Independently Together: Encouraging Self-Employed Renters to Behave as a Team

If you have an open-air rental facility with a diverse variety of self-employed creatives working in the same room, you know how nerve-wracking it can be to maintain a peaceful, professional atmosphere. Sometimes, it seems as if everyone has a different definition of the word “professionalism,” and an individual approach to customer service.

These differences between professionals typically go unnoticed in a suite facility, where microsalons are separated by walls and doors, but they can complicate the client experience in a booth rental salon with an open floor plan.

While you don’t have the authority to require your renters to attend training, dress professionally, or even treat one another courteously, you can encourage your renters to be stellar professionals and to operate as if they’re a team instead of individual businesses operating under the same roof.

I’m going to repeat myself real quick for people that might have stumbled on this post without having read any of my other articles:

As the owner of a booth rental establishment, you are a landlord. You collect checks and make sure the building is safe to work in. That’s it. This means you can’t set schedules or prices, require uniforms, enforce a code of conduct, distribute chores, or force your renters to go to training or mandatory meetings. You also can’t require their clients to pay at a central reception area or require them to use a central booking system. They are business owners, and your facility is not a sovereign state.

“I want my renters to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques.”

Hold training classes for your renters as a courtesy. If you really want them to attend, give incentives to do so—reduced rent for a week, for instance.

Instead of finding different educators to teach (or teaching the classes yourself), you could also have one of your renters teach the class, either for a fee or reduced rent.

In addition to reigniting their passion for their craft, these classes will give your renters the opportunity to learn, grow, and bond as a group.

“I want my renters to behave more professionally and make smarter business decisions.”

Distribute informative weekly or monthly newsletters. Include business tips, new product information, upcoming classes and events in your area, and other interesting news. Subscribe to trade magazines as well, and consider creating a salon library where they can borrow books about business ownership, money management, and other useful topics.

“I want my renters to be more than strangers who work alongside each other.”

Coordinate a trade show trip. Handle tickets and travel arrangements for renters who wish to attend. Arrange for group dinners if you’d like. Spending time together in professional atmospheres outside of the salon creates valuable bonding opportunities.

Encourage group brainstorming and sharing sessions by creating a time and space specifically for that purpose. (A break room with a white board will do.) During this time, those renters who attend can talk business, share tips and tricks, and exchange war stories.

Renters should understand that just because they’re self-employed doesn’t mean they’re completely alone.

“I want my renters to promote themselves more.”

Participate in charity events. Host a cut-a-thon, create a 5K team, or have a food drive. Encourage your renters to get involved in the community. These events make marketing and networking fun and emotionally rewarding.

Also consider hosting a social media marketing course, or investing in a dedicated selfie studio area. Give your renters the knowledge and tools they need to efficiently promote themselves, and they’re far more likely to do so.

By designing incentives like these, you can develop a cooperative atmosphere where your renters will feel inspired to collaborate and hopefully start seeing one another as colleagues rather than competitors.

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Tina Alberino
Tina Alberino
Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and Salon Ownership and Management: A Definitive Guide to the Professional Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.

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  1. I have worked at the same salon, as an employee, for 20 years. I love the salon, the clients and my co workers. Recently, the owner has been thinking about switching to booth rental instead of commission paid employees. I am just curious what a fair weekly rate is. I understand that there are variables. We have not had a price increase in 8 years. Our community is steadily growing. My commission is 58.5% plus 10% comm. on any retail I sell. And of course tips.

    • Holy crap! No wonder she’s thinking of switching to booth rental! When she’s paying out nearly 60% of gross in payroll, she won’t be able to survive. That absolutely unsustainable.

      As for a fair rate, you’re right. There are tons of variables. There’s your local economy, your specific location, the amenities the salon offers, the square footage you get, and about twenty others (including her overall operating costs). Without knowing any of that, I can’t give you an answer. A fair price is one that you can afford. Every locale is different and every business is different. Nobody on the internet will be able to give you an accurate answer to that question without the data needed to formulate one.

