Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 1. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, this show is a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, roundups of our most recent salon owners marketing tips & tricks, all the latest in and around Phorest and what upcoming webinars you can join. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 1

One topic that can often be difficult to address is what to do about employee theft in a salon. In this episode, we bring in guest Michelle Bolger, an employment law consultant from ESA Consultants, to discuss this and other HR issues that salon owners may face.  We also talk about different ways to approach marketing with the upcoming Holiday season, and how you can use Snapchat as a free, fun, and easy marketing tool.



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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, episode one. I’m your host Killian Vigna, and today I’m joined by Zoe Belisle-Springer. Today we’re going to talk about a couple of blogs that have gone up this week. We’ll be learning how to deal with tricky salon staff issues, how to handle and prevent employee theft in the salon from our special guest blogger, we’ll go through some November salon marketing ideas you can try out for your salon, and we’ll even talk about our brand new clients-only webinar, the Phorest Academy Online Bookings Master Class. So let’s get started.

Welcome to our exclusive-to-clients Phorest FM podcast. Thanks for tuning in. This podcast is a weekly roundup of our latest marketing tips and tricks for salon owners, what’s been going on in and around the Phorest, and what new webinars are taking place and upcoming. The podcast is produced every morning for you to enjoy with a cup of coffee on your day off every Monday. Now let’s get into the show.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Hey, Killian. How are you?

Killian Vigna: Hey Zoe. How are things?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Pretty good, pretty good. Thanks.

Killian Vigna: I suppose let’s start off with a couple of the cool blogs you’ve thrown up this week for us, now.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, of course. Well, Monday, it was a lot of events actually, and marketing guides this week. Monday, I had the Halloween guide going out, so we had loads of SMS templates in there and graphics for you guys to use. Then Wednesday, we had our guest blogger update us on how to handle salon employee theft. And just yesterday, actually, I released a salon Christmas guide and it’s all about marketing content planners, SMS and email templates, there’s voicemail greeting scripts in there adapted for your Christmas period and such. So there’s a lot of content there and it’s all available for free to download on the blog.

Killian Vigna: So this is a toolkit up on the blog at the moment, but it’s one that you use in November for preparing for Christmas, then, is it?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, Exactly.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Killian Vigna: Cool. And the Halloween one, so what exactly would you expect to find in that Halloween kit? Because we know there’s only a couple days left, but we still, especially in Ireland, we still have a whole week of bank holidays; so it’s not essentially the weekend you’re looking at, it’s the whole week that you can kind of capitalize on that for.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Definitely. Well, listen, there’s a few things you can do at this point. Two, three days before Halloween, obviously, you can’t throw this huge event. There’s no time for that.

Killian Vigna: No.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: But you can definitely throw up some contests on social media, stuff on Instagram, have people engage with you through Snapchat if you have Snapchat, or even Facebook, do some Facebook live tutorials on like, “This is our makeup thing. Our Halloween makeup for the day.” And, “Send us your best one,” kind of thing.

Killian Vigna: So it’s all about kind of enjoy, I suppose, get in the mood of Halloween because just right around the corner then is Christmas, so even though it’s a busy time, it’s just removing that kind of seriousness and distress away from it and just … Just enjoy it, guys. It’s kind of the very few times in the year where you can have fun with your marketing campaigns.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s like the best time for it.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. We sent out a couple of SMS templates there to a few salon owners during the week, and we’re kind of thinking, it was like, “Well, is Halloween really enough to get people in?” Then we were like, “You know what? Just forget about it. Let’s just kind of ‘boo-tiful’ and ‘fang-tastic’.” And salon owners got back to us and said they absolutely loved it, even though we thought there were ones they weren’t really going to use …

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. It’s surprising sometimes. Yeah, definitely.

