“My massage therapist just gave me her written two-week notice. I want to let her work out her last two weeks, but I’m afraid she’ll use the opportunity to poach clients from the salon. She’s an employee and did sign a non-solicitation agreement, but I have no way of knowing what she’s saying or doing in the private massage room.”
Most salon owners face this issue at some point in their careers. Do you let an employee work out their last two weeks or not?
Employees are very individual. Some are incredibly trustworthy. The fact that this therapist gave you notice to begin with shows consideration for your business. She offered you time to find someone to replace her. It’s extremely rare to be given that degree of courtesy in this industry.
However, your concerns aren’t unreasonable. Some employees do use their final two weeks to spread the word that they’re moving on to greener pastures–but again, most of these employees aren’t the type to give notice to begin with.
I’ve been on both sides of this fence, as a professional and as a manager. My approach to how I conduct business differs from a good deal of salon owners. I’ve always believed that the client ultimately has the right and the freedom to choose where they spend their money. The majority of clients’ loyalties lie with their chosen professional, not with the establishment. There are plenty of clients to go around. To attempt to restrict a client from accessing their chosen professional is petty and immature, and not a practice I care to lower myself to engage in.
If a client doesn’t see the value in what your business can offer them, do you really want them there?
To combat client loss during employee turnover, I recommend taking an ethical approach–one that places the client’s desires and preferences above your bottom line. Focus on providing a great salon experience. Keep your dignity intact and don’t lie when clients ask where their favorite professional has moved to. Never talk badly about the professional that left. If you’re doing your job as a salon owner correctly, you’re continually focused on growth and client acquisition, so some client displacement during an employee turnover shouldn’t really bother you. It’s part of doing business.
Clients are people, not cattle. They don’t “belong” to anyone. By treating them like your property, you will lose their respect and ultimately, their business. Instead of trying to desperately cling to these customers, focus on creating an atmosphere and level of service that other salons can’t match.
If I were you, I would do the following:
Let her work out her last two weeks. Politely remind her of the non-solicitation and ask that she not violate it. At the same time, ask her to leave cards so you have something to hand off to any clients that want to follow her. Thank her for showing you respect and consideration. On her final day, bring her a small gift, a letter of recommendation, and wish her luck in the future. Let her know that if she ever wishes to return, the door remains open to her.
Salon owners, in addition to being an employer, you’re also a leader. Be the kind of professional others aspire to become. Clients are replaceable. Their loyalties shift. Your integrity should never be compromised. Don’t let fear or insecurity drive your behavior. Stay strong and confident in your ability to manage and market your business successfully.