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The Ultimate Training Manual

A good training manual is worth its weight in gold, or at least good old U.S. currency, since solid education is key to solid profits. A great training manual must be pure “take-away” for the readers—it’s all immediately applicable information, which will make your cash register buzz faster than the speed of sales.
The purpose of a training manual is to first set the standard for service, based upon the company vision, then to lay out in actionable steps how that standard may be achieved and surpassed daily for optimum team achievement.

Begin With Your Tribal Culture

The first page of the manual must be the company vision, or mission statement, told as simply as possible, in no more than one or two sentences. The vision is the glue, which holds the tribal culture of your skin treatment center, spa or salon together. Set it in large type – 36 point. Consider actually having this page screened back to a light tint (5-10 percent, so it’s just a whisper), and serving as the Training Manual “letterhead,” with the full text of the manual printing over it. In this way, the corporate mission is seen and felt on every page, in every action of the Manual. If you don’t do this literally, do it symbolically as you write the text. Keep the mission statement in your head as your guiding mantra.
And reinforce what’s in the book in every other aspect of your workday. Post the vision or mission statement on the wall in the break room. As the team heads back out onto the floor, the words will linger with them as they go to greet clients! And don’t forget that you also have to lead your team by example. Live your mantra everyday!

When You Build It, You Own It

Truly effective Manuals are not rarified documents created by executives who never get their hands dirty. If you really want to know what the issues and challenges are in a particular department, plunk yourself down in their space for a couple of days, observe, ask lots of questions, and learn. Encourage participation, and really listen to what is said on the front lines. Then incorporate this knowledge into the draft, and enlist those original sources as editors for their section.
When you’re documenting how a treatment works, don’t stop with the product manufacturer’s description of how everything is supposed to work. Really talk with your techs. How does that sugar foot scrub really perform during application? Is it really tough to remove? Do clients complain of feeling gritty when they want to feel silky? Be sure that the step-by-step is reality-based and reflects the actual process as experienced by your team.

Skill And System

The Manual must address the particular skills and techniques needed in every aspect of the business, from scheduling appointments to performing painless extractions. Most importantly, the skill-set must be organized and put into the context of a larger, overall system which drives the company from a macro-view. It’s important that all employees at every level see the “ripple effect” – that a sour-looking staff, or a phone left to ring far too long will have a profoundly negative effect upon the vibe in your space, and ultimately upon your bottom line.

No Detail Too Small

The Manual goes from the macro picture of the company’s driving vision down to the tiniest, subtlest details of doing day-to-day business. This includes everything from the script used by the team who answers the phone, to company dress code, to setting up the treatment room, to what refreshments are offered to visiting guests.
Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the seeming smallness of some of these topics. It all counts, and none of it is trivial. Look upon decisions such as whether or not to use paper towels in the restrooms (versus an air hand-dryer) as tactics, which are the details of larger strategies, which extend directly from the corporate objectives dictated by the mission statement.

Keeping It Real

Whenever possible, illuminate the process you’re describing with visuals—page after page of unrelieved text alienates the reader. Grab your digital camera and tell your story with visuals as much as how-to text, especially when laying out treatment pages.
And, include a training assessment form with each Manual. Invite feedback, even when it’s less than glowing. Don’t be too haughty to make changes! This interactivity is how you can ensure that your Manual is a viable, living tool, which will truly serve the needs of the company vision.

Annet King, Director of Training and Development for The International Dermal Institute (IDI), is both CIDESCO and CIBTAC certified with more than 18 years of skin care industry experience. Her responsibilities include overseeing the vast IDI teaching staff around the globe, as well as developing the curriculum taught in all 45 countries. Her dynamic personality paired with her expertise make her one of the most in-demand guest speakers at educational events worldwide.

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