In this episode, Susan Wos shares how she helps people hire compatible employees for their businesses using enlightened hiring methods. By providing expert advice and guidance, she helps businesses maximize success by attracting the right fit for their company.
Susan Wos is the owner of a software called “Enlightened Hire” which helps licensed professionals and students take control of their job search. Her focus is on the spa niche, including salons, spas, barbershops, and other related industries. She has a YouTube channel.
Susan is a 28-year veteran hairstylist and former salon owner. She started offering personal advice and job listings for licensed professionals in the salon, spa and barbershop industry in 2018. The main issue surrounding high turnover in these industries is miscommunication and not being able to clarify what the job entails and what the employer offers.
Susan’s software aims to resolve this issue and help licensed professionals and employers find each other more easily.
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Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking to create, launch and scale, a high value online training program. I’m your guide Chris Badgett. I’m the co founder of lifter LMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMS cast. I’m joined by a special guest, her name is Susan Wos. She has a software called enlightened hire, that’s a light enlightened hire.com. Which helps licensed professionals and students take control of their job search. She’s big in the spa niche. Welcome to the show. Susan.
Susan Wos: I really am excited to be here today. Thank you.
Chris Badgett: You know, one of the biggest problems that entrepreneurs face and, you know, young people face or not necessarily young people making a career change is finding each other. And I know I struggle with this a lot. In terms of hiring, I’ve always been amazed at the challenge of, you know, companies wanting to hire, they can’t find good people and people wanting to get jobs and they can’t get the job. There’s like this friction there. And you’ve done some really cool unlocks in that area with your software. But before we get into that, take us back to your focus on the spot niche. How did that happen for you? What’s your spa backstory,
Susan Wos: So it’s salon, spas and barbershops. Those are the niche that I work with. And I am a 28 year veteran hairstylist, former salon owner, I became a salon owner when I was 25. So some time ago and in that process, you know, it was before, really all of our long online offerings were happening, however, not much has changed. And so I realized as a salon owner, that all of my resources were, you know, from product companies, and really, their main goal was just to get you to buy more. So their education and their website, I mean, everything, you know, sent you back to them.
And so you weren’t really communicating with anyone in the industry, except for your sales consultant and your employees. So it was quite lonely. And this is something that I’ve learned most salon owners here. And after salon ownership. I did that for five years and realized a lot of you know, getting that exposure for myself. And my opportunities as a very small business owner was difficult. You know, there’s salons are like churches, they’re all over the place. And you everybody’s very unique and different.
And so I kind of took those ideas, and in sort of a life change. I decided that, you know, maybe hair wasn’t something I wanted to do full time. I really wanted to help people. That’s my goal. And so I just started offering a personal service really advice for salon owners, hair stylists, estheticians, massage therapists, barbers nail techs. And so that’s really where I started and that was in 2018. So that’s an it became kind of problematic. So I needed to find some solutions to my own problems to my clients
Chris Badgett: So how are you helping them you are helping them find each other, like creating the like, kind of like the marketplace for job opportunities?
Susan Wos: Our industry largely goes on referrals, who you know, you know, location, that kind of thing, but we have such a high turnover that people are starting to realize that’s not really the way to go. You know, there’s job sites like indeed and zip recruiter. And people really just don’t use them in our in our industry for whatever reason. And so I just wanted to be able to kind of direct traffic. You know, if someone wanted advice owner was open to me sending people I go in, get to know them, and then the licensed professionals that will come talk to me. I would get to know them. And then I would just sort of give them a list.
Okay, here is salon A, B and C, this is who I think you should go talk to let me know what you think. So that’s really where it started. And then I had to get the website. And I had so much interest, including from corporations, but they didn’t necessarily want to have the personal advice. They just wanted to market with me. Because they saw that I was you know, tapping into who they wanted to talk to. And so that that’s where it grew was from personal advice and then job listings just like a standard type of job format, and that’s where it stayed for a while I had to kind of get away from the personalization while I worked on enlightened higher just because it was it was a lot to handle.
Chris Badgett: What’s the what’s the main issues surrounding the high to turnover weather I mean in May have you generalize it for any, any kind of niche? Like what? What causes that in some places?
