For Arsalan Hafezi, co-owner (with wife Arezo) of five Modern Salon and Spa locations in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, the economy played a major role in the walkout he experienced. Over a span of four years, he lost more than 40 employees who represented almost $4 million in revenue. “Many local businesses disappeared during a difficult economic time,” he says. Unfortunately, so did many of his stylists. Like Snetman and Nunes, very few of his stylists went to other independent salons; they went to rental concepts or opened their own businesses instead.
Keeping a salon profitable, let alone thriving and growing, can be a challenge in the best of times. When faced with a disastrous economy and employees who represent millions of dollars walking out the door, it can feel impossible. But according to these three owners— it’s not impossible—it’s just another obstacle to overcome, and the process itself can better your business. Hafezi started to lose clients when the local banking industry laid off masses of employees. His stylists reported their clients couldn’t afford Modern Salon and Spa anymore or were moving away from the area. “In order to keep up with the cost of doing business, we had to cut some of our own employee benefits,” says Hafezi. “I used to pay for everyone’s health insurance, but I couldn’t afford that anymore. I figured it was better to have a job than insurance.” The infrastructure at Modern Salon and Spa had a lot of extra costs, so when the recession happened, Hafezi decided this was the fastest way to stop the bleeding. When his stylists began leaving, too, and he had to make another decision. After a few years hiatus from being behind the chair himself, Hafezi returned to cutting hair. “In 2010 I went to one of our locations to do a mass training program,” he says. “I realized how me being in the salon makes a big impact—the stylists like me to be there.”
With a strong management team taking care of the business end of things, Hafezi was able to go back behind the chair and reconnect with his staff. Now he’s in the salon four days a week, splitting his time between the ve locations. Snetman also found herself back behind the chair to support her business during tough times. After ve years away due to a shoulder problem, she stepped back into the day-to-day action from March 2011 to March 2012. “Our business soared when I gave up my clients to focus on it,” says Snetman of her original decision to leave the ‑floor. “But I was the most experienced person on staff after the others left, so I went back.” Working with two or three assistants at a time, she was able to train and develop them, which ended up being the best result she could ask for. “I still haven’t found an educator who can instill what I can,” she says. “You get a strong sense of what’s really going on in your business when you go on the salon ‑ oor.”