Cordell and Evan speak with guest Cindy Meiskin, Vice President of Training at Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, about creating a fantastic customer experience, and the training and perspective required to achieve that level of service. Learn ways to buff up your training programs and boost service performance in this episode. Contact Cindy at [email protected].
Cordell: Doing awesome. Doing awesome. Evan, obviously, we’ve been having a lot of fun doing this and, you know, what we’re focused on with Training Unleashed is to talk about the importance of training and what training can do in and for organizations. We have the pleasure of having Cindy Meiskin, who’s a VP of training with Hand and Stone, with us. Cindy, how are you doing today?
Cindy: I’m great, Cordell, thank you.
Cordell: Good. Cindy, why don’t you do us a favor and maybe tell our audience a little bit about yourself and Hand and Stone.
Cindy: Great, sure. So, like you said, I’m Vice President of training for Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spas. I’ve been with them for about six years and my background, actually, way back in the day, was in accounting. That’s what I’m formally trained for, but I’ve done training, in one sense or another, my whole life. I’ve been a personal trainer. I was a trainer for banking. And, so, coming to Hand and Stone was a great marriage for me of my health and wellness background and my accounting background. Kinda brought everything together. So, I was one of those kids that played school in my basement. I’ve just always loved teaching, training, kind of in the blood. So, I was lucky to work for a company that realized the importance of training. And when I got here, we did not have my position, which I loved because there was no bar set. I could kind of set it myself. So, the training program, we were still pretty small. We had about 50 spas when I got here. We’re at over close to 350 at this point. So, we’ve seen a lot of growth. Certainly have developed best practices and it’s been wonderful being along for the ride.
Evan: So, Cindy, the primary thing that we want you to be talking about today is the training and kind of the gamification and making training fun, but before we do, can you just tell us, you know, sort of why Hand and Stone is so committed to training and what impact it’s had on the company?
Cindy: Well, our mantra, which was started by our founder and COO, John Marco, has always been “stellar customer service,” and I think that’s our differentiator. And I don’t believe you can really get that message across without some sort of interactive training tool where you need to see it, you need to hear it, and you need to practice it. So, I believe our training tools allow us, short of being able to be there live on site, which when you grow at the rate that we have, is nearly impossible, so we have these wonderful training tools where they can actually see videos of John Marco, who has since retired, but is here with us in spirit, and learn from him firsthand.
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Cordell: And, Cindy, I just want to make sure I follow this. This is training that you’re actually getting to the front line of the people inside of your 350 locations? So, these are the people that are greeting your guests and your customers and taking care of them? So this is frontline training that you’re delivering?
Cindy: That’s initially how it started, yes. So, that’s what we call our spa associates. So, they’re our front desk. And, you’re right, they are our front-line, but we have also now been able to develop training programs for our massage therapists and are aestheticians, and as well as manager level as well. So, we’ve kind of grown the programs to be able to touch all different levels of employees of the spa. And, of course, the owners, too. The owners make use of all of these trainings.
Evan: Do people like the training? Is that part of why people buy the franchise?
Cindy: I think training is a huge decision-maker for people when they’re a prospective franchisee, and I know that’s one of the first questions that people ask is, “What is your training program like?” And we have discovery days here, and I have to say, I feel very proud of the program that we’ve developed here because it has so many different aspects. And there is no one-size-fits-all training. And I think we need to be really flexible because we have our Millennials, we have those that are not computer savvy, and we have our owners/entrepreneurs, which are more seasoned usually, so a little bit older than our Millennials, and we have to create training that will engage all of them.
Cordell: So, Cindy, you may have just touched on this, but I just wanna make sure we call it out because, obviously, we’re talking about gamification and Millennials. Was there something specific that was going on with that group of Millennials inside of your spas that you said, “Hey, this is going on and it’s not getting us what we’re looking for?” Was there something specific you were trying to address for gamification with that group of Millennials?
