AASM: Conspiring Renters


“Two of my renters are best friends. One purchased her own salon and gave a month’s notice. Her friend, who has decided to stay with me, is constantly talking about the new place. I feel very uncomfortable in my own salon and cannot wait until the work week ends. They asked several other renters to go with them to the new salon. They are inseparable and I do not know why the other one is staying with me. She talks about the new salon constantly and has even encouraged a few of my new renters to move there. She says she’s just excited for her friend, but I feel used and hurt.”

You might not know why the other one stayed with you, but I do: she’s likely there to poach more renters from you for her BFF (who I’m going to refer to as BFF Jill for the rest of this post).

This happens often (both with renters and employees) so don’t take it personally. You’re not a real salon owner if you haven’t been baptized by fire through a sudden mutiny. (Welcome to the club, by the way. Your membership card will arrive shortly.)

BFF Jill did the right thing by giving you appropriate notice. As a renter, she certainly didn’t owe you her loyalty but the poaching of other renters from your salon shows a disgusting lack of professional courtesy and consideration. It would be one thing if your other renters asked for space but it sounds like they’ve been aggressively solicited right under your roof, which is entirely unacceptable.

Often, I find salon owners fall on one of two sides of the “paranoia spectrum:” either they trust everyone (whether they’ve earned that trust or not) or they’re convinced that everyone is conspiring against them. In situations like these, you’d be wise to evaluate the arrangement with a healthy dose of paranoia.

ask yourself, “Why is BFF Jill’s friend still in your space?”

Sure, maybe she prefers your salon, but if that were true:

  • Why does she constantly talk about the new place?
  • Why does she encourage other renters to move to BFF Jill’s salon?
  • And the big money question: What does she (or BFF Jill) have to gain, and do those benefits come at your detriment?

Your course of action should be pretty clear: BFF Jill’s partner in crime must be evicted as soon as your lease agreement allows, as she represents a significant conflict of interest.

Her actions have indicated that she intends to use her position in your salon to corrupt your operations for BFF Jill’s direct benefit. She’s a risk to your business and will continue to solicit your renters for as long as you allow her to—so shut it down.

If BFF Jill’s salon is so spectacular that it warrants constant discussion and inspires her to solicit your renters, perhaps she should move on to those greener pastures instead of spending her days promoting her friend’s new business to your tenants. If the Diabolical Duo wants to solicit tenants they need to scrape together some advertising money and do it the same way every other salon landlord does—not by planting saboteurs within the businesses of other rental salons. That’s a real fast way to establish a real bad reputation for yourself among other salon owners in the area (and get yourself blackballed by quality renters who will see that kind of underhanded behavior as a warning sign).

In the meantime, don’t take any losses personally or allow yourself to get emotionally involved. Remember, you’re just a landlord providing workspace for salon professionals. Should they chose to move their business operations elsewhere, that’s their right and you shouldn’t do anything to attempt to restrict that—but you definitely don’t have to enable the Diabolical Duo’s solicitation.

Don’t be surprised if a few of those renters promptly return. You know what they say about that lush green grass always looking so damn good on the other side, right?

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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 book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly 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.


  1. I rent a private room. We have a dress code of sorts no jeans except on Thursdays is this legal. My contract ran out almost a year ago and is now month to month. I have also been told I can not work on Sundays. I thought I was to have access 24/7 365. Please advise.

    • Well, if the contract is month-to-month and a new one hasn’t been drafted, and under the original lease you were promised access 24/7, 365, then no. That’s a lease violation.

      And the dress code thing constitutes an inappropriate degree of control, definitely. The IRS is very clear about that. As a self-employed person, you can’t be dictated to like that.

      • Comment: Wouldn’t dress code and general salon policies be similar to an HOA dictating the neighborhood rules? Or community rules for any apartment complex or office building? Music level, trash, where to park, etc. You can rent there if you agree to these and can be fined or evicted if not?

        I don’t think these things infringe on any IRS employee/non-employee classifications. If so, every higher end rental salon I’ve seen violates this.

        The commissioned independent contractors/employee boundaries are definitely being crossed in a ton of salons. It’s my understanding that it’s possible, but has to be very, very clearly an independent contractor and you’d have to really know the boundaries. But I honestly think, it’s because new owners typically have no idea what the laws are.

        This site is great! I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve stumbled across it.

        • I’m in agreement. I feel like salon owners should be able to set standards for behavior and dress, but the IRS believes otherwise. Their position is understandable too, since allowing any control could cause considerable confusion. (“If I can tell them how to dress, surely I can tell them when to work and what to charge and how to do their jobs…”) So, I get both sides of the argument.

          And you’re totally right, every single salon violates this, lol. They’re all being caught, though. It’s both fortunate and unfortunate–a lot of these owners didn’t know any better, but many of them did. It’s just shitty that the ones who were well-intentioned but ignorant are being penalized as harshly as the ones who took advantage.

  2. What about conspiring business owners? You should cover that topic as well, maybe you already have.
    I had a business owner/Esthi, neighbor, we literally shared a common wall, 2 steps from our facing front doors, solicit one of my renters behind my back, to come work for her on a commission basis, which we all know commission is illegal and a misclassification, among many other unscrupulous things she did over the course of a 4 year period. My renter told me she asked her not to tell me, like I wouldn’t find out, so deceitful and two faced. Eventually I moved my business to a new location, I knew the bs would continue so I made the move. Best move I ever made and I should have done it sooner. Unbelievable the dog eat dog, “you’ve got some big balls” ..girlfriend..
    It’s a shame and so frustrating to have to tolerate and or deal with individuals who have no moral or ethical common compass or simply do not care about anyone but them self. I think there is word for that, narcissism.

    • This is an “Ask A Salon Manager” post, where readers email in questions that I answer for them here. While I’ve received a ton of emails about conspiring salon owners (because that kind of thing happens really, really often in our industry), none of them have asked to be featured in an article, lol. I’m sure at some point, someone will. Poaching of all kinds (both of renters and clients) is so common in our business, unfortunately.


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