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Salon Spa Management Marketing Profit Building Articles

Aesthetic Journal Spring 08

By Caroline Nelson

Who Controls Your Salon?

Is it you or are you being held to ransom by un-cooperative staff…

Would you be surprised to know that many salon owners are currently in this very position? In fact if you are reading this article maybe you are at present wondering just who is running the show in your business. From my own personal observations as a business coach I have found many salon owners have or are in the process of losing control of their business. They are the salon owners who have one or more employees who feel they are entitled to special privileges, can make their own rules and generally have double standards. These employees often make life a misery for their boss and fellow workmates.

These employees are toxic to your business its success, its profitability and even its very existence. And yet for some strange reason they often hold onto their jobs long past their useful-by-date and continue to wreak havoc on management, co-workers and even customers. Its only when they finally leave or are asked to leave do many employers find out, the full extent of the damage. Along the way good employees may have given notice because they are unable to work along side these diva’s but the real damage is the customers sometime forever lost to the business.

If you have one of these “held-to-ransom” employers you need to get rid of the diva’s before they damage your business beyond repair. Do whatever it takes while being ever mindful of labour laws to remove them. And don’t procrastinate. And then comes the rebuilding of your business the soothing of offended customers, the retrieval of lost ones if possible and the repair to the team spirit. But before this process can take place you the owner / manager must accept a large part of the blame for having allowed this situation to occur in the first place. Now while we can all make mistakes in employee selection and hiring we must also be prepared to manage out teams in such a way that it enhances both the business and the employee’s performance and job satisfaction.

Taking Back Control

One of the first steps to take in regaining control of your businesses future success is to put measures into place steps to avoid this happening again. So the new recruit to take the place of the previously disruptive employee must be well vetted and carefully selected. If you want to develop a high-performance cohesive team you must start with the best recruits available. My mantra is “select slowly and hire carefully”.

Make a list of what you are looking for in a person, not only on a professional basis, but also in terms of their ‘people skills’ and willingness to teamwork. When interviewing employees make sure you establish clear guidelines as to what the behaviour expectations are for your establishment. In addition explain fully what your customer service and team management policies entail. And don’t forget the business Vision and Mission Statement. Make it clearly understood that only people able to meet these expectations willing and happily in a team friendly way will become part of your team. If you have any doubt any gut feelings to the contrary don’t employ this person.

Once you are satisfied that you have chosen the best candidate you will need to indoctrinate them into the way you want all future employees to conduct themselves while in your employ. I would also suggest that it would be a worthwhile part of the rebuilding of the team spirit to expose the entire team to the new and revised method of conduct.

Why is Induction Training important?

As a small business owner you may not think it necessary to conduct formal induction training. But it will certainly avoid many of the pitfalls that you might have previously encountered and that may have contributed to the poor behaviour of the un-cooperative staff members. Good induction into the ways you want your business to operate is absolutely vital for all employees. When they know what is expected of them, they do not have to be mind-readers nor do they have the chance to make up their own set of rules. And there is much more likelihood of them becoming more productive and supportive team workers.

Plan induction day/s well and they will set the structure for a stronger future for the business. If you don’t currently have a formal salon staff policies & procedures manual (not a few paper sheets of instructions sticky taped to the staff room wall) now is the time to invest in what could be one of the best money spent on developing your businesses operational success. Without a good set of policies and procedures your team is like a ship without a rudder. Also during induction is the perfect time to share the Vision of the future you have for the business and the active part they will play in its development and ultimate success. By sharing the big picture – exactly what you want from your salon in the long term will encourage support from your team. They will start to view you as a winner who knows exactly what and how they are going to shape future growth and profitability. This will enable them to see how if they buy into your dream then they too can share in the rewards. A great bonus reward incentive program will reward their commitment.

Ways to avoid having Unhappy Employees

One of the most common reasons that management and employee conflict occurs is because of lack of communication. The time-poor salon owner just does not recognize that each and every employee must have some quality one-on-one time to discuss any concerns or issues they may be experiencing. Often times they just need to vent and clear the air and if you don’t allow them the time to do this they can become like wayward children that try to get attention by disruptive behaviour. Does this sound all too familiar? Spending some quality time with them and giving them the chance to talk allows you to see issues before they become too big to deal with. Every so often take each employee out for a cup of coffee and allow them a safe environment to express themselves and share their concerns, otherwise you could suffer the damage of a situation that just keeps getting worse.

Recognize that everyone is an individual and sometime each team member will need a little extra support. I firmly believe that coaching employees shows that you are not only interested in the performance on the job but that you care for their wellbeing and are happy to take an active role in their professional growth. I also believe that as the manager of the business you need to pay attention and keep both your eyes and your ears open. Listen and understand what is going on in your business and be prepared to make the changes necessary to keep it healthy and your team happy and productive.

When Conflict starts to affect the Business

Conflict between employees and/or management is both seen and felt by customers. They pick up on all the little things – the snide remark; the exasperated sigh and the frosty atmosphere. Every one of these conflict indicators create a feeling of unease for the customer a feeling so intense that many customers can’t wait to rush out the salon door. Don’t let this happen to your business – resolve conflict as soon as humanly possible.

