Top Ten Reasons Hairdressers Wave Goodbye to Their Salons

Jan 31, 2024

Ah, the glamorous world of hairdressing – where the scissors are sharp enough to cut through the tension on the floor.  Why did your team walk out? Well it’s not because they felt they learned everything they can from you and were so grateful they all bailed in the night when no one was looking.  

Here are the top 10 reasons why Hairdressers leave their salon.  

1.Career Ladder Looks More Like a Step Stool: When the only step up is to replace the salon plant, hairdressers tend to look elsewhere. Growth opportunities are as rare as a perfect platinum blonde without damage.

Solution: I’m not talking about benchmarks and goals here.  Giving your stylists freedom to grow how and when they want to, is only going to make everyone happier and you more money.

  1.  Show Me the Money, Honey!: Being paid in compliments like "Love your work!" doesn't quite cut it. When the paycheck is slimmer than a thinning shear, it's time to part ways.

Solution: Add up all of the time your team works without getting paid, consultations, cleaning and setting up for the appointment, formulation time, processing time.  Having your team charge hourly ensures all of their time is profitable for them.  Letting them choose their own rate means they can control their own income.  

  1.  Management? More Like Mismanagement: If the boss can't stand up and set clear policies, you've got a problem. Ineffective leadership can turn a salon into a real-life episode of "Hairdressers in Distress".

Solution: Cancellation policies, adjustment policies, online booking and securing appointments with credit cards are all ways you can make sure your salon is being managed properly.   Clear policies and expectations that are communicated to your team lets you step back while still maintaining management of the business.  

  1.  Toxicity Level: Chernobyl: Ever worked in a place where the gossip is hotter than the curling irons? Yeah, that's a salon with a vibe so toxic, even the cacti are wilting.

Solution: Shut it down, and definitely don’t participate.   You set the tone for your environment, so if it isn’t a place you love, time to look in the mirror.  

  1.  Where's My Magic Wand for Work-Life Balance?: Hairdressers are seeking that mystical creature called 'work-life balance'. When they can't find it, they're out, probably searching for a salon with a unicorn in the back.

Solution: Be the unicorn, offer unlimited time off.  With great power comes great responsibility.  Let your team manage their own appointments and their own schedule.  You can focus on making sure your salon is always busy by hiring more stylists than you have chairs.  When there is a chair available, they can work.  

  1.   Burnout: Not Just for Hair Ends: When your hairdresser looks more fried than the hair they're treating, it's burnout. Long hours and physical demands can turn passion into exhaustion.

Solution: charging by the hour and eliminating double booking is the fastest way to clear the burnout and still make sure you are profitable.  Too many clients that you have to “squeeze” them in?  Raise your prices or hire more hairdressers than you have chairs.  When there is a chair open they can work.    

  1.  New Horizons (Or Just Avoiding the Boss): When stylists have more chance of winning the lottery than having their concerns acknowledged, you've got a problem. Imagine a salon where bringing up an issue is like whispering into a void, or worse, directly into a paper shredder. This is the kind of place where 'open door policy' means 'sure, the door opens, but nobody's listening on the other side

Solution: salons aren’t a democracy, you are at the helm and it’s your business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be open to your stylists experience.  They may just need clarification. Don’t assume its judgment.    Check in with them on a monthly basis, Let them know where they should focus their time and give them a chance to let you know if anything is on their mind.  

  1.  School's Back in Session: When a salon owner promises education but in reality the salon offers education like a desert offers water, it's time to pack the textbooks.

Solution: Don’t over promise when you hire someone, let them know what you provide and what you don’t.  It’s perfectly ok to not pay for someone else’s education, did anyone pay for yours?   Provide education and training on the things you expect to happen in your salon, for everything else, encourage them to find it on their own.  They’ll actually value it more that way.  

  1.  Clientele Carousel: When clients start disappearing faster than bobby pins, hairdressers might follow suit. It's not abandonment; it's survival.

Solution: Retention is the only KPI you need to know.  Are clients staying?  This one boils down to training your team for what you need for your brand.  Are they communicating effectively? Do they feel connected to their own work and their own brand?   Are they doing only the services they love to do?   

Pay attention to the things that matter and really drive your revenue, less attention  (read zero attention) to stocking shelves and retail goals.

  1.  Boss? I Am the Boss: Lastly, the entrepreneurial itch hits. Why work under someone else's neon sign when you can hang your own, right?

Solution: Your team WANTS to feel ownership over their work.  They want to know that they have earned the right to feel pride.  Not feeling that they have any control over their schedule, money or brand is the exact reason why there was a mass exodus from commission to rental.  

Your team can feel all of these things under your roof.  

So, there you have it. Salons, take note. Hairdressers, we salute you – may your next salon adventure be less drama, more glamor, and definitely more manageable (pun intended).

-Jennessa Couture