Killian Vigna: Again, just have a bit of fun with it. Then in the November template, or the November marketing kit … That’s live now, it’s available. It’s all about kind of, “Don’t leave it to the last minute.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly. I mean, we are still in October, right?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: But, technically … There’s so much things to do before Christmas, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so if you start planning your marketing campaigns for your salon around beginning of December, say; you’re going to run out of time, or you’re going to be feeling overwhelmed with things. So it’s just like, it’s out here now and even if you don’t exactly start pushing something out, at least you can plan over, like, eight weeks before Christmas kind of thing.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. That on the eight weeks, we highly recommend, kind of, give yourself a lot of time because it is easy to fall into the trap of you’re quiet at one period and you’re kind of thinking about your campaigns, but you’ll notice all of a sudden you’re slowly getting busier and busier, and then, like you said, before you realize, it’s December and you’re going, “Oh no. I’ve got no campaigns set out.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: You might be thinking to yourself, “I’m too busy, I can’t do this. Which means my competitors aren’t.” Matter of fact, your competitors are. They’re planning like a month, two months ahead, and that’s why we released this content so early.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Definitely. And another thing that I want to talk about is, loads of people think that for Christmas you should have so many things going on, but, essentially, if you focus say just on social media, or just on this or that, of course you’re not going to cover everything, but the idea behind this is to focus on, “What do you want to achieve with your campaigns this year?” So, do you want to bring new customers in? Do you want loyal customers to come back more often? Choose one particular thing, one growth area, and then build campaigns around that so your efforts are actually worth it meanwhile.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. Cool. So another one then, that we talked about was the upcoming webinars. This week we actually launched Online Bookings Master Class, so it was the very first time we’ve done this one. It was just purely because a lot of clients were coming to us and they understood that they needed to begin with the online bookings but they just weren’t too sure how to go about it, and then there was that fear aspect of, “Oh, what happens if I start double booking,” and stuff like those.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: So, yeah. We hosted our first webinar there this week with Danielle Mallen, who is the manager for online bookings, and a few things we talked about in that was just kind of best practices for online booking. So talking about where you position it, how you make your call to action stand out, making your website mobile responsive. Which is a very big one lately, isn’t it?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Definitely, yeah. I mean, the world’s gone mobile.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Let’s just face it. It’s the reality.

Killian Vigna: We were at a marketing talk there the other day. It was actually this guy from MARS, which is a big SEO company. But he was saying that, in the next 20 years, they reckon the browser will actually be gone, so your internet explorer, your Google Chrome, your Mozilla Firefox; it’ll all be gone. It’s just going to be apps everywhere. So that’s what we were kind of … Your online booking, make sure your website is optimized for the mobile, and by doing that, you can … Apps really help you out with that sort of stuff.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, for sure.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. Especially for trying to get younger clients, isn’t it?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. I mean, the platforms … We had one platform die, announced to be dead this week. It was Vine.

Killian Vigna: Vine. Ah, there was a lot of tears at the offices.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. But then, there’s other younger one’s that just like … Snapchat’s three years old already, and it’s growing fast and young people are kind of leaving Facebook a little to go onto theses new platforms because it’s fresh, it’s new and there’s not as much pressure on having to appear nice, and such.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. I think the whole catch of Snapchat is that … Everyone knows if you put something up on Facebook, Facebook owns that. That’s there for the rest of your life, essentially.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, exactly.

Killian Vigna: But with Snapchat, you’ve got 10 seconds, and that is the appeal. It creates that sort of urgency and fear of missing out and stuff like that. You just did a webinar on that recently, didn’t you?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, I kicked it off about two weeks ago. It went really well, people were … Actually, loads of people had the app already, most of them weren’t necessarily using it for the salon, but they kind of new how to work around it because they’d use it on day-to-day basis for their personal use. But the challenge in Snapchat is, for salon owners at least, from what I’ve got, is how you make money out of it and is it really worth the while?

The way I feel about it, is that Snapchat’s not necessarily there to bring you, at the end of the day, I don’t know, 100 quid in your salon, it’s to build your brand awareness, and that’s going to stay in the long term, and that’s what’s going to … You know, word of mouth and, “Oh, these guys did this amazing thing on Snapchat today. Did you see that?” “Oh, maybe I’ll pop in for,” I don’t know. That stylist looked really cool, maybe I’ll pop in for a cut later on.” You know, it’s just … Yeah, it’s building awareness.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. It’s easy to get caught up in the whole, “Well, what’s the return on investment of this? What’s the return on investment of that?” Completely understandable, everyone wants to know if they’re going to invest money and time into something what are they going to get in return. But with Snapchat, it’s hard to measure the ROI on it, because you’re not putting money in it. Yes, you’re putting time into it, but … Like you said, it’s about brand awareness, getting your salon out there, getting younger clients in the door, too, because they love Snapchat. And also big one there is the social authority as well.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. For sure.

