Happy Saturday! Weekends here at Slash are always very busy, like most salons. It’s easier to come in on the weekend, right? In a flurry of thoughts, this had me thinking about salons and why we pick “ours”. Think of why you come here (or why you left your other salon)… is it for a particular stylist? A style that cannot be executed as well as other salons? The general “vibe” of the salon? There’s so many factors into why we pick the salon we go to. But salons are not the same as they were 30 years ago. The format has evolved over time from an employment based structure to booth rental.

At this point, I might be losing you here. What is employment based? Booth rental? I’ll explain.

Employment based means the salon owner will hire stylists, and the stylists will get commission off of their services. The defining difference, however, is how the business is conducted. Stylists report to the owner and they are given some sort of schedule. The task of bringing in clients, ordering inventory, setting appointments, and other tasks are all handled by staff. This means the stylist solely focuses on delivering the best service to their clients to assure loyalty. They do not have to deal with issues like rent, taxes on services, and general expenses to keep the salon running.

Booth rental simply is the owner/landlord providing a booth for the stylist to rent. Typically, it’s a weekly fee for them to have a place to serve clients. This is more ideal for experienced stylists with an established client base. Without a client base, the stylist must do all of the promoting on their own. Booth rental is largely seen as running your own business, because you are solely responsible for getting clients. Costs for products, promotional materials are also under the stylist’s responsibility. The appeal of making your own schedule and being your own boss is what has made booth rental appealing.

What does this do to the nature of salons, though? Salons have always been known for their collaborative environment. Having a senior stylist helps with lesser experienced stylists that need to establish their art. Beyond a salon being a business, it is an art. People do not go into the hair industry for the same reasons someone would become an accountant. With the economy in rough shape, though, many people have turned to getting their cosmetology license. People see this as a way out of rising college tuition costs, and going into an industry without limits. The problem we are now experiencing is a lack of appreciation for the art. Stylists collaborate and learn from each other less because they don’t want to lose clients. Instead of being a team, salons have started to create competition within their space.

Let’s say stylist A is great at short hair styles, and B is great and hair color. What if A’s client wants BOTH a short hair style and new color, but A feels underdeveloped in coloring? Naturally, you would expect A to go to B for advice. Instead there is no communication because A doesn’t want to lose their client to B. When A could be growing as an artist, A limits their growth from ego. Creating walls between stylists in their own space will create a lack of fluidity. As a salon, you want to be the go to place for just about anything. If your employees aren’t willing to work with each other, clients will simply go to different places for different services.

When asking myself, as a client (I’m not a stylist), I tried to think of why there is such a divide. Perhaps clients like that one on one attention? I’ve read reviews where they feel like they are only a number to be passed from different stylist in their visit. This might be true for chain businesses, but for more established high end salons this could not be further from the truth. Building a relationship with not only “your” stylist but everyone who keeps it running, is a stronger bond. Clients feel more connected to their salon they frequent if they get the “regular” treatment from everyone. We all like that sense of familiarity, right? Like when you get a cup of coffee and the barista remembers your order. That sort of feeling. Why can’t salons be like that, too?

So sound off here: what do you feel like modern day salons are lacking in? Do you have experience with different formats of salons? I’d love to hear your voices!


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