Susan Wos: I feel as if it’s largely miscommunication. And that miscommunication is based on not being able to really clarify not only what you want. But what you offer. And so that ends up, you know, in hurt feelings, it ends up in disappointment, it ends up in all kinds of difficulties. It’s a lot of well, I didn’t know, well, had I known this, had I known that. And while you can’t resolve all of those issues, you definitely can resolve a lot of them and not even thinking about, you know, there’s people that don’t even think about what goes into what would make them happy.
And on both sides employment, and booth rental and independent contractors. So if you’re doing that manually or with software, how do you how do you surface that stuff, so that the connection is much better and a better fit? So those are my questions. That’s what I did for enlightened higher is I took everything I have encountered, and everything I felt was important.
And I broke them down into wants, needs and preferences. So the software asks users these questions, and then it computes how compatible they are based on individual answers. And so, you know, it really gets them thinking about, wow, yeah, I’ve had this reaction over and over one of the first people I had go through the software, the owner said, Man, some of this stuff I didn’t even think about, I’m like, great, that’s great, because it is important. These are things that the licensed professional wants to know, in order for long term happiness to be more probable.
Chris Badgett: What’s like an example that the, you know, question or answer that gives that kind of signal that the, they may not have even thought about?
Susan Wos: Marketing expectations, a big one. So, you know, it’s really all across the board. And so we definitely detail that out and lighten higher. And what that means is the salon owner, if they’re expecting someone who comes to work for them, or rent for them, to market themselves, that’s very problematic, sometimes, you know, there, that is a huge expectation that causes a lot of friction in our industry, you know, and so clarifying that, like, Hey, you’re coming to work for me, and I do expect you to post on Instagram, and I do expect you to go out and build your own clientele.
Or, hey, we’re gonna do it all for you, you don’t have to worry about that. Two very, very different things. And so that causes some issues, you know, I have many licensed professionals who don’t want to be bothered with that, you know, they want to come in, they want to work, they don’t want to have to do this social media grind. And so someone who doesn’t want to do that, who gets into a salon, where that’s not discussed, that’s a deal breaker,
Chris Badgett: Educate us about the niche of salons that when an owner may want the professional to do some of the marketing? Is it kind of like a business within a business? Or it’s more just like, it’s just an expectation?
Susan Wos: Well, it’s, again, it’s quite different across the board. And so it’s a matter of, yes, social media, or going out and building your clientele kind of like footwork, like going and creating relationships, you know, basically referrals, I mean, it can mean a lot of different things to different people.
Chris Badgett: How, um, how did you go about building software? This is your first time, I’m guessing your first time building software? That’s a it’s a challenge to do that. So how did you go from practitioner to software developer,
Susan Wos: So that all evolved because of Salon Spa connection, and the site that I had, you know, it’s it’s a good site, but it’s, it was never going to do what I wanted to do. And so I needed to evaluate, and I didn’t know that at the time. You know, now, I’m not a tech person. I’ve learned a lot, of course, since 2018 and so really, enlightened hire was the system that I always needed, but I never knew. And so just getting into, you know, asking questions, talking to developers and saying, you know, what’s it going to take to make this thing that I want?
And when it came down to oh, this is a custom software build? I’m like, Oh, well, what does that mean? So it’s, it’s really neat. It’s really exciting. It’s so very different than building a website, you know, you have to think about every little thing. Everything very detailed, very, lots of moving parts. And so it’s been exciting. I happen to meet someone a couple of years ago, actually on a dating website, which is funny. And he was a software developer. I talked to him about it. And I said, What do you think? So he said, he gave me a little detail and then kind of checked out and then he called, several months later, we were getting ready to make some decisions.
And he said, because I want to talk to you about that project again. And so that’s really who I chose because he went over all of the different things like I didn’t know and he was like, This is why you don’t want to do this. This is why, like, Okay, so that’s kind of where that happened. And he’s just taking the lead and direction and told me what’s possible, what I should do what I shouldn’t do. And so I kind of just hand it off, and then they run with it on my on my team.