  2. I recently started renting at a salon and love the people and location. I have not signed a lease yet which was brought up last week. I’ve been there for 6 weeks now, going into week 7. Five weeks ago I found a line of products that are absolute magic! The salon owner recently (3-4 week ago) committed to a product line that’s very expensive and not at all what I or my clients want. She is telling me it’s in her policy that I can’t not sell products from my station and wants the salon to focus on this line. I’m renting! I’m not quite sure how to handle this situation as I’ve not signed anything just yet. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Well, I’d refuse to agree to her terms. She can’t control your retail practices unless you have a written agreement with such a provision in it. You’re a tenant, not an employee. You can run your business how you please so long as your rent is paid up. If she doesn’t like that, she needs to draft proper leases.

  3. Hi… I have a question about my booth rent contract. It says that it is a independent Contractor Boith Agreement. I pay a fixed weekly rent. I am confused if they view me as an independent contractor or a Boith renter. In the agreement they say that we need to follow a dress code. To have proper hair and make- up and what you cannot wear. I read where you say they cannot force us to adhere to a dress code. Also they carry retail which we can sell and they give us a commission for. But it also says that we are not allowed to sell any products from our station that are not supplied by the salon. Is that legal? Also they did fire a Booth renter and gave her 2 days to leave. Are these events in violation of any laws? Do any void the contract I have? Or can you direct to any sites to find out more info. Thank you

    • It depends on the state’s commercial landlord-tenant laws. Some states have them, some rely on contract law (so, your lease would determine whether or not what she did was legal in the arrangement). For more information on the independent contractor classification, read this post and this post. As a booth renter, you can’t be fired. You have to be properly evicted in accordance with the state’s laws or the lease agreement. If your “contract” doesn’t have eviction provisions, that’s a big problem.

  4. I work in a salon where I am a booth renter the owner charges $60 a year for insurance that i cant get a copy of the policy . I pay $430 a month for booth rent and she says it is mandatory that we clean the shop or pay $10 more in rent .What I want to know is can she demand that from me as a booth renter

    • Nothing about that is proper. She can’t demand that you clean her salon or pay more rent. That’s absurd. You need a copy of the insurance policy–for all you know, she doesn’t have one. You could be working without protection at all.

  5. Does my landlord/owner of the shop where i rent my space need to have a shop phone or can thelandlord post her personal # and the building?

    • If you’re a renter, you should be conducting your own business separately of the salon entirely. That means you’d be giving away your phone number, making your own appointments, and collecting your own money. Read this post for more information, and search “booth renters” in the blog’s search bar for more information on that.

  6. I like to dry cut 60% of my cut, I’ve been told by management it is the salons standard to shampoo first, I am not to dry cut even if ive shampooed and dried, but u am an independent contractor. Is this how it is in every salon? I do not get paid hourly…

    • Lol, you’re misclassified. Since you’re an “independent contractor,” legally you’re “self-employed,” which means you’re your own boss. They can’t tell you how to do your job at all. The salon’s standard isn’t your problem because you’re not technically employed by the salon. You should read this post, then this one, and tell them they can’t have their cake and eat it too. Either you’re an employee and obligated to obey (in which case they have to compensate you legally and pay employment taxes like they damn well should have been doing this entire time), or you’re self-employed (in which case you set your own hours, take your own payments, manage your own books, and do things your own way).

  7. Hi, I’m a booth renter and the owner is telling me to pack up they no longer would like me as a renter. Reason is that an employee, who btw is a renter, stated that I was telling her I was going to make a copy of the key and was asking about the alarm. Ive been there just over two months and have not had a key. I had an issue with the door being locked during business hours and no one was at the salon. My client and I were locked out. I missed out on a good $200 day. So I asked for a key. Owner stated that she is taking away everyones key because she went out of town and another stylist, who watched her house, took her office key and put 300 balloons in her office for her birthday. Yes, that is the truth! She established a sign out form for the key. I signed it out Saturday to come in early on Monday. I received her crazy text Sunday. She had said to come in Monday at noon to pickup my stuff. I have not and I have a client Thursday…….how is this possible.

