Whether you have a new stylist whose building her book or a busy salon veteran, each will encounter “down time”—time during which nothing is immediately required of them.

For many stylists, this time is often spent relaxing in the break room on our mobile devices until we are needed again, e.g., our next guest arrives, another stylist needs assistance, the laundry needs to be folded…

While moments of rest are necessary during any work shift, it’s important to get your team members to actively analyze how they spend their “down time” in the salon. Making productive use of this time not only makes individuals more valuable to our team—but it will also result in a more satisfying day. Offer these tips by Sam Villa ArTeam member Jesse Linares in your next staff meeting.

Arrive Early and Prepare for The Day

The benefits of getting to work 15-20 minutes prior to a shift cannot be overstated. Having time to see the salon schedule in advance allows us to identify down time—and plan for it.

No matter a stylist’s level or experience, it’s advisable to view down time as a chance to learn something. The little details of what we do at the chair are often overlooked, and much can be gained by observing a fellow stylist in their day-to-day routines. Which products to use for which texture hair, what brushes/tools to use and why, how to make retail recommendations, how they perform certain techniques, etc. These decisions are being made in the salon all day long! If we’re curious, all we must do is get involved.

Seeing the salon schedule in advance allows us to assess what needs stylists will have during their shifts. Pockets of down time may be obvious even before the day starts. If so, we could “schedule” ourselves to assist a teammate on the floor.

Many stylists are open to discussing their process with an interested person; it allows them to share their knowledge, and they look cool in front of their guest. Handing foils, shampooing, assisting with the blowout—these are ways we can closely observe and ask questions. Not only will we make a fellow stylist’s day run more smoothly for a little while, but we will gain knowledge in the process.

There are always a million things to be done in the salon. Stylists who experience cancellations could donate their unexpected down time by doing laundry or sweeping—thereby freeing up another stylist to have a learning experience with someone on the floor. If we wait until we are idle to take stock of how much down time we have available, it’s easy to let opportunities pass us by. Being prepared in advance will ensure we capitalize on these moments - instead of wasting them.

Stay in “Busy Mode”

Down time will happen. If we are idle too long, our energy and enthusiasm can bottom out, leaving us feeling unmotivated and even irritated at the prospect of getting back to the job. The best way to combat this is to stay in “Busy Mode”—keeping ourselves productive and occupied until the day is done.

It’s a mistake to think of our profession as “work” or “job.” With those words come perceptions of subjection, obligation, and burden. As hairdressers, our responsibilities expand far beyond the job description.

Our team functions best when each member joyfully contributes to the salon vision. Junior stylists endeavor to learn; senior stylists seek to share—we all serve the public, and we each do our part. And we all do laundry.

Keep in mind that every moment during our shift is an opportunity to contribute to the guest experience and to the culture of our salon. Preparing for down time, transforming it into “housekeeping time” or “class time” will keep us engaged and active, support the business, and encourage the team.

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