JAIME: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Jaime Schrabeck.
ASHLEY: And Ashley Gregory Hackett. Judging by the huge number of we’re hiring ads posted on social media, there’s a sudden shortage of beauty pros.
JAIME: Does that mean the demand for employees is greater than the supply of beauty pros, or that the supply of available space is greater than the demand? We need to take a closer look. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: Well, this is a topic, Jaime, you and I have been wanting to cover for a very long time and it seems like this COVID-limbo time has brought the issues surrounding this problem into focus.
JAIME: I’m torn between responding to these ads, and perhaps even amplifying them if I thought it was worthwhile, and just scrolling right on past.
ASHLEY: And that seems to be the reaction, I think, of most of the industry, but when we see these help wanted ads and I know our listeners know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s the Facebook group posts or some kind of odd graphic made on somebody’s phone that talks about these great positions they’re offering and great opportunities.
And when you really read into it, you realize that’s not always the case.
JAIME: I don’t even think you need to read into it because there’s usually not much there to read.
ASHLEY: That’s very true. It’s very vague or purposefully obtuse, like it,it seems like they’re leaving information out on purpose. But let’s get into why we think this is happening and what exactly it is we’re talking about when we refer to these help wanted ads.
JAIME: Whenever I see the ad, I immediately have questions as if I were someone who might be interested even though, as you and I both know, I’m a salon owner. I have an employee myself. I am not interested in renting someone’s space or working for someone else, but you know I want to make sure that if I were to come across this, that it might be an opportunity to provide some feedback.
ASHLEY: Well that, and if you ever needed to advertise a position or an opening in the future, it seems like judging by what’s out there right now, the bar is underground for the format of what these look like and should be the information that you should be supplying as a salon owner or someone who’s seeking out some type of, I don’t even want to say employee or help, because most of these are formatted in a way that immediately indicates to me that they’re looking for someone to misclassify.
JAIME: These ads are often so simplistic that they only consist of two words like hairstylists wanted. And what we don’t know is what exactly that arrangement would be. What it indicates to me is that there’s some void in this business, this business whose model we don’t even know or understand. Is it that this business needs an employee or is there a space to rent?
ASHLEY: And the conflation of those two terms is something we’ve covered ad nauseum on this podcast to be frank, whether it’s using the term independent contractor when you mean employee, or if it’s, like you said, that there is a chair, or a table, or something to rent, if it’s a suite. It’s really hard to tell. And the part that really flabbergasts me is when you see how we go about it as an industry in finding talent, and recruiting talent, and bringing new people into the fold of our business by throwing up a quick Facebook post or sharing it on our page. I just think about to me, it really shows a lack of preparation and thought to just kind of fire something off into social media. When you think about what other businesses do in other industries where they post on things like Indeed, or Craigslist or, you know, I mean, even Craigslist in this case would be better than throwing up a Facebook post, and there’s a job description, and there’s maybe a small outline of benefits or compensation. When it comes to the beauty industry, we’re really good at complaining how nobody takes us seriously, but then on the other hand, we’re really quick to throw up a Facebook post, see what sticks, see who we get, and then we complain about how there isn’t any good talent, or how people are coming right out of school and going right to suites because this is what’s out there for them. And I think it’s time we take a good hard look at ourselves and go, okay. Where could we improve as an industry in the hiring process and the recruiting process? Because again, the bar is underground.
JAIME: If you’re the salon owner with this need, you need to do more work. I mean, how lazy is it to throw out one of these graphics and then expect everyone to what private message you and ask all the questions that you know you’re going to be asked. Why not just put that in the ad from the beginning?
ASHLEY: Yeah, that’s a great point. And I think for those of you listening who do more than that, just know that you are head and shoulders above what the industry norm is, and therefore, you should be getting and recruiting even better talent. So I’m a little bit old school. I think that the type of talent that you will get when it comes to putting out feelers for, for job availability is directly related to how much effort you put into finding that talent. And so I think it’s really easy to say, well, there’s no good talent out there, or nobody wants to work, which is a whole other conversation. And I know I say that like every episode, but it’s true. There is no good talent out there if what you’re willing to give to the process is a quick Facebook post or an Instagram story where it looks like you’ve taken absolutely no time and put no thought into it.
JAIME: And if you do include details that point in the direction of your being someone who misclassifies beauty pros, is it any surprise that you don’t get the response you expect?