    • Unfortunately, most states don’t have laws regarding commercial landlord/tenant relationships, so you’re generally at the mercy of your lease. This is why I highly recommend having a super solid lease, otherwise, sudden evictions can happen and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. If you had a lease that outlined the operating hours, you could have held her responsible for the unavailability of your unit on that $200 day. Unless you’re willing to take her to court and likely lose, there’s really not a whole lot you can do in this situation. 🙁

  8. Ok, I am a Booth Renter, and have been for 18 yrs now. The past 11 of that being at the same salon. Had the same owners until this past Jan, and shop was sold. Renovations have been made. She has opened up a portion of the salon to an open floor plan, as well as kept some private booths. I am in a booth, and the previous owner allowed us to put our personal touch to it, no questions asked. Our salon has always maintained a Grade A upon inspections. The new owner with the renovations made and the money spent of course, has basically told us that we can’t add our personal touch to our room unless it stays with the color theme and style of the rest of the salon, which not a single thing she has decorated with has anything to do with hair. I personally think it’s awful, and would never decorate my booth with her theme. Basically, has decorated it as if it were her home And if we want to hang anything up, we have to get her approval 1st. Can she do that? Another one of the stylists, has the talent of being able to paint by hand just about anything. She is single, and struggles to make ends meet, so she does these paintings and sells them to get a little extra cash when she can. She just brought in some new ones last week and hung them in her booth. The owner asked her to take them down, because it did not go with the rest of the salon décor. The way I look at that, is her paintings are from a side job she has, and they are “retail”. I sell Avon, another stylist sells Mary Kay, so what’s the difference? So, we are really wondering what the guidelines are for the new owner towards us as a booth renter? And we do not have a written contract with her. She does leave notes from time to time stating why she took something down, or asking the other gal to take her paintings down, brings up another concern. Can those notes that are only signed by her, be used in a legal situation(if ever needed)? In other words, if the other stylist were to hang her pictures back up, even though she was asked to take them down via note, would it stand? Thank you so much for your time and hopefully you will help make things clearer for us.

    • Unfortunately, there’s no real recourse here unless you have it all outlined in your lease. Very few states have commercial landlord/tenant laws, and those that do don’t restrict the landlord’s ability to impose certain cosmetic and maintenance restrictions. (Your landlord likely has guidelines imposed on her by her landlord too, but regarding the outside of the building.) Whether or not a note would stand up in court is something that’s dependent on whether or not a judge would consider it admissible evidence.

  9. I recently was going to booth rent in a new town with no clientele but I’ve decided not to go through with it. It’s 200 a week, and I haven’t signed my “contract” yet. She refused to give me a lease, and I requested that she take out independent contractor in some of the areas of the said contract, because I’m supposed to be a booth renter. In the contract she states I cant use or sell anything but her product, it seemed like it was maybe shady.
    With that being said I signed a piece of paper that was hand written that said as of 8/27 I’ll owe her 200 a week for the first six months then 275 after that. I haven’t told her I’ve changed my mind but now will I still owe her 200 a week?

    • Send her an email RIGHT NOW letting her know you’re not going to be renting. Make sure you do it immediately. You want her to receive that before the start date on the paper. I’m sure it won’t matter so long as you don’t take occupancy of the booth, but do it anyway.

    • It should. It’s timestamped. I highly doubt that document would be binding (especially since it’s not a formal lease with termination provisions), but just in case, you want to make sure that you’ve made your intent clear before the stated start date.

