Management Practices

Dealing with Drama

Laurel Nelson | February 29, 2012 | 10:30 AM

Whenever you assemble a group of diverse personalities, drama is inevitable, but it also can be devastating to your staff and your business. Six salon experts share their drama sagas, as well as their strategies for managing them and achieving salon harmony.

FLIP THE TELEVISION CHANNEL to any reality show that portrays the innerworkings of a salon, and you’re bound to see salon drama in action. From the trash-talking stylist badmouthing her salon owner to the demanding client leaving in disgust to two staff members flinging words and sometimes worse in the parking lot, salon drama makes for good television. Of course, we all know that reality TV is not always so realistic, but there is some truth to the fact that the very social and intimate environment of the salon creates a breeding ground for drama.

“Whenever you have multiple personalities in one environment, it’s not a matter of if drama will show up, but simply a matter of when,” says Lauren Gartland, president and founder of Inspiring Champions, a salon coaching and consulting company. “A high-drama individual is like a bad piece of fruit which if not removed will spread quickly and contaminate the other fruit—your team.”

While all that bad behavior makes for great ratings on television, it can mean a monster of a migraine for a salon’s owner and manager. Worse yet, consistent drama in a salon breeds staff resentment, constant tension, and even lost clients and staff. If not managed, that constant drama can be the downfall of a business.

Over the course of the last six months, SALON TODAY consulted with leading salon owners and identified four, very real dramatic scenarios that almost every owner ends up dealing with at one time or another. Then, we assembled what we’ve affectionately named our Drama Board, a panel of six salon management experts who’ve come prepared to share their own personal salon dramas and the strategies used to resolve them—as well as management steps for eliminating the drama in the first place.

Dealing with DramaDon Bewley is a 30-year veteran of the professional salon industry and one of the few hairdressers to own a professional salon corporation. Nearly 10 years ago, he and his wife Beth launched Eufora, with the mission of serving independent salons. Today, he brings the depth and breadth of his experience in all facets of the industry to his salon customers.


Dealing with DramaGinny Eramo is the owner and creative director of Interlocks, a salon and spa located in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on Boston’s north shore. A multi-award winning salon, Interlocks is in its 24th year of business with annual sales of more than $3 million and a team of 50 licensed stylists, spa therapists and support staff.


Dealing with DramaLauren Gartland ranked as a top sales consultant and managed a distributor sales team when she launched Inspiring Champions in 1995. Since then, she has helped thousands of salon professionals make more money and work fewer hours while living a more balanced life. Today, she is one of the industry’s top-ranked trainers and success coaches.


Dealing with DramaBryan Nunes started working in a salon in 1993, and opened Blo, a premiere salon in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2004. As an owner, Nunes says he continuously tries to become more efficient and improve the way the salon grows people. Recently, he launched a wellness program which incentivizes staff to take care of themselves through diet and exercise.


Dealing with DramaKitty Tierney has owned Impressions Salon and Spa in Mequon, Wisconsin, for 25 years and describes her 48 employees as the “best staff ever,” most of whom have been with her since their graduation from cosmetology schools. Over the years, Tierney and her salon have accumulated numerous awards, including SALON TODAY 200, Top Salon by Milwaukee Magazine, NAHA finalist, and Mequon’s Business of the Year.


Dealing with DramaChristine Zilinski entered the beauty industry in 1994 at Vidal Sassoon, where she underwent a rigorous education, then sharpened her cutting skills at the New York salon. In 2000, she created Salon Concrete in Red Bank, New Jersey. Now an award-winning salon with high client retention and a talented team of stylists, the salon’s success speaks volumes about Zilinski’s professional reputation and business savvy.



The Dramatic Types

The Salon DivaThe Staff Squabblers The Client You'll Never Please  The Naysayer









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