Hiring Staff for a Second Clinic

By Jodie Grove / 09 Nov 2018

Independent nurse prescriber Jodie Grove shares her approach to recruitment in aesthetics

After five years of successfully building my aesthetic business, I recently took the plunge to expand and open a second clinic. During the process of finding great staff to work alongside me, I have learnt a thing or two about recruiting. These learnings have made me be better prepared to deal with numerous challenging situations, should they arise. This article will explore various elements of recruitment that I came to understand the importance of while embarking on the journey of expanding and opening a second clinic.

Stocktake your skills

Before beginning any recruitment process, I highly recommend completing an audit of what you have, what you want, and what you need – a skills stocktake, if you will. If you are responsible for running another clinic or business, it’s likely that you will have a pretty good idea of what skills, competencies and level of cover you need to keep it running smoothly.

Firstly, you need to think, what do you have? Look at the skills that already exist in your clinic. Do you understand the capabilities and aspirations of your team? This is where having a robust performance review process and carving out time to regularly talk with your employees can be extremely beneficial. My experience has shown that, in a small business with limited career paths, it can be challenging to motivate and retain ambitious staff. If there is someone already working in your initial clinic who is ready for a challenge, this is the perfect chance to develop your staff member by promoting them into a new, and perhaps more advanced role, while supporting them during this process. This was the case with my receptionist; she had been with me for six months and wasn’t really enjoying the position, however, I was keen to retain her as she had a good work ethic. She has a huge interest in beauty and I decided to enrol her on a Level 2 beauty therapy course. Following this, I recruited a new, more experienced receptionist who could also act as front of house manager for my first clinic.

Then, you need to consider, what do you want? Think about how this new role will add to your business. Will it give you a competitive advantage, allow you to introduce a new service, or just support you in keeping things running smoothly on a day-to-day basis? Gauge whether you could stretch your budget to attract someone with a more diverse skillset or higher level of expertise that may cost a little more, but will ultimately allow you to deliver a better or more unique service to your patients.

Finally, what do you need? Evaluate what the impact would be if you compromised on what you want by hiring someone with less experience into a more affordable role, with room to grow. You could look into whether there are any apprenticeship or subsidised employment schemes running in your area. In Wales, where my clinic is based, there are many supportive schemes for businesses. I have used the Jobs Growth Wales scheme with several staff members.2 When the initial scheme launched in 2012, the first six months of wages were completely covered; now it’s 50%, which is still a huge help in the expansion process. The scheme is for young people aged 16 to 24 who are not already in full time employment or in full time education. In return for the scheme’s contribution to wages, employers are required to employ the candidate for 25 to 40 hours a week with a minimum contract of six months.2

Clinic culture

Cultural fit is the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that make up your organisation.3 A 2005 analysis revealed that employees who fit well with their organisation, colleagues and manager had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organisation and showed superior job performance.3 Brent Gleeson, keynote speaker and author of the book Talking Point, argues that culture fit is the single most important aspect of retaining great employees.4

I find that having a good grasp of what you want your organisational culture to be is particularly relevant when opening a second clinic. This is because it’s a unique opportunity to define and shape your clinic’s culture from scratch. Detailing your clinic’s values throughout the recruitment process will give you a better chance of recognising and engaging with candidates who align with your clinic culture and will play a proactive role in developing and supporting the culture you want to see in your new business.5

Cast your net

Good candidates who have the capability to demonstrate great patient care skills and more general business competencies are in high demand within the aesthetic specialty, so think of your advert as an extension of your marketing approach. It’s the first impression a potential candidate will get and it’s an opportunity to promote the ethos of your workplace. Therefore the wording and tone of your advert should reflect this. In recent job adverts, I have included the company mission statement and directed candidates to the website to explore our ethos and values.

The way I attract most of my candidates is through social media platforms and word of mouth; these both allow me to be agile in engaging with and responding to candidates. However, it’s still vital to have an advertising process in place. For me, that means asking all candidates for a CV and outlining clear criteria that allows me to sift through applications based on essential skills and experience before delving into interviewing. The type of criteria I look for is whether they have made a conscious effort to provide a good covering letter and if they have a consistent work history; in my opinion, having employment from a young age shows their work ethic and drive.

The interview

I choose to conduct interviews with my senior therapist and also my business manager as we all have a different angle to assessing the suitability of a candidate. Consider the competencies needed for the post and devise a combination of competency-based questions and practical exercises that will give a clear insight into whether the person has the necessary capabilities for the position. Competency-based questions should be open-ended and ask a person to describe a real-life situation and how they deal with it, as opposed to closed or hypothetical questions.6 

It’s good practice to use the same set of questions for every candidate, take notes and score their response to each question;7 I have found that a simple ‘marks out of five’ system works well. This allows you to get a feel for a candidate’s experience levels, how they handle challenging situations, and importantly, enables you to subjectively compare how different candidates stack up against each other.

The importance of a contract

Having conducted a poll amongst my employees at my initial clinic, based on their previous experiences, I have been amazed at the number of businesses in the aesthetics specialty that don’t issue written contracts. Under UK law, as soon as someone accepts a job offer, a legal contract is in place whether or not it’s written down – a verbal agreement counts as a legal contract.8 

However, having a well-written contract is beneficial for both employer and employee as it ensures the terms of the contract are clear to both parties and reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding or misrepresentation that could easily occur with a verbal agreement alone. It forms the basis of your employment relationship, manages expectations of both parties, and is a way of providing clarity in the event of a legal dispute. At the very least, a basic contract of employment should include details about pay, holidays and working hours, and refer to any relevant policies such as maternity leave, time off for emergencies and paid training arrangements.9

 Example interview questions

There is a variety of competency questions that you may ask but here is an example of the type of questions I use in relation to delivering quality service. As customer care is a focus of my clinic, this element of the interview is really important to me.

  • Give me an example of how you’ve demonstrated an understanding of patient needs?
  • How do you respond to patient feedback?
  • Can you describe a time when you’ve been proactive in finding a solution to a problem encountered by your patient?
  • How would you respond to a patient who was disappointed in their treatment? 

Understand your legal obligations

On the subject of legal disputes, it’s vital that you understand your obligations as an employer under UK employment law. Your clinic’s recruitment process should be fair and non-discriminatory so it doesn’t disadvantage anyone with a protected characteristic; such as race, gender or sexuality.10 Understanding how to handle applications under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is imperative. Some key GDPR principles to bear in mind when recruiting for your clinic include:11

  • Personal data should be processed fairly, lawfully and in a transparent manner
  • Data should be obtained for specified and lawful purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes
  • Data should be kept secure and for no longer than necessary

As an employer, GDPR legislation applies to any personal data that you hold on individuals, including applicants, employees and ex-employees.12

 Make the first day count

I have implemented a thorough and comprehensive policy within both of my clinics about the induction arrangements on the employee’s first day. For me, it is important to be present to greet new staff and to clearly set out in writing all the things the new employee will need to learn. The challenges of having businesses across multiple sites means you can’t always be there in person. In that case, I find delegating the responsibility to another senior member of staff can work well. 

Continuing the journey

While having a clear recruitment plan in place and taking the above points into consideration will aid in the task of recruiting new staff for your expanding business, there will almost always be some challenges that arise along the way. When it comes to recruiting staff for a second clinic, as with any business process, the key thing is to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of what you are doing, assess what works well and identify room for improvement. 

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