  10. Hi I’m a booth renter and in the salon I work in the owner has rewritten our contract and requesting we sign it before Oct 1 2016. In the new contract it has taken out that either party has to give 30 days before termination and has added all of these opening and closing duties that are “not optional” they include vacuuming the front rug, restocking a fridge for clients, making sure wax area is stocked and clean for state board inspections, putting away freshly cleaned towels. Closing is sweeping the whole salon, wiping down retail shelves at our stations, wiping down shampoo bowl top to bottom, mopping if need be, wiping down break room/mixing areas. The list goes on. So basically deep cleaning before leaving nightly. We are expected to take home the salon towels and wash them (which I don’t mind Bc I did use them). Any way my question is do I have to sign this? I’m having a baby in Jan so I’ll be leaving by Jan first. it’s just a 3 chair salon so it’s small and the tension is there. But this needs to be addressed tomorrow ugh. I’m loving all of your info you’ve provided but where are these laws you talk about. Like how do I prove that I DONT have to clean every opening and closing? I’m really not trying to be lazy. Our little salon is cute and kept very neat Bc we all work well together. It’s just recently that we are doing things up to the owners standards. Thanks so much for this good info!

    • Personally, I wouldn’t unless the rent were dropped significantly to make up for the additional work. As a manager and eventually as an owner, I either did the cleaning myself or hired a crew to come weekly. (I’ll be honest here, because I just fucking lied–I ALWAYS hired a crew, lol. I maybe did the cleaning myself for a week or two total over the course of my 15 year career.)

      The laws related to how booth renters are to be treated are in the IRS statutes. You should read this post. You’re self-employed. That means you can’t be told what to do or how to do it. You’re a tenant, not an employee. You pay rent and do business your way. Period. If she wants a cleaning crew, she has to pay for one.

  11. I am a booth renter with a set weekly rent or monthly rent at a bit of a discount (which I personally do not understand why she even offers). Right now the salon owner is the only one who carries retail products. I am thinking of putting a small retail cabinet at my station. I was told that if I start selling retail, my booth rent will have to be raised. Is this legal or right?

    • It’s legal, but you don’t have to sell through the salon to be able to retail. Rental owners often use boutiques to keep rent low for renters. (The product sales help offset their rent and other operational costs.) However, if you want to retail, you can do so by selling online. A lot of renters do this because their landlords won’t invest in the line they use for retail inventory, and won’t allow them to sell product directly without giving the boutique a cut. Just understand that if you’re selling outside of the salon and the owner runs her numbers at the end of the year and realizes her retail isn’t doing enough to cover expenses, you’re in for a rent escalation.

  12. I just recently left a salon where I was classified as an independent contractor. Lots of drama in this place, generating from the owner herself. In our year lease it doesn’t state anything about early termination. It’s very basic. She’s claiming she is going to sue me for the remainder of my lease agreement, which would be about $2700. She also has already filled the station with a new girl who signed a lease therefore she isn’t at a loss at all. I’m trying to know my rights here. Can she sue me?

    There’s so many other factors that would take me a book to explain… but she would make us attend monthly mandatory meetings, buy sodas, beers, wine, and more for the clients, take days off to go to a the pool, tell us what products to use.

    I personally left after being assaulted by the owners husband. A coworker is trying to leave now and the owner is stating she can not leave unless she pays at least $1500 towards the remainder of the lease.

    I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction! Thank you in advance.

    • Anyone can sue anyone for anything in America–whether or not she’ll win is debatable. I’m not an attorney and I have absolutely no clue what state you’re in or what your lease terms were. You’ll want to talk to someone qualified to guide you on your specific situation, so you may want to arrange a free consult with an attorney with a specialization in either commercial landlord/tenant law or contract law.

  13. I work at a salon that is all booth renters. The owner opened a spa right next to our little salon and hired a girl right out of school and she is on booth rent with no clientele. She has grown busy because of Christmas season and the owner has noticed how much she is making and told her she needs to give him $200 more a month starting next week. Is this okay? It just seems crazy to me to think you can just change the price of someone’s rent out of no where.

    • No, that’s completely inappropriate, however, without a written lease, there’s very little she can do about it. All of you need to have written agreements to protect yourselves against these kinds of ridiculous, arbitrary increases. Very few states have laws protecting commercial tenants (which is what you guys are, on a very small scale), so those contracts will be all you have to stop landlords from taking advantage of you.

