Why You’ll Never Succeed at Salon Management

Do you ever wonder why some salon managers fail so hard? Are you looking for ways to get fired from your position as a manager? Engage in the damaging practices listed below!

Why You’re Failing at Salon Management

You lack consistency. Mary showed up late and was written up. Joanne showed up late the next day and you decided to do nothing about it.

You don’t have to be fair or make sense! You’re the boss!

The worst managers are inconsistent. Never be fickle with anything, particularly your discipline. Great managers have comprehensive systems in place for employee discipline and deliver that sweet justice without prejudice. There’s no room for favoritism in a well-managed salon.

You don’t provide direction. Job descriptions? Employee handbooks? Procedure manuals and service protocols? Are those really necessary? Not for you!

Eventually, your staff will learn to read your mind and all your problems will be solved!

To lead your staff and manage the salon effectively, your employees need to know what you expect of them. Successful managers communicate these expectations through job descriptions, handbooks, daily operation manuals, service protocols, and job training to ensure consistency and clarity.

You’re not aware and/or you don’t listen. Are your employees happy? Are there places where you could potentially improve their work environment or smooth out the rough parts of their work day? You don’t know!

You either don’t listen to your staff’s complaints, don’t ask, or don’t care. High five! Way to suck at management!

Skilled managers are aware of their team’s pressures and promote job enrichment. They review processes to identify improvements and develop comprehensive action plans to solve the problems their employees encounter.

You don’t take action. It’ll get done when it gets done…or not.

Nothing is more frustrating than a manager who won’t do their damn job. A surefire way to fail is to completely neglect your duties. When a client or employee brings an issue to your attention, it is your responsibility to either devise a way to correct the problem or fulfill the request. If you can’t, your job is to communicate a valid reason why. Don’t become a “brick wall manager.” Make sure everyone knows their complaints and requests don’t fall on deaf ears.

You rule with an iron fist. “It’s MY way or NO way!” you shout. “I’m the BOSS! You’ll do as I say! If you don’t like it, there’s the door!” Man! You’re such a badass! It’s no wonder your staff hate you and your turnover rate is so high!

If you have ever uttered any of those statements, you’re not only an insufferable tool, you’re destined to fail in a spectacular way.

Sure, you’re the manager and the final decisions always rest with you, but you can’t run the business single-handedly. A successful manager holds meetings, consults with their staff, takes their suggestions into consideration, and leads their staff by encouraging them, not imposing on them or bullying them.

You don’t consult with your employees. Why should you have to consult with your inferior staff members before making a decision? You’re the boss!

These peons just work for you.

You absolutely have to consult with your employees. It’s important for their voices to be heard. Their suggestions may be better than your planned course of action. Your employees aren’t your minions; they’re your biggest asset. You’re on the same team, so involve them in the decision-making process. You aren’t a one-man salon management army. Utilize your resources.

You don’t inform your employees. They’ll figure it out when they figure it out, right?

Wrong. Your staff need to know what is going on. When you do make a decision—whether you’re changing the product line or opting for a new brand of toilet paper—let them know. In addition, you need to be clearly communicating the salon’s goals and objectives and keep them up-to-date on the salon’s performance (and their contribution to that effort).

You hide behind a grapevine. You don’t have to fire that employee yourself! Just tell the other employees that you want that staff member packed up and gone for good by the end of the day, then leave and let the whole situation work itself out.

that’s not leadership.

Successful management requires a spinal column made of steel. If you can’t hand down disciplinary action or look an employee in the face and tell them that they’re fired, you’ll never succeed at salon management. You must have the ability to initiate and execute tough conversations. This isn’t high school. Never use your employees as messengers.

You don’t give credit, show appreciation, or provide encouragement. They owe you their service and obedience; you owe them nothing but a paycheck.

You could operate this way…if you want your employees to hate their jobs and resent you. If you don’t want those things, you’re going to have to learn how to praise, compliment, and acknowledge your team every day. Without them, the business is nothing.

You have no idea what you’re doing. What needs to be done? When does it need to be done by?

Which way is up again?