Chris Badgett: Sounds great. Sounds great. What? How long did it take you? I know, some people are interested in building a software, like, what was the, you know, from idea or the successful relationship there to the product out in the wild? Connecting people?
Susan Wos: I’m sorry, how long would it take? Is that what you said?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, how long did it take you to kind of get this software developed for the initial launch?
Susan Wos: Um, I have been working on it for about two years. And so what that means is anywhere from business plan to design to implementation, we have recently launched and so I will see the actual coding and the design work as far as like, you know, here’s the processes. Here’s what we need to do that’s been going on for a full year.
Chris Badgett: That’s awsome.
Susan Wos: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: And how do you connect the two sides? Like how it because you almost have to people you have to market to here? So how do you? How do you do that? That’s one of the hardest things in software to build a marketplace that connects to people.
Susan Wos: So that’s what I have learned with Salon Spa connection. You know, the licensed professional is hard to reach. And so really our owner, or our customer is the salon spa and barber shop owner who needs that pre qualification, and, you know, kind of filtration help, and some something to organize all of their applicants. Yes, definitely hair stylists, barbers, they’re our customers. Well, however, their needs are very fleeting. And so they go, you know, they’re looking for jobs, or they’re looking for opportunities, really not often, not often enough to really call them our customer, our customer is the salon owner.
Chris Badgett: And you have the schools and the students on there tell us more about how those players fit into this?
Susan Wos: Pool. This is huge, though, they have a lot of issues, just because it’s I mean, it’s difficult to run any school, let’s face it. And then you’ve got cosmetology, school and aesthetic school and barber school. So schools use it as kind of an administrative role. And so what they can do is they can invite students in, and they can help coach them on the answers that they’re providing, in order to get that right fit. Students can use it, as, you know, obviously, a job application, it is a digital job application. And they also use it as kind of benchmarking, you know, they’re kind of looking at how they’re responding to things. And as they grow, they can change those things as well.
They also have the ability to compare themselves to models, which is something we’re working on now. So students can go in and take their own profile, and kind of do a mass comparison to salon owners all over the United States. And so they see like, Okay, this might fit with this one, this one not so much. And this is why. So when they go out to search, they’re really clarifying what it is they want, and they’re able to get what they want, and what they need a lot faster. And so, you know, hope, hoping that’s going to lead to long term employment and happiness, and we can reduce, we can reduce turnover.
Chris Badgett: So students are on their way to being licensed professionals. Is that how that works? Very cool. Very cool. What plans do you have for the future? To like, grow this out? Or, or add more stuff? Like, what are you? Where are you going with it?
Susan Wos: Well, there’s a lot there. I mean, it’s, you know, this is what I’ve learned with software development. You get an MVP, and that’s what we have, which is a minimum viable product. And so it is, it does everything I want for my owners and my licensed professionals as far as the application process. So that we’re building the model feature. We’re also building a culture check feature for owners. Where they can go in and they can use it as a team comparison. So they can really kind of detail, you know, where their team is not really aligning and either work with them or implement some strategies, you know, to increase overall happiness. We’re working on a working style assessment. So owners can go in and that’s shitted additional evaluation that they can use.
For the people they’re considering hiring which coaches them how to work with this person like we’ve got. Okay, we’ve got the preferences, like alright, if we have issues this may be where we have some issues, and this is how you work with this person. We will have a digital job board at some point and so it’s, that’s kind of off in the future right now. We have to absorb salons spa connections technology.
And so when a user logs in, they’ll be able to see how they fit with everyone, rather than filtering through all these different jobs. So that is that and we’re also building our matchmaking program right now we have kind of basic offerings for back matchmaking. But these are people, you know, this is what I built my business on was people asking me for help. So these are licensed professionals who are like, I don’t really know where to go, I don’t know where to start.
And so we have actually matchmakers right now across the United States who are advising licensed pros, and basically connecting them with owners who are compatible. And so that’s just at the beginning. And that’s just going to grow and grow and grow. It is such a unique opportunity to help people in that way. And I think that maybe the thing I’m most excited about, I’m not sure. But I love that personalized service that we can provide yet being a software company. I love that I love how niche this is, it’s, it’s like, it’s kind of like a personality test. But it’s more like niche specific to the, what goes on in this industry.