  14. I am an independent contractor in a salon that uses a central terminal for credit card transactions. The fees are very high, so a handful of the stylists wanted to switch to the Square. The owner forbids that. She says we are only able to take credit cards through the terminal. She says that it is her rule for the salon, and that it is written in the contact. She feels that if we use the Square and someone uses a stolen credit card, somehow, the blame would fall on her. How do I approach her to let her know what she is doing is against the law.

    • You should read this post, then this one, and then this one.

      The first will tell you how to approach her, and the other two will give you the information you need to form a solid argument she can’t form a reasonable counterargument to. If you’re legitimately self-employed, the primary benefit of that arrangement is that she has ZERO liability. The method she’s using now crosses a line that defines her as an employer, as it gives her an inappropriate degree of control over your income. It’s not benefiting her in the least (or you). I hope that helps! 🙂

  15. Im at a new salon in florida and the lady told me its 150 a week or 50% commision…so i started and made major money and now shes saying i can only do commission and at the same time shes offerring everybody else booth rent at 150 and i even offered her 200 a week. Can she do this.

  16. Hello, I have been booth renting at a salon for almost 3 years. I was out of the salon for about 3 days, when I did go in my salon owner informed me about a leak at my station while I was gone. He I formed me that I needed to have insurance (which I do for myself) but made it sound like I would have to pay for damages. Is that my responsibility?

    • If your lease agreement doesn’t hold you responsible for damage that occurs to your unit, likely no. Landlords are generally responsible for maintaining the structure, including the plumbing. In most instances, you wouldn’t be permitted to allow a contractor to repair a leak yourself, as you aren’t the lease holder and don’t have the authority necessary to authorize that. So how can you be expected to pay for damage to a unit caused by a faulty system you weren’t responsible for maintaining and weren’t authorized to repair? If the building catches fire due to bad wiring in the walls, is that your responsibility too?

      The argument that you’re responsible doesn’t hold up, but check your lease. If it’s not in the lease, you typically can’t be held responsible for anything you didn’t agree to in writing.

  17. I am considering buying the salon i work in. I love the people AI work with and we all have a good working relationship. The space needs serious updating. It’s a booth rent salon. As an owner can I provide new mirrors and cabinetry at each station and ask them to take their own furniture home? Everything is VERY mismatched and unprofessional looking.

    • You can absolutely provide the furniture. When you rewrite the leases, just make it clear that furnishings are included. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the upgrade!

  18. I am a renter at a salon in Michigan. We have a receptionist that books clients for us and checks them out. Each renter has their own credit card account at the front desk. The owner of the Salon, our landlord, has been selling gift certificates on behalf of all the tenants. She does sell a small amount of retail. She pays us when we complete a service and a gift card is presented. I believe she is pocketing the money most of the time in hopes that the gift carts won’t be redeemed. When I asked her about gift cards or complain about how they’re handled, she States that it’s too confusing for each renter to sell their own. What is your take on this?

    • So long as your participation in the gift card process and your use of the receptionist and credit card machines are OPTIONAL (not mandatory), it’s legal. The landlord can sell gift certificates to her facility and only compensate the tenants when those gift cards are redeemed. (Malls and corporate/franchised enterprises with affiliate locations work the same way–the gift cards are sold by the mall or corporation and the store and/or franchisee only receive reimbursement when/if the cards have been redeemed.) The landlord CANNOT prohibit any of you from selling your own gift cards though, no matter how “confusing” she thinks it is.

      However, if you are all utilizing software owned by the salon and/or if the salon landlord also controls the merchant accounts, I’d advise you to stop using both immediately.

  19. As a salon owner, can I restrict the use of their booth space to the booth renter only? I have a booth renter that lets her friend, who is also a stylist, come in and do her hair in her booth. This is a liability issue for me and I’ve told her her space is for her to do services only. She disagrees, and says she can do whatever she wants in her booth.

  20. In the state of CA is there a limit to rent increase with a contract renewal? The rent has been the same for over 8 years and just recently owner has stated it will increase $25 more a week . Which seems like a lot because the space is small and the build rent has not been increased.
    Just wanted to know my rights before having a meeting .
    Thank you .

