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Andrew Collinge on the Power of Education

Andrew Collinge traineeAndrew Collinge talks about the importance of education for a salon business.

You invest heavily in both internal and external education. Tell us about the training you offer to your own trainees?
Our trainees will visit one of our two training salons one day a week, where they will work towards an NVQ Level 2 qualification. At the training salon, there will be a certain amount of theory work and, as importantly, plenty of practical sessions on models. All trainees will also have weekly practical training session in their own salon. Each salon has an experienced stylist who supervises these sessions and is qualified to assess trainees’ work towards their NVQ. An added bonus is that during their second year our trainees can work one Friday a month within our Graduate salon on clients while under supervision. This is great for our trainees to gain experience and build confidence.

How do you ensure they are ready for life in a working salon?
The Andrew Collinge Graduate salons are for the purpose of giving our third-year trainees the opportunity of continuing their training towards NVQ Level 3 in a proper salon environment. The Graduate salons have as many students as clients, so there is always a great creative buzz and our trainees have a fantastic opportunity to develop their skills and gain invaluable confidence. Having such experience means that when an opportunity arises to take up a stylist position within one of the main Andrew Collinge salons, our graduates can easily fit into this role.

Have you always invested this heavily in educating your team?
My father, Peter Collinge, always believed in good quality training, It was he who came up with the concept of giving experienced trainees a salon of their own, which resulted in the launch of the Graduate salons in the 1980s. Our training division under the management of my sister, Sarah Collinge, has gone from strength to strength, and the company is now a training provider for more than a hundred salons within the region.

Does your commitment to training encourage staff to stay with the company for longer?
I think if you invest in your staff through training they will feel respected by the company they work for, which in turn builds loyalty.

Is it important that training and education continues throughout a team member’s career?
Absolutely, although I’m conscious that if you’re expecting busy stylists to attend training sessions then you need to make them interesting and exciting. Twice yearly we hold a masterclass for the whole company. As these events take place after working hours, we try to hold them in interesting and inspiring venues. A masterclass features members of the Artistic Team demonstrating trends for the coming season. These are also good occasions to present new products and we often invite outside guest stylists.

A lot of salons have cut back on their investment in training during the economic downturn. What are your thoughts on this?
It’s quite understandable in the present climate. I think sending staff on a three-day course isn’t feasible for many businesses. However, there are cost-effective ways to keep training on the agenda. One way is to take up educational opportunities offered by product companies, or think about the possibilities of joining organisations such as the Fellowship of British Hairdressing, which puts on regular seminars and workshops that are free to members.




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