Salon professionals work hard--and anyone who works hard appreciates a well-run salon. The number one reason a professional moves to another place of work is usually due to the stress of delivering customer service in a poor-run salon. You can’t fake what’s not there for very long. And a salon team is composed of different personalities where the possibility of conflict is very real

Employee turnover is expensive. In a business where competition is stiff and profit hinges on excellent customer service, salon owners need to offer the security of a well-run salon to improve team attitude and create happier employees. The telltale barometer of employee happiness plays out in the dispensary area. The breakroom is where employees display their frustration or contentment as they formulate color and bite into a sandwich.

8 Ways to Keep the Salon Team Happy
8 Ways to Keep the Salon Team Happy

After forty-five years in the business, I can shed some light on what employees prize and detest, with a couple of caveats: one is a team member who will never be happy. There is one that is never happy and causes problems with other team members and clients. Negative personalities hurt your salon, team, and clients beyond repair. No matter how great of a clientele a troublemaker may have, you know they need to be shown the door. You just haven’t had the energy for the confrontation. Perhaps this writing will encourage you to move on to it now. Here is a quick happy salon checklist for salon owners/managers:

  1. Be the example of ethics and professionalism—never expect employees to behave better than you. Owners and managers who violate policies are blatantly lowering the performance bar for the entire salon. This will only come back to haunt you. Be a real pro every moment in the salon.
  2. Don’t negotiate with divas—that team member with the extensive clientele who wants to dictate conditions for employment in the salon needs a proper dose of humility and to be shown the door.  
  3. Don’t play favorites— it’s easier to hang out and be around the positive ones, but this is favoritism. Be fair with your attention, time, opportunities, and new client walk-ins.
  4. Keep the salon spotless—and require everyone to follow suit. For any client walking into the salon, cleanliness is the first sign of professionalism. Repeat to all the following motto, “The cleaner you look, the more you charge.”
  5. Demonstrate effort to build the salon: employees love seeing an owner/manager work to bring in more clientele, promote on social media, create salon exposure, buy the trendy products, and celebrate the holidays.
  6. Be well prepared for salon meetings. Don’t pretend-- nobody likes staying for a salon meeting, and if you are also unprepared, it infuriates the team. Open the discussion with great news and clear benefits to the staff. Hold a few and very effective meetings that finish with an action list that you follow up on.
  7. Most ineffective meeting topics-when you decide to remind staff of not enough retail, coming in late, lack of professionalism, low client retention. When do you address these? One on one, with solid evidence of your points as proof. Meetings should be about asking staff how we can do better. Thank your team and acknowledge what they are doing right.
  8. Always speak the truth- and you will not need to keep track of what you say. It is impossible to please everyone or hide what is true.

Carlos Valenzuela is a raconteur, success coach, ex-salon & beauty school owner. Author of The Thrifty Cosmetologist, money smarts for salon pros, and the award-winning novella, Letters to Young Carlos, about a gay boy growing up along the US/Mexico border in the 1960s. Visit him at


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Originally posted on Modern Salon