The Revolving Door: The Hidden Costs of Employee Turnover

Grooming Business Basics

By Khris Berry

Everypet Grooming Salon is a popular salon in a mid–size town. When the owners of Everypet found themselves overbooked and understaffed, they placed an advertisement for a new groomer. Evelyn interviewed for the job and was hired. She began work at Everypet and in no time at all had a few regular clients and a busy schedule. She asked to be scheduled as many dogs as possible to help with the financial strain of having been displaced from her previous job. Evelyn offered much needed help in the overworked salon and her co–workers were happy to have her aboard. Evelyn and her fellow staff members began to form friendships. 

Although she had busy days with plentiful appointments, she didn’t mesh completely with the rules of Everypet Grooming Salon. Over the next few months, the relationship between Evelyn and Everypet became strained. As the relationship deteriorated, Evelyn commiserated with co–workers about being unhappy with her position. Eventually Evelyn left Everypet for another grooming position.

This scenario plays out many times, every day all across the country. Grooming positions remain unfilled and groomers remain unfulfilled. One of the keys to eliminating the revolving door in the grooming salon is to understand the hidden costs associated with employee turnover. Let’s examine those costs and how they affect every aspect of your business and career.

As a service provider, clients are often affected most directly by changes in staffing.  Pet owners need consistency and reliability to develop trust and a relationship with their pet stylist. Meeting a new stylist can be stressful for many pet owners. While they may trust your facility, they are seeking continuity in their experience. The quality of the service a client receives may be diminished due to turn overs in staffing.

Each time a pet stylist grooms a pet, they become more familiar with the nuances of the pet’s behavior and coat. That information is lost and the process begins anew when a pet is introduced to a new stylist. Lastly, from the customer’s perspective, their availability to be seen by you or your salon may be negatively impacted if employee turn over causes you to become back logged, overbooked or able to service fewer clients than normal.

We’ve looked at the consequences your clients may experience due to staffing changes, but what about their pets? The hidden costs to pets include loss of continuity and trust. Just like their owners, pets enjoy routine and can build lasting relationships with their grooming providers. Changes in staffing can increase pet stress; cause the pet’s tolerance of the grooming process to deteriorate; and in the case of naturally anxious or reactive pets, increase the likelihood of a negative response during grooming. Pets who are more likely to misbehave may find themselves at greater risk of injury.

Having continuity in the pet’s care team also increases the chances that a regular groomer will notate changes in skin, help monitor chronic health issues and provide a second set of eyes to busy owners. Lastly, changeover in staffing requires that there are training periods where new staff learns the expectations of their new salon. Pets may experience undertrained or less experienced service providers during these transition periods.

Another hidden cost of staffing change comes at the expense of your co–workers and existing staff. Employees experience the loss of a co–worker on a personal level. They may feel grief, betrayal, or a general sense of loss when someone they worked closely with moves on. In the wake of the loss of a co–worker, remaining employees may feel overworked or burdened when trying to absorb clients. And when new staff does arrive, during the inevitable transition period, the burden shifts to helping the new groomer learn the ropes, often leading to additional stress on the overburdened existing staff. The cycle perpetuates and employees who remain through it can experience burn–out.

Every business owner can lament the hidden (and not so hidden) costs of employee turnover. If you tally the time and costs associated with finding, hiring, training and administrating, each employee has a numerical value to their employer. These costs are simply not recoverable on a lost employee.

Other hidden losses include any education or training the employee may have gained at the expense of their employer, and even valuable experience gained on the job. These are not always definable or replaceable in new hires.

Another impact which may be felt on a business level is reputation. Although groomers often develop individual relationships with their clients, the salon may be seen in a negative light by clients if they experience a new face at every visit.

Few people think about how the revolving door may affect the employee him or herself. The transient employee suffers hidden effects as well. While the employee may find another job, each change comes with a degree of displacement which leads to a loss of financial stability, increased personal stress, and loss of peers and friendships. The displaced employee loses the ability to form deep, lasting relationships with both clients and their pets. True happiness as a groomer is being fortunate enough to groom pets from puppyhood into their senior years and to know families through generations of their pets.

The culture of the entire grooming industry suffers when a revolving door attitude persists. From reputation (who hasn’t heard someone say “groomers are flighty”?) to professionalism, learning to work together for the good of the clients and their pets will ensure that generations of pets and their owners enjoy safe, lasting, enduring relationships with the pet groomers. Dependability and reliability are a cornerstone for being a provider that your clients can trust.

Employees are the best investment a company can make on behalf of their clients. Conflict resolution, transparency and communication are keys to avoiding these losses and providing stability for your clients. Working to reduce turnover and close the revolving door for good will help the entire pet service industry—one groomer at a time! ✂

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