ASHLEY: I think, yes. And that’s the part that really blows my mind is that there is a level of surprise where it’s like, well, I’ve done all I can do. Throw my hands up because there’s just nobody out there, and we know that’s not true. We see people moving from salon to salon and telling their clients, hey, I’m going to be here now, or moving from a rental situation back into an employment situation, or whatever. We’ve all learned a lot over the past 18 months about what we will and will not accept in our business and what it is when you strip everything away, what the essentials and fundamentals are, right? So let’s talk about how we can fix some of these ads, and I know you, and I agree on the first point, like whole hog, and that is, are you hiring someone or are you offering a space to rent? Because a lot of these ads that we see, it just doesn’t tell us.
JAIME: It either doesn’t tell you, or it makes it seem like it’s an option.
ASHLEY: Right. When things are presented to you as an opportunity, great opportunity, huge clientele. It’s kind of like, what’s the catch, you know. If you have to be like strategic and sneaky about how you explain this position, I feel like you should already know that there’s something wrong and that should send up a red flag.
JAIME: And I take a lot of heat online for asking the question when I do see these very vague ads and I’ll put in the comments, compensation question mark?. What services do you offer, question mark? It seems pretty basic that if you’re advertising that you have this availability for someone to come work in your business, that anyone who might be interested would want to know how am I going to be compensated? And what services are you expecting me to perform? I may not even be able to do the services that you offer.
ASHLEY: Well, right, and if you’re met with anger asking those questions because maybe they see you as being a time-waster, quote, unquote, how are you going to answer those questions for somebody who legitimately wants to take you up on this opportunity? And so if you’re getting a lot of questions, if you’re getting a lot of PMs and people are asking you very basic questions, it’s not because they’re trying to be like pedantic or annoying to you. It’s that you didn’t put that information in the ad and to expect an applicant or a candidate to do the emotional labor of figuring out what exactly the position is, I think you just really start off with a power imbalance and it would put me on my heels, honestly.
JAIME: Well, that tells me a lot about the way that you run your business without ever having set foot in your salon.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Yeah. I think we have to get away from this mindset that everybody should just be thankful that there’s jobs out there in the beauty industry. Because the power balance has 100% shifted in the past 10 years away from salon owners and put the onus back on the individual beauty pro. And we’ve seen that as we’ve discussed with Jennie from Sola and others, that now that there’s more options out there in the industry, we have to do better as salon owners and managers in making these positions seem more enticing. And whether that’s through how we market them, or the way we attach benefits to them, or what have you, that’s, that’s on us. We have to make employment seem exciting again. And without getting into the entire labor misclassification issue again, it seems like if you’re being sneaky about what it is you’re looking for, it tells me that you’re just looking for an opportunity to exploit someone and you’re purposefully not putting that information in there so that you can maybe get somebody who’s green or somebody who doesn’t know their rights. And you can say, oh yeah, yeah, you’ll be an independent contractor. It’s great. It just means you don’t have to pay taxes and you reap the rewards of having an employee that you can control and not have to account for.
JAIME: I wholeheartedly agree with the sneaky statement, but I also think it can indicate laziness. If you realize that you’re not making it, that you’re not going to survive. You’re not gonna be able to pay your lease to the building owner because you’re not generating enough income within your salon business. And you think the answer is more bodies, more licensees within your space, but you don’t do the actual work of figuring out what is it that you need to clear? How much should you be charging for the space that you have available? Or how much money can you afford to compensate someone if you’re to employ them? If you don’t do that actual work, it’s just the sort of hail Mary pass by posting this hoping that somehow this new cashflow, if it were to come to you in the form of rent or by having someone provide services and you collect the money from their clients as they’re an employee. I just feel like there just isn’t enough work and effort put into this. And that’s why you have salon owners actually posting questions like, how much should I be charging my renters?
