Rental Realities: A First Look

As publisher of the Modern Salon, SALON TODAY and First Chair magazines and online platforms, MODERN SALON Media is unique in covering and working with all segments of the professional salon industry—from cosmetology students to stylists to salon owners to chain salons to suppliers and manufacturers, MODERN engages in ongoing dialogue with virtually every audience involved in the salon environment.

This wide range of contacts and dialogue delivers valuable insight into what’s trending and, according to Publisher Steve Reiss, the question everyone has been asking recently has been, “What is happening with rental?”

“Most see rental as impacting our industry, but also as the `elephant in the room’ no one talks about publicly,” Reiss wrote in his Viewpoint column to open the special Rental Realities report in the July 2015 issue of MODERN SALON. “We decided it was time to facilitate a meaningful conversation.”

That conversation started with a major research project (underwritten by Neill-TSP) that focused on renters, non-renters, former renters, and owners of traditional, commission- or salary-based salons.

“By comparing these groups, we were able to benchmark the reality of rental—who’s involved, their perceptions and the real numbers,” Reiss explained. “We also talked to people about personal experiences and explored the topic’s legal, tax and business-related implications and responsibilities.”

By surveying renters, non-renters, former renters and owners of traditional salons, we can benchmark who’s involved, their perceptions and the real numbers.

Veteran industry reporter Victoria Wurdinger contributed to the coverage and profiled stylists to represent various options and career decisions. An expanded Industry Perspectives section shared insights from industry leaders, including salon owners Danny LeClair, Denise Provenzano, Frank Gambuzza, Charles Penzone, Jeff South and Oliver Steinnagel.

Reiss acknowledges that the topic of rental can be emotional, personal and difficult to address.

“Over the past six months, we’ve presented the information we gathered to many industry groups. At the end, there was always consensus that open dialogue means all are better prepared to weigh options, as well as related challenges and opportunities.

The 18-page Rental Realities section is comprehensive, but in no way intended to provide legal, tax or business advice, Reiss says. It will, however,  hopefully provide useful talking points, resources and tools that salon owners and stylists can extract to help evaluate employment, rental or compensation situations.

“People in beauty make important decisions every day, and having the right information is crucial to make good ones,” he says.

Sections include:

  • The Changing Workforce and Salon Business
  • How Stylists Work Today
  • Stylist Profiles (“what’s right for me”)
  • Stylist Preferences and Perceptions
  • “Who Has It Better?”
  • Titles, Legalities and Leases
  • Owners Overview
  • “What’s Best for You?” Quiz
  • Resources and “What’s Next?”

Reiss encourages the SALON TODAY audience to participate in the ongoing conversation about rental.

“Most of you have devoted your life to professional beauty, and with more than 90 years of communications history with the salon community, MODERN shares that commitment,” he says. “We are here to serve and help advance your salon business. Please reach out and let us know your thoughts, challenges and stories, so we can support each other.”

For updates and to add your voice, visit

Here are just a few summary bullet points that capture the topline results of what the 18-page special report analyzes in-depth. See the full report at

  • Renters have been part of the salon economy for a long time, they’re just more visible now.
  • The movement toward self-employment is not specific to our industry—it reflects larger societal and economic trends.
  • Salon employees and renters and similar in many ways—particularly in their demographic profiles.
  • But they are different in other ways—such as their personality types and motivation.
  • Former renters view rental somewhat differently than current ones.
  • Renters and employees both think they have it best.
  • Most salon owners say rental is prevalent in their area, but a majority also say it had either no impact or a positive one on their business.

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