Killian Vigna: Your followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, by getting people following you on Snapchat’s going to be more engagement.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Those guys can actually send you images as well. So you can start conversing. I think you actually had a couple of conversations with people on Snapchat this week.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I did. Yeah, following the Snapchat webinar, I had a few conversations either by photo exchange or even just the chat box itself. I mean, it’s fun and it’s just you need to adapt to the new technologies and the ones that are leaving slowly.

Killian Vigna: It’s not even a case of, “Invest a ton of time.” It’s just, “Try things out. See if it works for you.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. If it doesn’t work for you, and it’s not your audience, then hey. You put what? A week of time into it, and you’re not into it? Then stop it, it’s fine.

Killian Vigna: We’re not in the MadMen days anymore where you spend millions on advertisements.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Cool. I suppose then we will just finish up then with our special guest blogger. Our special guest blogger today is Michelle Bolger. Michelle Bolger, she’s the employment law consultant at ESA Consultants. And why we had her do some guest blogs for us was because, it’s kind of a hot topic recently. Especially with coming up to Christmas, there’s a lot of parties and people are going out drinking a lot, like your staff, so it’s a case of how to deal with tricky salon staff issues. And then-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, like someone who goes out at night and then gets drunk, posts a picture on Facebook, but then you as a salon owner saw this and, “Oh.” Say, next day, calls in sick, what can you do about this? It was just interesting to get an HR point of view from this, so an authority point of view on this.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. It is a touchy sort of subject.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly.

Killian Vigna: We said for this one it was best to kind of get the expert advice here.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. And then we also talked about … Michelle also wrote a blog about how to handle theft in your salon. Unfortunately, it is a pinpoint in small businesses especially. People steal, and what can you do about it, how can you prevent it. She gave loads of useful tips for salons. I actually have her on the line right now so let’s begin.

Killian Vigna: Cool. Let’s find out.

Michelle Bolger: Hi, Zoe?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Hi, how are you?

Michelle Bolger: Hi, it’s Michelle. How are you?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Pretty good, thanks. So I’m joined by Killian here, he’s our host for the day, and he has a few questions for you.

Michelle Bolger: Yep. Go for it.

Killian Vigna: Cool. Yeah. Like I said, Michelle Bolger, she’s the employment law consultant at ESA consultants, so I suppose if you could just start off with a little bit of your background of what exactly you take care of and how we came about these blogs, then?

Michelle Bolger: Okay. I’m trying to make it sound interesting when it’s something very dry like law. Okay. I suppose this started out because there was a gap in the market for lots of small to medium businesses to … Were thriving and doing very well because their owners had a skill set in the case of a lot of salons, obviously, you have someone who has a talent for hairdressing or beauticians, but might not necessarily have a HR background, or employment law background.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right.

Killian Vigna: Exactly. Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: And they’re so good at their jobs, the business takes off and thrives. And they hire lots of staff, everybody’s very happy, you know, and it’s just math that eventually, you’re going to hire a member of staff, and you’re going to have problems. What happens then for a lot of employers in these smaller enterprises is that they don’t have the funds, necessarily, to pump 40, 50 grand into a HR department. They don’t need us. But, they do need some kind of support in terms of contracts, handbooks, any kind of issues from, “What do I have to pay for public holidays,” to, “I have an employee stealing, what do I do?”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right. So policies and such.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. That’s kind of where we saw an opportunity and we thought, “Okay. This is something a lot of people are talking about that they need, maybe we can provide that for them.” And we’ve been very successful in that area since. We don’t have a kind of “one system fits all”, it really is up to the salon owner or the hairdresser to come to us and say, “Look. This is my ethos, this is my environment I want,” you know, “this is what I need.” And whether that be contracts and handbooks, and whether that be, “I just got a solicitor’s letter in that an employee is taking me to court over unfair dismissal, maternity leave, redundancy,” we’ll handle all of that for them.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. I suppose like I was just saying to Zoe, the reason we called you today to talk about these blogs is because, especially with coming up to Christmas, where you’ve got a lot of staff that tend to go out partying and drinking a lot more on the weekends and stuff like that. We all see it ourselves, you’ve gone out-

Michelle Bolger: Everybody’s like, “Woo-hoo!” I’m like, “Oh no!”