ASHLEY: Well, I agree to an extent, I don’t know if I’d call it laziness as much as I would just call it ignorance. This is a symptom of a fundamental discord in our industry wherein we don’t do the math. We don’t look at what our business needs are. We, we shy away from spreadsheets because it’s not fun, right? It’s not the creative side of the business that we all wanted when we started. And so it’s just kind of like, oh, well, I’ll just take from Peter to pay Paul this month and hopefully getting two or three more independent contractors who pay me rent this month will help me clear my bills. It’s a lot of shortsighted, reactive kind of business management. But if this is all you know, and this is the industry you’ve grown up in, this is the industry that you’ve. I’ve been working with someone who worked for a family member and just realized this week that commission only that doesn’t amount to a minimum hourly wage is illegal. She was blown away by that. And it’s part of this “it’s how it’s always been done” club that perpetuates some of these terrible business practices. And so bringing new talent into your salon, this is a relationship that you hopefully want to last a long time, right? So you and I have always talked about when we talk about like ideal client positioning and marketing, you’ve made this great analogy about online dating where you’re only going to get the matches that you’ve put the effort into attracting, right? So just throwing up anything, I’ll take anybody 18 to 80. I don’t care what you do. I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care if you’re a criminal. I don’t care if you’re licensed. I don’t care if you, you know, need to live in my basement, whatever it is. You’re not going to attract the type of candidates that you really want to bring into your business and trust with your livelihood by just like, you know, firing off a missive on Facebook. And the fact that that disconnect exists is really astounding to me.
JAIME: And it may be an explanation for why salon suites as a franchise model, where those individuals might not have any other connection to the beauty industry, other than having the resources to invest in a building and building out these suites. Because they have vacancies built into their real estate model, they don’t have to be as desperate.
JAIME: And salon owners, they look at a space and they think about how many different stations they can cram into this space and not giving a second thought to the fact that there may not be enough talent, and by talent, I mean just licensed beauty pros in the area to support filling every one of those positions, whether they be employees or independent contractors.
ASHLEY: Oh, exactly. And it’s very easy to point the finger at the fact that there’s a lack of talent coming out of schools, which I know for nail techs is 100% true, just based on the different requirements for different states. I know we have some Insiders members who are always looking to hire, especially in the nail space and we’ve covered on previous episodes, as well, the barriers to entry, and that is definitely a conversation I don’t want to overlook. But it’s very easy to sit back and complain and say, well, there’s just nobody out there rather than look inward and say, am I messaging this correctly? Am I putting this in front of the right eyeballs? First of all, and secondly, what do I bring to the table, other than a job? You know, you have to make the job that you’re advertising look, and sound, and be much better than what else is out there. And if competing with being your own boss, having your own space, decorating it the way you want, offering the services you want at the price you want is what else is out there, you’re going to have to work pretty darn hard to make this enticing. And what I think a lot of salon owners don’t realize that they bring to the table is a guaranteed hourly wage if you’re doing it right and that’s nothing to sneeze at. So I, I want to make sure that this ends up being a relatively positive episode, but there are ways to write the help wanted ad that make them stand out and communicate the things that you need to communicate to a potential candidate to make them want to reply.
JAIME: And I will say this one thing before we jump into the red flags, that we will then turn into things that people should be doing to make them more appealing. But just because a salon owner was willing to spend $200,000, and go into debt to furnish a salon with high-end, custom-made furniture, and have 20 stations, that doesn’t entitle you to have the staffing to make that valid, to make that viable. And, and that’s, that’s the problem. Maybe we have an oversupply of salon furniture.
ASHLEY: I mean maybe. And yeah, that’s a, that’s a fair point. You have to provide the vehicle in order to be able to staff something that large, but also to retain a staff of that size. And this is an industry that is notorious for looking for greener pastures and I will never fault a beauty professional for trying to find the absolute best possible scenario for themselves. It’s just up to salon owners to be that greener pasture and in a world, again, and I don’t want to harp on this, but in a world where you are competing with being your own boss, you have to be better than that. And you have to show that you’re going to provide the clientele, the marketing strength, the power, and the correct employment practices to really bring people over and back from that suite life. So is it that you are looking for and wanting to retain great talent, or is it that you’re looking for and wanting to retain reliable renters? First of all, that has to be job one.
JAIME: Let’s talk through some of the red flags that we see because so much of this is posted on social media, it’s readily apparent. Some of the ads are just constant. It would seem that some salons are always hiring. And I know many would point to larger corporate chains and say, well, yeah, of course a Great Clips is always going to be advertising, but I mean, some smaller, just one location salons are constantly running ads.
ASHLEY: Yeah, you have to wonder what’s going on behind closed doors, or revolving doors in this case.
ASHLEY: To really scare people away that quickly. And I’m sure everybody listening can think of several examples of what that would look like that would send somebody running for the hills.
JAIME: Yeah. So that tells me they either have a high turnover rate if it was just a single location constantly advertising, or they may not realize that the way that they’re advertising is not producing the results they want. And maybe they really do only have one position they’re hiring for and it just seems like they’ve never quite landed that person.
