Industry • Perspective

How to Push Your Salon Management Career to the Next Level

Ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes at a top salon? Our Director of Education, Shanalie Wijesinghe pulls back the curtain in her latest LinkedIn article, which we've republished below.

Taking your salon management career to the next level takes hard work and commitment. But it also requires a certain sensitivity to the jigsaw puzzle of people that go into the salon business. From the talent on your team to the clients that walk in the door, salon interactions highlight deeply human and sometimes very emotional themes. 

Spotlighting your employees’ strengths, supporting your staff in high-touch situations, and including your team in your business planning will go a long way toward growing your business and demonstrating your value as a leader.

In my last article, I wrote about the things I wish I had known when I was starting out in front-of-house (FOH) salon management. In this post, I’ll share a few of the lessons that helped me grow my contribution to the business and push my career to the next level.

Lesson #1: Optimize your team’s division of labor

Getting the right folks in the right seats is a winning formula for any business. When you know how to make the most of the talent on your team, no one’s skills, time, or effort will be wasted, and no opportunities will slip through the cracks. 

Here’s what that division of labor might look like in action: If your busiest salon days are Thursdays through Saturdays, it probably makes sense to schedule senior stylists on those days. Training, shadowing, and junior stylist appointments might be more appropriate on days with more downtime. On slower days managers might have more flexibility to provide oversight and support. Let’s say Sundays are the slowest time of the week; that would be a good time to check off operational tasks like inventory management.

Don’t overlook the importance of having robust processes in place for everything your salon needs to do. While every member of your team needs to know what you want them to do, they also need to understand how they’re meant to do it. When your methodologies are in place, match the best person with each task. Who on your team do you trust to manage the minutiae of inventory stock checks, for example? Optimizing the division of labor means understanding your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and tapping the right talent based on what’s required for a particular task or challenge.

Lesson #2: Find the human story, and get with the script

At the end of the day, salon clients won’t care about a service or product you offer unless it solves a problem for them. Today’s consumers see right through upselling, and they’re likely to be turned off by it. Instead, you have to put everything you offer in the context of your client’s experience. What are they dealing with? What are their pain points? That’s where scripting can come in handy. You may never know what kind of issues your clients are dealing with unless you ask, but simple questions like “Is hair loss a concern for you?” can open the door to treatment opportunities. 

Structuring frequent interactions with sales scripts will make it easy to standardize the experience your salon offers. Scripts don’t need to be rigid, line-by-line mandates, but they should provide enough structure for your employees to know how to guide the conversation from beat to beat. I always say, “Borrow my voice until you have your own.” Start by engaging the client, then build a rapport and talk about their wants and needs. From there, it’s easier to get into your salon’s offerings and ultimately close the sale. 

The precise language your team uses along the way is less important than hitting those primary points in each interaction. Scripts are especially important when a salon business is new (or you’re working with a new hire), because it creates continuity among the staff. You don’t want clients to feel like the red carpet is only rolled out for certain clients, or by certain stylists, right? Scalable salon culture originates in process.

Lesson #3: Zero-in on revenue opportunities through reporting

Salon reporting shouldn’t be something that only managers can see. Everyone on your salon staff can benefit from visibility into company reporting, from the leadership team right down to receptionists. Pulling back the curtain on reporting is your opportunity to start teaching junior team members how the sausage gets made, from service and product sales numbers to things like petty cash.

It’s easy to understand revenue goals from a bird’s eye view — here’s how much money we’re aiming to bring in this quarter, and here’s how many client bookings or product sales we need to make in order to do that. What’s less obvious is how an individual employee can make a contribution toward achieving those goals. Your FOH team should understand sales at every level, and that means understanding the moves you’re making as a business to get the books balanced and achieve the growth you envision. It all starts with the numbers, and it applies to everyone on your staff. Even an apprentice shampooing hair should be aligned with your company’s goals.

At the same time, it’s upper management’s responsibility to make those goals digestible and actionable for everyone on the team. When I was a FOH manager, we had one-on-one meetings with stylists where we’d share visualizations of our company’s revenue goals. Bar graphs or similar graphics are an excellent method for conveying information at a business-wide or individual level. We also put reports in the context of time spent and efficiency. For example, if a stylist was making 70% of their money from custom highlights but only spending 16% of their time performing that service, we looked for ways to help them shift that ratio.

The best ways to push your salon management career to the next level also overlap with effective team leadership and overall salon success. The bigger the difference you make to the people you work with and the company you work for, the more valuable a leader you’ll become! 

I hope these tips help you in your own FOH management journey. If you have your own thoughts on how to evolve a career in salon management, please share in the comments! I love reading your stories.

View Shanalie's article on LinkedIn to share, link, and comment!

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