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10 Proven Tips for the First-time Salon Manager

Managing a business in the beauty service industry is quite a challenge. Clients are hard to impress, managing talented beauty artists is demanding, and then there is inventory and finances to worry about. But then if you are managing a salon business, two things are evident: You are either a first-time salon owner, which is a great achievement, or you are just one step away from becoming one. That fact alone should ignite the hope and ambition needed for successful salon business management. Hold onto that hope and ambition on one hand and then, on the other hand, implement these 10 proven tips for first-time salon managers:

1.      Have a plan

A lot of things can go wrong for a first-time salon manager. You will make many rookie mistakes too and encounter challenges that will make your head spin. But even with that, you will have a smoother ride if you have a detailed plan of action with clearly defined objectives right from the onset. Your plan should answer questions such as:

  • Which disciplinary actions will you be taking against rogue employees?
  • How will you be motivating your employees?
  • How will you keep your salon’s overhead costs down?
  • How much investment will you pump into your retail section?
  • What about marketing: Which special techniques will you deploy in order to move and stay ahead of the competition?
  • How hands-on will you be as a manager on the one hand and a hair/beauty artist on the other hand?
  • How will you maximize your salon’s revenue?
  • What are your business expectations both in the short run and the long run?

Pro tip: Within the first month as a new manager, observe more and go slow on making abrupt changes. Change can be scary, after all. Use that time to write your plan of action in detail based on what you see and hear. Get a blueprint of your cause of action. That way, you will have it easier when you eventually start implementing your new ideas.

2.      Constantly improve your industry knowledge

As much as you have a team of experts helping you actualize your plan, you cannot bank on them to carry your vision to fruition. Employees come and go- some join your competitors and others establish their own beauty businesses. You must, therefore, step up as the vision carrier and take deliberate steps to be better than everyone else in the team. Being better than everyone else doesn’t mean hiring lesser-talented employees. It means hiring the best talents in the labor market and then working harder than them all.

To constantly improve yourself:

  • Have a high affection for market research. Research what other salon managers do, what beauty trends are relevant to your business model, and management tips for new salon managers (like you are doing right now).
  • Whether you have worked in the beauty industry before or you are a new entrant, it’s a great idea to equip yourself with as many hairstyling, nail, and skincare skills as possible. Go back to beauty school if it comes down to that.
  • Regularly learn new ideas on how to creatively solve problems.
  • Connect and network with other salon managers. Some of your peers will share with you the important lessons they learned on the job and the pitfalls to avoid as a first-time salon manager.

3.      Automate whenever possible

Salon business management comes with too many responsibilities. You cannot handle them all effectively. That is why this should be straightforward: Invest in salon software within the first days as a new business manager. The software will help you cover the bases that a mortal being like you would struggle to cover. It will enable you to automate appointment booking, confirmations, and reminders. It will enable your salon to run at peak efficiency through automated inventory, payroll, POS, and client data management. What’s more, your software can help you assign tasks, track employee performance, and monitor their schedules from anywhere on the planet. In a nutshell, your software will help you do more in less time.

4.      Turn your team into a family

Your stylists are essential to the success of your business. You should treat them like family and make your salon feel like home for them. That is how you will keep your team optimally happy, motivated, and productive. Teams that operate as a family are always easier to manage and motivate.

How do you create a family in the workplace?

Start by creating a hiring system that gets competent employees. Ensure that the system emphasizes not only impeccable hair and/or beauty skills but also the ability of a candidate to work in a team and deal with high-demanding, difficult customers.

With a competent team, develop ways of motivating them to give their all in rolling out your business plan and actualizing your vision. Also, motivate them to collaborate with one another for added efficiency. Most importantly, always keep employees happy by offering competitive wages, bonuses, continuous professional training, team-building activities, and other incentives.

Lastly, be concerned for their personal lives and prioritize their future career goals. Help them achieve more personal and career goals than they actually bargained for. This will encourage everyone to push their limits a little further for the benefit of your salon- their family.