ASHLEY: That is definitely a good consideration to make. I think, too, when you see that question of how much do you charge for booth rent and where are you located? That’s another popular one where if you don’t know that going in and you are planning on a booth rental model, I worry for you. I worry for every other part of your business from supply acquisition to pricing your services. It’s scary.
JAIME: I loved your earlier analogy to dating, but I’m also going to make an analogy to real estate and you also alluded to just employment ads in general. If we were a landlord trying to rent an apartment, we’d never just say apartment for rent without letting people know what the price is. I mean, to me, that’s, it just makes so much more sense to go ahead and put the dollar amount in there. You know what it is.
ASHLEY: Or even just how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has. You know, that’s not an unreasonable question to want immediately. The basic information, I don’t know why we hold these cards so close to our chest, right? And wonder why someone would have the audacity to ask those questions. That’s basic information and I’m sure there’s listeners rolling their eyes right now, like, oh my gosh, is there anything we do right? But this is definitely one of those things where if you’re doing it wrong and getting it wrong, you’re getting it really wrong.
JAIME: And you’re wasting so much time. I mean the reason that you’re advertising is because you need someone in that position. Employee or renter, you need someone there and instead you’re spending your time responding to direct messages, maybe taking phone calls, even going so far as scheduling interviews, and perhaps meeting people in person. That is a huge time suck.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Yeah. It shows that you value your time as well as the applicants. So if you are wondering if something you’re going to be posting has the right information, just start asking questions and asking yourself if your ad answers them. And if all you can do is contribute flowery language about what a great opportunity it is, I’m wondering where the substance is.
JAIME: Oh, and speaking of the flowery language, enough with the I need a team player, no drama, all of those terms, willing to be flexible. All of those things just make me cringe because it tells me that you really don’t know what you want from this arrangement, nor do you have high standards for being a leader, which is what salon owners have to be, whether they’re renting space or employing others, you still have to be a leader.
ASHLEY: And saying no drama tells me that there’s been drama in the past. And if there’s drama in a salon, the manager or owner is 100% involved. And if somebody has such a bad experience or you had such a bad experience with a previous employee, I don’t know why you’re bringing that into the next employee/employer relationship.
Bringing it back to dating, you can leave your baggage at the door. We, we want to start off fresh. So, not to put too fine a point on it, but looking for an employee should be something that starts and ends professionally.
JAIME: Absolutely. One of the favorite things that we’ve talked about is the ask, must have clients
JAIME: Or must have clientele. However, they want to phrase it.
ASHLEY: What are you bringing to the table as a salon owner if not the clientele or the capacity to put clients in their chair? I would be really uncomfortable coming into a situation as an employee where I’m expected to, first of all, bring all of my clients there, which is just a given, but secondly, to supply them to the salon as if they then take ownership of these people. If you think about any other business, let’s look at retail, for example. No one hires a cashier and says you must bring the customers. It’s not equivalent. And asking someone in the beauty industry to do that, it’s these weird little loopholes and gray areas where we think we’re different where the greatest opportunity for exploitation occurs. We’re not different. We are just like every other service industry. My parents owned a carpet cleaning business for most of my childhood. No carpet cleaning technician was hired with the caveat that they must bring clients. We’re not special. We’re not different. We are a service-based business. And if we are running it as anything other than that, that’s when the red flags start to pop up for me.
JAIME: If I were an independent contractor and paying rent in a salon, as I did for the first five years of my career, it’s none of the salon owner’s business how many clients I have or how much money I generate, as long as I’m paying my rent on time.
ASHLEY: Exactly. It’s where this like weird commingling situation starts. When I was booth renting, we chipped in and did things like clean the common bathroom and empty the common trash, just out of the goodness of our hearts. I didn’t have to do that. That wasn’t in my contract or my lease, but I did it because I thought, first of all, my clients are using those spaces as well. But then It got to be where the salon owner wanted me to be there certain hours and I said, no. I, I have sought this arrangement for a specific reason, which is that I’m on set a lot and I see clients at odd hours. Also, if I don’t have a client, I’m not going to be there. I’m not there for walk-ins. I’m not there for serving the clients of the hairstylist. That’s not why I sought this out. And what you want is an employee, but you don’t want the trappings of having to do everything that comes along with issuing a W2. That’s why that arrangement lasted six months. And I wish them well. They’re still in business doing a great job, but I found that the nail technicians after me ran into the same issue. And so that’s why they were always looking for manicurists and nail techs, because they just could never find them under those restrictions. And it’s unfortunate, but it is the reality of our business, and so that’s why we move on, and we move to different places where we can learn, and grow, and do the things we need to do without the often sometimes illegal trappings of what a salon owner thinks they can dictate.
