Within our co-working community is Scott Harbour, owner of several SportsClips facilities in our region. His business was hit especially hard during 2020’s shutdowns due to the pandemic, and upon reopening, his locations had several restrictions in place to keep employees and patrons safe. During the nationwide shutdown, Scott began reflecting on his business and what made it work and the early mistakes he made when getting started. Writing a book had always been on his bucket list, and since the shutdown gave him extra time, he decided there was no better time to get started. In mid-April, his first book, “Building Great Teams” hit bookshelves and Amazon. I recently sat down with Scott to learn more about how small businesses can build successful teams.
Q: Why did you decide to write a book about teams?
A: Last year gave me time that I didn’t have before because our business was closed for 50 days, and then when we did open it was at such a limited capacity that writing this book became my sanity project. I knew so many small business owners were running into the same obstacles I was facing, and I thought that maybe I could help them. We have effective teams and leadership within our stores, and I wanted to share what we’ve done to succeed and the lessons we’ve learned.
Q: What tips do you have for finding good personnel?
A: It’s not that no one wants to work, it’s that few people find satisfaction in the work they’re doing. This is especially true in service industries. For such a long time, our industries have relied on people being afraid to not work and earning an income, that we forget to focus on the actual work. To turn this around, we need to look at the meaning of the work and how we can make our employees’ lives a little better. When the work becomes about more than “slinging hamburgers” that is when a difference takes place.
Q: So how do we make the work about “more” than the work?
A: This is what the book covers. The work needs to be about more than money. Nearly everyone wants a life that does good and has an impact on the world. In my business, which is cutting hair, we’ve started giving free haircuts at a local rescue mission. Giving someone a good haircut can make a world of difference; it makes them feel better and more confident and that’s what we’re doing when we volunteer at the mission. Our stylists get more joy and fulfillment from these opportunities than they do making money in the store. In addition to the haircuts, we’ve also started donating shampoo packets to Shower Up Huntsville, which takes them to the homeless camps to help those individuals feel cleaner and better.
There are many people and families that are food insecure and restaurant owners and managers have an opportunity to help make a difference with these people, and in turn their employees. When employees go to work thinking, “I’m going to make a change, not just make money,” that’s when everyone wins.
Q: The book talks about the Lifecycle of a Team Member. What is that?
A: The first eight chapters talk about creating a team member experience and how to work effectively with team members. There are many steps in a team member’s lifecycle, and it starts with recruiting. These are a few of the topics covered:
- Recruiting is similar to selling an experience to a client, you need to have something to sell to potential employees and it needs to be about more than money. Think about how you’d sell a product or service to a customer, then turn that around and consider how to sell the experience of working for you. What are the advantages?
- Interviewing is a necessity, but it needs to be about more than if the person checks all the qualified boxes. For us, we ask everyone what their goal or dream is, and if they don’t have one, than we know that person is not for us, but if they have a goal of finishing school, owning their own salon or something else, than that’s the person we want. These people have a reason to get up in the morning and learn. Even if these people only stay a few years, they will be productive years because this person has a vision.
- Coaching plays a big role in how our teams operate. We want to help our employees meet their goal and definition of success. If an employee is open to being coached to achieve their dream, than we know they are a good fit. We coach our management team and entry-level staff, and as a result we have a very low turnover rate and excellent employee satisfaction.
- Orientation and the first day of work can be nerve wracking. Remember back to the first day or your current job or first day of school; there’s always some jitters. Orientation and the first day of work can be a missed opportunity because it gives owners and managers a chance to let the new person know that mistakes are okay, failure is how we change and improve and that growth and improvement is achievable. This is a time to explain what is expected and how to grow in the company, and to show consistency across the organization from the managers, to the entry-level employee.We need that new employee to start taking care of customers, but we need them to feel comfortable first, and by increasing their confidence and comfort as soon as possible, they can start doing their job effectively.
- Investing in people is probably the biggest differentiator between us and other employment options for our stylists. We understand that everyone can have a bad day, has baggage and struggles, but as an employer, if we can help find a way to make this person’s life a little easier, it can make a big difference. Many people haven’t worked in an environment that helps with personal growth and development, and we help them learn about this through a six-month curriculum. We start this process with our managers, and then they can work it into how they lead their teams. As soon as we started investing in our employees, that was the moment our turnover decreased. Our stylists tell other people that we’re a great place to work.
Q: Your book talks a lot about relationships. How does relationship building help?
A: Teams are all about relationships and communication. Employees need a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and a desire to do something with their life. Through communication, we help them understand their dreams and goals and how to get there. We’ve had a few employees who had a goal of owning their own salons and we helped them get there. They are now our competition, but that’s okay because we helped them reach their goal.
Q: What’s the difference between rewards and recognition?
A: This is part of the investing in people piece of the lifecycle. We want to recognize employees for achievements and milestones that take place inside and outside the workplace. If an employee succeeds outside the store we want to recognize them for that effort, and the same is true for when they reach goals inside the store. Rewards are tangible items, like gift cards or money, and these are given for setting good examples, honoring others and being a good employee. Rewards are for recognizing model behavior.
Q: How did you get started at SportsClips?
A: I used to get my haircut at SportsClips in Birmingham when we lived there, but then I got a job working with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and someone asked where I got my haircut. I told them and they’d never heard of it. I realized there weren’t any locations here and that it was a franchise. My family decided we’d open a store while I kept my day job, but then one store became three, and then five and now we own and manage several throughout north Alabama. It soon became difficult to do my day job and run the shops, and I decided I enjoyed running the shops.
Q: Where can people buy your book?
A: The book is available on Amazon. I’ll let the Offices at Spenryn know if we hold any book-related events. The book is 155 pages and is also available for download in the Kindle store.
Thank you for taking time to share with us more details about the book. It’s always a pleasure to learn about what you’re doing with your company and building excellent teams.
To Your Success,
The Offices at Spenryn