AI recruiting assistant, Olivia, streamlines the delivery of candidates to thousands of salon hiring managers.
As the largest salon business in the United States with over 8,000 owned or franchised locations worldwide, the nearly 30 brands that make up Regis Corporation, including SuperCuts, SmartStyle, and Cost Cutters, together drive the largest hiring of stylists. Last year, the Regis Corporation serviced 50 million guest visits among their nearly 4,000 corporate owned stores. In such a high-volume service business, staffing is paramount to business success. While the demand for stylists is forecasted to grow, the number of new cosmetology graduates is declining. Couple the high competition for stylists with licensed professionals who are required to participate in a 1-2-year program and as many as 2000 continuing education hours, the challenge of hiring stylists for the industry’s largest employer is formidable.
Shawn Moren, CHRO for the organization, was hired in 2017 with one objective, Increase stylist hiring success. The Regis model in place was a traditional model of an ATS system and recruiters. By all accounts, the model, like so many other retail talent acquisition models was underperforming. “I knew that trying to improve upon the traditional model would never create the results we needed to produce. We had to take a risk and do something completely different.”
She hired Jacob Kramer as Associate Vice President of Talent Acquisition because Kramer had the in-depth experience and passion to shift Regis’s talent acquisition model to a data driven and high-performing digitalized solution. “Our candidates are passive job seekers. At Regis, we were able to build a sophisticated digital recruiting model that targets passive, licensed individuals and brings them to our job opportunities at a high volume. Building a solution that attracts candidates at this high of volume increased our need for AI, as response time is critical,” explained Kramer. “To be competitive, we need to hire within 48 hours of application. I knew that AI was the way to make that happen.”
"We didn’t want to lose the candidate experience by going recruiter-less. Olivia has helped us achieve that."
“The sophisticated digital recruiting model that we built produces candidates at a number Regis hasn’t seen in the past. This model was built utilizing technology never implemented in our space before. We searched for AI that could connect with our technology and be adaptable to the ever-changing landscape, and the answer was Olivia.” stated Kramer. Olivia was equipped to synchronize with the other tools in the system. That flexibility allowed Regis Corporation to transition to an entirely automated, recruiter-less and 100% digital recruiting model. Prior to the digital transformation, Regis’s recruitment advertising directed active candidates to their careers site to search for jobs. “Driving candidates to a webpage where they had to search for the positions again provided a poor candidate experience and led to a high number of drop offs,” said Kramer. “Today, the sophisticated recruiting model delivers candidates to a landing page, or directly to Olivia, where she answers any of their questions and connects them with the best location and the right application process—it’s seamless.”
Regis Corporation had a long-time employee referral program (ERP) in place, managed manually using a paper form, that was unsuccessful regardless of the incentive offered. The new mobile-centric Olivia ERP invites employees to simply text Olivia, who then asks basic information about the sender and the referred candidate. Olivia immediately reaches out by text message to the referral and begins capturing their relevant information through conversational AI, making the process simple and immediate. “We implemented Olivia Employee Referral Program in two weeks and within less than 4 months, our employee referrals went from minimal participation to approximately 10% of all applications,” shared Kramer.
Olivia takes care of the important work that needs to be done without sacrificing the candidate experience or distracting hiring managers from focus on customers and salon operations. According to Kramer, “We didn’t want to lose the candidate experience by going recruiter-less. Olivia has helped us achieve that. She has removed the barriers of entry, and connects candidates who are qualified directly with our hiring managers. Delivering an experience that helps streamline the job search and application process for candidates is a win for our company and our candidates.” With nearly 30 salon brands, maintaining the unique identity and understanding the different candidate audiences was key. “At Regis, we support a family of brands. Olivia is the persona for each brand. She is the human factor, and she has been a vital part of our digital transformation,” said Kramer.
The automation in the new digital recruiting process means that hiring managers are reaching out to candidates within 24 hours, and that speed is translating into huge improvements in recruiting results. “Regis Corporation is at the lowest number of openings we’ve ever had, a huge accomplishment given the need to hire a large percentage of the total beauty salon workforce each year.” Additionally, speed to hire, from application to first shift, has been reduced by 86%. “What we’re doing is making a significant difference for us to hire the majority of candidates in the market. Our digital recruiting transformation has delivered an economic return while ensuring our ability to recruit licensed individuals at a high-volume, in an extremely competitive space,” explained Kramer.
Building a digital recruiting model that allows Regis Corporation to recruit this volume without a single recruiter is a remarkable feat. Yet, Kramer is optimistic about the opportunity for innovation in talent acquisition. “I hope other leaders hear what we’ve been able to accomplish and choose to break away from the status quo and explore AI and digital transformations,” shared Kramer. “If you would have told my field managers a year ago that they would receive this volume of licensed candidates without a single recruiter, they would never have believed it was possible. Developing partnerships with innovative solution providers like Paradox to build out custom solutions that meet your business needs is completely doable, when we think beyond a traditional landing page robot. AI can be used to thoroughly streamline the recruiting process, enhance the candidate experience and build out workforce planning automation. Tasks that are assumed to take a team, or an individual, to manage are no longer the case. Being open to these types of transformations is how you will win the war for talent in your space.”
"We hire tens of thousands of people per year in one of the most competitive industries for hiring. Our experience has proven that changes to your digital and artificial intelligence recruitment process can drive great economic return."
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