What how much? How much does, do you think of the assessment as a personality thing versus a preference thing? Like what what kind of comprises all that it’s all of that, you know, I think with the insightful person, the insightful user. If they’re going to go in and, and use their answers, you know, in comparison to someone else, and see how those people are answering. They’re going to be able to make some predictions. You know, if a licensed professional is is responding, that they want to be independent, yet they’re applying for an employee base type of environment. You know, that’s, that’s definitely prediction that owners can make on like, okay, this person may not be long term, they really have a desire to be independent, they have the wherewithal to be independent, they, they can market themselves, they can build their own clientele.
And so I think that yeah, kind of a prediction on, you know, what this personality is, and supplying is, is a fair assessment, for sure. You have to really think about though, and so we’ll see how owners really, really dialed down on their own responses. Yeah, that’s, that’s really cool. How does it how do you think about expansion with? You know, there’s, like you said, like, churches, salon, barber shops are everywhere. What? How do you think about going to market with your software? So like, Man, I’m sure you did a lot locally in your area.
But I mean, there’s this these kinds of businesses are all over the world, it seems like a giant opportunity here. Agreed. And I’ve been asked about that many times. And it’s such a compliment, because I think people see the need, you know, for this niche in really many fields. So this is what I say is that if anyone has an innate understanding of their own industry and feels like this would benefit their industry, give me a call. I understand.
And the salon spawned barbershop industry, that’s what I understand. And so I don’t understand, you know, I’m friend that is a lifetime bartender and so he’s talked about. You know, his, his industry could really use something like that. So I think it takes a really, boots on the ground innate understanding of industry in order to implement something like this as an offering for other industries. But yes, I’d love it. That would be super neat. It is very different concept. And I know that is something that people are going to love. Because there’s nothing like it.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s really cool. Yeah, I mean, the best products just come out of your own pain or just something you’re doing manually that you see this big scaling opportunity. And you have all these great people skills and emotional intelligence to recognize the friction. And then how do you slice and dice that and to? Assessments? It’s really fascinating.
Susan Wos: What do you do for marketing, like for? How do you think about getting more owners on board? I’m sure word of mouth works. And once you have an owner, and it works, they’re probably a fan for life. Right. So but how else do you grow? So once again, I’m implementing some of the strategy that I’ve used with Salon Spa connection as far as getting owners attention so that is social media. We actually have salespeople. We have eight salespeople that are now working across the United States and connecting states and so they have,
you know, they’ll be walking into salons, you know, bringing something tangible. They have social media outreach, they are emailing, they’re calling. And so that is really our marketing strategy right now. It’s just creating that awareness. We do offer a free trial and so there’s no reason for owners not to try it. It’s like hey, even screen one of your own People if you’re not, if you’re not hiring at the moment, and so, really, you know, our industry is really heavy on social media.
You know, if you look at salons, Instagrams and Facebook’s, it’s all about, you know, putting the hair pics up and oh, look at the, you know, beautiful eyebrow wax or the badass haircut, you know. And so social media really is our biggest concentration right now. And so we will see as it develops, you know, really what works and what doesn’t work. I’m just implementing the strategies of what I’ve already done here in Kansas City, just on a larger scale. Super smart. How do you think about the pricing with I think you said, or in your, in when you used to do it just kind of manually, you only got paid if the connection was made? Does the software work the same way? Or is it is it different, different, because what I realized with that business model is that it’s extraordinarily difficult to do.
And so what I did was I based pricing on how many applicants owners will screen and so they can buy, I mean, even a $10 a month subscription, if they’re only if they have really minimal hiring needs, if they’re not screening many applicants, if they’re not, you know, getting many applications. And so, you know, $10 month for two applicants is a hell of a deal too easily. And then, you know, if they don’t want the subscription model, that’s fine, too. We have what we call bundles. And so you can just kind of buy a set number of applicants, and then when you run out of that, you can buy more.
