5 tips for managing a successful salon

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 salon staff a difficult group to manage.

What is salon management?

Salon management is the act of  successfully running the operations of a beauty salon on a daily basis, with the objective of attracting more customers and creating a positive work environment for team members. Salon management is usually carried out by the owner of the salon or a salon manager. 

To successfully manage a salon, the person in charge is responsible for a number of tasks, including improving the customer experience, marketing, monitoring quality and performance, scheduling staff, hiring, and more.

A small problem can quickly escalate into a big conflict if you fail to address it immediately, and the last thing you want are 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.

5 tips to managing a salon

Managing a salon isn’t easy, but there are a handful of tips, tricks, and tools salon managers can use to improve operations. Here are our top 5 tips for salon management.

1. Communicate with your salon staff

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, and it’s a big part of your duties as a salon manager. 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 your salon staff 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. Take Your Time When Hiring Your Salon Employees

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, putting in the extra time and effort upfront will save a lot of money in the long run.

[Find more quality candidates for your salon with Homebase. See how it works.]

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. Stay Current With Salon Tools, Trends & Processes

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. Keep Your Salon Neat and Tidy

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

Think about it. Would you want to get a facial in a salon where there’s chopped hair strung around the floor? Or dirty hair brushes on workstations? If they can’t keep the front of the house clean, who knows what else is lurking around the corner?

To avoid the salon from turning into a hairy mess, outline a cleaning procedure of tasks. Complete them 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, your success starts from the top down. These five salon management tips will help make your salon successful and sustainable for years to come.  

Salon management FAQs

What does a salon manager do?

Similar to a salon owner, a salon manager is responsible for daily operations, such as opening/closing, inventory management and other business operations to ensure profitability. They also oversee the hiring and scheduling of new staff as well as dealing with customer feedback and complaints.

What skills do you need to manage a salon?

To be a good salon manager you need great communication skills and knowledge of business management. Being able to manage your staff and keeping client satisfaction high is crucial if you want to manage a salon business.

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