Tips for Successful Salon Management

Hair stylists are a notoriously rowdy bunch. Opinionated, creative and independent — we can be tough to manage at times. I've worked in salons that ruled with an iron fist, in others that let you come and go as you please, and I think the best balance is found somewhere in the middle. Below you'll find helpful tips and advice to guide you through a successful career as a salon manager.

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A Far Cry From Corporate

Woman having hair cut in salon
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As a salon manager, you will become the heart and soul of salon operations. Be prepared to deal with all things good and bad when it comes to managing your staff and the clients they cater to. You'll be dealing with client questions and complaints, managing product orders and sales, and most likely taking on the role of an HR person while you're at it. Becoming a salon manager is a big responsibility! But it's also a fun, fast-paced job where you'll be interacting with plenty of colorful and creative individuals.

That being said, when managing a salon, it's a great idea to keep in mind that this in not a corporate environment. In my experience, the managers that had the toughest time at the job were the ones that couldn't quite grasp this concept. Hair stylists like freedom, and implementing corporate management habits in the salon can spell trouble for a salon manager.

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Get Close, but Not Too Close

The best salon manager I worked with over the years had a great rapport with our staff. He was equal parts friendly and strict, and by keeping us close to him he was always the first to know when something was amiss. By gaining our trust he created a really nice morale among the staff.

The worst position to be in as a salon manager is to have your staff turn against you. The back room of a hair salon is an environment where strong alliances can be formed. Keep in mind, though, you don't want to get too close to your stylists because it might make it harder to discipline them if it ever comes down to that. A successful salon manager will find a balance between the two. See Keeping it Professional in the Beauty Industry.

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Make Communication Fun

Monthly staff meetings are a great opportunity to get your staff together and to address any concerns or questions amongst them. If you feel that once a month isn't enough, go to twice a month, but I'd warn against anything more than that.

I used to work at a salon that would have mandatory meetings every morning, which was way overboard. Talk about corporate feeling. Even once a week can be a little too much for restless hair stylists.

If you really want to get your staff involved, make things fun and interactive (just like hair styling) and hold a monthly meeting with a little pizzazz. Order food, maybe serve some drinks, and get everybody together to announce things like who sold the most product that month or who did the highest client sales. Give out small prizes to the top sellers and you can be sure that those numbers will rise next month. You might recommend some tips on How to Become a Retail Selling Machine.

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Make Product Companies Work for You

As a salon manager, it will be your responsibility to stock and order product for your salon. When working with product companies, keep in mind that they are very used to giving away free product in order to gain you as a client. Don't be afraid to ask for back-bar samples and inquire about continued support and education that they might offer to your staff.

Often times product companies will bring in reps to do free demos for your stylists to inspire them to sell their product and develop brand loyalty. Use this to your advantage! Your staff will be thrilled to have free, continued education and you'll get the opportunity to find the products that are most likely to sell in your salon.

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If you're curious about a salon management position but don't have any experience, there are now programs being offered that will give you an associates degree in salon management.

Contact local colleges and beauty schools to find out what programs they might offer. A degree in salon management is not always required, but it will show that you are serious and well-trained for the job.