One of the biggest pain points that salon owners experience is staff turnover. It’s frustrating to invest in a talented stylist only to have them leave, but many owners shrug it off as inevitable. Traditional thinking is that stylists never stay put for long, so there’s no point in putting much time or effort into them. That’s a mistake. While it’s true that some employees will leave no matter what, a thoughtful approach to stylist retention can dramatically reduce salon turnover.
This one is obvious and likely the first thing you think of when it comes to the best methods for retaining your most talented stylists. At the least, your compensation needs to keep pace with your competitors — even better if you can beat their rates. However, generous compensation doesn’t only have to refer to paychecks.
For your highest-performing stylists, consider a higher commission rate, bonuses based on overall salon profits, or even a small amount of equity in the company. Benefits beyond salary are also a fantastic method for retaining key staff. Health insurance, tuition reimbursement, and monthly commuting stipends are all great ways to make your salon a more desirable employer than the competition. If none of those are possible, reward your top stylists with increased scheduling flexibility, something every working parent will appreciate.
Create the right environment
Even if your stylists are satisfied with their compensation, they’ll leave if they can’t bear to be in the salon. It’s your responsibility to create an enjoyable workspace for them, both physically and emotionally. The physical aspect is easier to manage; keep the salon well-lit, safe, clean, and at an agreeable temperature in all seasons. But the emotional wellbeing of your stylists is just as important. Your employees don’t need to be best friends, but a single toxic person can destroy the harmony of a productive salon, not only sending stylists running but also creating a bad reputation for your business.
Employees are happier and perform better when they have a clear idea of what you expect of them. Set distinct targets for stylists, salons, and the business as a whole, and be open about how well your team meets those objectives. Goals can include everything from overall profits to not running late on appointments. Be open to suggestions from your stylists about possible areas for improvement; as your front line workers, they know the reality of your day-to-day salon operations. Open channels of communication are key to actual transparency, as opposed to just paying it lip service. Your stylists need to believe that their feedback will be heard, considered, and, when appropriate, acted upon.
Nobody wants to feel stuck in their job, so create clear paths for your stylists to grow professionally. Invest in their continuing education, and think creatively. Of course, it’ll be important for them to be up-to-date on the latest trends, but consider whether they’d also benefit from improving their communication and collaboration skills. Salon veterans may appreciate management training or business education that will let them better understand the financial needs of the business.
The easiest way to guarantee stylist turnover is to ignore your staff’s accomplishments. Create a system to regularly recognize the accomplishments of your stylists — don’t wait for a special occasion like a holiday party or their work anniversary. Call out special achievements and praise the kinds of everyday things that make your salon a pleasant place to be. Does someone always start the coffee when they come in? Did a stylist drop everything to cover for someone having a family emergency? These are the kinds of behaviors that make a team feel loyal to each other, and by calling attention to them, make them feel loyal to you.
The solution to unacceptable turnover is strong, positive leadership. Create an environment where stylists feel like they can thrive and you’ll create a place talented people want to stay. Show them you value them not just as gifted artists, but as human beings with personal goals, and reap the rewards of a hardworking, highly engaged staff.