Motivating Salon Owners

When it comes to motivation in the salon it is generally the owner who is trying to motivation their staff. This will come in the form of motivating them to sell more retail, upsell on services, sell more of a particular type of service or retail, rebook their clients next appointment, follow up with clients and everything in between.

A lot of time and effort will go into monitoring staff performance, from using daily tracking sheets to more sophisticated business intelligence processes in order that staff appraisals can be done. Salon owners mentor hair stylists by setting targets for them, monitoring key performance indicators, sending them on training and if necessary reprimanding them so that the staff member can perform well.

The question that I’m asking, however, is are you motivated as a salon owner? What are the key performance indicators that an owner can be measured by? Who mentors the salon owner?

Are you treading water?

As a business owner one of your primary goals is to make a profit and to grow your investment, ie your business. Drifting along from month to month is not really an option.

Lets use an example to illustrate this point. If you went to a stock broker and gave them a million Rand and asked them to invest your money for you, the expectation would be that the money would be invested strategically in order that over time a million Rand could become much more than a million Rand.

If after 10 years they gave you a million Rand back you may be happy that at least they did not lose it all but at the same time your million Rand would have devalued and you will not be able to buy what you were able to 10 years ago with the same amount of money. Therefore, even though at first appearance it may seem that your investment had remained unchanged in value, in reality you have lost value. You will have inflation to thank for that.

In the same way your salon cannot simply produce the same profit month after month and year after year. If it does then you will slowly get poorer and poorer over time as the cost of living and doing business slowly increase around you.

The battle of the bulge

As a hockey player who played club hockey in my early twenties I was able to observe the younger men who were generally a lot leaner than some of the older men. However, I must say that I don’t recall seeing many overweight men on the hockey field. The older men were not necessarily sporting six packs but they had seemed to have slowed the bulge, which tends to affect men who are less active. It was still happening but at a slower rate. However, there were a few older guys who used to hit the gym regularly and seemed to be in better shape than most of the younger guys. These guys were not only slowing the bulge they were beating it.

So what does this have to do with a salon? Well in much the same way as the bulge of the tummy seems to over time get the better of men who are not motivated to exercise and eat well, so it is with the results of not actively attempting to grow your business and stay ahead of inflation. Unless you are motivated to grow then you will not necessarily take the actions required in order to achieve this growth.

Why is it so difficult?

I think that the reason it is often so difficult for salon owners to deliberately attempt to grow their businesses is because they see themselves first and foremost as hair stylists rather than business people. For owners in this category it is far easier to remain in the comfort zone of cutting hair and just hope that everything works out ok. They don’t believe that they are capable of achieving the positive results they desire.

When you talk to them salon owners in this situation generally will acknowledge that business matters or not a strength of theirs and that they would like to be better at running their business and growing it but they don’t feel equipped to and their feelings of inadequacy cause them to either do nothing, or hire people to do it on their behalf so that they can remain in their own comfort zone. In these situations the only key indicator they will have to assess the health of their business is the balance of their bank account and while cash flow is critical it is does not give you great insight into where your business is going and whether you will have a healthy bank balance in 6 or 12 months time.

Where to start?

If you want to determine if your business is growing or not you need to start by tracking performance and doing this consistently over time. The first thing you need is a good analysis of your business at the present time so that you can set targets and monitor if you are achieving them. Just as it would be with your bank balance, if you want to know if it has grown you need to know what it was previously so that you can compare.

Keep it very simple to start, don’t get too complicated else you won’t sustain it. Just like your new years resolution to get to gym fourteen times a week ends up with you going twice in the first week and then once every six months thereafter so it is with your business. Get the bare minimum into place, and then anything above this is bonus. Just keep it consistent though!

Start setting targets for yourself. Therefore if you currently have a client database of 5000 then aim to have a client database of 6000 within 6 months.

If your turnover is currently R300 000 per month, aim to have it at R315000 in 12 months.

If your client average spend is R400 per docket then aim to have it at R425 in 12 months.

Once you have set yourself realistic goals you need to start the process of achieving them. To stick with the gym analogy this may mean that you need a personal trainer. Whether it be one of your peers, someone who is successfully implementing growth in their salons (or other type of business) or an outside consultant who is able to hold you accountable and keep you focused on your goals.

You will need to keep tracking your performance to see if you are getting closer to achieving your goals. In much the same way as you would have an assessment at gym to see if you are losing weight and getting into shape.

The Secret Ingredient

All of the above is dependent on the motivation levels of you as the owner. If you don’t show up to the gym then your personal trainer can’t really help you. You need to take the first step, which is usually the hardest and take responsibility for the growth of your salon. You’ll find that as you break down the problem into small and realistic goals then it will become a much less intimidating process.


I am well aware that for many business owners just being able to stay in business is a major achievement, even though they are either not as profitable as previously or have achieved no profit growth over time. This is especially true when looking back over the past few years when a lot of pressure has been put on businesses in general. However, what I am referring to is what is within your control and you need to do everything within your control to ensure the growth of your business.