Competent managers spend a considerable deal of time honing their skills. That doesn’t have to mean enrolling in college and dedicating yourself to completing an MBA. Read books about management and improving your people skills. Research salon management practices. Join a networking group with other managers and attend lectures. Consult with other managers (even those in other industries) about what works for them and what doesn’t.

Know what your responsibilities are. You can’t “wing it,” or fumble your way through. People depend on you. The success of the business relies on your ability to manage it and lead your team. Commit to continual professional improvement or hand your job to someone who will.

You badger or verbally abuse your employees. It’s like the military, right? You have to break them down to ensure total compliance.

No. To secure employee loyalty and compliance, treat them with respect. Develop a positive, problem-solving approach and stay calm under pressure. Encourage and support them. Provide constructive criticism and praise their efforts. When you must discipline them, play by the established playbook without showing favoritism.

You’re “the cool boss.” Um, you guess it’s okay if they take two weeks off without asking your permission. It’s cool if they come back from their lunch break drunk. They can spend all day doing services on each other instead of taking paying clients.

You’d hate to cause conflict! What if they don’t like you anymore?

Sure, the salon is hemorrhaging money, you’re in debt up to your eyebrows, and you’ll probably have to file for bankruptcy next Tuesday, but your staff think you’re the best! Hopefully this winter won’t be too cold, since you’ll surely be sleeping under a bridge by then.

Isn’t being a doormat so much fun?

This is by far the biggest mistake I’ve seen salon managers make. You can be respectful, supportive, and encouraging without being “The BFF.” Keep your personal life personal. In order to lead your employees effectively, you have to maintain a degree of professional distance.

Management isn’t easy and it’s ten times harder if you’re sabotaging yourself by committing any of the egregious behaviors listed above. You don’t have to be perfect, because the “perfect leader” is a myth, but you should strive to be fair, reasonable, and competent. Commit to ongoing growth and improvement and your failures will be few and far between.

If you can think of other ways to fail as a manager, comment below!


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10 Responses

  1. Not just hiding behind other employees when it comes to conflict, but hiding behind a screen or text message. It’s one thing to be informative through group text, it’s purely another to let someone know about performance issues through a text. (Or in front of other colleagues.) Or texting at 7am and 11pm!!

    Knowing there is an issue of theft or product loss that’s been going on for months because your employees have come to you about the issue, not doing anything about it except send a group message, and then freaking out when inventory is screwy or implements are missing.

    1. OH! I got another one too: not listening to your department managers when they warn you of said theft and petition you to fire the thief, then blaming that department manager for the losses when the salon owner learns about the losses in the inventory reports. (That might be too specific to my own experiences, but it should count, lol.)

  2. I’m a new salon owner and I also manage the salon but am not a stylist…I have informed myself and read in on salon services products but don’t perform them…any advice?

    1. I couldn’t condense all the advice I have to give a new salon owner into a comment box if I tried, lol. I actually just finished writing a 700 page book about salon ownership and management. It will be released in November. In the meantime, I recommend reading everything you can from this site. When our VIP Society launches, I would recommend joining. Sign up for our email newsletter to get announcements and notifications of new posts.

  3. Tina i have a problem and i looked all over the internet and no answers, i have been licenced for 8 years and can not seem to get a break, i have had interview after interview, demonstation after demonstation. i have been denied jobs based on pgysical deformation basicly looksisms, gender i am a cis man, disability, and i dont understand why or how i can fight this i just want to do hair i am licenced i am skilled yet i just cant catch a break what do i do i will not look for another career path becuase this is my passion and i sure as heck will not let them win but i feel lost.

    1. How can you be certain that you’re being denied based on your gender? Cis males typically aren’t discriminated against in our industry. (That’s not to say it’s impossible, just unlikely to happen repeatedly.) I’m more inclined to believe you’re being denied based on your deformity, but if that were the case, you probably would not have been called in to do a demonstration (which leads me to believe that you may be getting passed over based on either the quality of your work or your service execution times). It’s also possible that your disability may pose more of a complication than the salon owners you’re applying to work for are willing to take on, but without knowing the nature of the deformity and disability, it’s difficult to tell whether or not that’s the case and whether or not either interferes substantially with your ability to do the job (and furthermore, whether that discrimination would be legal or not).

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