Marketing Betty Girls

Marketing a Lease-based Salon (Post #8)
March 5, 2012, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Management, marketing, Salon, Television | Tags:

My Dream of Ownership

I dream about starting my own business and I have thought a lot about opening a hair salon.  For one thing, I am interested in the beauty industry.  For another, I want to make money and small businesses in the service industry tend to be more stable.  Because I am not a stylist, if I were to open a salon, I would act as the manager.  I’ve considered both traditional and lease-based salons.  I lean towards lease-based  salon ownership because the start up costs and risk are lower.

Types of salons: In case you don’t know the difference, a traditional salon hires stylists and pays them a base salary and a commission.  They also provide all the products that the stylists use.  With a traditional salon, there is more continuity of service and brand because the stylists are the salon’s employees, motivating them to follow the rules, and the products used and sold are chosen by the salon owner.  The downside of opening a traditional salon is the overhead (i.e. stylist salaries and product inventory) and the risk (i.e. no guaranteed profit).  The upside of a traditional salon is that the owner has unlimited earning potential if they market well and get the right talent in the salon, since the owner makes the majority of the profits from clients.  An owner of a lease-based salon rents a chair/station to a stylist.  The stylist is self-employed and provides their own coloring products and cutting supplies.  The upside for the lease-based salon owner is that they have a guaranteed/stable income if all of their chairs are leased.  Another upside for the lease-based salon is that they don’t have to maintain much inventory since the stylist brings in their own products, unless they want to sell shampoos and styling products at the front desk.  A downside for a lease-based salon owner is that they aren’t going to see increased profits when the stylists are bringing in a lot of business, unless they are successfully selling products up front or raise the rent.  The stylists get all of their clients’ service fees and tips.  Therefore, a lease-based salon is primarily marketing to stylists, since they are the salon’s clients.  However, the salon does have motivation to market to potential clients on behalf of the stylists, so the stylists continue to pay their rent.

My Experience with a Lease-based Salon

Bad Customer Service:  I followed my stylist from a traditional salon to a lease-based salon.  While she is great, I’ve had some disappointing interactions with the employees at the front desk.  I once called and asked if there was anyone good working during my scheduled appointment, who could cut my sister’s hair.  The front desk woman actually said, “No one I’d recommend,” implying that there were stylists there who weren’t very good.  Another time, my stylist asked me to wait in the waiting room with foils in my hair.  I sat in a seat for 10 mins or so before a front desk woman asked me, in a short manner, to move to a leather chair, so I didn’t stain the upholstered chair.  I felt like I was being scolded, which was annoying considering the amount of money I spend there.  My foils were above the back of the chair and well wrapped.  If they were leaking, that would be a problem for my hair.  If she would have asked politely, I wouldn’t have felt insulted.  The front desk also has trouble taking appointments because they have a physical book for each stylist, rather than a computer system.  If you don’t know who you want to see, all hell breaks loose.  Perhaps most of these bad experiences are caused by bad employees, i.e. bad hiring decisions.  However, the owner may need to put focus training/retraining employees regarding customer service and allocate some of their budget to a convenient scheduling system.

Lack of Referral Incentives: I’ve brought the salon a lot of business, referring two people to my stylist, bringing in a wedding party to their nail salon, and referring my husband to another stylist.  All of this amounts to nothing because no one is keeping track or cares how much business I’m bringing in as a whole.  My stylist does give me $10 off when I bring clients to her, though.

Marketing: The salon does have a website that includes all the information one needs to make an appointment, but it would be nice if one could make appointments online.  There is also a link to “specials,” which give incentive for the public to try some of the new stylists.  Therefore, the salon is making some effort to promote the stylists and keep them renting their chairs.  However, that is the only effort I’ve seen.

Lack of Continuity/Brand: I’ve also noticed there isn’t a lot of team spirit or continuity of brand.  The stylists all use their own dyes and supplies, some of which could be lower quality than others, so clients are not getting consistent results.  There are shampoos and products for sale up front, but there are too many brands and the stylists and front desk employees must not have any incentive to sell the products, because no one has ever made a pitch to me.

The Experts

I’ve watched Tabatha’s Salon Takeover on Bravo several times.  Most of her advice is common sense.  For example, a salon should be clean and free of clutter; the front desk should be accommodating; and the stylists should have updated training and good manners.  I looked to her  blog, but didn’t find anything specifically related to lease-based salons.  I found that several people have asked Tabatha if she’d consider visiting one.  One salon owner/manager of a lease-based salon commented on Tabatha’s Blog, indicating that,

“I manage a lease-based salon and find it hard to keep everyone on task with the salon rules as well as creating new ideas to promote the salon. I understand that everyone is their own boss and that you can’t make them do anything… it treads a very fine line. How do you deal with people that rent a station and don’t seem interested in new ideas for the salon or constantly complains about having to attend salon meetings, but still want things done their way. I can’t force them to stay for walk-ins either… howerver, I do let them know that by not sticking around I will not be able to help build a clientel. It is very hard for me to understand and to deal with them sometimes. I am receptionist, cleaner, manager so I wear many hats in the salon. I love my job but find that I run into too many dead ends and frustrations because I am not at all sure on the do’s and donts. Please, please…. any advice would be great.”

Tabatha has not addressed the above comment, but this comment only confirmed to me that lease-based salon ownership is not something to jump into.


Does anyone have any suggestions regarding how a lease-based salon could be successfully managed and marketed?