How to Train and Maintain Staff in Your Image Consultant Business
Introduction: An Image Consultant whose business grows may decide to hire people to help run the office, to hire other image consultants to work with, to bring in experts in hair care, make-up, career coaching, life style coaching, fashion, shopping, skin care, or other specialized care that involves a person's image.
Depending upon the direction you want to go, the space you have available, and the clientele you serve will be the deciding factor about hiring staff, working with someone, or getting office help. Maybe you've noticed an area in which you are less skilled. You might want to consider finding another image consultant who is good in that area. Long before the need arrives you should be learning about people who might be available, in whom you might be interested, and who might consider such a set-up.
As you move through the phases of your career and you bring out your business plan to review, it should become part of that plan even when you just start thinking about it. If you are thinking that is the direction to take and you aren't planning for it, one day you will realize you need someone and you will not hire the right person because you are so rushed to use them. That would be a big mistake.
Another thing to consider as your business grows is that you have to keep your hands in all of it. That means freeing up your time to do so. If you like working with clients yourself, you may not want to expand very large or bring on too many people. If you learn that you enjoy running the business and are okay letting go of some of the specific work, then bring on more people to work under you.
There are things to consider either way.
A. General Hiring Processes
Long before you need help, you should think and plan for it. First look at your business and how it is now and decide if you need office staff or staff who are also certified Image Consultants. Take each of these jobs and begin to build a skill set. You want to write down what qualifications you would require and how much and what kind of experience. Make another list of personal characteristics for each kind of staff person. You probably don't need the same personality for both jobs.
Now set down what responsibilities you would turn over to a new staff member, what knowledge you expect that person to have besides the kind of experience to do the tasks to your own expectations. One issue many people who need help find is that close friends and family want you to use them. That can be a problem, because they will expect you to trust them and as a business owner, you can't trust anyone. Make those people go through the same process others will go through. You can give them a chance to interview but not the job, unless they really are a good fit.
Don't make and judgements on just one part of the process, for example on the interview, the first meeting, or just the application or the cv. Question yourself if you love a person as to why and in what ways this person may not be qualified. He may be too take charge and be looking for a business to run himself and you need a person who will work for you or with you but not in your place. Also question if you hate a person and ask yourself what it is that you hate and what about his other qualities.
Do not ask questions about age, ethnicity, or other issues that are not fair. It is against the law to hire based on discriminatory practices. Asking questions about where they live, go to church, or where they are from are wrong. Side questions like, "What is that accent?" or "Do you play sports?" might pose as discriminatory due to disabilities or place of origin. Stick with the responsibilities list you developed and keep the boundaries within those items. Background checks might save you a lot of time and hassle and being fooled by a personal appearance. The person you hire should prove why they are the best.
If you cannot be clear about what you need the person to do and what your hiring policies are exactly then you need to stop and prepare first. You have to be able to determine the best person for the job in the most cost effective manner. That is why you have to know exactly what that person will do – not after you hire them, and you can't let them decide what they can do. You tell the person what will be required and find out if they are skilled. If they have to work on your web page then you need someone who can already to that, not someone who is willing to learn. You will not have time to give them training and must expect to hire a person who is already trained and educated in what you need.
It is not easy to sit and analyze people, their skills and personality all at the same time. That's why you have to be prepared. When you advertise you must be specific. If not, what you pay to advertise will be wasted because you will get lots of people who don't have those skills. There are many online job sites including Indeed!, Craigslist, Monster, US.Jobs and the Outlook Handbook. You can look on industry related sites and of course at new recruits out of a training course.
One of the most effective interviewing tools is to ask the job seeker to make a video answering a set of questions. With these, you can narrow down your search without actually trying to get everyone into the office. Sparkhire.com and Interviewstream.com are two websites that provide stock questions you can use. Beside the interview, you have to check references, but because this is so time consuming you might decide to use an online anonymous survey type tool to send out. This is quick, easy for everyone and you will get more candid responses than from a letter the job seeker hands you.
Background checks are cheap and need to be done as well as reference checks. Providers like Backgroundchecks.com and Hireright.com are two companies who can do this for you. Also check the site salary.com or the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for information on compensation for various jobs.
B. The Candidate:
Every employer wants to focus on the potential of a future employee. What has that employee go to offer your company. Skills are important but can be learned. The personality and intelligence cannot. Other characteristics that are important to you should be on your list. You want to try and find out if the person is honest, reliable, organized, focused, and trustworthy. Or possibly there are other characteristics that are more important to you. Know before you advertise what is important to you.
