Building my business

6 Steps to effective salon management

Hellen Ward Nov / 04 / 2016

Being a salon owner myself, I know how hard it is to be across everything that lands in your lap as a salon manager. As tempting as it is to assume that ‘nobody will do it like you’ quite simply most salon managers or owners are usually juggling other huge responsibilities, too, like running busy columns.

But taking time out to manage your business is key. Without time spent strategically planning, you’ll tread water, or worse, drown in not facing up to the massive responsibilities you have and the issues that only you understand. Hairdressers as a whole rarely allow themselves the luxury of using their working day to run their companies, forever stuck in the mind-set that their time could be used more productively cutting hair than developing a whole team of people to be doing just that (much more lucrative and a lot less stressful!).

I often use the analogy that if you travel on Virgin trains or fly Virgin Atlantic you’d never expect to see Richard Branson pushing the drinks trolley or checking in your luggage. His time is now spent doing what he does best, orchestrating his empire instead of trying to play all the instruments himself…

So why don’t we share that mentality as a sector? Perhaps because we are so firmly rooted in the grass roots that we’ve all sprung from? Or is that we find the managerial stuff so overwhelming that we prefer to do what we do best and use our time putting money in the till? After all, 3 salons a week go bust, according to research.

So with our productive time being so precious, what 6 elements do I advise are non-negotiable?

1. Tracking turnover

We are often more minded to monitor our costs than look at what elements make up our turnover, but failure to do so and we’re ignoring the chance to grow the services and resulting USP’s that our customers are very loudly shouting that they consider to be our best. Finding out, developing and marketing our strengths is how we can establish our point of difference.

2. Monitoring costs

Looking after the pennies really does look after the pounds. Taking time daily to analyse your expenditure bears huge dividends. Even if you delegate this task, ensure you check in as a matter of daily routine and cast your eye over the bills and petty cash.

3. Analysing staff performance

All team members need targets set (reviewed at appraisal) and regular and consistent feedback on how they are doing. Praising the positives in a league that’s clearly displaying KPI’s effectively does a large element of your job for you.

4. Putting KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) in place

The more you communicate these to your team, the more they understand what you are looking for from them. Track their financial performance, retail sales, average client spend, %request clientele and %occupancy rate.

5. Delegating Productivity

Up-selling, cross-selling, referrals and responsibility for delivering the Client UXP (User Experience) is the team’s job, not yours. Turning a slow day into a busy one is down to them and down to the effectiveness of their consultation skills. Don’t ever find yourself taking ownership of someone else’s poor performance

6. Saving the Profit

Profit is not a dirty word. Apportioning your income and working out your liabilities then saving your profit on a weekly basis (not that difficult to work out, trust me) and that’s your reason and incentive for saying the same things time and time again and sounding like a broken record (ain’t that the truth?)

Of course, being consistent is how you track and monitor these elements is crucial to success. All of the above is a bit like brushing your teeth or letting your ironing or washing pile up; we’d never dream of leaving any of that until a designated time then try and do a week’s worth all at once. Regular and consistent attention to detail is the key to making tracking your business a joy not a pain. The ‘little and often but never forgotten’ approach is the way healthier option for not just ourselves, but our customers and team members, too.


Hellen Ward
Hellen Ward is co-founder and MD of the award-winning Royal and celebrity salon Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa. With over 30 years experience at the highest level of salon management, Hellen is one of the foremost business gurus in the sector, regularly lecturing and teaching best in salon management for companies and brands all over the world and dispensing her famously non-nonsense business advice in her must-read columns and articles. Her marketing, branding and managerial expertise as well as her passion for the industry have led her to develop her company’s brands at a global level.

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