Take the employee aside and ask them “Do you realize the negative impact your behaviour is having on our customers and your workmates? And the damage it can have on the business?” Find out what the problem is and work with them to resolve the issue/s. The desired result from confronting a difficult employee’s inappropriate behaviour is to come to an agreed solution and then to hopefully move on from there. You need to be very clear and make sure the employee understands the required improvements and the consequences if this does not happen.

Boredom often leads to employee discontent

Sometimes the issue of un-cooperative staff relates directly to their growing boredom on the job. This often happens if the owner doesn’t keep upto-date with new trends in the industry and does not provide on-going training for the team. A work environment devoid of challenges can easily and quickly lead to discontent and turn a previously happy employee into an unhappy disruptive one. Introducing new services and products is not just exciting for the customer but is very motivating and inspiring for the aesthetician. Sending one or more employees to a workshop to learn a new skill is a great way to jump-start people and get their enthusiasm back for the job. Learning something new and bringing that knowledge back to share with other team members can motivate not just the individual but the entire team. This added energy and excitement will in turn be conveyed to customers and will in turn increase sales.

An Effective Strong Leader

Being a good leader means getting the most out of your team no matter what the situation. It means taking control and responsibility for the outcomes both business profits and happy content employees. You will make occasional mistakes. That is just being human but at the end of the day the successful business owner must pick them self up dust off, and get the business back on track and heading in the right direction.

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2008


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit:


Bella Beauty – Winter 08

By Caroline Nelson

Creating a Professional Retail Salon

In the course of my daily work coaching salons and spas in Australia, New Zealand and beyond I find one of the most frequently asked questions is “how do I go about improving retail sales?”. And before I answer the question I ask a few questions myself regarding the business philosophy; image branding; and the products stocked. The reason I need to know this information is that it’s a sad fact that many salons have been developed with only treatment in mind and retail coming a poor second best.

Hence if retailing isn’t considered a vital ingredient of the business structure how then can you ever expect to make good sales? If the main purpose of a business is to maximize profits then if you want to increase retail sales it will need to become an inaugural part of the business and marketing plan. Therefore choosing the right product line could be the make or break of your business. In addition in branding your business image it is vital to stock the right product that will enhance:

  1. The Business Brand
  2. Offer the high results demanded by today’s savvy consumer
  3. Deliver a high mark-up – if you don’t stock a high mark-up brand how are you ever going to be able to afford to pay retail bonuses to your team that will in turn inspire more sales
  4. Be supported by the Product Companies consumer marketing; merchandising and promotions
  5. And above all it must be an Industry Only brand line so customers must buy from a professional – such as your qualified aestheticians and not be available from your competition in department stores; chemists or over the internet

Another thing to take into consideration is what consumers want. And if you look at how the multinational retail (non-salon) products are promoted you will know what the consumer wants. Because the multinationals employ any number of experts to know what the consumers wants. And what the advertising in all the fashion magazines is saying is they want high performance results. They want their lines and wrinkles refined; pigmentation spots reduced; capillaries treated; under-eye puffiness gone. All of which we the aesthetician can both treat prescribe and sell if we stock the right ranges. But the bigger question is do the customers know that we stock products to address all these needs. And the answer often is no.

The reason for this is many and varied. From the salon not presenting nor displaying their skin care effectively to not having sufficient stock on hand. To not insisting that all employees fill out a prescription form and take the time necessary to professionally advise the customer of the benefits of the recommendation and the how when and why of the product.

It’s my belief that to compete in an ever-expanding market salon owners need to define and redefine their business to mirror the desires of their clientele. And this may need some rethinking on the products stocked – are they satisfying the needs want’s and desires of the existing and potential customers.

Then we get to the product knowledge part of the equation because without a doubt the aestheticians knowledge and confidence in the products will directly relate to the number and quantity of sales. So if you don’t train constantly and effectively don’t expect sales. The reason that department store cosmetic sales assistants do such high retail apart from the fact that the department store so effectively channels customers past the cosmetic section is the on-going product knowledge training. Now while these sales assistants do not have the in-depth skin condition knowledge of the aesthetician what they do have is in-depth knowledge of the products they sell.

As long as every one of your employee’s have attended an initial product knowledge school and even if you can’t afford to send them to regular full day training at least get your product trainer to come into your salon every couple of months for a one hour refresher. You will be amazed how this will improve sales performances.

And don’t forget to keep your product posters and merchandising fresh, if posters are getting tatty and stale ask your suppliers for new. Remember to take a leaf out of the department stores promotional book and keep your salon look fresh and energise. And I guess the most important for both salon owner and their teams is to realize that regardless of whether it is a traditional salon or day spa the professional duty is to offer client’s skin care solutions. Therefore every client coming into your business should know undoubtedly the aesthetician utilizes and offers not only the best treatment and skin care available, but also that their knowledge far and away exceeds the chemist and department store assistants.

So to answer the question most often asked “how do I go about improving retail sales?” You must stock the products that meet your client’s needs wants and desires. The retail display must be inviting and well stocked and your aestheticians must be very knowledgeable and regarded by the customer as an expert in both treatment and skin care advice. And the aesthetician herself must be so educated in her treatment ability and skin care knowledge that her confidence is supreme. Happy skin care retailing!!

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2008
Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit: