Put a stop to the revolving door of staff in your salon. Here’s tips for keeping hairdressers happy.
1. Deliver on your promises
Ross Hahn, salon team leader for multi-location SwizzleSticks SalonSpa in Calgary, says accountability on behalf of the salon owner can mean the difference between loyal staff and mutinous walkouts. “The salon owner has to carefully consider the promises made to staff and make sure the resources and policies available to execute are in place,” says Hahn. Accountability is a two-way street and stylists also have to uphold their end of the deal. “In a salon where staff don’t have to keep promises to their employer, they tend to do lead outs, steal client information and wreak havoc in the back room.”
2. Don’t poach
According to Jon Gonzales, president and founder of Hairdresser Career Development System (hcds4you.com), another issue that’s causing high turnover in the industry is the strained relationship between salon owners. A prime example of this is salon owners pirating staff from other shops. Whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a third party to poach stylists from your “competitors,” this lack of ethics is part of the problem, not the solution.
3. Keep in contact with staff
To keep employees happy and loyal to the salon, the lines of communication between the owner, management and staff have to be open. Zackary Milardo, salon business consultant and author of e-book Secrets of Successful and Profitable Salons Revealed (dbsc.info), suggests regular meetings every two weeks. This will help create a team environment, give the staff a forum to discuss issues in the salon and the chance to provide positive feedback.
4. Offer career path guidance
Active career planning is essential to avoiding turnover. Milardo says, “Work with your staff and tell them you are open to compensating a certain amount to start, then sit down with them again in three or six months to reassess. It’s important to try to meet his or her needs and keep the person who will become a generator happy.” Hahn agrees saying that if a staff member knows the advancement scale, where they are on that scale and when the next level is coming, they will be inclined to remain loyal to the salon. Gonzales adds that if a staff member leaves, an owner should meet with their employees to explain what happened, quell any feelings of insecurity and let them know that this is a great opportunity for them to advance.
Another way to create synergy in the salon is by providing opportunities beyond working behind the chair. Milardo suggests getting your team involved in things like backstage work, educational classes, team photo shoots, fundraisers or events.
5. Make stylists sign and understand their employee contract
Should a staff member decide to depart, every salon owner should have an employee handbook outlining the protocol and clearly list that all phone numbers and addresses are the property of the salon and not the stylist. It should also state that prior employees cannot open a salon within a certain distance of their previous place of employment and the salon owner reserves the right to adapt the employee handbook at any time.
Hahn also warns that if you are introducing hairstylists who haven’t been working under contract to this new policy there may be a walkout. He suggests if you don’t already have a contract in place to ask (not force) your stylists to sign it and grandfather it in as mandatory with new hires.
6. Focus on customers when stylists leave.
The number one concern for a salon owner when a high-earning stylist leaves is the consequent loss of clients. “Clients nowadays tend to be loyal to a salon, its location and its brand,” says Hahn, adding that if an owner acts fast and professionally they will probably retain 80 per cent of clients. He suggests sending clients an honest letter detailing where their stylist has moved, offer them a complimentary first-time service and the name of two or three equally trained alternate stylists from your salon. Let them know that the choice is ultimately theirs, but they should feel comfortable and welcome to stay.