Is Your Salon/Spa Growing, Coasting, or Shrinking?

May 9, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Most certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic tested the resolve of
salon/spa owners at levels never seen before. But in many ways, that’s what succeeding in business is — a test of your resolve.

But even in the best of times, owning and leading a salon/spa
business is no walk in the park. There are good times, tough times, and, most certainly, times when your business can just feel stuck.

Once-in-a-century “shared” experience …

The pandemic forced all owners to experience a seriously tough, high-stress time, together. Social media and Zoom quickly became an owner’s lifeline for sharing ideas, learning, and, most of all, camaraderie.

And then there’s going it alone …

Pandemic aside, how a salon/spa business succeeds, struggles, or fails, is its unique journey. Growth is exhilarating. Coasting is frustrating. Shrinking is excruciating.

The arrival of spring means the harsh winter is behind us. Days are warmer. The smell of freshly cut grass is in the air. Flowers are blooming. New leaves fill the trees.... Read More

How to Recruit Salon/Spa Employees in the Post Pandemic

May 2, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 4 Comments

From the day I entered the professional salon/spa industry in 1970, recruiting new and experienced employees has been a serious challenge.

Add pandemic-related disruptions into the mix, and the process of recruiting new employees has gotten more and more difficult.

Then, there’s the industry’s long history of high employee turnover. The more turnover you have, the more pressure on your recruiting efforts — especially in today’s tight labor market.

Many owners blame turnover and recruitment challenges on the growth of booth rental and suites — but even businesses that cater to independents are having difficulty renting/leasing space.

FACT: You can’t grow a service business if you can’t recruit new

Yes, the pandemic seriously rattled the economy and our industry. In the process, it proved that the days of “business as usual” are long gone.

So, what’s a salon/spa owner to do when want ads, online recruitment sites, and visits to schools, barely get a trickle of applicants — or no applicants at all?... Read More

Dare to Dream — And Dream BIG

April 4, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 4 Comments

Without question, leading your salon/spa through the pandemic tested your tenacity and leadership skills.

We all had to overcome one obstacle after another until some semblance of normalcy and stability was achieved.

In tough times, your focus and energy are on making it through today, tomorrow, and next week. Future dreams and aspirations have to wait. It’s called “survival mode” for a reason.

FACT: Survival mode can be a trap. If you stay in it too long you can get stuck in survival mode.

The pandemic turned “business as usual” upside down. Many salons and spas closed their doors. But the majority survived.

From the beginning of the pandemic, my message to owners was simple.

  • Salons and spas that entered the pandemic with tight systems,
    disciplined cultures, and cash reserves, will make it through relatively unscathed.
  • Salons and spas that were struggling culturally and financially before the pandemic, may not survive.

Today, there are signs the worst of the pandemic is behind us. So much so, that it’s time to start dreaming again — and dream BIG.... Read More

A Time for Gratitude

December 22, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 6 Comments

At Strategies, we’ve been coaching and training owners of salons, spas, medspas, barbershops, and every other industry related business for over 26 years.

As coaches, we spend our days celebrating your successes and helping you overcome challenges. We love to inspire you and we deliver tough love when situations dictate.

And like you, I am the owner of an employee-based service business. The only difference is that you provide hair, skin, nail and massage services. We deliver leadership and best business practices through coaching and training.

You see, building a successful service business, beauty or business coaching, requires passionate and dedicated people.

Sure, you can go it alone, but there’s a difference between building a “private practice” and something capable of growing beyond your wildest dreams.

Our employees bring life and meaning to our vision. In return for their hard work, we provide growth opportunities in many forms.... Read More

Building Predictability Into Your Salon or Spa

October 29, 2018 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Definition of “Predictability”: The consistent repetition of a state, course of action, behavior, or the like, making it possible to know in advance what to expect.

Having predictability in your salon/spa business is like having your very own crystal ball into the near future.

  • You would know that monthly service and retail goals would be achieved.
  • You would be confident that Net Profit and your Profit & Loss Statement would put a smile on your face.
  • You would know that new hires would be skill certified on schedule.
  • You would know that first-time and existing client retention rates would reflect your culture’s commitment to excellence.

