Salon Manager

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Salon Manager Survival Guide - Career Resources for 2022 & Beyond

Do you think you’re ready to be a salon manager? While the job may look similar to that of frontline stylists, taking on a leadership role is never easy. In fact, 87% of new managers wish they had more on-site training to prepare them for their first managerial position. In a beauty salon or spa setting, you’ll be responsible for employee schedules, product orders, and everything in-between — and you’ll still have to see clients throughout the day.

COVID-19 has introduced new challenges, from hygiene and safety precautions to new scheduling considerations. What’s more, business closures and a tough job market has many salon professionals asking what’s next for their career. The good news is, if salon management is in your future, you have all kinds of resources at your disposal to make the job a little easier. To that end, we’ve compiled this list to help you find your footing.

Salon Manager Inline 1

What responsibilities does a salon manager have?

The manager is responsible for the “big picture” of their salon. While they often fulfill the same day-to-day work of a stylist, they also handle operational considerations such as:

  • Staffing: The salon manager is the one who hires, trains, and — naturally — manages stylists for the business. Along with bringing new hires onto the team, managers will need to discipline or dismiss stylists when necessary.

  • Scheduling: Salon managers are responsible for assigning work schedules for adequate salon coverage.

  • Customer service: Managers set standards for customer service that all stylists must follow. They must also be able to resolve customer complaints, even in the heat of the moment.

  • Reporting: Salon managers will need to create regular financial reports that account for revenue and expenses.

  • Inventory: Managers will need to order salon equipment and replace beauty products as required. Many salons and spas also sell beauty products — in these cases, managers will need to manage stock and order new inventory.

  • Other daily tasks: Salon opening and closings, staff disputes, health and safety procedures, and many other demands fall under the manager’s purview.

How much is a salon manager’s salary?

According to, the average salon manager salary in the United States is over $30,000 per year. Depending on your location and expertise, this figure will vary. For example, salon managers in New York City earn $43,000 per year as a base. Note that these base salaries don’t account for client tips!

Of course, we’d be remiss to overlook benefits. While these will vary from salon to salon, the most commonly reported perks include:

  • Flexible hours

  • Employee discounts

  • Paid time off

  • Health savings accounts

  • Dental insurance

Salon Manager Inline 2

What skills do you need to become a salon manager?

You’ll need to be focused and task-oriented enough to fulfill all of the responsibilities described above, along with several years of experience as a stylist — but everyone knows about those skills. What we often overlook are the soft skills that help you stand out and become an effective leader. While soft skills are understated and trickier to fit onto resumes, they can help you understand others, provide concise directions, and spot potential issues before they become problems.

  • Communication: A vast portion of the salon manager’s job relies on communication — whether it’s giving directions to stylists or resolving a customer service issue. The best managers provide clear and concise communications that get to the point without missing any crucial details.

  • Active listening: Talking is only one part of communication while listening is the other half. Active listening is the art of engaging your attention on the person you’re speaking to and making it clear you hear their concerns. This skill can be crucial when addressing staff disputes or interacting with clients.

  • Time management: There’s only so much time in the day, and managers can’t do it all. Time management lets them remain organized by focusing on priorities, delegating tasks, or knowing when to take a break and recharge.

Recognizing strengths and weaknesses: Every employee has unique talents that managers should understand and acknowledge. Some stylists are well-suited to complex cuts and color treatments, others are good at chatting up clients, and some are incredibly organized when it comes to appointment bookings. Recognizing these traits lets you assign each team member to the right task, maximizing the efficiency of your entire salon.

Salon Manager Inline 3

What credentials do you need to become a salon manager?

Well, it depends! If you’re an acting salon owner and manager, you’re already your own employer — technically, all you need is the proper business and cosmetology licenses. Alternatively, stylists at smaller salons can be mentored one-on-one with an existing manager before moving into a new role.

On the other hand, anyone applying to management positions at a new salon should carry the relevant experience and qualifications. At a minimum, you’ll need a high school diploma and a state cosmetology license. Working for two years in salons and having one year of managerial experience — salon or otherwise — is ideal. If you don’t have that, retail or sales backgrounds are excellent assets.

Other things to consider

On your first day, you’ll likely feel like you still need to learn everything. That’s normal! Much like learning to drive a car or doing your first professional beauty treatment, it takes practice to feel comfortable with new responsibilities. It will come in time, but make sure to keep an eye on the following:

Set aside professional development time

When you’re in the thick of working with clients, it’s hard to remember to step away and focus on managerial tasks, particularly when it comes to professional development. Here’s the thing: by taking the time to improve yourself, you’re ensuring you can run the salon more efficiently!

Put some effort into expanding your horizons and learning something new. This exploration can take many forms, such as reading books or articles about salon management or networking to seek new business opportunities.

Certification courses

Be on the lookout for educational courses and programs that might benefit your salon. For example, the salon sanitization experts at Barbicide have put together a COVID-19 certification to keep your stylists safe. These certificates can expand your knowledge and might even be a boon for future salon positions.

Seek out salon-specific business tools

There are countless business platforms and solutions that meet general purposes but aren’t necessarily ideal for a salon. Appointment booking software is a prime example. Salon managers need more than a calendar — they’ll also need to store client information with an interface that any stylist can grasp quickly.

At Boulevard, we offer a booking system that will intelligently space out appointments, show you specific salon performance insights, and even manage client memberships. To find out what makes Boulevard stand out, try out a free demo.

If nothing else, remember that salon managers are always open to learning new things. You will never know everything about being a leader, while clients and new employees will always bring new experiences to the table. When you are willing to be open, flexible, and creative, you’ll find answers to any challenge that salon management offers.

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