Keep a tight time frame,” says Ritcey. “Because a senior hairstylist has the basics down, they’ll gain a lot of knowledge during a short 15-to-20 minute video or live stage presentation.”

Ignite their passion: “When you try to do the best work you’ve ever done on one model, you’re learning from your own work and elevating the level of your craft,” says Sayah, adding that Texture’s master artists are challenged creatively to keep their passion for their art alive.

This article is an excerpt from “How to Make Education Accessible for Everyone,” which was originally posted in April 2015.