How to be a Great Salon Manager

How to be a great salon manager with advice from Ian Egerton founder of Loop HR

If you are a salon manager, or you aspire to be one, in this blog we help you understand the type of manager you are - and the manager you want to become.

The title ‘Manager’ covers a multitude of roles

Some managers have a minimal role - others are inspirational leaders!

If you are a salon manager, or you aspire to be one, it’s important to understand the type of manager you are - and the manager you want to become. The purpose of this article is to highlight the key qualities, strategies, and actions that will set you apart and empower you to excel in your role.

Understand your employer's objectives!

Key for you to be successful in your role is to understand your employer's objectives and know what good looks like in their eyes. Neither you, or your employer, wants you wasting time heading in the wrong direction, or worse walking in circles achieving nothing of value.

In the best-case scenario, employers must be clear on what they want managers to do, and managers should help their team achieve the goals set by their employer!

Keep in mind, management can be a lonely place, find your support group! Find your people (in the industry, in business generally and your friend/family circles), you will need support on occasions.

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Be thoughtful in what you say. Don’t blag it

Talking BS to your team may sound smart in the short term, but it’s not a long-term communication strategy! Be thoughtful in what you say, don’t waste time by always talking about what you are ‘going to do’. Managers who talk too much often don’t deliver! People see through the noise very quickly; this behaviour will easily erode trust and you’ll lose the respect of your team.

When communicating change with your team, or simply getting people to do small tasks, be clear in what you want people to do. Take things slowly, one step at a time, give recognition when appropriate and guidance when needed. Gradually make positive change. It is easier (less disruptive) to look back at how far you have come – and celebrate with your team – than to try and force people towards a mythical vision that they may not buy into.

Trust is the vital key to leadership success

Trust is the vital key to leadership success

Earning the trust of your employer and team, will take time and proven actions. Fail to gain trust and your job will be very difficult. This is for two primary reasons:

• First, people will quickly see through you and your thinly veiled behaviours, meaning they will stop listening, even when you are right.

• And secondly some team members will leave the business, simply because they do not trust you with their career.

These actions reveal themselves like a leaking tap! Ultimately, they erode trust of your employer and or team, thus putting your position in jeopardy.

Tips on how to become a great manager

Tips on how to become a great manager

1. Lead with Positivity: As a salon manager, your attitude sets the tone for the entire team. Embrace positivity and enthusiasm in your interactions with both your staff and clients. A positive environment encourages creativity, boosts morale, and fosters lasting relationships.

Tip: Read books on leadership, self-development, wellness and management. If reading is not your thing, listen to audio books and podcasts. Blinkist is an App that allows you to listen to a summary of key points from hundreds of non-fiction books.

2. Communication is Key: Open and transparent communication is at the heart of effective salon management. Listen to your team's concerns, ideas, and feedback. Regularly update your staff about any changes and encourage them to communicate with you openly. When everyone feels heard, it cultivates a sense of unity and respect.

Tip: Host weekly team meetings, keep them short, prepared an agenda and make them interesting for the attendees. Avoid nagging about things that have/have not been done - these items should be dealt with as they happen as part of daily management tasks. Mix things up, invite a team member to lead a meeting on topic they are passionate about, be it recycling, a particular treatment or service, ask front of house to talk about the guest journey. Educate on a new product. There are lots of ways to keep meetings interesting.

3. Nurture Team Growth: The best salon managers prioritise the professional growth and personal development of their team. Identify individual strengths, and areas for development and provide opportunities for training and skill enhancement. A team that feels supported in their growth journey will remain motivated and dedicated.

Tip: Giving feedback should be specific, give recognition for things done well, show gratitude at times you clearly felt supported, and offer guidance in areas that could be improved. Use the tools provided to you (e.g. Loop HR to help manage in-house and external Training & our Performance Reviews) to create learning and development opportunities.

4. Set Clear Expectations: Ensure your team knows what is expected of them. Clearly outline job roles, responsibilities, and performance standards. When everyone understands their role in achieving the salon's goals, it promotes accountability and reduces misunderstandings.

Tip: Map out expectations, most of us in the salon industry are visual, so take a large whiteboard and work with the owner to list what is expected, what is unacceptable and ultimately what good looks like!

5. Foster a Collaborative Environment: Encourage teamwork and collaboration among your employees. Create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and working together to solve challenges. Collaboration not only enhances creativity but also strengthens relationships.

Tip: Not every team member is going to be the right fit, try different styles of leadership and management tactics to get people in line with the salon vision. If a team member is not participating or worse, is being disruptive, speak with your employer on how to address the situation. If you are unsure on what action to take, seek advice from an employment law expert.