And so we I designed it because there’s owners have so many different needs, and I didn’t want to, you know, I wanted to provide something that everybody could use. And so no, they don’t start paying for it until they go past the free trial. So they get the free one, no matter what they don’t ever have to pay for it, they can see how it works. They don’t like it, they don’t have to use it. If they love it, they can just base you know how much they pay on how much they use it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. A couple of customer success questions for you just with people onboarding into the software. If some of these salon owners perhaps are not super techy, maybe some are but how do you help people kind of get into the software and really learn it, make sure they set it up, right and all that.
Susan Wos: So you know, that will likely be an issue for people just because we don’t have a very tech savvy industry. However, the software does walk them through the entire process with no deviation. I learned that early on, you’ve got to have it go from A to Z with no breaks. You know, and so we’re doing videos right now, we’ll have first time user hints. And so when they come in, you know, once they’ve completed the signup process, and when they go to their dashboard, they’ll have all these different, you know, things that are gonna tell them, hey, you do this here, you do this here, it is pretty obvious, you know, when you get in there, you can see where all of your applicants are, or as a licensed professional, you can see where your owners are.
And so it is relatively self explanatory. However, you know, the more people that use it, the more feedback we get, the more we’re going to know, okay, we have to do this, this and this. And it didn’t take very long for us to resolve those issues. Because I’m quite sure that. You know, they’ll, they’ll there will be sound, but we’re very hands on, you know, we’re very responsive with customer service. And so when people have issues, all of our emails come right to us, you know, we from the email server, so it’s very easy to reach us contact page.
So if anyone has any trouble, it’s our utmost priority to make sure that it gets resolved. If somebody has a serving and kind of a Main Street business, what advice do you have for setting up sales folks to go out into the world and try to bring in leads like, what’s what works for you? It’s always I can tell you what doesn’t work. I mean, man, I get a lot of solicitation. And it’s kind of that pepper spray of, you know, stuff like just Oh, not like you’re spamming.
I just had one today spamming my LinkedIn, that doesn’t work, harassing people, and just kind of, you know, let’s, let’s just throw it see what happens if we just, you know, DM people into the app, you know, I would say that the personal touch, you know, you start there, you start with a really, really engaged, listening to people finding out what their pain points are. And then you design a program around that and
reach people, you know, salon owners, and spa owners are busy and they usually have a gatekeeper. And so you would have to get past the gatekeeper to get to that salon owner. And so it’s figuring out where your customers live and how to access them and building it around them. You know, marketing changes all the time. And believe it or not, even a postcard works very well because in the days of email, you know, people aren’t touching things as much. It’s like oh, hey, look at this. I got this cool post or what is this? I mean, it works with me actually. And so I think, you know, experimenting on a very, very
Small scale and finding out what works and then just kind of growing from there is the best piece of advice that I have. Because it’s easy to spend a bunch of money on ads and like I’ve done Google ads, I’ve done Facebook ads. And while that can be effective for my business, I haven’t found it to be overly effective.
Chris Badgett: Solid advice there. What are the main pain points for a salon owner? Like you mentioned, the high turnover? Like what, what else is there? Where’s the pain?
When somebody’s trying to recruit for their business? What else? What else? I’m just thinking with a marketing hat on like, there’s high turnover, but what else is going on that that makes the desire for your software? Interesting.
Susan Wos: I mean, there’s, there’s so many really. I mean, obviously, it’s the same for all people right now, all business owners. which is the amount of applicants, that’s the size. Yeah, absolutely. And so, you know, I would say, just understanding who you’re interviewing, and knowing how to move through that process faster. As far as like, getting, like, okay, so if you don’t use the software, you’re onboarding from connection to hiring is, is very intense. And so to shrink that and make it better and more efficient and keep all your stuff in one place. I would say that’s going to be the most attractive thing, because it’s difficult. I mean, you’re talking most salon owners are most independent salon owners are doing all this themselves.
And the marketing and the business stuff, and hair or makeup or whatever, all the time. And so that sort of time spent on you know, moving through the Africa process, they get ghosted all the time, my software, you click a button, and it sends a message, no, ghosting, I think ghosting is the rudest thing. But so there’s, there’s just it’s multi layered, you know, quality of applicants to so that’s an issue, I can’t really help.