Is the potential client silly, talkative, or too quiet. If a person has a high level of people skills and can think clearly and make good decisions, being too quiet may not be an issue. You have to weigh it for yourself.
You have to know what matters to you in an employee who works in your business. It doesn't matter what someone else thinks about them, it is what you think. Other people may be willing to put up with one negative characteristic because the person's other characteristics fit so well. Doing a Google search and looking at social media sites can indicate a person's true self, unless the sites are dated which means you are getting a look at a kid who is now grown up. You have to take into consideration the person's skills, education or training, personality, experience, and relational skills along with the skills you need them to do on a daily basis. Listen closely to each candidate describe his last job or employer. Find out where the candidate is going in life. Is this just a stop over and does that matter to you? Why do they need a job and why did they apply for this one? What is it that keeps them getting up every morning.
Make sure you give the candidate a chance to ask questions about the business. You need to know if they understand your business and what it will be like to work with you. You must make it clear what they will do and be honest about your own expectations. You are legally bound to creating a safe and healthy environment in your business. Do you foresee a candidate who is demanding or easily angered? Does the candidate seem to have expectations about advancement or compensation that are unreasonable? Back away from this type of candidate.
You want a candidate who is versatile, dedicated to the business, and who knows what they can and can't do. Someone who is honest with himself and others, a person who thinks before responding and a person you are willing to be around day in and day out. If you did not enjoy the interview, take that one off the table. And what if you do make a mistake? Then fire them sooner rather than later. Just tell them you made a mistake and let him go with the best reference you can give on what you know he can do.
C. Hiring someone to assist you
If you are looking for an assistant who can work with your clients as opposed to office work, then you have more to consider. The skills are different. If you intend to grow your business further you need to figure out what clientele you are reaching. Is it for skin care, make-up and hair or is it for wardrobe help and fashion? Do you work more with men or women and are your clients more corporate or not? Do you want to hire someone who is a generalist or someone to fill a niche? The answers to these questions may change over time, but you will add them as you move forward into your business plan.
If you've got a great hair stylist as a resource, then don't change that. If you have a make-up artist you can call on and is reliable and cost effective, then leave that alone. Maybe you need a life or career coach to teach etiquette, posture and manners. Give it lots of thought. If you have no business in a specific area, maybe there is no need. Move with the needs of your area for your business to grow. If you see a need that no one else is meeting, go ahead and take on the challenge. It will depend on how small or large you want your business to be. Remember when you hire others, you will have more money going out to salaries so it only makes sense that you know a new hire will increase the business potential and that will take care of the salary. If you can't be sure then just weigh the risk honestly.
D. Hiring staff to take over the work with clients so you can manage.
In your business plan, you might have developed an outline of the future of your business that puts you as manager with others doing the work. If so, you will either wait until your business has the funds to add a person or take a risk and add another person with the thought that your added business will take care of that cost. Sometimes if you never take risks you never move forward. Whatever you do, whatever path you take, remember it is about what you want to do, not what others are telling say you should do. Keep your focus on what you want out of your life and then do it.
If you hire one person at a time, over the years you can move yourself out of the direct work with clients and into management. If you do that, you have to remain aware of each client, each employee and how their work is progressing. It is not about trust. It is about running a business well. You never know when a trusted employee begins to have health problems and you find the work is slipping. If you don't stay involved how would you know? Many a long term and trusted employee has been known to make use of a company credit card and bank account.
As a business owner, you have to take care of the business first because so many people depend upon you to do that. The other employees, your family, and you.
Summary: Hiring a new person to work with you, even if it is a part-time office helper requires your full attention. Giving your focus for a few weeks to find that person may save you wasted time and money in the future. Knowing the laws and the processes, making your hiring plans long before you need to hire, and developing an employee policy booklet with lists of skills and characteristics that you value will guide your way. Be smart with your time and your cost when hiring but don't rush just to get it done or because you waited too long. Hire a temp to work until you find that person.
Take charge of your business and know what you want for it. Others will always tell you what they would do, yet they did not start your Image Consulting business, you did. It is yours and you need to make it a business you can be proud of and that you want to run. Small or big, it does not matter. What matters is that you are meeting a need in your community and you enjoy what you do.
Now is a good time to write down some of your thoughts on your long range plan. Just write some ideas of different directions you might want to go one day.
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