Amy Pal, front and center, surrounded by her team at Whip Salons.

Amy Pal, front and center, surrounded by her team at Whip Salons.

It seems every time I turn around these days, someone mentions how salon suites are reshaping the industry. While it may sound like a dreamy idea to some stylists to "be your own boss," the reality is the day-to-day responsibilities are definitely not for everyone.

Running a successful salon that enables stylists to achieve their career goals, earn a living and flourish behind the chair provides a lot of value which is often under-appreciated. Instead of worrying about the threat of salon suites, flaunt your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) that your salon, expertise, and experience provide for your existing staff and for attracting top talent. Next time, you find yourself faced with an employee who is talking about the greener grass at suites, use your USPs to persuade them to stay.

Here are 10 of the top reasons that joining a salon company is the best option for most people who want to build a career doing hair:

1. Costs and financial risk.

Let’s first acknowledge that salon suites are businesses of their own. When a suite renter signs a lease there is financial risk and uncertainty about whether the amount of business that comes in will cover all the costs. There are also significant costs for building out or furnishing the space, purchasing equipment and supplies, acquiring insurance--the list goes on. In contrast, when a stylist joins your established salon, they can hit the ground running with all the tools at their disposal to do what they love.

2. Managing and booking clients.

In some cases, a salon suite may offer an online booking and customer support, but it’s never going to be up to the standards that a salon owner will provide with a well-trained and professional hospitality team dedicated to your success. The fact is you’ll have to be far more hands-on just by the nature alone of running your salon suite including dealing with that client that DMs you at midnight asking to be moved for the 12th time.

3. The social media black hole.

Nowadays, social media is undeniably a huge factor in promoting our salon work and attracting new clients. Keeping content up to date is important, necessary, and never-ending. Your salon social media channels can easily absorb and feature new stylists, and your hospitality team can often take the lead in producing content since they’re in the salon all day. Suite renters have nobody to lean on except themselves and may find they spend many more hours than they planned on the social media content treadmill.

4. Finding clients.

Marketing and PR are key when you’re trying to attract new business. Word of mouth is great but only gets you so far. So in addition to their social media presence, a suite renter will have to dedicate time to their Google My Business page, establishing a professional looking website, and communicating via text and email to their database of clients. In comparison, your salon brand’s reputation in the market will attract business for your stylists with new calls and interest that comes in daily as you’ve built your reputation carefully over time, and as owner either you or your team handles the day to day management of these platforms, freeing up your stylists to focus on their art.

5. The atmosphere of a suite.

It has to be said, from a client perspective going to a salon suite isn't nearly as glamorous as going to a beautiful, buzzing high-end salon. Getting a salon service is all about feeling good and most people prefer going to a lively salon, chatting with the hospitality staff, bumping into friends, listening to cool music, even getting a complimentary beverage as part of the experience. Visiting a salon suite is just a very different kind of vibe.!

6. Getting inspired by your colleagues.

In our salons, everyone is always talking about the latest beauty trends and trying out new cutting-edge techniques. There’s a great deal of mind share from the hottest new products to the latest balayage application techniques. Suite renters who are alone all day just don’t get the kind of inspiration that comes from working in a fun, collaborative salon environment.

7. Education.

Advanced education is so important throughout a stylist's career, and when you’re operating alone you’ll have to figure out your own plan. When joining a salon, education is often mapped out on a quarterly basis with plenty of opportunity to sink your teeth into free opportunities to learn.

8. Keeping up with ordering.

Suite renters need to keep up administratively and financially with all the things necessary to run a business. That means significant time each week calculating inventory and placing orders for color, job supplies, office supplies and retail. While salons purchasing in bulk for multiple stylists or multiple locations can get a deep discount on these items, a solo suite renter will not benefit because they can’t achieve the same economies of scale.

9. High maintenance clients

Most clients are amazing! They love you and they love your work, but when you have a difficult one it can be….well, difficult. In the salon environment a well trained hospitality team has strategies for managing the trickier clients and handling rescheduling, redos, and complaints, and they help shield and protect the stylist. A suite renter will always be on the front line and will have to have tact and composure at all times or else risk losing a client or getting a bad review that can be very damaging to their business.

10. Camaraderie.

Oftentimes the motivation to join a salon suite is to be your own boss. But there is something about coming to work with other stylists that are just as passionate and excited as you are. That camaraderie disappears when you're a salon of one. If your salon is like mine, it’s filled with positive people that congratulate and lift up one another on the beautiful work they do. We celebrate one another and if things don’t go to plan, you have the comfort and commiseration of your co-workers.

11. All the other stuff.

Okay I lied, I said I’d give you 10 reasons but there’s just so much that a suite renter has to worry about that a stylist in a professional salon doesn’t that I couldn’t end there. Here are a few more things the suite renter has to deal with while their colleagues in a professional salon are busy earning behind the chair: forming a business entity (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC?), creating a name and brand, getting a business bank account, applying for a merchant account for card processing, getting PCI compliant, setting up accounting books and records, hiring an accountant and lawyer, registering for, collecting and remitting sales tax, declaring assets and paying property tax, getting all required permits and licenses, setting up payroll withholding and workers comp insurance, securing professional liability insurance, paying card processing fees, taking inventory counts and understanding COGS, claiming tips, setting up utilities, maintaining a website, setting up and answering email, getting a phone number and voicemail, calling back clients, collecting cash and making bank runs, daily bookkeeping, bank reconciliation, handling refunds and chargebacks, marketing, advertising and PR, cleaning, laundry, paying rent and bills, handling repairs and maintenance. These are all tasks the professional salon owner takes in stride, but they can be overwhelming for the stylist turned business owner who chooses to rent a salon suite not realizing everything that comes with that decision.

About the Author: Amy Pal is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Whip Salon Franchising with multiple locations in Connecticut. She has an MA in Marketing Management and earned three STAMP awards for marketing excellence in Salon Today's 2019 STAMP awards. Her salon also won the distinction as one of the Top Workplaces in Connecticut in 2019. 


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