candidate experience

Q&A With Jessica Masse of Ratner Companies: When Your Candidate Experience Needs a Makeover

Q&A With Jessica Masse of Ratner Companies: When Your Candidate Experience Needs a Makeover

Jessica Masse is the employer brand and recruitment marketing leader for Ratner Companies, the largest family-owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country. Its diverse portfolio of brands includes the 900+ salon organization Hair Cuttery, which employs approximately 12,000 associates across 16 states. A limited talent pool of salon professionals meant that Hair Cuttery needed to rethink its approach to nurturing candidates throughout the apply process. Here’s how they implemented and organized a unified process across all locations.

What was the hiring landscape like when your team set out to overhaul the way Hair Cuttery engaged with prospective candidates?

Like most other service industries, a tight labor market means competition for experienced salon professionals is fierce, especially so when you consider that—according to data from the American Association of Cosmetology Schools—about one-third of all hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists prefer self-employment. Plus, there are fewer cosmetology schools overall, which further limits the professional population. Given that we compete with any other salon, whether it’s a small, independent shop or a comparable chain, our ability to quickly connect with salon professionals and engage them in the interview process is crucial to securing talent. We saw a huge need to be able to communicate fast and on a continual basis in order to improve our results. And the more automation, the better.

What were you doing to attract salon professionals to Hair Cuttery previously?

We relied heavily on email blasts and job postings, but without a centralized and systematic approach to recruitment marketing our recruiters were really feeling the pinch. Leads were slipping through the cracks.

On the positive side, Hair Cuttery was generating a lot of traffic through walk-ins inquiring about employment, but unfortunately that traffic wasn’t making it to our ATS. We also partner with our cosmetology schools to provide onsite presentations regarding our employment brand to stylists who will be graduating, yet we had no way to engage them after our visit. It was clear that we needed to establish a robust program to engage all leads until they were converted to hires.

How did you approach your candidate experience “makeover”?

First, we mapped out what our candidate journey should look like for both salon walk-ins and cosmetology students. This exercise confirmed the need for a technology platform that would allow Hair Cuttery to deliver a consistent, branded message that would connect with the right talent while offering a deeper, richer way to engage with candidates throughout the journey.

We documented additional requirements for the tool, such as the ability to integrate with our ATS while supporting a 15-member recruiting team. It was important that we could track results and assess data to measure the effectiveness of our efforts.

What does your candidate experience look like today?

Using GR8 People’s CRM, we developed lead journey campaigns that were crafted, scheduled, automated and personalized to nurture the Hair Cuttery stylist talent community. We’re able to leverage the CRM technology, which was developed specifically for recruiting, to automate the distribution of a series of messages based on an established timeline and triggered by corresponding actions, or milestones, completed by stylist community members. Upon completion of our final call-to-action, which ensures a comprehensive candidate profile is in our system, stylists receive a coupon to enjoy salon services and discuss career opportunities in greater detail.

We also follow three specific principles to ensure our communications are as effective as possible—make them simple, quick and mobile.

Looking back, what was most critical to your success?

No doubt, the strong partnership among corporate recruiting, GR8 People and our external marketing team was a huge factor in our success. We were meeting weekly regarding both the platform implementation and creative messaging development, and we recognized early on the importance of ensuring all parties were clear about what we wanted to achieve.

GR8 People also provided Hair Cuttery with a fresh POV, from both a technology standpoint and an organizational standpoint, and they helped us build the framework for the lead journey campaign. Another success factor was the significant training we received for the initial launch, as well as ongoing training to support user adoption.

How have you measured success?

Well, one of the most basic measures of success was simply realizing our first systematic approach to recruitment marketing as an organization. We’ve also achieved a 50% increase in lead growth and a 3% increase in those hired through the candidate lead journey. And, thanks to automation, our recruiters have more capacity in their day now to focus on sourcing and candidate lead generation.

The most rewarding aspect for our recruiting team is knowing that we’re supporting the growth of the organization, especially considering our highly competitive market.

What’s next for the Hair Cuttery CRM talent program?

We continue to evolve the creative pieces that support our lead journey communications because our business continues to evolve. For example, we updated the recruitment messaging to reflect a new career path plan that launched last year. We’re also building on what we learned through the Hair Cuttery CRM talent program to launch similar initiatives for our other brands.

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