6. Develop Exceptional Customer Service: Customer satisfaction is the foundation of a successful salon. Train your team to provide exceptional service, from greeting clients to delivering the best treatments and a smooth exit strategy. Happy clients become loyal patrons and help attract new business through positive word-of-mouth, social media etc.

Tip: Create a customer journey map, from booking an appointment to arriving at reception, the greeting, initial consultation, a dual consultation for technical services. A second strategically placed consultation, call it a structured conversation around the next visit, the products used to achieve the result etc. The exit strategy, suggest a return date (rebooking) reiterate the products used and what to take today (retail). Confirm the next appointment.

7. Be Organised and Efficient: Effective salon managers are organised and efficient in their daily operations. Use technology to simplify and automate as many tasks as possible; a Point of Sale Systems (POSS) will manage scheduling, inventory and financial transactions. Use salon specific HR software to manage back-office tasks, pay structures, holidays, skill development and training, performance management and compliance. A well-organised salon minimises stress for you, your team and clients.

Tip: No amount of technology will fix poor management; but technology will aid you achieve specific tasks efficiently. Invest in good software and Apps it will save you hours of time. Every system needs to be set up correctly, get help from your software providers to ensure that your systems are set up for maximum efficiency for your business. Then enjoy the headspace to do what you enjoy and let technology do the heavy lifting.

8. Handle Challenges Gracefully: Challenges are inevitable, but your response to them defines your leadership. When faced with issues, remain calm, address them promptly, and seek positive solutions. Your ability to handle challenges gracefully sets an example to your team.

Tip: “It is not what happens in life, it is how you respond” (my favourite quote)! Many situations do not require an instant response, if you feel you need to take a little time to consider your response, simply say, “I will get back to you by end of day” give yourself the space to process a reply, but essentially reply within 24 hours.

9. Lead by Example: Demonstrate the qualities you expect from your team. Arrive on time, uphold a professional appearance (relative to your brand), and maintain a strong work ethic. Leading by example builds credibility and earns the respect of your staff.

Tip: Balancing your dual roles as a salon manager and a hairdresser or beauty therapist can be demanding. To maintain your effectiveness as a leader, if you have the skills, I suggest occasionally immerse yourself in your craft. Dedicate some discreet moments to work directly with clients, demonstrating your commitment to excellence and setting a compelling example for your team.

10. Learn to Adapt: The hair and beauty industries are ever evolving, with trends, techniques, and client preferences constantly changing. A great salon manager is adaptable and open to embracing new ideas and approaches. Stay curious and encourage your team to learn and evolve as well.

Tip: Make the most of trade events and supplier training opportunities to keep an eye on these trends. Encourage team members to attend events, see how excited they are to learn new skills and offer new treatments and services. N.B. For your clients and staff, review your service menu every year, remove unpopular or less profitable services and introduce new ones.

11. Balance Confidence with Humility: Confidence in your decisions is important, but so is humility. Acknowledge when you make mistakes and be open to learning from them. Your humility will inspire your team to be accountable for their actions as well.

Tip: Nobody is asking you to be the Dali Lama, just be mindful of how others perceive you. Consider how you may approach individual team members differently to achieve the same outcome. As mentioned earlier, self-development books can help improve confidence and humility as well as many other traits of a leader.

12. Prioritize Self-Care: Managing a salon can be demanding, so it's essential to prioritise self-care. Take breaks, recharge, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. When you take care of yourself, you're better equipped to take care of your team and clients.

Tip: Don’t overwork for long periods of time, be that physically or mentally. Step outside of the salon and breath fresh air for a few minutes midway through the day, avoid phones, messages and idle chit-chat, at this time, it’s your opportunity to restore. Finally, if you feel you cannot cope, reach out to someone who can, if you are unsure who to speak with, contact The Resilient Hairdresser Hayley Jepson, or the Hair & Beauty Charity or a local mental health organisation.

In conclusion, becoming the best salon manager requires a combination of leadership skills, effective communication, and a genuine passion for your team's growth and success. By embodying positivity, fostering collaboration, and continuously improving your own skills, you can create a salon environment that thrives under your guidance. Remember, the impact of a great salon manager extends beyond the salon walls, shaping the experiences of both your team and your clients.

For more information on salon management and ways to simplify HR tasks, chat with us, we can help you streamline the tasks that make running your salon or spa business easier and more efficient! Book a discovery call.

Ian Egerton, founder of Loop HR