With beauty centres mushrooming across Hong Kong and health-concerned customers willing to spend freely on beauty products and services, the industry offers promising career prospects for new entrants.
While job opportunities abound, moving forward to professional consultancy and specialised services is the way to go for up-and-coming practitioners wishing to develop their beauty expertise to a professional level.
Drawing on many years of experience, Jackie Ho, shop manager, and Angel Nip, assistant supervisor of dermes hair removal centre, Neo Derm (HK) Ltd, point out that competition in the beauty industry is keen, and that merely providing customers with grooming service is no longer enough. Today's beauty consultants must deliver good customer service and professional consultancy advice to cater to customers' sophisticated needs.
Unlike mainstream beauty centres where customers are provided with a choice of products and services, dermes is a medical beauty centre specialising in permanent laser hair-removal service.
Ms Ho says permanent hair-removal is not a trend but has grown into a necessary beauty treatment for people who consider excess body hair gives the persons concerned an unsanitary feeling and can affect their social life. People who turn to dermes for help are mostly young professionals such as teachers, lawyers and university students.
When providing consultancy to customers, therapists have to demonstrate their professional knowledge and communication skills since they must explain to customers in plain language the treatment procedures and their skin conditions before conducting the hair-removal procedure. Following each treatment, therapists must also closely follow up with the customers to evaluate its effectiveness.
Laser hair-removal is a beauty service that requires therapists to possess an in-depth understanding of skin conditions, besides being skilful in laser technology. To update their technical knowledge, staff at dermes must undergo continuous training, and take medical and optical theory training courses. These are conducted respectively by certificated trainers, laser specialists and optical and optoelectronic system engineers to ensure that the treatment given to customers is of a high professional standard and poses no safety risks.
Soft skills training such as interpersonal communications and English and Putonghua are also necessary. Therapists must also pass a series of written and simulation tests, with a pass rate of at least 95 per cent, in order to obtain the necessary professional qualifications.
The company has always placed emphasis on its service quality and good people management, Ms Ho says. In accord with this, staff at the supervisory level are also required to attend Six Sigma courses and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) training to strengthen their people management skills. Further, they must ensure that service standards in all the company's centres are enhanced through an ongoing DMAIC (define, measure, analyse, improve and control) procedure.
Since dermes has such a good reputation in the industry, it has always attracted a strong pool of experienced practitioners to augment its workforce. In line with its future expansion, the company is now looking for quality people wishing to enter the hair-removal sector of the medical beauty industry. For new recruits, the main academic requirement is a completed secondary education but dermes is really looking for candidates with an outgoing and cheerful personality with a passion for serving people. Ideal candidates should also have at least two years' experience in the beauty industry.
Extensive training will be given to new recruits, and they will be encouraged to seize this chance of a bright career at dermes by showing their initiative. The career path for newcomers usually begins at the trainee level, and provided they are energetic and diligent, the next rungs up the promotion ladder are to therapist, senior therapist, assistant supervisor, supervisor, assistant shop manager and shop manager. These later career stages would of course depend on accumulated work experience, outstanding performance and satisfactory scores in internal examinations.
"They must also demonstrate their commitment to the company, show their initiative by continuously upgrading their technical skills and service quality, accept challenges and show their full support and enthusiasm," Ms Ho adds.
In addition to such bright career prospects, dermes provides a happy working environment, harmonious employee relationships and a stable work schedule, all of which contribute to employees' sense of belonging to the company and spurring them on to further their careers.
Ms Nip recalls that when she was mid-term in her career and serving as a therapist, she found the work experience stimulating since she cultivated good relationships with customers while constantly upgrading her problem-solving techniques. "These attributes served me well as I continued to advance in my beauty career," she says.
"Maintaining good customer relationships is not complicated," Ms Nip continues. "The best way is to treat them as friends, always give their interests first priority and deliver more than they expect, then you'll enjoy unexpected results."