By Neil Ducoff


It grows in every business. Owners fear it. Employees question when they will be the next victim. “It” is the company “grapevine.” The highly interactive environment of salons and day spas make them particularly susceptible to gossip and the telling of half-truths. But what happens when a client overhears that her colorist is “lazy” or “untalented,” or hears disparaging remarks about another client? What if she discovers similar comments are made about her in her absence?


Time to Bring Out the Shears

The grapevine must be pruned before the business suffers serious ill effects. One unhappy client can cost a salon or day spa thousands of dollars in lost revenues—and there is no way to estimate the cost of a tarnished reputation.

Nip it in the bud: Anyone new to the salon should learn immediately that gossip will not be tolerated.

Create an open environment: The longer a perceived hurt or insult goes unaddressed, the more difficult it is to resolve.

Provide appropriate outlets: Huddle, huddle, huddle! Create a system for presenting issues and possibly resolving them.

Institute a refuse-to-listen policy: Advise team members not to listen or respond to any “juicy morsels” that do not pertain to their own professional development—or ones that may be potentially detrimental to someone else’s.


Productivity Required Here

It is impossible to maintain productivity while participating in the spread of gossip. The negativity distracts technicians from their clients, increasing the probability of error. Beyond that, such behavior is simply rude.

In most circumstances, it is far more productive to talk about oneself than about others. When done in moderation, the willingness to share information can be wonderfully effective for building client confidence and trust.

Communication is a tool. Used wisely, it can be a business’ greatest customer-service ally. Left unchecked, the tendrils of the grapevine can choke your salon.



Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the salon and spa industry. During his 38 years as a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker and author, Neil has gained respect as the guru of team-based compensation. Neil is the author of Fast Forward, the definitive business resource book for salons and spas. Neil’s new book, No-Compromise Leadership, will be published by DC Press and available at bookstores on October 1, 2008. For more information, go to You can email Neil at


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