8 Tips for Managing Your Salon’s Staff

SALT Hair Staff

By: Jamie Sea (@prettylittleombre) Owner/Founder

If you’re responsible for running a salon (as an owner or a manager) or you are considering opening your a salon, then you’ve got a lot on your plate. In addition to managing your  salon’s retail strategy and marketing approach, you’re also responsible for managing your staff and keeping your salon running smoothly.

Easier said than done, right?

If you’ve spent even a day trying to manage a team, then you probably already understand just how challenging that prospect can be. Managing anyone can be difficult; that fact doesn’t just change because you’re working with awesome stylists and artists. Still, you can’t just give your employees free reign over the place—you need to have rules and processes in place in order to ensure that all of your team members are working towards the same goal.

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New to managing a salon? The advice and tips below can help you better connect with your staff, build stronger relationships, and become more successful in everything that you pursue. 

Salon Management Tips

1. Practice open and clear communication.

A good manager is someone who staff members know that they can turn to whenever they have a problem or challenge. That’s why it’s so critical for you to ensure that there are always clear and open lines of communication between you and your staff (and between your staff and each other). WIthout these open lines of communication, it is way too easy for a toxic salon culture to begin forming, where your workers don’t trust you to truly have their backs.

2. Treat your staff members like individuals.

While it’s true that everyone needs to be held to the same standards and the same rules—you can’t play favorites or have different rules for different people—it’s also important to remember that the different members on your team are in fact individuals. Try not to go with a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to things like career development, education and training; have one-on-one meetings where your individual staff members can feel more comfortable in coming to you with concerns or questions. 

3. Have regular meetings.

On the same note, it’s important that you regularly meet with all of your staff to ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of business goals, practices, policies, etc. This also helps you demonstrate to your staff that you value and prioritize honesty and transparency. Weekly and/or monthly meetings can be a game changer for your salon! 

4. Be decisive.

Not everyone likes to make decisions or lead by decree, but sometimes it’s a necessity. If you’re responsible for managing your salon’s team (or it’s your business!) then that responsibility will ultimately fall to you. Yes, it’s fine to get feedback and input from your staff when you have a big decision to make. But ultimately, you will need to be the person to make a firm and decisive decision. 

5. Listen!

Leading isn’t just about making decisions and barking orders. You also need to listen to everyone on your team. Especially considering that your goal is to foster open and clear communication, you need to be sure that you show you are actively listening and engaged when your staff comes to you; if not, they are likely to shut down and avoid confiding in you in the future. 

6. Master your business.

As an owner, you should fully understand every single aspect of your business: From retail to front end desk duties to marketing to actually providing customers with services, and everything in between. By mastering every aspect of your business, you will be better equipped to train your staff members in those various roles; you’ll also be better equipped to anticipate the challenges they are likely to face and enable them to solve those challenges.

7. Set clear expectations.

If your staff doesn’t understand what you expect from them, then there’s no way for them to gauge whether or not they are meeting your expectations. Whether it is around their productivity, company policies, salon culture, or something else entirely, salon owners and managers need to clearly communicate expectations to each staff member. And when employees are not meeting your expectations, you need to address the issue as quickly and directly as possible to prevent it from spiralling out of control.

8. Lead by example!

How can you expect your staff to be motivated and passionate if you are not a motivated and passionate person? How can you expect them to be efficient and productive if you regularly slack off or push work off on to others? How can you expect them to show customers (and each other) respect if you demean and berate? 

Leading by example is the simplest way to help your staff understand what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t, which can go a long way in helping you manage your people.

Advice for New Salon Leaders

When you’re new to salon management or ownership, things can get really overwhelming really fast. Just keep this advice in mind and you’ll be fine!

  • Your leadership style should reflect your core values and salon culture. As long as you truly believe in it, it should come easily!
  • You can definitely manage your staff without micromanaging their every move. It's all about setting your policies, guidelines, and expectations early on in the training period when someone is newly hired. Once those guidelines and expectations are set its just about enforcing those guidelines rather than micromanaging.
  • The motto that we follow at SALT is that we are "Leaders, leading leaders!" Give your staff the tools to succeed and let them really become their own in their own roles.
  • Everyone wants to feel like they have ownership in something in order to feel fulfilled in their careers. When someone no longer feels fulfilled they are going to search elsewhere for that fulfillment, which may result in you losing a valuable employee.
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