I’d like to I’d like to create some mentoring, you know, a good mentorship program. But the quality of applicants, right now, you know, I don’t know if it’s a generational thing or, or what it is, but, and understanding how to work with those people, the ones that don’t know how to talk on the phone, you know, or, or Yeah, or just totally checked out, I don’t know how to talk to people after COVID. And so I would say that’s also an issue. And I’d love to be able to help resolve that too. So I’m sure that will come to me, at some point, what advice you have for business owners, you have an opening, and they’re trying to get eyeballs and traffic to their application?
Chris Badgett: Oh, I think we’re back. What advice do you have for business owners who are trying to get traffic or eyeballs on their application?
Susan Wos: Well, I have a whole course on that actually. Because of that very issue. They, you know, there’s two kinds of owners, there’s the owner who just throw some stuff out there. And he’s like, where’s the applicants? You know, where are they? Where are they? And then there’s the owner who’s like, okay, there’s a way to get to them. And I need to find out how to do that. So I actually offer a course for those women for the ladder owners who want to be better self recruiters. Who want to learn, you know, how to get the attention to those applicants, you know, or to their social media or to their website. And it’s really, you know, it’s complicated to get it’s not like it’s a process, you know, you have to have, visuals are big.
If you don’t have a website, if you don’t have updated social media, those are, those are basic principles for most people. But not everyone. And you’d be really surprised it’s across the board. And so if they want more attention to their application. If they want more attention to their business, there are definite great processes and recruiting their ethical that I have a whole course on it’s called recruit like a pro.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah, this uh, this audience here in particular, is really into course creation and online learning and teaching and that kind of thing. What, what tell us about the idea to create that course, as opposed to a blog post or a video or whatever, like, how to where did the course come from
Susan Wos: Two places, the first of all my consulting with owners. That was the biggest thing is that they were asking over and over and over again. Of course, I’m doing everything I can with Salon Spa connection to get as many applicants for them as possible. However, my attitude is they are their own best advocate. Truly, I mean, they have more power as an individual than I do as someone who’s helping everyone as far as recruiting is concerned. And then I would say
Chris Badgett: Based on what I’ve learned with Salon Spa connection, what gets the licensed professionals attention? What is their language? What where’s it they’re going, What are they looking for? And so those two things, yeah, my consulting, and then my abilities because I started softball connection with nothing. I mean, I didn’t even have social media, I didn’t know how to work social media. And now we’re up to almost 5000 followers just in Kansas City. And so I’m really proud of that, because it’s, you know, we’ve got about 3 million people. So if you kind of segment that down to our industry. I’m really proud of that, you know, we’ve worked our butts off and learn where they are, how to reach them. You know, created those relationships that get results. And so I think owners need to know, based on what
I’ve done here in Kansas City, as far as getting licensed professionals to take action. That’s what they need to understand and implement into their own businesses. So that is why I created a course, because it would be m is long, it’s six weeks long. It is you know, several videos per week, you get a download, that you can take and have forever. It’s just kind of that evergreen opportunity for owners who are who are proactive. If you’re not proactive, you won’t like the course.
Chris Badgett: And so if you are proactive and you want to grow your business, and you don’t know how or where to start with getting recruiting going, this is the course for you. Wow, that’s awesome. That’s Susan Voss. She’s from enlightened higher.com Where else can the good people of the internet connect with you?
Susan Wos: Well, we try to be all over the place. Our social media bios, you know, on Facebook and Instagram, we have that multilink bio. And it’s got all kinds of options. We also have freebies and if owners are interested in trying our software, definitely just send us a message in DM you know, we have really proactive people who are helpful on social media and so it’s at enlightened, higher, or even on Facebook, enlightened, higher. And of course, you can send me a friend request or connect with me on LinkedIn. And my last name spelled W O S.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Susan, thank you for coming on the show. And thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. We really appreciate it.
Susan Wos: It was a pleasure talking to you. I really appreciate the opportunity and I hope to connect you again.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS cast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifter lms.com For slash gift go to lifter lms.com forward slash gift. Keep learning. Keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.