The Motivation Challenge

Lisa Starr
How to motivate your salon staff and spa staff to bring in more revenue

Do your salon revenues look the same every month-flat? Clearly, you can’t cut all of your clients yourself, so it’s probably occurred to you that you need a motivated team to help your business achieve steady growth.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a new problem. Many salon owners face this challenge. You’ve finally got the salon of your dreams open, hired your staff, and one year in, business – and profit -- feels flat. You review your financial results each month and nothing really changes -- average ticket, retail ratios, and total revenue are all steady. And that’s great! Don’t get me wrong. Steady is good. But steady growth is even better.

If you’re like most salon owners, you probably look around at your team and ask yourself, why aren’t they more enthusiastic? Why don’t they seem to be more interested in their work? Put bluntly – why don’t they try harder? After all, that’s what you would do and are doing. But that’s the thing. They’re not you and, frankly, it’s not their business. It’s yours. No big surprise there. The truth is they’re never going to think and care about your business the way you do. That’s why you’re the owner and they’re the employees. You may have an ambitious stylist who wants to learn and grow and open their own salon one day, but they’re usually not typical.

So how do you inspire and motivate your team to want to help you make your salon more successful? Admittedly, keeping stylists motivated to come in every day and do their best work, try for more, and keep on asking for the sale is a continual challenge. 

And you might be surprised to learn that it’s not about the money. The first mistake salon owners often make is to think that money is the answer to motivation. While I think it’s essential to tie compensation plans into desired behaviors, money doesn’t provide motivation over the long term. You can’t ignore it, but it doesn’t solve the problem on its own. Just paying someone more is a short-term solution.

As is often the case, the right answer is hiring the right kinds of people, providing the right environment, and creating a culture of accomplishment and success. Easier said than done, of course. But the point is there’s more than one way to skin this cat. Let’s look at a few:

•    Hiring – Does your selection process furnish you with individuals who have the right combination of ambition and desire to grow? It’s okay to have a couple of people who get to a certain pricing/income level and become content, but you can’t have a salon full of them.
•    Team – Once someone is hired, how are they indoctrinated into your team? Do you assign a buddy or mentor for the first month or two? And do you protect your team balance, at all costs, by ensuring that only those who fit the culture can remain in your employ?
•    Culture – The environment in your salon should be one that supports and celebrates growth, learning, education, trying new things -- even going out on a limb sometimes. Try to find staff members who attend trade shows, read trade magazines, work extra hard to earn education stipends or tickets to advanced training.
•    Rewards – Is it clear that when your salon staff performs as expected, they will be rewarded? And remember, this is not just about money. Recognition is worth much more to them. Being acknowledged as an employee of the month, rising star, monthly high producer, or all-round team player carries a lot of weight, too. 

Creating this type of environment requires a little more effort from the owner, of course. But putting some time and energy into planning a quarterly education calendar, monthly staff meetings, and regular recognition will pay great dividends for your business in the long run.

For more inspiration, read Stylist Antony Whitaker’s terrific blog post from Salon Today on this topic, just google “employee motivation” and read the results for five minutes each day. In one week you can come up with a new approach; one that will lead you beyond flat-line performance, to a steady upward climb.

About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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