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Management Practices

Beauty Pulse: Why Stylists Fly the Salon Coop

Stacey Soble | September 14, 2017 | 12:39 PM
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In recent years, independent salon owners have buzzed about salon suites popping up in their markets and luring away team members.  With this month’s Beauty Pulse salon owner poll, we decided to investigate salon walkouts, why employees leave and what salons do to retain clients—150 salon owners and managers responded. (See results in slideshow.)

Click here to see the results of our last Beauty Pulse poll on Staff Meetings. 

Here's what owners told us they do when a stylist chooses to leave their salon: 

“When a stylist leaves, we send her guests a targeted email. We keep it very professional and give the guest three referrals to see other stylists we know they would be happy with, and we offer them $25 off their next visit.”—Lititia Thomas, Ho’ala Salon and Spa, Honolulu, Hawaii

 “I do not try to make clients stay. I call all still booked and tell them their stylist has left and let them decide if they want to see another stylist or no. I feel if you try to bribe them into staying, they will never come back. If you leave the door open, they will try the new place, but know they are welcome to return at any time.”-- Deborah Krupa, Haircolorxperts, Charlotte, North Carolina

“When a stylists leaves the salon we immediately contact the salon guest with a scripted phone call and invite them to stay with an individually selected stylists who best fits their personality and pricing. If they have not come in after 30 days, we send a follow-up incentive of 50% off a service. We also have a policy to tell the guest where they stylist has moved to, we feel this has maintained our reputation as being about the guest first—ultimately it is their choice.”—Gayle Fulbright, Headlines The Salon, Encinitas, California

“We send them a nice letter with a complimentary service with another service provider.”—Jyl Craven, Jyl Craven Hair Design, Canton, Georgia

“We simply let the clients know the technician has left. We encourage the guests to try another technician but if they do not want to, we are OK with that. Trying to force guests to stay doesn't work.”—Mary Beth Berns, Craig Berns Salon & Spa, Delafield, Wisconsin

“We use the approach that clients are not ours, nor theirs.  They make up their own minds. We always are completely transparent with where the stylist goes and telling the client that we know that it's their choice and that we have been fortunate to have them as clients and that we hope to keep them, but ultimately understand the personal connection.  We always reassure them that they are always welcome and that we wish them well.  Believe it or not, we've had several girls leave in the past, thinking they would take all their clients with them, but because we have been so transparent, their clients might go for a visit or two, but almost always come back.  We have roughly a 10-20% loss each time.  We work very hard for the client to feel that they can go to anyone in the salon and this I think helps because they don't always just have a personal connection with just the stylist.  They have it with the salon.  I do it this way because from experience when I left a salon.  Clients would eventually find me and they would be so annoyed knowing that my former employee pretended they didn't know where I went.  I felt that was a big reason so many of my clients followed me, was because they asked what happened to me and the former employees just would pretend to not know and try to redirect them to another girl.  Clients are not stupid, they get it.”—Shelley North, Glow Beauty Boutique, Braintree, Massachusetts

“The last two stylists who left retired. They carefully placed each guest. I followed up with free haircut letters to be sure they were happy.”—Kitty Tierney, Impressions, Mequon, Wisconsin

“I'm not very aggressive in trying to keep a stylist's clients, because it can make me look like the bad guy- like I’m trying to ‘steal’ her clients. My approach is more informative, letting them know the stylist has left, and letting them know we would love to keep their business. Our clients aren't motivated by discounts. In the long run, it works pretty well!”—Carla Cutsinger, Fringe Hair Co., Germantown, Tennessee

“First I personally call every guest that was scheduled with that person and offer them a different service provider that I think will be a good fit. Next we send a letter and/or email with 3 different offers for future visits to stay loyal to our company.”—Tracey Watts Cirino, Lavish Color Salon, Cleveland, Ohio

“We send an email letting them know where that employee went and offering them a new artist at our salon.  We recently offered 3 free barber cuts to clients of a barber who left to rent a station down the street.”—Karie Bennett, Atelier Salon Spas, San Jose, California

“We simply let the guests know that stylist no longer is employed at our salon company and that we have other stylists who are very similar and highly skilled.”—Sondra Thrasher, Appearances Hair Color and Design Studio, Westminster, Colorado

“We let them know where the employee has gone but we let them know they are always welcome to stay. Most clients have seen numerous employees at our salon and our retention is high.”—Peter Polignone, Rituals Salon Spa, Midlothian, Virginia

“We simply tell clients the stylist is no longer with us. We avoid knowing where a stylist went, so we are not lying when we say, we don’t know. We send clients discounts and specials, but for the most part we are team-oriented, most of the clients stay.”—Tony Gordon, Gordon Salons, Chicago, Illinois

