Management Practices

Roll Call: Tackling Employee Time-off

Stacey Soble | March 2, 2015 | 3:18 PM
Karen and Jerry Gordon, owners of J. Gordon Designs in Chicago, Illinois.

Many commissioned salons grant their full-time employees a week or two of paid vacation time each year, but many of today’s stylists want more. “Some of our team members have spouses who are executives and have up to six weeks vacation, others are from foreign countries and want more time off for an extended trip home,” says Karen Gordon, who owns J. Gordon Designs in Chicago with husband Jerry. “As an owner, you want to be benevolent, but it’s a big impact to a small business owner.”

J. Gordon Designs employs 23 staff members, 15 of whom are stylists in what Gordon describes as a small but beautiful salon.  Once she looked back at a previous year and calculated that the salon’s team took 370 days off—a big impact to the salon’s bottom line.

In addition, Gordon feels the situation of deciding who gets additional time off and who doesn’t really puts a salon’s owner in a bind. “If you say no, you run the risk of losing a valued employee, and if you say yes, then you are left holding the bag for the salon’s fixed expenses, as well as the lost service and retail revenue that comes from turning those clients away,”  says Gordon. “Plus, owners get tired of all the requests and excuses and having to be the judge and jury for each situation. It’s enough to make you crabby.”

It was one such request though that helped the salon created a system for recouping lost revenue.  A stylist who dating someone who had a young child and wanted to go away on a weekend camping told Gordon she was willing to make up the time or take a change in her pay to make up the lost revenue. “Interested, I said, ‘Tell me what you propose,’” remembers Gordon.

The proposed solution evolved into a new system J. Gordon Designs implemented almost a year and a half ago. Now, if stylists want to take a day off after they have used up all their allocated time off, they can make it up by taking a 5 percent deduction in their gross service sales over the next two pay periods. Or, if the stylists don’t want to take the deduction, they can opt to pick up an extra shift and work the time off.

To make it fair, J. Gordon’s has implemented color-coded shifts on its calendar—blue shifts, red shifts and purple shifts—designated by how busy the salon is during that shift. Stylists wanting to make up time have to pick a shift in the same color family. “For example, a stylist who is taking off a Saturday afternoon can’t choose to make it up on a Tuesday morning,” says Gordon. Sometimes though, the salon lets stylists make up the hours manning the makeup station or working outside salon events.

“One year I looked back and calculated that employees had taken 370 days off. We’re a small but beautiful business, and that really hits the bottom line.”—Karen Gordon

Some stylists are more than happy to take the deduction, while others would rather not take a hit in their paychecks and choose to make up the shift, reports Gordon. “It’s become a great thing for us, because I no longer am put in the position of deciding what special circumstance deserves extra time off or not,” says Gordon.

The bigger benefit, says Gordon, is now her employees see the economic value of a working chair. “It’s really prevented those instances where they wake up, know their book isn’t too heavy that day and decide they aren’t feeling so hot,” says Gordon. “Before they’d call in sick, but now they’re more likely to take an aspirin and come to work. In general, there’s greater respect for the business and the company’s financial responsibility.”

And in the end, Gordon believes it’s making a difference to the bottom line. “I never want to create animosity or cut anyone’s dreams short,” says Gordon. “It’s a different workforce today in how they balance their lives and work. Owners have to look for innovative ways to deal with these changes, and this is working for us.”

Editor's Note: Before implementing a plan like the one above, please check with your state's cosmetology board or your state's Department of Labor. We have received calls from owners that advise us this practice may not be in line with their state's regulations.

More from Management Practices

Management Practices
Management Practices

Dos and Don’ts When Communicating with Upset Guests

July 31, 2018

They say the key to every great relationship is communication – and handling a guest complaint is no different. It’s not ideal to have to communicate with an upset guest, yet we’ve all been there and it’s likely we’ll be there again someday. Here are the dos and don’ts to keep in mind to help you successfully communicate with upset guests.

Management Practices @vanessapalstylist cutting a precision bob hairstyle. 
Management Practices

SALON TODAY RECOMMENDS: Strategies for In-Salon Education & Minimizing Stylist Turnover

Lauren Salapatek | May 4, 2018

What kind of continuing education do you have at your salon? Are you inspiring your employees to reach their full potential? This month Aveda Means Business covers topics from in-salon education to minimizing stylist turnover. Learn some ways on how to attract stylists who are passionate about the business and who will fit in with your salon’s culture.

Management Practices Sponsored by L'Oréal Professionnel

OWNER TO OWNER: The David Rios Salons’ Secrets to Providing 5-Star European Service for the Country’s Most Demanding Clients

May 2, 2018

Many of the country’s most brilliant, talented and powerful people live and work in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. They’re politicians, diplomats, attorneys. Also professors and students at the nation’s top universities. So, if you’re servicing these people in your salon, you had better be at the very top of your game.

Load More