Killian Vigna: I know. Pretty much everyone has been in that situation, where they’ve gone out and their friends have been, “Oh, just stay. Just stay.” “Oh, I can’t. I’ve got work the next day.” But then there is always that one friends who’s like-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That one extra party.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. Who’s just had a few many who is just like, “Oh, just call in sick.”

Michelle Bolger: They’re not doing peer pressure. You, “I didn’t want to, it was them.”

Killian Vigna: Yeah. We certainly can laugh and joke about it now, but it comes at an expense to the salon owner.

Michelle Bolger: Oh, it’s a huge issue. I would say my Decembers … Everyone else is kind of, you know, doing their list for their shopping. Our Decembers in here, and our Januaries are filled with emails and phone calls from employers saying everything from, “There was a fight between two staff members at the party,”-

Killian Vigna: Oh, the Christmas parties.

Michelle Bolger: -to, “Someone’s had too much to drink and fallen into a glass table and they’re looking for compensation,” to, “One of the managers got overly touchy with another member of staff, how do we handle that?” That hasn’t been in the salon, but obviously with some drink on them, these things have happened. It’s a huge issue every year for employers. But there are some very simple steps that you could take to control it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So if we talk about the … Say, the Facebook image. It’s been posted and then the employee calls in sick the next day. What’s the manager’s options?

Michelle Bolger: Okay. So for the manager, essentially, you have … The scenario that we’re looking at is where someone hasn’t said to a manager, “Look, I’m going out. Can I have that day off?” So they’ve given the manager in the salon no notice that they’re not going to be able to work that day.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right.

Michelle Bolger: So they’ve been roster-ed, as per normal, to show up and do their job. And the manager probably comes in and has gotten some kind of garbled-y text message saying, “I’m not able to come in today, I’ll call you later,” has no idea what’s happened until the salon kind of warms up and they find out that everybody’s looking at this Facebook picture of the employee up at whatever hour knocking back Jägerbombs, having the time of their life.

So what the employer can do … What the manager’s going to do then first of all, a lot of employers are under the misapprehension that, because it’s Facebook, that it’s somehow private and they’re not allowed to act on that. But the nature of Facebook is that you’re publishing something, essentially, to the world.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. And like we were saying earlier, the whole kind of, you know that once you put something up on Facebook, everyone is going to get it. Facebook owns that. There’s no hiding, no deleting it.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, so can you as a manager act on that? Yes. Okay, it’s been put up for public consumption, and you’re able to access it, yes. What I recommend employers to do at that point is to take some kind of a picture of it so that they have it for later, because obviously these Facebook posts can be taken down, that kind of thing, but you might need to rely on it at a later date.

Killian Vigna: And you’d need to highlight kind of the timestamp of it as well, would you?

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t get too … When we’re dealing with HR, what I always say to people, and I don’t mean to dilute the seriousness of it, but, think more so duty as opposed to law and order. In that we’re going more on reasonableness and, you know, you’re not expected to suddenly be too embarrassed or standard. So if you print something off or you take a picture of something and you don’t have a date and timestamp on it, it’s okay for you to sign the back of that with the date and time of it.

Killian Vigna: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: You don’t have to have two witnesses and CCTV covering you and all that sort of thing.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: But do make a note of it.

Killian Vigna: So there is a bit of, kind of, leeway in how you go about this process?

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. Yeah. It’s reasonable. You have to be reasonable and fair to the employee and to yourself.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Should you have a certainly policy explained beforehand? Before actually taking measures against an employee? Or, if it happens it happens and you can get disciplined for it?

Michelle Bolger: Well, I know in Ireland, and it would be the same in England, you are required to have your terms of employment and policies saved, such as bullying, grievance policies, and your disciplinary policies. The best way I could explain it is, if you go into a shop and you want to return something and you don’t have a receipt, you know that you’re not going to have the best of luck in returning that item.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. You’re almost setting yourself up for failure there.

Michelle Bolger: Exactly. It’s the same with an employer. If you’re not going to get the documentation in place the basic documentation in place, it’s very hard then to retrospectively discipline someone or deal with the matter, because they can say, “Well, I didn’t know that that was going to be that type of issue. I didn’t know that that constituted gross misconduct.” You know, and maybe the action that you wanted to take, you’re not going to be able to take.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: In an ideal world, yes, by law you are required to have a contract and terms of employment, does it mean that you don’t that you absolutely can’t do anything? No. But you’re going to have to take baby steps in approaching it. So for the salon owner who doesn’t have any documentation in and Silly Sally has put up a picture on Facebook, and the manager is thinking, “I am going to tear her to shreds.” What I would say is, “Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Okay? Doing time for anyone is not worth this. What you’re going to do is wait until silly Sally comes back in, because there’s no point in dealing with her while she has a hangover and she’s out.”