“We send an email explaining how the stylist has moved on and that change is good. We invite them for a free haircut and 50% off color services.”—Gail Cohen, Salon Central, Bethesda, Maryland

“We personally call all of the guests that are booked for appointments to reschedule.  We also send letters to the other guests the stylist has seen offering them a recommendation of which stylist to see- usually with an incentive to thank them for their loyalty to the salon.”—Marielle Shuster, Coiffeteria Salon, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“I am very honest when a team member left to pursue a different career choice. We offered guests 20% off their service with a same or higher level stylist to ensure they had a great experience. I also do a follow phone call to check in within 24 hours after their service day to see how their experience was.”—Khanh Nguyen, Karen Allen Salon and Spa, Riverside, California

“We market our salon experience and are committed to having guests find the right "fit" with our staff. And we only hire people that can handle that type of interaction. So when a staff member left, our guests were more apt to stay at our salon than leave. This person was not honest and said she was leaving the industry, so we were not able to say where she went. We also have staff sign an NDA which prevents them from soliciting guests on social media, email, text, calls or physically.”—Larry Kane, Jonathon Kane Salon and Spa, Homewood, Illinois

“We initiate an email campaign that (depending on the ranking of the team member) addresses getting the guest to come back to the salon.  If it is a high-ranking producer, we will offer as much as the next three visits complimentary . . . We find it takes three visits to "bond" with a new service provider!”—Terry McKee, Nuovo Salon Group, Sarasota, Florida

“We send out an email stating the stylist have moved on but that we have other amazing artists and we would love to have them try. We offer a small discount.”—Michael Phillips, Michael Helene Salon Gallery, Dulles, VA

“We are very transparent with our guests.  When an employee leaves, we notify their guests and suggest a stylist that works similar hours as the one who left.  We remind clients that our color formulas are saved, allowing another stylist to easily mix the same formula if the guest wants the same color.  We offer guests 15% off to try the new stylist.  More often than not, the guest stays with us.  While they enjoyed the connection with the stylist who left, it is the Avalon brand experience that they remain loyal to.”—Bonnie Conte, Avalon Salon Spa, Deer Park, Illinois

“We call clients if they have an existing appointment to tell them their stylist has left.  If they ask we tell them where they went and then we tell them we would love for them to stay at our salon and we suggest another person or persons. We appreciate their business and will always be there for them.”—Deborah Capaldi, Pucci Salon, Scottsdale, Arizona

“We have a unique relationship with the clients in our salon – there’s a trust and loyalty factor between our brand and our salon clients that's been created by the consistency of our Academy training program for all stylists who have been awarded a chair.  When a stylist moves on, we begin calling immediately, and are able to recommend any of the other stylists on our team to accommodate each client. They trust us enough to give another stylist a chance.  We always honor the service price(s) of their former stylist for their initial visit with a new stylist, even if their price level is considerably higher.  It's just our way of providing a consistently outstanding client experience.”—Cindy Levi, Geno Levi Salon, McMurray Pennsylvania

“At Utopia we send a letter/email to all the guests that have visited that technician letting them know that we are sorry to see the tech leave and we wish them well. We let the guest know how important they are to us and reassure them that we already have the products they love, and atmosphere they are comfortable in and their records. We offer them 50% off their next visit with any other technician and let them know that they can call the front desk team so they can be paired with the most suitable service provider.”—Lisa Houser, Utopia Salon and Spa, Vancouver, Washington

“We are lucky because the stylists who have left became stay-at-home moms or left to pursue another career. They placed their clients with another team manner before they left. I also sent a thank you card with a discount with the new stylist to entice them to stay with us.”—Tamra Segert, Studio 700 Salon and Spa, Corona, California

“We make telephone calls informing clients that the stylist has left, followed by a letter. Both inform the client they'll receive 50% off their next service with another service provider, and that they will also receive 20% off their hair care retail purchases for the following three months. We of course let them know that we appreciate their loyalty.”—Jared Harms, Detour Salon & Spa, Encinitas, California

“We are a Strategies team-based pay salon. Clients see multiple service providers for the services. When a stylist leaves, the clients typically stay within the salon. We've been doing this for 15 years and it works well.”—Stan Bialecki, Chameleon Haircolor Café, North Haven, Connecticut

“We send out an eblast letting our guests know that their stylist left and we wish them much success on their journey (whether to work in another salon in the city or ifthey moved out of the city). We let clients know how much we value them by offering them either 50% off their next service or a complimentary service depending on the situation and depending on how senior the team member was who left. We continue to invite those guests in at a promotional price.”—Keri Davis-Duffy, Gila Rut Salons, San Diego, California