All in all, you would enjoy that sense of wellbeing knowing that your salon/spa would perform consistently well.... Read More

Compensation Laws Forcing Change on Salon & Spa Compensation

May 14, 2018 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

California is leading the charge on protecting employee wage rights.

Why should payroll tax laws in California matter to you? Simple, it’s more important than ever for all salon/spa owners to understand and comply with state and federal laws — especially when it comes to classifying workers who are independent contractors.

DISCLAIMER: We can’t decipher the law for you. We’re not authorized legal representatives. However, we’ve done our best to break down a complex topic to give you a better understanding of how it may affect you and our company. Please consult your legal advisor.

What’s happening in California:

In January 2016, salons and spas in California were wrestling with Bill 1513 that made the traditional commission model no longer compliant in California.

As per the Labor Code, compensation for salon/spa services was technically labeled as “piece-rate” work, and not commission.... Read More

Why BIG Change in Salons & Spas is So Tough – And What to Do About It

February 26, 2018 | By Neil Ducoff | 6 Comments

In life and in business, change is a constant. Even though most seem to understand that simple fact, resistance to change is about as constant as change itself.

  • Change is about innovating and evolving to get to a better place.
  • Resisting change is about being stuck and holding on to status quo.

Change can be incremental to fine-tune what is already working. Examples would be increasing pre-book rates, completing services within time standards and achieving consistent retail recommendations.

Although incremental change is about doing what you do better, it can often encounter stiff resistance and employee indifference. Change is almost always accompanied by frustration.

BIG change is about rethinking your company’s approach to doing business. At this level of change, the prime objective is “out with the old” and “in with the new.”

It’s the “in with the new” that challenges long-standing work habits, and throws “this is the way it’s always been done” thinking out the window.... Read More

Working Owners: Why You Must Work More ON than In Your Salon/Spa

September 19, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Why You Must Work More "ON" than "In" Your Salon/Spa

As a working owner, when you say, “I love doing [hair/skin/nails/massage]” … it is a true expression of your passion and commitment for the technical and creative work that got you into business.

Your work defines and fulfills you. And it should.

But the day you become a salon/spa owner … what defines you changes. Like it or not, your focus, determination, responsibilities and accountabilities are forever changed.

  • It’s no longer about what your hands can create … it’s about what you can envision, execute, organize, systematize, innovate and inspire.
  • More than anything, it’s about your ability to be a leader.

Doing great work is a very different career path than leading great work. Doing great work is a personal expression of your creative and technical talent.... Read More

Success, Paying Attention and Avoiding the Business Rollercoaster

September 5, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

The dreaded rollercoaster ride is almost always traceable to owners that dialed back how intently they payed attention to their salon/spa business.

The salon/spa business has a funny way of sneaking up behind you and smacking you in the head. Almost always, owners get smacked because they weren’t paying attention to what is going on around them … and ahead of them.

  • All it takes is a little staff turnover, some overspending, a system breakdown, or a momentary lack of focus to push your business off course.

Success has a way of making owners feel safe, comfortable and content. They dial back their state of awareness and connectedness to the business. The days of hard work and relentlessly pushing forward fade away.

The ride to the top of the success rollercoaster took enormous effort and tenacity. When you get distracted and disconnected, the ride down can be an out-of-control, white-knuckle, thrill ride into cultural, operational and financial issues.... Read More

Everyone is Accountable for Salon & Spa Customer Loyalty

June 20, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Everyone is accountable for customer loyalty.



Yes, customer loyalty begins with leadership and that’s where the problem can begin.

Leaders are notorious for going on those infamous rampages when a customer quits the salon/spa or when customer retention rates go critical. The no-compromise question to ask is, “Where is the accountability and how far down in the salon/spa does that accountability go?” Playing the blame game is a compromise and totally unacceptable.

The no-compromise leader places accountability for customer loyalty in the hands of every company employee.

It cannot be any other way.

For this level of accountability to exist, employees need to understand just how accountable they are. What I’m talking about here is a team-based business culture.

In a team-based business culture, ALL employees feel the pain of a lost customer. They feel the pain when a customer has a problem that could have been avoided.... Read More

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