Salon/Spa Walkouts: Devastation & Rebuilding

December 7, 2015 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

For a salon/spa, walkouts are the ultimate “destroy from within” scenario. What could be worse than once trusted employees clandestinely plotting to inflict severe damage on your business? What could be worse than having years of training and developing staff, loyal clients – and cash flow – relocate up the street?

In the walkout aftermath, owners are left feeling violated, scared and overwhelmed by the task of rebuilding. The stress and spinning scenarios of surviving a walkout can wreak havoc on an owner’s confidence and determination to rebuild. What will clients think when they return to a near empty business? Will you be able to meet payroll? How will the bills and rent get paid? Will you have to stop taking your paycheck? Will you ever be able to trust employees again? Many begin to question if business ownership is worth all the stress and hard work.

FACT: Walkouts happen for many reasons. Most often, the seeds of a walkout are unknowingly planted by the very owners and leaders that feel so victimized in the aftermath. Because of their labor intensive nature, a salon/spa is a leadership intensive business. Dialing back on any aspect of leadership, systems, accountability, employee development, appreciation and culture building assures the planting of walkout seeds.

Here are five tips on salon/spa walkouts, what feeds them and how to overcome the aftermath:

  1. When owners quit first: Ownership is not all blue skies and popcorn clouds. The constant need to oversee staff, deal with turnover, recruit and train new staff, manage cash flow, maintain the facility, stay on top of marketing and advertising … and all the other responsibilities that fill an owner’s plate is enough to wear anyone down. It’s not unusual for owners to get stuck in a funk and have those “is all this hard work worth it?” thoughts. DANGER SIGN: When you start checking out and view your business as a burden rather than a unique and amazing opportunity … you are no longer the leader that people want to believe in, trust and deliver their best work for.
  2. When expectations replace appreciation: What made you think business ownership is easy? Where was it ever written that employees will be happy and productive without leadership engagement? Nothing about owning a business is easy. If you don’t work at it and stay on top of it … your business will beat you down. And when it does, resentment settles in, employees become “workers” and you become the task master that pushes for more output. For you and your employees, work becomes work. Work becomes “you’re not doing your numbers.” DANGER SIGN: When expectations replace appreciation, the culture of the salon or spa is consumed by the dark side. Nothing is ever good enough. Appreciation is such a simple and empowering gift that feeds a person’s and a team’s passion to deliver their best. It invigorates determination. It creates the bonds that elevates teamwork and unity. What human being would ever want a career in a sweat shop? Why would a group of employees choose to orchestrate a walkout in a culture where appreciation is a core value?
  3. When owners are too busy chopping wood: Owners that work full-time behind the chair or in a treatment room are, in my opinion, borderline absentee owners. They are the equivalent of a captain working in the engine room rather than on the bridge guiding the direction and wellbeing of the ship. DANGER SIGN: If the financial health of your salon/spa is dependent on your hands generating revenue full time, you need to rethink your role and your business model. Furthermore, if your personal income working full time servicing clients is a fraction of what it should be, the revenue you’re generating is covering other costs that are out of control … most likely payroll. As long as you’re allocating sufficient time to leading your business, there’s nothing wrong working on a clients a few days a week. This describes you … it’s time to get into coaching.
  4. When fear prevents action: When you “check out” or avoid making tough decisions because you fear the possible outcomes … you and your business is stuck in a holding pattern. Employees can see and fell the business coasting which means growth and opportunity are stuck in a holding pattern too. DANGER SIGN: The longer you procrastinate on decisions of any magnitude, you are feeding the conditions that lead to turnover and walkouts. It’s time to step up and be the leader your business requires you to be. No compromise.
  5. Time to rediscover your company: Life and distractions can get in the way. Too much emotional energy can go to “grass is greener” escape fantasies rather than into the doing the work of leadership, growing people, growing a business, polishing up and sharing the vision … and working to create wins rather than accepting defeats. DANGER SIGN: In just about every case, the best opportunity is the one an owner is trying to avoid and escape from. When you recognize that you’re digging a deeper hole when you should be gaining ground, you must recognize and respond to the wake-up call and snap out of it. Yes, I recommend coaching with a tough coach, not because I’m trying to sell something … but because you need a voice that capable of telling you what you need to hear, show you the path to daylight and hold you accountable. You can sign up for a free call with a Strategies Coach here.

Walkouts are the ugliest part of our very beautiful industry. Walkouts demonstrate just how intentionally deceitful, undermining and destructive employees can be. But walkouts occur for the reasons cited in this MMWU. Owners may feel like the victim, but owners also play an active role in setting themselves for these disasters that could have been avoided.

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Categories: Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up , No-Compromise Leadership , Staff Retention

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  1. Well said Neil–one of your best. Because of changes in the American family, less and less people have been raised to take responsibility for their actions. Owners do not have control of team member’s needs, wants or actions. All you can do as an owner is set up the environment and organization where people can grow, prosper, feel safe and feel appreciated. If done with integrity and with consistency, the vast majority of the team will see no reason to look elsewhere.

  2. Hi Bob,
    Too many owners see themselves as victims in a walkout. What they don’t see is the role they play in setting the stage for a walkout to occur. Nothing about a salon/spa is “set it and forget”. Labor intensive businesses require constant leadership and culture maintenance.

    Always appreciate your insights.



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