Supercharge Your Front Desk and Unleash New Levels of Productivity

by Neil Ducoff

Success in any endeavor begins with planning. Target your front desk resources for growth through improved productivity and customer service.

Indiscriminately hiring a handful of people to manage desk operations in a service business is not going to result in peak productivity. There must be a sense of unity, of working towards a common goal, which is the growth of the company.

It is important there is teamwork that will infuse the entire business with the desire to grow. It should begin at the desk.

After all, reception is the hub of operations. Much more goes on here than simply answering the telephone and scheduling appointments. There must be a focus on such items as:

• Productivity – You must empower and encourage the desk to increase the number of hours spent servicing clientele. These numbers are so vital that you may decide to institute a bonus for increased productivity. For the individual employee and the entire business, there is no more important number.

• Retention Rates – Retention is directly tied to productivity. Would you rather wade through a stream of dissatisfied clients or service a solid base of loyal customers who will recommend you to their friends? Retained clients are one of your most productive assets.

• Hours Sold – You would not let retail sit on your shelf and gather dust. Why let your salable hours go to waste. There must be a continuing agenda to sell every hour available.

• Hands Off the Book -- The appointment book is off-limits to everyone except the desk staff. You cannot increase productivity or assure a client’s return if hours are randomly marked off the schedule.

• Appropriate Matches – It would be disastrous to place a meek, shy client with a service provider whose personality will overpower and possibly offend her (or vice-versa). Reception staff must know each employee well enough to know with whom each will develop a strong rapport.

It is crucial that the desk staff have the full support of management in implementing programs to boost productivity, retention and other areas targeted for improvement. Policies and procedures must be clearly understood throughout the business, so that the desk may help guide it to success.

Everyone wants to boost productivity and increase sales. The secret to reaching your goals is teamwork. In order to truly work together toward the common goal of growth, several factors must come into play:

• Personality compatibility: Those who try to control others often end up alienating them instead. Watch out for domineering personalities. Also, be wary of those who are just the opposite and will not stand their ground.

• Education above all else: All staff members must understand the importance of each other’s positions. Make certain everyone is aware of each other’s responsibilities.

• Critical condition: Without mutual respect and trust, there will be no cooperation between staff. This respect is built upon the knowledge mentioned above, as well as the environment you create for your staff.

• From technical to personal: There is more to service than punching keys on the cash register. Teach staff to be gregarious and friendly with clients and each other.

Remember, a team is a very powerful entity, as in the adage that states, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Diplomacy is the name of the game. Team members must be friendly yet firm, and respond positively to others.

Ready to super-charge your front-desk staff? Register now for Strategies’ High-Performance Front-Desk Staff Training, October 17-18, 2010 at the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics & Cosmetology. Visit strategies.com or call 1-800-417-4848.

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