“We send a letter to their clients and offer them 50% off to come back. We will however tell them (not in the letter) where the stylist has gone. If we are nice to the client many of them come back to either purchase retail or to get other services.”—Tina Morschauser, Rejuvenation Spa, Madison, Wisconsin

“BRIX is a booth rental salon. I send out an email to the clients with the filter set to just those clients of the person who left. I let them know how much we have appreciated their relationship with us and that if they have chosen to go with (stylist) we look forward to seeing them at the salon for their other services. After 30 days I send out another email saying they are missed and we would love it if they stopped by to say hi. I send another email in another month thanking those who stayed with the salon and letting the others know we are here and would love to earn them back. I call those who stayed to personally say Thank You for staying at BRIX and that their loyalty is appreciated. I make note of their next appointment and visit with them while in the salon. To those who received the email at 2 weeks 6 weeks and 10 weeks, if they were on the fence about leaving the email kept us committed and in many cases they came back. Our threat is salon suite across the street.”—

“When an employee leaves our salon, we send out an email to all of the clients that see that particular stylist to let them know that their stylist has left and that we greatly value their business and would love to extend an offer to them to stay within our salon and see another stylist. We offer them a three-tiered discount for each visit back with us; their first visit is 20% off, second visit is 15% off and their third visit is a complimentary styling product of their choice. Our thought is that after 3 visits with us after their stylist has left, they have hopefully settled in with a new favorite stylist. This has worked very well for us so far!”—Holly Grist, Salon 828, Wilmington, Delaware

“We send them a letter and or an email notifying the guest that the artist has left. If we know where they are going we include the name, telephone number and address of the salon. We also include their cell number. At the same time we include an offer to that guest to have them come in and experience  one of our other artist.”—James Pacifico, Centre Salons and Spas in Denver and Salt Lake City

Right away we are a team that works together and are encouraged to share clients. Luckily, we have not had anyone leave that has a client base. This usually happens in the training stage of employment. We plan ahead for maternity leaves by getting the client set up and introduced to the hairstylist before their stylist leaves for a couple of months. It’s all about clear communication and laying a plan out for the client. I think I would do it about the same if an artist decided to leave. We would offer a promotion and set them up with a new stylist that we think is a great fit!”—Kellie Johnson, Elan Hair Studio, Sea Girt, New Jersey

“We maintain a database with all guest contact information. When this occurs, we send an email to the guests under that employee that: A) Notifies them about the team member departure; B) Reminds them that we have a well-documented blueprint of the services they have received with us, and that based on their history we have chosen another team member to take care of their salon needs; and C) We provide them with a financial incentive to meet the new stylist we have carefully chosen.”—Armando Laya, Voga Salon, Overland Park, Kansas

“I do not try to make clients stay. I call all still booked and tell them their stylist has left and let them decide if they want to see another stylist or no. I feel if you try to bribe them into staying, they will never come back. If you leave the door open, they will try the new place, but know they are welcome to return at any time.”—Deborah Krupa, Haircolorxperts, Charlotte, North Carolina

“We send an email with three gift vouchers. 1st one-75% off and good for 6 weeks. 2nd one -50% off good for next 6 weeks. And 3rd one is 25% off and good for the next 6 weeks. This gives us the opportunity to potentially get them back in for three visits and try three different service providers in hopes they will find the right match.”—Jackie Buckler, The Hair Company in Leonardtown, Pennsylvania

“We send an email to the guest list that has been seeing the stylist and according to the level of service provider that has left we develop an offer. If the service provider that has left is at entry level we usually do not do an email at all. If a service provider leaves due to moving out of the area or out of the profession we ask them to do a "Good bye" video to the guests that have been seeing them with personal suggestion from them on who can take care of the guest!”—Lester E. Crowell, Jr., Three-13 Salon, Spa and Boutique in Marietta, Georgia

“When we lose an employee, we produce a list of their request guests from the last six months. We create a campaign to introduce them to another service provider at either one of our two locations. We include a service offer for one or multiple services in hopes of a new technician building a relationship with this guest.”—Ryan Campbell, Ginger Bay Salon and Spa, St. Louis

