How to be That Salon Where Everyone Wants to Work

As salon owners, we tend to focus on our unique selling propositions from the marketing perspective of getting new guests. However, let us not forget to set ourselves apart from our competitors regarding recruiting and retaining our team members. There are four major factors that every great salon has in common:

A Phenomenal Culture

Let’s start by sharing what a great culture isn’t. It is not all about the perks you give. There are salons that allow their teams to do whatever their heart desires. They have paid vacation, paid lunch breaks, dress codes that allow them to wear whatever you want to work, weekends off, commission on top of hourly, three-day work weeks, optional meetings and events to participate in, and the list goes on.

The reality is, your culture isn’t the perks you give. A phenomenal culture means you have healthy, thriving relationships with one another. It’s about genuinely caring for each other and wanting to see the team succeed. As Air Dry Bar salon owners Mike and Gayle Reuling put it, “we are there to complete each other, not compete with each other.”

There are two books that will educate the leaders and influencers at your salon on the topic of having a healthy culture. First is Radical Candor by Kim Scott—who was this year’s keynote at Serious Business this year, and also, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni.

Provide Opportunities for Growth

We’re creative individuals and some of us have been riding the ambiguous wave where stylists are on the fun adventure with you even though neither of you know exactly where you’re headed. This is not a bad thing necessarily, but there may come a time when stylists move on because they want to grow professionally. When that happens, we feel awful because most of us would do anything for our team. We care about them and want them to be successful. We just don’t have a plan of what that success looks like.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. The first step towards change is acknowledgement. The second step is sitting down with your team leaders and influencers to brainstorm how you can provide a ladder of growth. Most of us call this a level system, however it can be as custom as your salon is. There are not rules—rather there’s your vision. For those of you who feel overwhelmed by creating your own path to “the top”, there are alternatives. Salon business coaching firms, such as Beyond The Technique, are ready to equip you with proven systems that eliminate this obstacle.

Look Good Digitally  

It is so important to nurture your website, general online business listings, your online reviews, and your social media. Stylists are savvy on social and they’re looking to see who can keep up with them. When people see you on any digital platform, what are the stories you’re telling them? Are you unintentionally telling them that you’re outdated, unorganized, or underdesired? Or are you telling them you’re chic, fresh, vibrant and lucrative?

You have between 3 and 8 seconds to make a first impression, so it’s critical you invest in your digital presence. Do not worry if this is not your strength. There are so many professionals seeking work in this arena. Take it from Ginny Eramo, owner of Interlocks  who said they saved money by bringing their marketing in-house, and they are able to pivot quickly to execute ideas on the fly. The first step is finding that passionate professional on your team who would love to propel your digital image.

Be Great Leaders

Great salons have great leaders and it starts at the top. Knowing and sharing your vision, mission, and values are key if you want to be that great salon where everyone wants to work. Great leaders show others how to be great. This means they help their colleagues grow, they encourage development, they ask the right questions, and they do the work with you. They serve you by investing in your education, they’re a sounding board for you when you need someone to listen, they don’t let you off the hook if you’re not living up to the standards of the salon, and they care about your well-being. Great leaders are found in every salon and may not have the title of manager.

How do you spot great leaders? They are the ones who quickly serve the guest when they see the need. They are the ones who initiate innovative and forward-thinking conversations with your team. They are the first to sign up for advanced education and encourage everyone else to join. They are at your salon events, recruiting their clients to bring their friends, and they are the ones sharing articles such as this with the right people at your salon.

If you’re searching for books that will transform you as a leader, check out any of John C. Maxwell’s leadership books.

To summarize, great salons have thriving cultures, opportunities for growth, amazing leadership, and their brand is fabulously represented online. The most important thing about being that great salon where everyone wants to work is being authentic, transparent, and a place where people are loved.

About the Author: Kati Whitledge is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster and salon owner. She opened Be Inspired Salon in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Her passion for salon marketing and business grew tremendously and encouraged her launch of Meet Your Stylist, a matchmaking marketing tool used by salon owners nationwide. She’s also the beloved host and founder of The Beyond The Technique podcast—where valuable education is provided on the vast topics of salon business. Kati’s mission is to equip salon owners and their teams with the most innovative business marketing strategies.

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