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What can the tech industry learn from hairdressing?

From high tech to highlights

We know, we know – technology and hairdressing? At first glance, the two industries couldn’t appear more different. But dig a little deeper and you’ll soon find that tech companies of all sizes have a great deal to learn from their local hair salon.

It’s all about staff training.

Think about your experience of going to the hairdresser. Every salon has a strong team of apprentices and juniors who are learning on the job and performing tasks suited to their level of experience. That’s because the training model in hairdressing is to create a learning journey for staff, and there are plenty of ways that technology-driven organisations could benefit from following these simple tips:

1. Bring on juniors as generalists

Apprentices don’t enter the salon with a specialty, they learn the basics and specialise as they develop. From sweeping the floors to washing at the basin to their first trim, junior members of staff are given a solid foundation in the skills they’ll need to be a great hairdresser, whatever they go on to specialise in.

2. Set expectations

Staff experience levels are always made clear to the internal team - and to the clients. In fact, this is baked into the business model thanks to the salon price list. Operating in this way immediately sets expectations about what individuals are trained to deliver. Clients are empowered to choose staff depending on the skills required for the task at hand.

3. Create a clear path for learning

From the moment apprentices arrive in a salon they know what their role is, how it will develop and the skills they’ll learn along the way. Regular training courses, shadowing senior staff and on-the-job experience create a path for juniors to learn, ensuring progression at an appropriate rate and setting individuals up for success.

4. Communicate

OK, it’s a cliché… but hairdressers tend to be great communicators. They keep teams informed, support individuals and take clients on the learning journey with them. By building great relationships, retention rates for clients and staff members are improved.

Still not convinced?

DSO Board member Emma Weston uses this model in her own business – AgriDigital. Emma says:

Whilst agtech and hairdressing could not be further apart in terms of product, companies in both industries are ultimately striving for the same result. That is, a happy customer who buys again and recommends us to others.

At AgriDigital we do not explicitly use the hairdressing analogy, but we do use the framework outlined above. Great customer experience (CX) is at the core of what we aim to deliver and all of us need to keep developing and learning to achieve this.

This is a lesson we learnt very early on. One of the key mistakes we made originally was not putting aside explicit time for discovery, training and experimenting. This is time just to be curious and then to bend that curiosity in service of the customer. You don’t have to be a tech company to benefit from this approach, but we have found that given how quickly technologies evolve, the demands on our team to stay up to date and to be able to confidently innovate means that thinking about how to empower staff and manage customer expectations, just like great hair salons do, really works.

At DSO, we’re passionate about making sure digital skills training in Australia is the strongest it can be. To do this, we’re working with industry to discover, pilot and implement innovative solutions to improve digital skills training and create an industry-ready digital workforce in Australia. 

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