Five Strategies to Maintain Your Leadership Strength

July 1, 2022 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Let’s face it, it’s hard to be on your leadership game every day.

In fact, it’s shortsighted to even think it’s possible.

The work of leading a salon/spa is a constantly moving target. It’s supposed to be that way. “Current reality” is something you can only partially control. That’s why you often find yourself fighting those inevitable fires. Put one fire out over here and another ignites over there. Such is the work of leadership.

Even in the best-run salons/spas, there are times when the fires seem to ignite faster than you can stomp them out. You feel like Davy Crockett at the Alamo and hopelessly outnumbered.

Leadership battles wear you down. Too much current reality wears you down. ... Read More

It Takes 100%+ Team Effort To Hit Salon/Spa Goal

June 13, 2022 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Nothing saps the energy, moral and confidence of a team then repeatedly falling short of goal.

Salon/spa owners get frustrated and, too often, the blame game and finger pointing spirals an already bad situation deeper into the fiery pit of hell.

An easy solution is to lower goal to make it easier to hit. But lowering goal to match current lackluster effort only reinforces more lackluster effort.

It’s not where the goal bar is set … it’s setting the level of effort to meet or exceed goal.

Service and retail goals are revenue targets that your spending budgets are based on. (Revenue goals and spending budgets are non-negotiable. Got it?) Repeatedly coming up short of goal means fewer dollars to fund operations. It doesn’t take long for cash flow to become tight and eventual financial panic to set in.

At Strategies, we coach the importance of having realistic monthly and annual goals. Monthly service revenue goals are based on the following formula:... Read More

Everyone is Accountable for Salon & Spa Customer Loyalty

May 15, 2022 | 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

Teamwork is “WE” Work

March 5, 2022 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

The challenge: The vast majority of salons and spas set individual weekly/monthly service and retail goals for service providers.

The “company goal” is rarely or never shared, if known at all.

The outcome: When the workday begins, each service provider is focused on his or her individual goal because no company goal exists.

Total salon/spa revenue is simply the total of individual performance.

FACT: It’s hard to achieve a company goal when team members are competing against each other. It sounds like, “That’s my client,” or, “Come back to me.”

A company goal is a “WE” goal.

True teamwork and the ability to focus on salon/spa monthly goals cannot occur if the owner’s and leader’s focus is on setting and tracking individual goals.

Here are six proven strategies to truly make your salon/spa goal everyone’s goal: ... Read More

When Working Solo Isn’t Enough

February 4, 2022 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

The enticement of working solo in a salon/spa booth or suite certainly has its appeal.

For many long-time owners, working solo can be a refuge from the stress of managing employees and finances, to just focus on their clients and do the work they love.

Busy service providers see working solo as a means to control their schedule, work when they want, charge what they want, and hopefully make more money.

The flexibility of working solo has its limitations. That’s why, for a growing number of solo service providers, working solo isn’t enough.

FACT 1: A service provider’s two hands can only generate so much revenue.

FACT 2: Revenue stops when those two hands stop working.

At Strategies, we’ve been receiving a steadily increasing flow of inquiries from solo workers asking for training and coaching on growing a company and a team.

Here’s what they’re telling us: “I’ve been working by myself. I’m ready to hire a team and grow my own company. But I want to do it right.”... Read More

What it Really Takes to Get Your Salon/Spa Team on the Same Page

September 26, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

“We need to get everyone on the same page.”

It’s a good bet that you either said or thought this statement. But the big question is how often do you say it or think it?

What conditions create the urgency to get your team on the same page? Conditions typically center on inconsistency in the execution of tasks, productivity issues, poorly defined expectations, conflicting agendas, indifference, and general performance frustration.

When leaders say, “We need to get everyone on the same page, it’s a leadership issue – not a “they” issue.

Leaders are the authors and keepers of the “page.” That “page” embodies the company’s vision, mission, and game plan. In these days of teamwork, inclusiveness, and a sense of ownership, the team plays a vital role in getting everyone on the same page.

FACT: The ultimate accountability for executing what’s on that page rests squarely on the shoulders of leadership. But as we know, all it takes is a distraction or two to divert a leader’s attention away from what’s important.... Read More

Salon/Spa Front Desk Staff: Don’t Talk “Team” and Treat Them as Something Less

August 16, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

In last week’s blog post, “Why Retailing Must Be a Team Sport,” I listed a bunch of responses to the question, “Who gets the retail commission on walk-in retail sales?”

The one response that smacked me in my “culture reflects leadership” brain was, “Hire a receptionist and pay zero commission.”

First, the days of a “receptionist” disappeared decades ago. Working at the front desk as a guest services provider is an essential and massively demanding position at salons/spas.

Second, and more importantly, the “pay receptionists zero” commission on any retail is nothing short of treating your front desk/guest services team as second-class employees.

FACT 1: A well-trained front desk/guest services employee plays a key role in driving your company’s overall productivity rate, prebook rate, first and existing client retention rate, retail sales, upselling, gift certificate sales — and the coordinated operation of your salon/spa.... Read More

When You Keep a Bad Employee for the Money He/She Brings In

May 30, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

Everything was going great. You couldn’t be happier with this employee.

Maybe you hired this employee right out of school, trained them, and helped them build that “big book.”

Maybe you hired this employee for their experience. And maybe because of the clients that would follow them to your business.

But over time, things changed. Teamwork was replaced with attitude, indifference, and entitlement. They would come in, do their clients, and leave.

At company meetings, they would radiate an unsettling funk that everyone could feel. In the break room, it was non-stop complaining about anything and everything.

You had a few quasi-fierce conversations with them about their attitude to no avail.

So why not fire them? The answer is obvious. They’re busy as hell and bring in a ton of money.

As a salon/spa owner, you can relate to the above scenario and likely have your own “employee from hell” stories.... Read More

Why Do You Pay Commission?

April 11, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

This is not a simple question. Commission has been the defacto pay method at salons/spas forever. For most, “commission” is the way it’s done.

The most common response to the question is, “Commission motivates them to perform and sell.” But does it really?

Commission’s origin is actually in sales-based businesses and industries. If you sell something, you get paid a percentage of that sale. Products, cars, equipment, systems, real estate, services, etc.. The key difference is that the one earning commission doesn’t make or deliver the product or service being sold.

The salon/spa industry is very different because the individual doing the “selling,” or providing the actual service, gets the commission. That seemingly simple difference is far from simple — it’s massively different.

Stylists, estheticians, barbers, massage therapists, nail techs, and other service providers are primarily attracted to our industry for its creative and therapeutic aspects — not because they’re passionate about “selling” or making a commission on what they sell.... Read More

How to Keep Salon/Spa Employees Motivated to Achieve Goals

March 28, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

Goals are essential in business. Achieving those goals requires leadership, information flow, determination, and accountability. More importantly, goals demand teamwork.

There’s something about goals in the salon/spa industry — and working to achieve those goals — that too often creates more frustration than wins.

To illustrate, here’s what an owner posted on Strategies Salon, Spa Business Idea Exchange Facebook discussion group:

Goals — I love them. But not everyone is driven by them. It’s like an elevator trying to motivate employees to hit a goal. I coach. Motivation goes up … then down … and, after another meeting to get their heads back in the game, it goes back up again.

We do bigger staff meetings at the first of every month. A quicker mid-month meeting to keep everyone on track. Then we do one-on-one’s every month plus a 15-minute one-on-one mid-month to check on goal progress.... Read More

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