Whether you’re a salon manager, an owner, or both, managing salon staff is about as challenging as trying to make a mullet look good. Their creative, high-spirited, often opinionated and independent personalities make them a difficult group to manage.

A small problem can quickly escalate into a big conflict if you fail to address it immediately, and the last thing you want is disgruntled staff members that make customers feel uncomfortable.

So, rather than risk the catastrophe of a major blowout, try to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are five practical salon management tips that will help you efficiently manage your staff.  

1. Communication is Crucial

There is never a lack of chatter in a hair salon. Conversations are happening between customers and stylists. Customers are talking to other customers, and the receptionist is answering phones to book appointments. All this chit chat is a standard part of the atmosphere at salons. And another form of communication you want to standardize is regular communication with your salon staff.

Communication is key to resolving conflicts. If any employees have an issue with another staff member, a product line or how the salon operates, a good conversation can usually clear the air.

While some problems are urgent and you’ll want to address them immediately, others are not as time sensitive. Monthly staff meetings are a great way to talk about some of the less urgent matters and serve as a platform for employees to ask questions and address their concerns.

To get everyone involved and encourage participation, make the meetings fun and collective experience. Remember, you’re not dealing with office-type personalities, so a boardroom style meeting isn’t the best approach. Instead, order some food, serve a cocktail or two, but not more than that because you still want to have a productive meeting.  

You can announce monthly highlights like who sold the most product or who had the most revenue in client services.  And giving out small prizes to the winners of each category is a great way to acknowledge them in front of their peers.        

2. Build a Strong Team as a Salon Manager

Along the same lines of communication lies team building activities. While monthly meetings are a structured way to communicate, organizing team building activities outside the confines of your storefront can also create communication pathways. And not only that, but it can help boost your bottom line too. Companies with engaged employees make two and a half times more revenue, on average than companies with disengaged employees.

For team building exercises you can bring in a consultant who specializes in this area of expertise for a more formal team building activity, or something more informal like an outing to a sporting event or a paint-n-sip class.

You may also want to consider having the group attend a conference or workshop on a specific technique. This can be a form of team building, but it also doubles as continuing education to enhance the skills of your staff. Depending on your specific group of employees, it might be beneficial to try all of the methods and see which one employees prefer and net the best results.

3. Hiring is Nothing to Fear

When it comes to communication and team building, there is also something to be said for hiring the right people. From hairstylists and hair washers to makeup artists, technicians, and aestheticians, you want to find the right people to fill these roles.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, a bad-hire costs an employer, on average, $17,000. Therefore, taking putting in the extra time and effort up front will save money a lot of money in the long run.

Hiring for a service position, especially the beauty industry, is more personal because the services employees provide are much more personal. Not only do you want to do standard background and reference checks, but you want to approach the hiring process as an extended tryout.

While some applicants look great on paper, they may not fit in with the organization or culture, and vice versa – those who don’t look so great on paper are your missing link. Have an open mind and try to read between the lines during the resume gathering phase. If you’re unsure, a quick phone interview is a great way to screen potential candidates.

For those that pass a phone screen, bring them in for an in-person interview and have them execute a specific task on a mannequin. If you’re satisfied with the results, hash out a schedule and bring them back on a contract or trial basis to get a real feel for their professional techniques and people skills to determine if they are a good fit for the long-term goals of your business.  

Lastly, don’t be afraid to take a chance on a recent graduate. It’s the perfect catch twenty-two, “how can one gain experience if one is not given the opportunity.” While school and formal training are good, real-life experience is what’s going to make them great.   

4. Be Innovative

Fads in cosmetology change on a seasonal, if not on a daily basis. What looks good today can make you a meme tomorrow. And while any good manager will keep up their salon abreast of current beauty trends, you’ll also want to make sure you’re on top of the latest trends when it comes to your business processes.  

From online client bookings to employee scheduling, a point of sale system and accounting software, you’ll want a way to streamline and integrate your core business processes so you can spend less time buried in paperwork and more time managing the salon to grow the business.   

5. Run a Tidy Shop

For any business owner or manager, a sparkling clean appearance is paramount to the success of your business, and it’s a reflection of your management style.When customers first set foot through your doors, the tidiness of your shop plays a significant role in molding their first impression.

Think about it. Would you want to get a facial treatment in a salon where there’s chopped hair strung around the floor or hair brushes full of hair on workstations? If they can’t keep the front of the house clean and organized, lord only knows what other unsanitary habits are lurking around the corner.

To avoid the salon from turning into a hairy mess, outline a cleaning procedure of tasks to complete on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Assign tasks to staff accordingly and don’t be afraid to stress the importance of maintaining a clean environment. 

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re a new salon manager or an owner with tenure, the success of any business starts from the top down. These five fundamental tips will help make your salon successful and sustainable for years to come.  

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