JAIME: Speaking of illegal trappings, I’ve seen ads here in California saying that you don’t need a license and we will train you.
ASHLEY: Well, great. What a deal.
JAIME: Who needs beauty school? Who needs to waste that time and money if you could just get hired and go right to work?
ASHLEY: If an apprenticeship situation exists, then great. But to me, this seems like we need somebody now. We don’t care who it is. We will train any warm body. It reminds me of when I was working retail and HR had written on a whiteboard, if they can walk and chew gum, hire them. If they can’t, hire them. It was a fun holiday trying to get people to learn how to walk and chew gum.
JAIME: Well, that keeps HR busy, but most salons don’t have HR. And so one of the things that is a red flag to me is that they might say that they’re willing to train or that there’s education provided, that sort of thing where it sort of makes me wonder if they’re not blurring the lines a bit, especially if they’re advertising a rental situation. But either way, the salon owner should be prepared with a contract. It’s either going to be an employment contract or, you know, an employee handbook of some kind that someone needs to sign off on. Or if it’s a rental situation, there’s a lease. There, there needs to be a lease ready to go, and not something that just gets pulled together, and you start the job, and, you know, maybe you get to it two to three weeks later. That needs to be something you can review in advance before you commit.
ASHLEY: Or the good old word document that somebody pulled from online and crossed out the parts that they needed to customize. We’ve all been there. We’ve all seen it. I think if you take nothing else away from this episode, it should be that you ought to, to feel empowered enough to push back on some things and learn to recognize some of these red flags when you see them in an ad, and go, you know what? It’s either too good to be true, or it is too bad to be true. But learning to spot the difference and ask the right questions to know if this is something that’s worth your time or not.
JAIME: And it’s all about that, right? Because the time that it takes to screen through people, whether they’re going to be an employee or a renter takes time away from others who might be interested, who would scroll right past your ad not realizing that might be a fabulous place to work if only they knew more about it. You’re doing yourself a disservice as a salon owner by not putting yourself out there in a way that gives people the information they need to either pursue the opportunity or to keep on looking.
ASHLEY: And I know our listeners are definitely on the more informed side. These are not the people that are usually doing these types of business practices. So if this is something that someone needs to hear, feel free to share this episode with them because we need to do better as an industry. And it just starts with pushing back when we see these examples, and, you know, Jaime, you can’t be the only one getting yelled at on Facebook when you start asking these questions.
JAIME: I have had a number of salon owners contact me privately and thank me for the additional information. There are a handful of individuals who I will be sharing information with just to direct them because I understand that they’re trying and that they’re willing to accept what’s intended to be helpful advice. I’m not trying to call them out other than to point out, you know, hey. Not sure this is what you intended, but you might want to look at this. I could go a whole other direction and report.
ASHLEY: Yikes. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point, but, yeah, there’s a lot to think about here and I think it’s just another part of our business where we could be better at holding each other accountable. It is impossible to compete with a business that is doing things illegally, and we’ve learned that through COVID more than any other time. It is impossible to compete if you’re not really on the same level, and somebody is doing something either underhanded, or illegal, or, and they may not even know that they’re doing it, and so this is just another area where we can challenge each other to be better.
JAIME: Totally agree. I think most salon owners they see it for what it is. It’s meant to help them improve and attract that better talent. And they would be appalled if they realized, you know, oh my gosh, someone might think negatively about my salon and how I operate my business based on the effort that I put into this ad. I need to try to do better next time.
ASHLEY: Well, I am very interested in what our listeners think about these ads that they’ve seen. I would love for them to share with us some of the maybe the worst of the worst that they’ve seen. Go ahead and DMS on Instagram, or let us know things that you’ve seen, and of course we all love a good horror story, right? So feel free to connect with us on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
JAIME: And if you’re enjoying our episodes, please review us on Apple podcasts. You can do that with just one click. Visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: Excellent. Well, thank you so much, Jaime. I love talking about these what not to do things with you because I learn so much.
JAIME: And thank you. And I’m hoping that moving ahead, we can encourage each other to do better so that we can make more connections between salon owners who have this availability and for beauty pros who are looking for a new place to work.
ASHLEY: And quality connections at that. Excellent. All right. Well until next week, everybody, be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.