    • As far as I know, there are no state laws that impose restrictions on commercial landlords for rent increases. However, the rent remaining the same for eight years is a problem, as the value of the dollar certainly has not stayed the same in eight years. Every year, our dollars decrease in value, due to inflation. Between the years of 2011 and 2019 (the last eight years), the value of the dollar has decreased 13.6%, so your rent has actually declined by that amount over that period of time. The building rent may not have changed, but your landlord’s taxes and fees likely have, and I don’t consider it fair or reasonable to expect them to accept a 13%+ loss. (As a side note, if your prices haven’t changed in that period of time, you need to do a reevaluation ASAP.)

  21. Hello!! I’m an independent contractor/booth renter I’ve seen in another one of your articles them being classified as different things, but i believe in my state they’re the same thing. I’ve been renting from the same salon for over 2 years now with no problems whatsoever. I wouldn’t even say that there is a problem now, just a concern. With the Covid-19 going around a lot of businesses have talked about shutting down, even though it hasn’t really hit ot 9 town yet. She has briefly mentioned that for now she’s keeping salon doors open, but that she is considering closing down just to be safe. We’re all independent contractors who create our own schedules and form our own policies and hours. If we’ve paid for the whole month, can she technically do this, shut the salon down indefinitely? I get her concerns, but I am my family’s only source of income and can’t afford to be forced out of work. It’s one thing to have clients cancel here and there due to the illness, but to be forced to cancel all my appointments for the remainder of the month would put us in a severe financial crisis. I understand if at the beginning of the month she were to change agreements (we’re month to month), and that would give me a little time to think about other options. I’m just scared and want to know how to prepare for that conversation.

    • As far as your classification, if you guys are truly self-employed, it doesn’t matter whether you’re referred to as an independent contractor or a blue banana–just so long as you’re getting the freedoms you’re entitled to.

      In rental agreements between commercial landlords and tenants, there’s usually a force majeure provision that addresses circumstances where unexpected events prevent a party from keeping up their end of the deal. The affected party (in this instance, the tenant) would be entitled to relief, including a suspension of contractual obligations (in this instance, rent payments). Since salon renters are subleasing space and rarely have written leases at all (let alone professionally written lease agreements that contain force majeure clauses), those circumstances likely won’t apply to us–but if everyone who wants to stay out of costly legal battles should be pretending they do and doing their utmost to find a mutually acceptable compromise while we navigate the pandemic.

      Without question, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into everyone’s life. Your landlord doesn’t want to close any more than you want to face the possibility of several weeks without income, but this is an exceptional threat–and one I’m worried you aren’t taking seriously enough. This very much IS a serious problem that will persist for months if we don’t buckle down and make sacrifices today. I’ve received a lot of comments and emails from people saying, “It’s not here yet,” but I would urge all of you to change your framing of that to, “Nobody here has been tested, so we don’t know if it’s here yet,” because that is our reality. People are contagious for up to a week before they show any symptoms. So, the infected client whose hair you cut a week ago could start showing symptoms in a few days. How many clients have you been in close contact with since then? 20? 35? How many coworkers? How many friends and family members? Who have they been in contact with since you unwittingly exposed them?

      This virus has been transmitted this way in this country without detection for weeks. Don’t panic, but it’s extremely unlikely that nobody in your area has been exposed.

      Right now, professionals like you have two choices:
      1.) You can continue to go to work, putting yourselves and the public at high risk. You’re very likely to get ill and miss work for a period of time anyway.
      2.) You can take that same amount of time you’d spend sick and stay home with your family. Find opportunities to make money online (like user testing) or transcribing). These jobs tend not to pay a ton of money, but they can be done from home and require no qualifications.

      I went to college for virology with plans to be a genetic engineer. Trust me when I say that they haven’t even scratched the surface of how far COVID-19 has already spread. The lack of testing, medical infrastructure, and insurance combined with situations like yours (where people are forced to work with the public to avoid devastating financial ruin) will make things worse and extend the time it takes for us to get past it. Please, heed the warnings of the Italians.


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