Monday, November 26, 2007

Another Manic Monday!

It's Monday and that means another Monday meeting! Our topic today - Saturdays off.

When we purchased our salon we inherited a Saturday problem. And instead of fixing it, we made it worse! We had one employee who worked no Saturdays. Why? Because she used to manage the salon and gave herself that benefit. She was no longer manager when we took over, but we did not push the Saturday issue. The salon was just barely profitable and she was the biggest producer. So we looked the other way (fyi - bad idea).

We also inherited a pay plan that allowed staff to earn additional Saturdays off. (All stylists received one Saturday off per month - already pretty generous in this business). So we ended up with one stylist working no Saturdays and two stylists working every other Saturday.

The manager would staff Saturdays as well as she could, given that she had to provide all these days off. That meant we spent several Saturdays under-staffed.

Fast-forward a couple of years and business is booming. We have 10 stylist and 8 chairs. Based on our Saturday history our current goal is to have 7 stylists on Saturday. But when you do the math, it just doesn't work. You start with 10 but one works no Saturdays, so you're down to 9. Two people work every other Saturday so we get one each week but we're missing the other. That leaves us just 7 people to fill the other 6 chairs. Oh, and each of those 7 is supposed to be off one Saturday a month. Well, unless there are 7 Saturdays in a month we either sacrifice our staffing goal or don't give everyone their day off. In the past, it's been the staffing goal that has been sacrificed. We have averaged 6.2 sylists per Saturday over the past several months.

Well those days are over, baby! We will no longer sacrifice company goals and client service. Which brings us to our Monday meeting, talking about the big elephant in the room that everyone keeps ignoring - the disparity in Saturdays off.

We first broached this subject last week in a rather emotional meeting. The stylists with all the Saturdays off were defensive and the other staff were generally too shy or intimidated to tell the others the current way is not fair. I committed to coming up with three options to share with them. We reviewed those options today and I was pleased that more people spoke up. Two of the three options I put before them require our zero-Saturday girl to work at least 26 Saturdays a month. Needless to say, she was not pleased.

Based on the feedback from the meeting I'm making some revisions with the goal of choosing a policy and making it official in next week's meeting. There is a very real possibility that we will lose one or two people over this, but I will not back down on our salon goals, nor will I let two employees hold the salon hostage. It may make the present a little rough, but it will make for a brighter future!

Be strong and don't compromise your values!


  1. I'm hoping you could give me some advice. I'm planning to start a small salon on my own by September of 2008. My hope is to leave lots of room for it to grow.

    For a long time my biggest complaint as an employee has been that while I'm frequently reffered to as a profesional, I have never actually been treated as one.

    I'm sick of salon owners seing my ambitious nature as a threat rather than an asset. Over the course of my career I feel that I have been systmatically held down. Or at the very least, not at all supported. Since you are now a salon owner, I would bet you could identify.

    Reading about team based pay structures has shown me that the commision based pay is the cause of this. Rather than being encouraged towards sucess I have been intentionaly underbooked because of sliding scale systems, under supported because of commision structures that are too generous, or held on an hourly wage that was embarrisingly low waiting to make an impossible commision.

    I've also felt the pressure of working in a cut throat commision environment where it was common for other stylists to directly steal clients right off of your book. I have even see greedy stylists punish "unfaithful" clients by intentionally giving bad advice, right down to recording bogus color formulas in client records.

    More than being a pain in the butt, all of this is so counter productive!

    The team experience seems superior to me, and I would happily work at a salon that offered this open and steady pay structure. And this is coming from a stylist that rarely books under $2000 a week, with a high total this year of $3200. I have the skills and the super faithful following, but no support.

    My clients who consider themselves my peers in other profesions are horrified that I have to pay out of pocket for training. It seems impossible to them that my health insurance is so high, and that I have no retirement. Any less than these basics are out of the question for a "Profesional" in any other feild. Why do we continue to hold ourselves back with the old ways?

    I know there must be others in my area that feel the same way. So I figure why not go ahead and be the one to offer something different.

    Staffing may be harder since the going commision is 40%-60%percent in my area. But the bonus would be only attracting people with vision and good work ethic.

    The principles of team structure would weed out the bad and greedies from the first interview.

    Also, I wouldn't want to start out with more than myself plus maybe two other stylists who I know are above average in talent and work ethic. The rest I want to grow in house.

    The best thing I see in this idea is how the structure embraces individuality and recognizes personal success, but in a way that is fair to everyone. It's easy to see who should make the most money in the salon when total retention is the focus, and raises are given in response to numbers.

    The reason I decided to write to you about this is because I would love to network with somebody who is already using this type of structure, and find out if you think it's possible to build a brand new salon right from opening with it.

    Please feel free to contact me through e-mail:

    Thank you and best of luck in your own business.


  2. Lauren has hit the nail on the head! Commission is counter-productive and rewards behaviors that we do not want repeated, while providing no reward for behaviors we do want repeated.

    It's a great idea to start a new salon on Team Based Pay. You will bring up your team members in the team culture and not have to try to "reprogram" them. You mention that you want to start with a couple of experienced stylists. You will definately want to spend a lot of time talking about the culture you want in your salon to make sure you get the right fit.

    One challenge of starting a TBP salon is that you are committing to pay that hourly wage, whether or not you are busy, so planning and understanding your cash flow is imperative! I will contact you via email so we can discuss more. For anyone considering opening a salon, I highly recommend a class put on by Strategies ( called the Salon Incubator. It's a 4 day class that is a great introduction to cash flow planning, team-based pay and much, much more. I am not affiliated with Strategies but I am an Incubator graduate and found it invaluable. For information on the class call Lisa Louison at Strategies (800-417-4848).