Cindy: I think there was a couple reasons why I went to gamification, and I feel that owners are not paying their managers to be trainers. They should be managing. So I wanted to create training programs which allowed as much independent on-boarding as possible, and also keep them engaged without the manager hovering over them. So, what better way to keep them engaged than an interactive game? And this takes the managers’ time away from training and allow them to grow the business and manage. So, the biggest project that we undertook this year was the gamification of our POS system. This was a huge undertaking. We worked with your team on this. It probably took about three months, but I think it’s probably the biggest game changer that we did because it’s completely interactive, there’s feedback, and this is probably been what’s gotten the most attention from everybody.
Cordell: That’s awesome. So, Cindy, I know you mentioned the POS, and I know you talked about what we did, but is there a way that you can maybe paint a picture for the audience so they can kinda understand a little bit more about what it is? Obviously, they can’t see it right now, but I know we did something with Jeopardy and we did some other things, but can you just paint a picture for the audience so they can kind of get a better feel for what you actually did here?
Cindy: Right, so we did two different games with you guys. We did the phone call challenge. So, we actually had one of our spas’ teams, we gave them scripts and they scripted phone calls and it looks just like a Jeopardy board. So you would click on it, you would hear a blurb of the phone call, and then you would be asked questions to identify what was done wrong, what was done right, and so it was a variety of video clips as well as just basic questions. So, that was the first one. That was what we called the phone call challenge. The second one, which was our POS game…So, our little logo is Stony [SP] because a hot stone is our signature service. So, it was a scavenger hunt, and we had to get Stony home. And he would go home by way of 20 different transactions. So I picked the 20 most common transactions and we first recorded how-to videos that they would listen to, and then your team did a recap of it, and then they actually had to recreate the transaction and they would get feedback based on whether they did it right or they did it wrong. So, a great tool. Very interactive. Very engaging. And I think it’s really helped the managers and the owners.
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Evan: Cindy, it sounds like it was a lot of fun. I love the creativity and I love particularly the name of your program. Have you guys been able to identify any kind of ROI or, you know, how you define success?
Cindy: A couple ways. I do require that these courses be completed prior to attending our onsite training, so I noticed much quicker adoption of what they’re learning. It’s cut a lot of time out of our training. When they’re not first seeing it for the very first time on a live training and they’ve already practiced it, it just goes much more smoothly. They can also reinforce what they learned that day at night by retaking a lesson. And we have done other gamifications outside of Tortal and it’s actually a mobile app. And we’ve taken all the manuals and gamified those, so they’re short little burst games. So, we did do an analysis of those spas that were signed on to that game and their monetary sales growth, and also what we call conversion rate, which is those prospects that actually sign up for membership, and there was a clear advantage for those that are taking advantage of our games.
Evan: We are running out of time and we’ve asked everyone to kind of share one training tip of any kind that you would love to share with the audience.
Cindy: I would say it’s to remain flexible and to be able to think fast and on the spot. You have to train to your audience, so if you have Millennials in front of you, you’re going to be treating them and training them differently than if you have franchisees in front of you, who you could have a 20 to 30 year age span. They learn differently, their culture is different, and I think it’s important to have training tools that speak to each generation that you’re training and to be able to adapt to that. That would probably be my biggest advice is to be flexible and have tools that everybody can use and enjoy.
Evan: I think that those are excellent things. I also heard you say, throughout this thing, a couple of other things that I thought were really cool, which is, that, you know, you need to do training in a lot of different ways. There’s not one-size-fits-all. I love the mention of using eLearning as pre-training prior to live training. I think that’s great. Your mobile app sounds like a really cool kind of way to get someone to learn an ops manual, which, let’s face it, most people consider pretty boring.
Cindy: Right, exactly.
Evan: And I love how you guys are using games and you’re taking and making training fun. So, lots of great tidbits here and, really, thank you very much for joining us. Cordell?
Cindy: Sure, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Cordell: Awesome times, Cindy and Evan. Thanks for doing this. I really enjoyed it. And tune in for our next Training Unleashed podcast. So, thank you for the time, Cindy.
Cindy: Sure. Thank you.
Evan: Thank you and, if you guys enjoyed this, you know, go to Hand and Stone. Treat yourself to a massage. That’d be a great way to celebrate all this great information.
Cindy: See our training in action.
Evan: Yeah, there you go. There you go. Everyone, have a great day. Take care.
Cordell: Take care, all.
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