How to Prepare Yourself and Your Salon Team for Maternity Leave
If you’re running a small hair salon every stylist counts and even more so as salons reopen following lockdown. Business consultant Liz McKeon reveals how to prepare yourself for when one or multiple members of the team go on maternity leave, especially when it’s during your busiest periods.
Maternity Leave is one of the biggest dilemmas facing salons. It presents challenges that can leave you as an employer in a state of distress. You might be wondering how the salon will cope or even survive without one, or more, of your key players for up to 12 months. Don’t be embarrassed about this as it is a legitimate concern for many small business owners.
Prepare yourself and your salon team for maternity leave
Be prepared for the fact that things don’t always go to plan. As soon as you know about your employee’s pregnancy you should prepare for their sudden disappearance. Many women are unable to continue working until their baby is born and many babies are born months before they are due. This means you can’t assume your employee will be around until their due date.
Salon owners need to be aware of the full range of employment rights that pregnant women, new mothers and new fathers have. There can be serious legal consequences if you get it wrong. If you lack knowledge about employment rights you should seek tailored professional HR advice.
Sourcing and recruiting temporary cover does involve additional cost and effort. Plus, no-one knows if the employee will return after maternity leave. The roles in your salon are diverse with key players having many responsibilities, special knowledge, established client relationships and each person is a good revenue generator. All of this adds to the difficulty of finding suitable temporary replacements.
The key to managing maternity leave is effective planning and good communication throughout. Keep talking to your employee and make sure that all important information about their role is written down to ensure a smooth handover of their column. The same rules and good practice apply when recruiting temporary replacements, which means you need to have a clear job description in place.
Maternity cover is inevitable so don’t wait until it happens to think about how to manage this situation. While you may be very happy for the person, you have a responsibility to your clients and other team members to ensure this has as little impact on them as possible.
It is essential that you protect your salon’s turnover so always remember that while a team member owns and runs their columns, you own and run the business. The business will be shaky if it is over-reliant on any one individual. Everyone must work within the remit of your ‘customer service journey’ to ensure that clients are always coming to your salon for the experience and that experience remains consistent. As a result, your clients will be quite happy to move to a new stylist or colourist as they are the salon’s customer as opposed to a single stylist’s customer.
As long as you plan ahead, and manage the situation for your member of staff, the team and your clients, maternity leave shouldn’t be a challenge for your salon.
Five ways to prepare for maternity leave cover for your team in the salon
- Manage the conversation on the floor – clients don’t need to know all of the pregnancy details.
- You should decide a plan for each client to ensure a smooth transition to another team member.
- See this as an opportunity for other team members to shine.
- The person going on maternity leave must willingly relinquish clients and be satisfied to rebuild their client base on their return.
- Turn this situation to your advantage. Being well organised and in control of an upcoming maternity cover sends out a very positive message to clients that they are always your top priority and no matter what happens within your team, it will be business as usual for them.
Liz McKeon is a business coach who specialises in the hair industry. For details about business seminars and industry workshops go to lizmckeon.com.