Killian Vigna: Yeah. It’s just going over her head.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. “When she comes back in, if you do not have documentation in place, what I would suggest firstly is, call her into a meeting. Somewhere private.” You know, I get a lot of employers saying to me, “Well, I said it to her.” “Where?” “Well, we were out on the floor.” Or, “Well, it was just the two of us doing nails at the time and, yeah well the receptionist logged it”, that’s not okay. Nobody wants to have that conversation. You know, be respectful to the employee. Yes, they might have done something wrong. Be respectful to their rights as well. So take them away somewhere private and say something like, “What happened?” Give them an opportunity to explain. It has happened in the past that we’ve had situations where an employee will say, “Look, I’m really sorry but I found out yesterday at whatever o’clock that my brother had died. And I just didn’t know what to do,” you know, “I was all over the place, and ended up going out and having far too many drinks and I’m sorry.”

Killian Vigna: Yeah. It’s one of those spur of the moment sort of …

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. I know in 90 percent of the cases, it’s going to be, “I was just very immature and made bad decisions,” and that can happen as well. If you have an employee who’s been excellent for five years, are you really going to go through a disciplinary process for one bad decision, one night of bad decisions? You know your salon, you know your employees; work with what you know.

In that instance, call them in, have a meeting, talk to them, explain to them what happened, explain how important they are to the running of your business. “When you’re not here, this is what goes wrong.” You know, “Your colleagues need to step in. We get disgruntled,” you know, “clients. They might not come back in if that was their first experience of us. This is what happens when you’re not here.” So that’s a veery kind of, a local and informative way of dealing with this.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: If you wanted to step it up, you call them in, you ask them for an explanation, and if you find that that explanation isn’t satisfactory, you can say to them, “Right. Look, there’s going to be disciplinary action on this.” And then there is a very set procedure as to how that disciplinary action should run.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right.

Killian Vigna: And would this be-

Michelle Bolger: It’s legal layman’s. SI-146 of 2,000 regulations.

Killian Vigna: Sorry what?

Michelle Bolger: And I’m sure that everyone’s going to remember that.

Killian Vigna: I don’t even think I heard that right.

Michelle Bolger: Essentially, if you even want to google this practice, or if you want to contact a HR company like ourselves, we can set that out for you. But I think if I were to go through those steps now, it would be a lot to take on board.

Killian Vigna: Very heavy, yeah.

Michelle Bolger: It’s kind of a little bit heavy. For someone who hasn’t done it before, it’s a little bit heavy.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right.

Killian Vigna: So Michelle, would these kind of, these principles of practice, would they kind of go hand in hand with … If you find an employee that was stealing, or the whole case of taking a product home here and there. It doesn’t even have to be cash. Would it be the same sort of processes you’d go through, or …

Michelle Bolger: Well, yeah. I mean ,I would say, if somebody’s taking products or cash, remember what you’re about to accuse them of, and that is theft.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: It’s a very, very serious allegation. I know for a lot of managers in salons and that kind of thing, they happen to be the owners as well, and they’ve really worked hard to get the business where it’s at; so it’s a really bad punch to the stomach when they find out that someone’s taking product or taking money in much more of a way than it would be if you were hired to be a manager. There’s a disconnect there to a certain level. But when someone is taking product or taking money, you are about to accuse them of theft, so you have to be very, very careful in how you proceed. This isn’t something to accuse someone of willy-nilly.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: If a salon owner was suspecting an employee of stealing, would you recommend them going to an HR company for advice first?

Michelle Bolger: Well, what I’d say is, even before you pick up the phone for HR, do everything that you could do in house to try and identify who you think the person is and when it’s happening.

Killian Vigna: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: I know, for example, your software has an option on it for petty cash and deducting stock and that kind of thing, so maybe if people are choosing your software … I don’t want to say “properly”, but using all the elements of your software, it might be the first protocol to look at to see if they can control it that way first of all. Look at the rosters, start doing more spot-checks, that kind of thing, to really narrow down on who you think it is.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right. And I suppose you can jump in in the salon without giving notice of, “I’ll be back around lunch,” or something. Without giving times.