“We focus on creating a customer experience that salon suites could never replicate.  By creating a great experience that starts with how we engage our guests on the phone to how we greet them in the salon to how we provide the actual service, we know we'll keep most of our guests as a single service provider can only do so much to give a great experience. Because we are a team-based salon, everyone on our staff is responsible to give a guest a great experience with us.  A single practitioner is much more limited in their ability to serve a guest.  Because we provide such a high level of customer service, we usually only lose 5-10% of our clients to an outgoing team member.  Plus, we do inform our staff that all clients belong to Integrity Lash and we expect them to honor that when they leave.  For the most part when a staff member leaves they go out to start their own thing and know it's unprofessional to poach clients.  While we ask they don't poach clients we also tell the staff that if a client wants to know where they went to, we will give them the contact info.  Because we focus on making our guests brand loyal instead of ‘staff loyal’ most guests decide to stay and try other service providers.  One way we mitigate the risk for our guest is we guarantee all our work.  If for any reason they are unhappy, we ask them to allow us to fix it and if we cannot, we refund them their money.  This has really helped us to get guests to try other staff members with basically no risk for them financially.   When an employee leaves we tell the team that our team member has left to pursue a new opportunity elsewhere and that we wish them the best.   We do not denigrate the former employee even if they leave on bad terms.  We take the high road and try our best to bless the former employee.   While sometimes our name gets dragged through the mud by the former employee, we always take the high road as we think in the long run that is best way to handle these kind of messy situations.”—Paul Luebbers, Integrity Lash, Pasadena, California

“We do a silver, gold and platinum list based on the guest’s frequency of visits. Platinum guests get a free service of what they always have along with a personal call to check up to make sure they are happy.”—Scott Buchanan, Scott J Salon and Spa, New York, New York

“Buzz Salon has a going away party. When someone moves on, we share the news of the former employee’s new job or move. We just had three stylists move away within six weeks of each other. All stylists refer their clients to other stylists at Buzz Salon who they feel are their best fit.”—Jodi Connolly, Buzz Salon, Iowa City, Iowa

“When our last stylist left for personal reasons she agreed to stay longer to make sure she could communicate with all of her guests who she recommended in the salon.  Our guests appreciated it and we retained most of her guests in the salon.”—Gloria Kolbeck, Vanessen’s Hair Design, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

“When we have a service provider leave we phone the guest, let them know the situation and invite them to see another provider. We make it easy and bend over backwards to accommodate the guest. As we have our own in-house training programs, it’s not about whether the provider is skilled, it’s more about matching personalities.”—Heather Tytula, Brio SalonSpa in Lethbridge, Alberta

We do not chase the clients of any ex-employee. When a client calls, we offer them the services of another stylist here, if they would rather stick with their stylist, we will give them the contact information. We hope that many people will love our facility and staff and will want to stay. If not, it's worth our karma and reputation to pass along the info they want. Hopefully, the client will appreciate that and remember us if the ever do want to make a change in the future.”—Erin Mann, Erin Kelley Salon, Boca Raton, Florida

“When a salon employee leaves we let the guests that ask about them know where they are now working.  We do offer them ‘try another stylist’ offer to make their transition tempting.  Many times change is good and the guests embrace the chance to go ahead and make it.  I personally speak to every single guest that is involved, explain the situation and give them a choice.  I have the ‘loyalty’ conversation with them, saying that I completely understand their loyalty to that stylist and respect it.  After all these years. I've seen guests leave and then later come back.  Our culture is strong.  It's hard to leave our team.”—Maggie DiFalco, Maggie the Salon, Pembroke Pines, Florida

We send an old fashioned letter out to guests when one of the team members leave.  The letters contain an incentive for the guest to try another stylist at any of our locations. The offer is usually for 1/2 off any service, but we recently offered 1/2 off their next 2 services after we lost 2 stylists to a new salon/suite in our area.”—Mary Randolph, Randolph’s Salon in Rochester Hills, Michigan

“Our service providers do not have their ‘own clients’ to begin with. Everyone is responsible for serving the clients and growing the company. This way we never have to worry about clients following a stylist to another salon.”—Cindy Reynolds, Mermaid Hair Extensions, Kirkland, Washington

“When my employee left I personally retained 80 percent of her business.  After three months, I sent an email to the other 20 percent, offering them a discounted service.  About 1/2 came back and stayed.”—Domenica Christopher, Christopher’s Salon, Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania

“I run the front of the salon and I work hard to develop a relationship with all clients entering the salon so they have a close relationship with me also. I offer free or discounted services to try another operator, because knowing them as I do, they tend to value my opinion.”—Mena Dabbundo, Contemporary Styles by Mena, Media, Pennsylvania

“We explain that the employee has left to pursue another opportunity and offer to get them rescheduled with another stylist in the salon.  We keep formulas for all of our guests in our system so there isn't an interruption in their service.  We are a team-based pay salon so our culture lends itself at all times for guests to see multiple stylists within our company so that when one leaves, they are usually already familiar with another provider and the transition isn't as difficult.  For those guests that leave with the staff member, we target them with specific marketing to get them back in to the salon and usually are able to get several of them back.”—Laura Watkins, Pure Salon Spa, Louisville, Kentucky

“We contact every guest either by phone or personal email and offer two stylists recommendations as well as an incentive certificate of $25, if the stylist leaving is going to another salon.”—Jodi Ohama, RedBloom, Calgary, Alberta

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