SALON TODAY RECOMMENDS: 5 Salon Culture Challenges and How to Solve Them

Elizabeth Jakaitis | April 7, 2016 | 11:08 AM

When good feelings and positive dynamics fall apart in the salon, things can spiral out of control quickly. With SALON TODAY's focus on salon culture this month, we're recommending a series of insightful articles on that find solutions to leadership struggles which can lead to trouble if not addressed. When handled openly and effectively, an employee's voiced concern can be an opportunity to strengthen the salon team's relationships with each other and their owners and managers. Here, we take a look at five salon culture breakdowns and how to solve them.


1. When team meetings fail to be motivational, inspirational or effective...

For many stylists, the announcement of a team meeting feels like a punishment rather than a privilege and can turn into an opportunity to air complaints instead of share positive ideas. Scott Buchanan, owner of four Scott J Salons in the Manhattan area, has 225 stylists and 8 to 10 managers. Over the years, he has learned a lot about what makes a company meeting worthwhile for everyone involved. According to Buchanan, the most important considerations when planning a successful meeting are: getting the timing right, being strategic with logistics, knowing your message, being well prepared and taking every opportunity to learn and evolve. Learn more about his strategy in the Aveda Means Business article, "Perfecting the Pow-Wow: From Mundane to Motivational."


2. When you are set to retire and need to hand over the reins of your salon...

After years of building a successful business, you want your exit strategy to be well-planned and conducive for the salon's continued success. For Glennis Tolunay, owner of Vanity Salon in Houston, Texas, she unexpectedly found the opportunity to pass ownership over to her two children, Fiona and Rory. Other owners pass on their salons to long-term stylists or other entrepreneurs. In either case, some of the same factors should be taken into consideration when going through such a transition. Glennis chose to gradually phase herself out of regular business operations and while she still interacted with the staff, she deferred to her children if any issues arose. Still, Fiona and Rory had to win the respect of stylists who were accustomed to working with Glennis. They have handled delicate situations  with an open-door policy as well as continuous acknowledgment and follow-up when a staff member comes to them with an issue. For more on smoothly transitioning between owners, check out the Aveda Means Business article, "Successful Successions: Planning Your Exit."


3. When a walkout becomes a wake-up call...

A walkout can be detrimental to a salon, leaving the owner to worry about the time and money involved in recouping lost clients and rebuilding the team. But even if the owner is able to sustain revenue, the salon is still in danger—those stylists left for a reason. It's an owner's job to dig deep and find out why. When a walkout happened to Wendy Daly of W. Daly Salon in Peachtree City, Georgia, she wasn’t about to play the victim. Even though she lost about half her workforce at that location, including seven stylists and a manager, she knew that crying about the difficult situation wasn’t going to help. Instead, she took a closer look at herself, how she could have contributed to the walkout and what she needed to do to prevent it happening in the future. Through self-evaluation she realized that she had not been good at connecting with her staff. Daly didn’t know how to engage her team to support the culture she was trying to create, so a subculture manifested and eventually resulted in the walkout. So, Daly took steps to improve, including working with two coaches, a business coach and an interpersonal coach to help her understand how to communicate more effectively. She has found that vulnerability and connection are the most important things to stylists. Read more in the Aveda Means Business article, "When a Walkout Becomes a Wake-Up Call."


4. When salon culture is neglected and stylists feel undervalued...

Chris Murphy, owner of three Maximum FX Salon locations in Austin, Texas, was running an efficient business when he hit a wall. With a background in finance, Murphy was a very results-oriented leader who had stopped seeing growth in his business. “Culture was not always the number-one thing in our business, and we suffered because of it,” Murphy says. “I had to look at myself as the leader, because it all starts with me. I had to realize business isn’t just about the numbers.”


Murphy read a book called Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright, and realized that everything in the book about toxicity and bad culture reflected his own leadership. Instead of dwelling on everything he had been doing wrong, Murphy began implementing all the positive things he learned from the book in his business. Most importantly, he learned that if culture is alive then loyalty is never dead. He implemented change by first defining what a healthy culture would look like. He established core values and purpose with his team and began effectively encouraging his team to achieve their full potential through regular communication. Learn more about Murphy's journey to a better salon culture in the Aveda Means Business article, "Creating a Culture that Competition Can't Touch."


5. When stylists don't know how to set and meet goals...

As an ambassador for Qnity, part of Kat Fischer’s responsibilities as a stylist at Planet Labs in Denver, Colorado is to help her co-workers grow their numbers and identify their weak spots. Recently, a fellow stylist, Caitlin, was having problems hitting her retail numbers. She became frustrated when her manager told her she was not eligible for a promotion until she could reach her retail goals. That’s when she turned to Fischer for help. Fischer suggested Caitlin use one of Qnity’s most popular tools—the 9Grid. This simple grid of nine boxes is designed for stylists to put one goal in the middle box (for example: retail), and in surrounding boxes, come up with ideas on how to reach the goal. By writing it down, Caitlin reminded herself of basics she had been skimming over and realized that retail did not need to feel scary. For more on setting and achieving goals in the salon, check out the Aveda Means Business article, "A Simple Tool for Immediate Impact."


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