How to Handle Employee Departures


“HELP! My top performer quit last week and I have no idea what to do. She accounted for over 40% of the salon’s revenue, so I’m in panic mode. On top of that, I found out that she’s spreading lies about me and the salon on her Facebook page. Clients are coming in and asking me if what she posted was true. What do I do?”

Employee departures can be a nightmare, especially if that employee ranked among your highest grossing professionals. Trying to notify and retain the ex-employee’s clients can be stressful enough, but things reach an entirely new level of suck when the ex-employee is shooting off their mouth about you and your business. In this article, I’ll tell you what to do when your star professional leaves (or is fired), how to handle the gossip, and how to ensure an employee departure doesn’t cripple your business in the future.

“How do I inform my clients that a popular staff member has quit? How can I keep the clients coming back to my business?”

Call every client that is scheduled with that professional for the next six weeks personally. Then, recite the following:

“Unfortunately, your preferred professional has chosen to move on. If you’d like to keep your appointment, I can schedule you with [insert staff member name here]. They really excel at [insert that client’s preferred service here] and we would be willing to offer you [insert discount amount here] if you’d like to give them a shot. However, if you’d like to follow [the old staff member] to her new place of employment, I’d be happy to give you their information.”

In addition to this notice, send an email or physical letter with a coupon inside. It should read something like this:

“Unfortunately, your preferred stylist has moved on to another establishment. We wish them well in their endeavors! Enclosed is a coupon for [insert discount here]. Please call us if you would like to schedule an appointment!”

Keep your notices short, direct, and focused on the benefit to the client.

“If they ask, should I tell the client where the professional has moved to?”

A lot of salon owners make the mistake of withholding information from clients. Don’t do it. I know you’re only trying to retain business, but the clients who are loyal to a particular staff member were loyal to them for a reason. For a lot of clients, finding that perfect professional is a long, arduous process. They would follow their preferred professional to the end of the earth if they had to.

Clients don’t appreciate being mislead, manipulated, or lied to.

Being honest with clients will go a long way, so tell the truth. They may return to your establishment in the future if their preferred professional happens to be a “jumper,” moving from one business to another frequently.

“Should I explain to clients why a professional left or was fired?”

Remember to keep your dignity and integrity. Never discuss the conditions under which the professional left. If the client asks, simply say, “It just didn’t work out,” and move on to something else.

The second you engage with anyone about what led up to the employee’s departure, you give them the impression that they’re entitled to comment on it.

No matter who the person is–whether they be a client or employee–their opinion has zero relevance. It won’t change the facts or rewrite the past, and since no amount of explaining will give them a sufficient understanding of the issues at large (which tend to be far more complex where employee departures are concerned), why waste your breath?

Additionally, engaging drags out the closure process. It prolongs the entire ordeal, resulting in weeks or months of discussion. For instance, an old employer of mine spent two long years talking (and crying) about the departure of two employees who left her salon to start their own spa.

Two. Years.

I spoke about this incident in my book, but to make a long story short–the employees left in a very cruel, calculating way, closing up the salon and opening their spa while the salon owner was out recovering from surgery. The three women had worked together for years, so it was both a personal and professional betrayal. While everyone involved could understand the owner’s hurt, the pity party grew old fast and ended up costing her business.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the employee’s departure from your salon, don’t be that person. Keep quiet and move on.

“What should I do if my ex-employee is speaking poorly of me and/or of my salon?”

Let the ex-employee continue to make a fool of themselves. Don’t let them bait you into behaving as immaturely as they are. You’re a business owner. Hold yourself to a higher standard. You are too busy and too grown to be bothered with an ex-employee’s ridiculous temper tantrum. Ignore them and take comfort in the fact that their clients will soon grow sick of their bitching while you will both retain your dignity and come out looking completely unaffected.

I know from personal experience how difficult this can be. Learn how to smile, roll your eyes, and dismiss the bait. People who don’t have to defend themselves won’t feel compelled to attempt to, so don’t ever share your “side of the story.”

There is no story. The professional no longer works at your salon. The end.

You hear me? You have nothing to prove to anyone.

“How do I keep my salon from being dependent on a singular professional?”

While an efficient, popular stylist can be a huge asset, if they’re responsible for bringing in a massive percentage of your salon’s revenue, they also represent a huge risk. You must continuously develop your entire team so everyone operates at the top tier of your performance expectations.

If one employee can do it, they all can.

As a high-performing professional, I can personally attest that there’s no “secret sauce” to greatness or popularity in the salon. Everything your “best” professional can do, your entire team can be trained to do also. This applies to technical skills and customer service.

If your employees aren’t operating at the same level as your top professional, it’s because you–as the owner–are not doing your job to develop your team into the strongest versions of itself. What does this development process look like?

  • Hiring the right people.
  • Firing the wrong people when they’ve made it clear they aren’t right for your business.
  • Training professionals who need training.
  • Evaluating behavior and output on a daily basis.
  • Meeting with employees to gain feedback and insight into what their professional needs, wants, and goals are.
  • Monitoring performance metrics routinely and immediately taking action to diagnose and correct falling numbers.
  • Ensuring the new client distribution process doesn’t lean too heavily in one professional’s favor.

Thankfully, none of those tasks are complicated–they just require time, patience, and commitment.

Have you ever had a poor experience with an ex-employee? What happened and what did you learn from it? Let us know in the comments!

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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. If an employee leaves to go somewhere else, wouldn’t you need their permission before telling clients where they went? I’m sure most employees would want their clients to follow, but there are probably exceptions.

    • I’m glad you brought this up. In our salon, we explain our separation protocol during employee training. Everyone is required to disclose the names and contact numbers of their existing clientele. Those clients are exempted from our non-solicitation agreement. If the employee leaves, they know we will send one email to all of their clients, notifying them of the employee’s departure and inviting them to stay with us at the salon. Those exempted clients are dropped from our contact list immediately after that email goes out. During the exit interview, we ask them if they’d like us to disclose their new workplace. They’re made to understand that we will be disclosing that information to ALL clients who request it–even the ones they didn’t like very much. (I won’t lie to our clients.) It’s an all-or-nothing option for us, but they do get a choice.


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