5.      Be the leader!

Do what all great team leaders do.

  •  Lead from the frontline. Be a part of the team- answer calls, wash towels, and service customers, etc. on a routine basis. That will help you experience firsthand what’s working and what needs to be changed or improved. Being willing to pitch in is also a good way of showing that you have everyone’s back.
  •  Don’t shy away or feel uncomfortable criticizing your staff. Provide honest feedback no matter how unsettling it could be for either of the involved parties.
  •  Provide your team members with avenues for giving you tough feedback. Be courageous enough to take on negative criticism and improve where possible.
  •  Always bring new, better ideas to your staff meetings. You can get new ideas from your interactions with clients, other managers, and industry leaders. Let your subordinates feed on your expertise and wisdom.
  •  Learn how to manage different personalities, big egos included.
  •  Train yourself to be an unbiased arbiter whenever conflicts arise in the salon.
  •  Be a good communicator. Make sure to touch base with each one of your staff members a few times every workday.
  •  Make sure that everyone feels confident and comfortable coming to you with their personal problems.

6.      Focus on providing exclusive services

Exclusive services will make your clients feel special- like they belong to an elite, exclusive class. Satisfied clients are loyal and the best brand ambassadors for your salon. Some strategies you can use to create this exclusive feeling include:

  • Creating a calming and rejuvenating ambiance in your salon. Ensure that the music you play, your interior décor, the magazines you buy, and the conversations your stylists encourage are all tailored towards creating an exclusive feeling.
  • Keep your salon up-to-date with new technologies, beauty trends & regimens, skincare routines, and hairstyling techniques.
  • Be innovative and creative enough to develop your unique proprietary styles. It helps to be a trendsetter in the industry.
  • Use an exclusive and highly effective line of hair, skincare, and beauty products.
  • Maintain top-level hygiene and cleanliness standards. Motivate your staff members to observe proper personal hygiene and always dress well.

7.      Be creative with your marketing

For most small businesses such as salons, the manager is usually the head of marketing. You, therefore, need to be ready to serve as a marketing executive. Train yourself on the basics of SEO, social media marketing, referral marketing, offline marketing, and loyalty programs. Ensure that you are so good at marketing that you can invent new marketing hacks and deploy them against your competitors.

8.      Never delegate matters of finance

Keep a close eye on the budget, overhead costs, tax obligations, inventory records, invoices, insurance fees, rent, cash flow, and overall business revenue. Even though it is advisable to hire a financial expert, it is not advisable to be hands-off when it comes to money matters. Being hands-on will help you prevent costly financial mistake, seal embezzlement loopholes, and cut unnecessary expenditure. And because you already have salon software, you can rely on the software to generate accurate financial reports for a layman like you to understand.

9.      Always encourage customer complaints and reviews

Customer complaints will give you invaluable insights into where your business stands in the market. Clients will tell you where you need to improve, what makes you different, and why other potential clients pick your competitors over your salon.

You can use your software to create simple client surveys and log the data collected into a secure, easily-accessible system.

10.  Be a master of time management

Salon managers have the longest to-do lists and the shortest work days in the world. You will never have enough time to complete your daily tasks. That is why you should train yourself in the art of time management. Among other ways you can improve your time management abilities:

  • Use salon software to automate repetitive and tedious salon management tasks such as inventory management and appointment booking.
  • Train your stylists to offer short but effective consultations. Ensure that everyone in your team is a good communicator, polite, and informative in order to minimize time-consuming conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Know when, what, and how to delegate.
  • Learn the art of prioritization. Write down tasks in their order of priority.


Managing a hair salon business as its owner provides you with a much higher profitability potential. If you were hired to manage someone else’s business, you now have a great platform for launching your own salon someday. So, work hard, be creative, have a positive mind, and be determined to thrive in the industry. Follow the 10 tips to the letter and success will be yours to lose.


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