Michelle Bolger: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve spoken to a lot of area managers and things over the years, and they’d say to me, “I don’t know how they knew I was coming.” And I’d say, “Yeah, but the store that’s 20 minutes away, you told them to contact you there about an issue. You know, ‘When you find out where such and such is, call me. I’m going to be at this store after lunch.'” Of course they’re going to tell their colleagues, “By the way, boss is on the way.” Be very careful of what you’re saying and then who you’re saying it to.

Also, be super careful around CCTV. Your employees have a right to know that there’s CCTV in and around their place of work.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Right.

Michelle Bolger: They also have a right to know what the purpose of that is. And you have to, have to, have to, there’s no option around it; you have to have something in writing to say to them that you may use that CCTV to conduct internal investigations. Even if you have lovely signs dotted all around saying there’s CCTV operation in place, even if you have it in their contract saying, “We use CCTV,” but you don’t specifically state that you will use that CCTV for disciplinary or internal investigations, you can’t use it.

Killian Vigna: So this is something you’re better off getting them to agree with pretty much on their first day of employment, is it?

Michelle Bolger: Exactly. That should be in your contract, or in your handbook.

Killian Vigna: Okay.

Michelle Bolger: That should be part of your induction process. I have an awful lot of employers who come to me and say, “Oh, I’m off to catching them doing, you know, x, y, z,” and they have the CCTV. And when I check their documentation, either they have none, or they have this lovely CCTV policy, but it doesn’t say that it can be used for internal investigations. I have to say, “We can’t use it.”

Killian Vigna: Ah, okay. Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: Do you get me?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: We absolutely, we can’t use it. We can’t use it going forward. That causes a lot of aggravation. You can imagine, as an employer, you know someone’s stealing from you, and you have to put up with it until you get your ducks lined in a row again. Very, very frustrating.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. And it’s something that would easily slip your mind, too, but it’d still come back and bite you.

Michelle Bolger: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Killian Vigna: Michelle, you said earlier about, “You have to be very careful about,” because you’re dealing with theft and you’re going to accuse them of theft. I just wanted one sort of real life scenario … Say you’ve got Mary who’s been working with you for the last five years, and Mary is an absolute doll, to say, a pleasure to work with. But you noticed her … Another member of staff came to you one day and said, “Did you know Mary’s after taking a product?”

Right there and then, do you approach Mary straight away, or … Because I know a lot of people would be inclined to, “Oh, I really like Mary. Mary’s nice, so I might just hold back and, kind of, maybe see if another product or two has disappeared.” Or you better off just act on it straight away?

Michelle Bolger: Okay. In that particular scenario, what you have to decide is … Do you remember at the beginning of the conversation I said, “Fair and reasonable?”

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: They are your two guiding principles in everything that you do in HR, in this country especially. Fair and reasonable. If you are going to treat one employee in a certain way in connection to a taking of product, you have to be prepared to treat everybody like that. It doesn’t matter if Mary has been to your child’s christening, or she was your first employee, she always shows up on time; you have to treat her the same way you do everyone else.

So if someone comes to you and says, “Look. I think Mary’s been taking products,” you know, “and a good bit of products home, and she’s doing stuff on the side.” The first thing I’d say to that member of staff is, “Okay. I need you to put that in writing for me.” Now, if the member of staff refuses, you have the option to say to them that, “Right. If you’re refusing to put it down for me, then I have to drop it.”

Killian Vigna: Yeah. Okay.

Michelle Bolger: “Because you’re either prepared to say it, or not say it.”

Killian Vigna: Without it, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

Michelle Bolger: You’re going to need some detail as well. Ideally, you want to say to her, “When was the last time you saw her taking it? And what product was it?” So that, hopefully, you’ll be able to go back and see from your stocks, does it look a little light compared to what it should be on the software? But that statement is really important. You can’t just go up to Mary and say, “Someone’s after telling,” … I mean, imagine if a girl came up to you and said, “Someone has said that you took something from this bar.” “Okay, when did I take it?” “I can’t tell you that.”

