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Last night I grabbed a drink with one of the stylists I used to work with in the salon and we inevitably got to talking about “the good old days”.  

The days when every stylist, receptionist and assistant on the team walked in with a big smile on their face because they couldn't wait to be at work each day.

The days when we would cry laughing over some random inside joke.  

The days when our clients said they chose our salon because the hair was good, but the energy in the salon was what truly made the experience exceptional.  

The days when we could easily work long days and late nights carelessly because we were madly in love with our jobs and each other.

Looking back we were all really living the dream.  The salon was profitable big time so the owner was happy and we all thought we had the best jobs on the planet so we were all happy.

Those days didn’t last for us forever.  There was a major shift that happened at the salon causing a lot of us to become resentful and unmotivated. Profits fell and the team started to crumble.

Our story isn’t unique and is unfortunately quite common in our industry.  There are a few key components every successful salon has that sets them apart from the rest.  If you want to know what top performing salons are doing today and what the very best stylists are looking for, 

A true tribe, vibe and vision

Ever wonder why salons like Nine Zero One, Butterfly Loft or Habit Salon have stylists begging for a job?  Why they never have to run a Craigslist ad or pray that somebody great calls up begging for a position?

It’s because the owners of those salons had a vision for what they wanted the salon culture to look like.  They knew the target market of, not just the clients they wanted to attract, but the stylists they wanted to attract too.  

These salons are decorated in a way that caters to both target markets and because the decor, clientele and styling team are all in alignment, a tribe a culture is born.

If your salon is just pretty, you’re working to attract just any stylist who wants to come in and do good hair you’ll have a very challenging time attracting a good team.  Whether the salon is booth rental or commission, the vast majority of stylists today want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves so you've got to create that.

A killer reputation and even better online presence

To some degree, every stylist wants that cool factor in the space they work.  

You’ve got to create a space where all stylists are working towards a common goal and vision if you want to create buzz.

That buzz is what clients often crave when they are looking for a new stylist.  Going to the random, pretty salon in town can feel a little scary, but when you book an appointment at the hottest salon in town all of those fears melt away because the buzz calms any nerves almost instantly.

To build your salon reputation your vibe has to be in place first and from there it's about having a killer website, collecting great online reviews and building up your social media presence.

Consistent growth potential

All humans are actually wired to want consistent growth.  Often when we feel bored or unfulfilled it's because life has become stagnant and we start craving change.  Ever lost a great stylist before?  It's likely because you were missing the vibe, tribe or the stylist felt they'd reached the glass ceiling.

There should never be a time where your commission stylists cap out their earnings.  If you can't afford to pay more commissions, you'll need to look in to things like  bonuses or other opportunities to create financial growth.  

But wait, can't that stylist just have a price increase or do more clients to make more money? Sure they can, but it's actually not about the money.  We attribute our compensation package to how we are valued as an employee so that value needs to consistently grow. 

Sometimes increased income comes with increased responsibility and that isn't a bad thing. Your team members want to feel important so allow them to step in to roles that make that possible.

Booth rental stylists want growth potential too.  They want to earn more income, find more flexibility, receive more education opportunities and to continue working in the best possible salon.  This often means remodeling or revamping the salon every few years and continually finding ways to make your booth renters feel valued.

Consistent appreciation

Whenever I ask a happy stylist why they love their salon they always say it's because they know how appreciated they are.  They work for salon owners who write them sweet notes or pick up fun, thoughtful gifts for them on the regular.  These owners are having open conversations with their team asking how they are doing and what needs to happen to make them happier.

Stylists will work really hard to maintain a position in a salon where they feel highly valued and the salon owner will reap great rewards from having a highly motivated, super happy team.

A leader who isn’t motivated by money

Listen, I know that money makes the world go round but there isn't a single hairstylist I know today that is just doing this job to make a shit-ton of money.  

Stylists become really resentful of booth rental salon owners who just show up, collect the rent and then go on with their month.  The commission salon owner who just pushes the team towards bigger financial growth month after month will never retain their tribe.

The best stylists want to work for an inspired and passionate leader who is always looking for what's next.  The owner who connects with their team and asks what they can do to make the working environment better and then applies some of those suggestions.  The owner who supports individual aspirations whatever they may be.

If you own a salon for the financial gain, you became a salon owner for all of the wrong reasons.  The best salon owners are leading their team with heart because they truly love their tribe and want the best for them.  When your tribe is happy, the money will flow naturally.


If you're a salon owner wanting to build and retain an incredible team, take note and shift as needed.  

If you're a stylist looking for your tribe and longterm salon home, be picky and never settle.  These incredible salons do exist and when the vibe is right, the tribe will build and abundance will flow for all.

Comment below and let me know what you look for in a salon today as a stylist.  If you're a salon owner with a loyal and happy tribe, comment below and let us know what your secret sauce is made of :-)



Britt Seva