Adding an Associate: The First Months’ Journey
Featuring Blake Reed Evans, Redken Artist and Level 4 Stylist
Profile by Sara Ren Altizer
At only twenty-four years old, Blake Reed Evans has already had an incredible career in the professional beauty industry. Upon completing his cosmetology program at the Summit Salon Academy, Blake felt completely prepared to set out to accomplish his dreams. “The Summit Salon Systems were infused into our first week of school,” he explains. “It was there that I followed the rules to a tee, and by the time I graduated, I was a level 4 student stylist with a job secured at Shear Art Salon & Spa.”
Since joining Shear Art Salon & Spa in March 2011, Blake has been able to complete the associate program, jump to a level 4, and become a Redken Artist, all within four years. “The ability to fuse my mix of passions is what inspires me,” he explains. “This industry has everything: fashion, business, science, and art. That is what fuels me each day.”
How do I know if I’m ready?
Blake encourages newcomers to the industry to place a strong focus on education. “If you are not investing in your education,” he explains, “then you are making the biggest mistake of your career.” With this approach, it made sense that Blake would eventually turn to mentoring behind the chair, but deciding when he was actually ready for an associate was still difficult.
“I knew I was ready to add an associate into my schedule when I felt like I was losing that personal connection with my guests,” Blake explains. “I started to forget birthdays and children’s names, among other things. I noticed the quality of the experience was dropping.”
Blake is not alone. It is very common for stylists to experience this after jumping to level 4. It is easy to become overwhelmed. And, after watching your career grow consistently while on the path to becoming a level 4, it’s not unusual for stylists to see that growth plateau, or even come to a halt after making the jump.
In addition, stylists often have a lot of fear and insecurity around the idea of inviting an associate in to work with their guests. They worry that by allowing someone else to touch the clients with whom they’ve worked so hard to develop good relationships, they will become even more removed from those guests.
“My biggest fear was losing even more of a connection with my guests,” Blake explains. “If 85 percent of their appointment is being spent with my associate, who would apply color, administer conditioning treatments, do scalp massages, and blow drying, then I am only getting to see them for the haircut portion of their visit.”
“But attending the Summit Salon® Associate Program training with SSBC made this transition easy and calmed my fears,” Blake explains. “I attended two very thorough trainings. Every detail of the Summit Salon Associate Program handbook was explained so well. The handbook itself is so well written that if I ever had a question, the answer was somewhere on those pages. I left the training feeling completely prepared and confident in my ability to deliver excellent customer service and to take responsibility for another stylist’s career.”
Numbers Never Lie
“My fear of losing a connection with my guests was thankfully not a reality,” Blake says. “What I was grateful to discover instead is that in my down time I was able to sit down and talk with my guests face to face. I realize now that it is more about the quality of the time and not the quantity.”
If Blake had any doubts about the benefits of bringing on an associate, he could simply turn to the numbers. Numbers never lie. “The difference having an associate made on my service sales was mind-blowing,” Blake explains. “For example, we had a Saturday that had a lot of movement in the schedule, leaving us with around $550 in service sales. With a little teamwork, we were able to upgrade the day to $1,054. In my mind I was thinking, ‘This cannot be normal, it must have been a fluke!’ But the very next Saturday, we had a $750 day grow into $1,066! Those two Saturdays in a row sealed the deal for me.”
“The reason there was such a difference, I came to realize, is because now my guests had two licensed professionals making intelligent offerings,” Blake says. “One of them being the guest’s normal ‘hair authority’ and the other being someone fresh to the industry who could offer a different point of view.”
“Initially, I was so worried about how my guests would react,” recalls Blake. “But they were all so excited that I was progressing in my career. Plus, my associate elevated my service standards by keeping me more consistent than I was able to be before, essentially upgrading the guest experience without any extra cost. Adding that kind of value is priceless! On a personal level, being able to play such a vital role in growing someone’s career is beyond rewarding. It gives me the opportunity to be a servant leader, which feeds my desire to teach.”
If you are about to take the leap into adding an associate, Blake has some advice for you: “Be ready for a career-changing move! You are going to grow yourself while you are growing someone else. Have the conversation with your guests in the way that is extremely positive. How amazing is that you get to grow a stylist, grow your salon company, and grow your guest’s experience? Let’s go!”
Also, stay tuned as we follow Blake’s associate journey and hear his discoveries, challenges, and successes as he enters this new phase of his career.
Are you interested in attending a Summit Salon® Associate Program training in your area? Click to view upcoming programs.