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Michelle Bolger: “Who said it?” “I can’t tell you that.” “What did I take?” “I can’t tell you that.” If you wouldn’t accept it yourself, don’t expect your employees to do it. Be as sure as you can about what the issues are. Now, maybe Mary is a brilliant employee … You just want to call everyone into the office and say, “Look. I need to make it very clear what our policy is in relation to taking products.” And just draw a line in the sand and say, “This is what it is in case anyone isn’t sure. And going forward, if I find people are taking it without permission, there will be disciplinary action.”

Killian Vigna: And it can be tough but, at the end of the day, it’s your salon, they’re your profits. You have to be firm on it.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. A lot of people don’t want to go … Look, no one wants to waste their time doing disciplinary. And when you’re dealing with … I mean, one of the reasons ESA, I suppose, became popular was because it’s very hard to discipline people when you’re in an operation that might be 10 to 20 staff and you see each other every day, and you talk to each other every day, and you’re very involved in each other’s personal life. Just in terms of talking about it every day.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. Almost on a friendship level.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. It’s very hard to draw a line then and say, “I’m going to have to discipline you.” Which is where a company like ESA, or any of the other HR companies can come in. Because we’re independent, we don’t work with them, so I suppose you can be a little bit clinical in that we can come in, we can do what needs to be done in a balanced way, and then we get to leave. I suppose we do the nastier element of it, but at least we can protect everybody’s rights in it and make sure that it’s done. Plus, you get to blame us and say, “Those horrible people at ESA did it.”

Killian Vigna: It’s always easier to have someone else to blame.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah. But it is nice to have someone else to blame. It just is. That’s human. With regard to Mary, you can go that way, you can just go very gently, gently, or you can escalate it all the way up, get the statement from the employee, and go down the disciplinary route.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. So I suppose my key takeaway is here then, even between the two blogs, treat all your employees the same; it doesn’t matter if it’s Mary who you love, who’s been there for five years, or if it’s someone that you don’t really get on with, who’s somebody kind of new in the door. Treat them all fairly. Do it in private, don’t do it in front of your staff, your disciplinary. And make sure any employee that does report fraud or theft agrees to write it down for you.

Michelle Bolger: Yep. Get your details. The devil is in the details, so make sure you’re really getting down dates, times, anything like that that you can. And if you’re not sure, if you’re not sure just have a conversation with them. Take notes at the conversation, get them to sign it, and then maybe go to someone like ESA or something like that for further information. Don’t jump in and make accusations. It’s kind of harder to paddle backward.

Killian Vigna: Keep a level head.

Michelle Bolger: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Well listen, Michelle, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the phone and-

Michelle Bolger: Thank you so much.

Killian Vigna: -those insights were absolutely fantastic. Even us, we don’t run a salon, and we found it very information.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Definitely.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. Listen-

Michelle Bolger: Oh, thank you so much. You’re so kind.

Killian Vigna: You presented it in a brilliant way, don’t worry.

Michelle Bolger: I did it without even having my hair all done up nice.

Killian Vigna: Michelle, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks a million. We wish you all the best.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: All right. Bye bye, now.

Michelle Bolger: Take it easy.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, on that note …

Zoe Belisle-Springer:That was really insightful. That was amazing.

Killian Vigna: I went quiet a few times because I was just kind of taken aback from it there. It’s just those small things … I suppose it is easy to kind of go, “She lied to me,” or, “He lied to me,” or, “He’s stealing that.” Just literally lose the lid and jump straight into it. But yeah, keep a level head. I suppose, treat them like you would want to be treated.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly. It’s just a matter of being respectful, at the end of the day.

Killian Vigna: Exactly. Yeah. So guys, that’s all we have time for now today. Don’t forget, you can find your Halloween toolkit online, you can find your November toolkit, and I advise you to act on that now. Because like we said, don’t stress about Christmas, you’ve still got four weeks if you start planning your marketing today. And then we have those great notes from Michelle.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And it’s all available on the Phorest blog, so www.Phorest.com/blog.

Killian Vigna: I’m your host Killian Vigna, and today we’re joined by Zoe Belisle-Springer. It’s a tough-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: You’ve got to get it right! Belisle-Springer.

Killian Vigna: I was really close. Belisle-Springer, she’s been saying that all day. It’s just a tough one.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Alright. Well, thanks for listening. Thanks for tuning in. And we’ll catch you next week.

Thanks for reading!


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