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

How to Keep Your Passion for Business Burning Bright

June 13, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Owning a salon/spa business can be an emotional roller-coaster ride with plenty of incredible highs…and crushing lows.

It’s a service business with non-stop interaction with the clients… …some that can be very demanding.

Leading and managing stylists, estheticians, massage therapists, nail techs, assistants and guest services staff can often feel like herding cats. Just when you think everyone is heading in the right direction … they scatter.

Delivering the best customer experiences and services requires constant training and continuous refinement of your operating systems.

And then there are the financial demands of the business to drive revenues and manage expenses:... Read More

10 Ways Every Salon/Spa Employee Can Start Stepping Up

May 2, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

You see a client in the retail area that needs help

…but “it’s not my job to help.”

The lone guest-services staff is slammed with the phone ringing, clients needing to checkout and clients waiting to check in. You know how to check clients in … but you walk away.

There’s a pile of dirty towels that need to get washed … but “someone else will do it.”

You use a coffee mug, leave it in the sink and walk away … when the dish soap and sponge are right there. You didn’t have 15 seconds to clean your own coffee mug? Who was going to clean that for you? Your mom?

The trash can is visibly full … but you jam your handful of trash in and walk away. How much effort does it take to empty a trash can?... Read More

Why Salon/Spa Owners Wait Too Long to Take Action

April 25, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Why Salon/Spa Owners Wait Too Long to Take Action

I was recently honored to be the opening keynote speaker at the two-day Art of Business seminar in Philadelphia.

One of the benefits of being the opening speaker is that attendees get to hear my content and have the rest of the event to discuss their challenges with me. My keynote was on “Creating Profit.”

Rather than putting 450 people to sleep with the mechanics of financial statements, I focused on the thinking, behavior and decision-making that create profit.

  • I addressed the belief that getting busier and driving top-line revenue is no guarantee that profit will occur.
  • I addressed how to accurately forecast monthly revenue and expense budgets.
  • I addressed the monumental task of controlling payroll costs.
  • I drove home how sloppy spending decisions chew away at profit … and add debt.
  • I emphasized the need for building cash reserves.

After my keynote, I spent the remainder of the seminar at a table talking to owners and answering questions. Keynotes are fun, but one-on-one conversations bring out the real issues.... Read More

Why Salon & Spa Owners Should Not Fear Change

March 7, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments


Fear sucks.

Fear is debilitating.

Fear magnifies stress.

Fear kills momentum.

Fear typically leads to more bad decisions or no decision at all.

Fear, and nothing else, is the final hurdle between you and taking that first positive step toward change.

FACT: Fear of change and inaction will always lead to the very outcomes you fear most … or worse.

So what do salon/spa owners fear most about implementing change? They fear that productive service providers will quit and take their clients with them. In essence, they fear that implementing change could potentially result in a significant financial setback.... Read More

Why Salon & Spa Owners Must Be Relentlessly Persistent

February 8, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Can you feel the burn?

Leading a salon or spa business to extraordinary success is no different than working out.

If you have not done it in a while, that first effort is going to hurt. But after a couple of workouts, your body adapts to the effort and you push harder.

You’ve gotta push hard, recover and push hard again.

Getting to that elusive next level is the process of persistently applying positive stress in ways that inspire your team to adapt to higher and more refined levels of performance. If you’re afraid to apply positive stress for fear of push back from staff – you, your business and your staff are stuck.

  • Applying positive stress only works when the goal is worthy of the extra effort. When a leader’s relentless persistence detaches from the goal … it devolves into just doing the work.

A leader is like a throttle and your team is the engine. The leader instinctively knows how hard to push the engine based on current conditions. Just like an engine needs a throttle … a team needs its leader to set the pace and direction.... Read More

A Salon Owner Story: Never Give Up

February 1, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments


Lisa Cochran is a true Southern original who tells it like it is…

She speaks from her heart and helps others find the courage they lost on their entrepreneurial journey.

About ten years ago, Lisa showed up at a Strategies Incubator Seminar stressed, burnt out and on the verge of losing everything. The second salon she opened turned into a disaster.

Things got ugly and Lisa was left with the pile of debt, unpaid payroll taxes, landlords and angry creditors.

Like many Incubator attendees before her, Lisa learned the skills and disciplines of…... Read More

Ten Salon and Spa Leadership Resolutions for 2016

December 28, 2015 | By Neil Ducoff | 4 Comments

As I processed my thoughts for writing this final Monday Morning Wake-Up of 2015, I had to remind myself that this also wraps up eight full years of sharing my No-Compromise Leadership thoughts with you. That’s over 400 continuous Monday mornings that we’ve shared. And if you’ve been a follower of mine from the beginning of Strategies, we need to add the 14 years and 168 issues of Strategies Magazine we published from January 1994 until December 2007. Add all the written content to my books, Strategies business courses, coaching and our annual Team-Based Pay Conference … and you’ve got 22 years of the best salon/spa business and leadership content in the industry.

The best way to bid farewell to 2015 is to offer you my TOP TEN New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. I wrote this list for the salon/spa owners and entrepreneurs that were bold enough … and crazy enough … to put everything on the line for their vision of building a business.... Read More


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