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

Is Your Salon/Spa Business Flawed By Design?

February 28, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

A salon/spa business begins with an idea that quickly evolves into a vision with amazing opportunities.

Once that entrepreneurial seizure grabs hold, you’re willing to “bet the ranch” on building your vision.

If you were an experienced service provider at another salon/spa, it’s likely that part of your plan involved clients following you to your new business.

You hire some service providers, some with followings, and pay them some form of a commission (straight, sliding scale, level pricing, product charges, etc). Why? Because that’s the way it’s always been done.

From the day you open the doors, the prime objective is to “build” your service providers. The reasoning is simple. The faster you build “them” … the faster your company grows.

The energy of a newly opened salon/spa is exciting and empowering. Sustaining that energy is the biggest challenge — especially for owners that are more skilled at doing services than leading a business.... Read More

Why “Who Gets the Credit” Hurts Your Salon/Spa Culture

February 21, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

The salon/spa industry’s longstanding approach to compensation is built on one seriously simple method: If a service provider delivers a service, or sells a product, he or she gets a piece.

In order to get that “piece,” the salon/spa must determine “who gets the credit” for the service or product sale.

Here are the four most common “who gets the credit” challenges:

  1. One or more service providers work on one client and each expects to get “a piece” of the ticket.
  2. A front desk/guest services employee sells a retail item to client at checkout. The service provider has a fit because he/she didn’t get the credit.
  3. Front desk/guest services employees disengage from closing or selling retail because the credit and commission automatically goes to the service provider.
  4. A service provider says, “I’m not doing [insert service/product sale] unless I get a piece.”

These four challenges may seem extremely basic, but they’re far from it. Why? Because the moment an employee feels short-changed or cheated, it contaminates your culture and spreads like wildfire.... Read More

What it Really Takes to Achieve Your Salon/Spa Vision

February 7, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Question: Is your salon/spa vision truly worthy of the commitment and effort it will take to achieve it?

That’s a pretty deep question with some profound implications. Why? Because in just a sentence or two, your vision statement embodies the company you want to build.

FACT: A vision is nothing more than words. Only the leader can bring life, meaning, and purpose to those words.

Here’s a great example of a leader bringing his vision to life:
In 1983, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy. Steve Jobs aggressively pursued John Sculley to become Apple’s CEO. (Sculley was vice president of PepsiCo from 1977 to 1983.)... Read More

10 Reasons for Salon/Spa Owners to Stay Positive

January 31, 2021 | By Neil Ducoff | 3 Comments

For owners, staying positive in these uncertain times is something you need to keep working at. 

Of course, you’re weary of dealing with this pandemic. It’s been a tough ten months and COVID-19 is going to be with us a while longer.

When you’re dealing with cancellations, no shows, reduced capacity, client fears, employee quarantines, and tight cash flow, staying positive is a challenge. 

As an owner, your ability to stay positive cannot be underestimated or ignored. Why? Because the owner’s positivity establishes the company’s sense of urgency and performance expectations. So much so that the culture and performance of a salon/spa business is a direct reflection of the owner’s level of positivity.... Read More

Ten Characteristics of an Awesome Front Desk/Guest Services Employee

October 4, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

They used to be called “receptionists.”

Smile. Be pleasant. Answer the phone. Book appointments. Check clients in and out. What could be easier?

FACT: If you want to experience the most demanding position at a salon/spa — work the front desk for eight hours on a busy day.

Today’s front desk/guest services employees are an integral part of driving salon/spa growth, productivity, client retention, retail sales, and just about all essential critical numbers.

In celebration of these hard-working individuals, we give you the top ten characteristics of an awesome front desk/guest services employee:

  1. Servant’s heart with a commander’s brain: A service-intensive business like a salon/spa is a balancing act between customer service and business efficiency. The servant’s heart is the ability to make clients feel cared for. The commander’s brain is to ensure efficient client flow between service providers and maintain client scheduling on the appointment book with a focus on driving productivity.
  2. Ability to anticipate needs: All salons/spas want to deliver extraordinary customer service experiences. But going through the motions of checking in, checking out, answering the phone and booking appointments is far from extraordinary. In order for extraordinary customer service experiences to consistently occur, front desk/guest services employees must have the ability to anticipate client needs. For example, they should be able to “read” a client’s stress level with reassurance and extra personal attention. Anticipating needs unlocks the door to extraordinary customer service experiences.
  3. Attention to detail: How many Mrs. Smith’s are in your database and they’re all the same “Mrs. Smith”? How many appointments are made with an incorrect phone number or no phone number at all? How many appointments are scheduled incorrectly? How many missed prebooks and retail sales occur during the course of the day? It doesn’t take much to disrupt the flow of business, upset a client, miss simple opportunities, or stress out a service provider. Botched data, indifferent “it’s good enough” thinking, or incorrect appointments can quickly sabotage your business. The best salons/spas make attention to detail a non-negotiable.
  4. Task and systems oriented: Everything … repeat everything … at the front desk is task and systems driven. Even if you replaced your front desk with a technology solution like iPads or tablets, locking into tasks and systems is even more important. Operations Manuals and documented procedures, and the training to support them, are essential. For this very reason, individuals that are task and systems oriented are a must. Anything less is a compromise.
  5. Multitasks wisely: There are people that pride themselves at being multitaskers that appear busy as heck but get little done. An awesome front desk/guest services employee excels at establishing priorities, often in the moment. This means that the most essential task at the time is being addressed — most often to avoid a potential problem or upset client.
  6. Cool under pressure: The phone is ringing. Clients are waiting to check in while other clients are waiting to checkout. You’re on the phone with a client that wants to book multiple hair and spa services. Service providers are running behind and waiting clients are getting upset. If this scenario sounds like a nightmare to a candidate, it’s a bad fit and he/she won’t last long in the position.
  7. Never compromise a system or procedure: Consistency at the front desk means thoroughness. It means being accountable. It means understanding how vital systems and procedures are to customer service and the performance of the company. Awesome front desk/guest service employees earn trust and respect by doing their work and making it appear effortless.
  8. Essential for driving overall productivity rate: Front desk/guest services employees are responsible for the most precious commodity of salon/spa business — hours available for sale on the appointment book. It’s not just one column, it’s all columns. It’s everything from up-selling services and filling white space, to keeping clients off the waiting list when the time and skills are available. The hallmark of an awesome front desk/guest services employee is an impeccably managed appointment book.
  9. Ensures service providers prebook and recommend retail: It’s the service provider’s responsibility to recommend prebook services and retail products to clients. It’s the front desk/guest services responsibility to lock in prebooked appointments and “close” retail sales. This cannot happen if front desk/guest services employees don’t receive or ask the service provider for prebook and retail recommendations. The transition from service provider to front desk checkout must be seamless. Awesome front desk/guest services employees help keep service providers on task by requiring prebook and retail recommendations.
  10. Valued member of the team: Just like service providers, front desk/guest services employees are vital to achieving true teamwork. They are not second-class citizens simply because they don’t do services and lack a professional license. Most of all, they should not be regarded as minimum-wage/low paid employees. Any employee that meets the previous nine characteristics is a valued member of the team.

Here’s my challenge to you: How do these ten characteristics match up with your current front desk/guest services employees?... 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

What Motivates Salon/Spa Employees

December 14, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

Michell Bartlein, owner of Savoye Salon Spa, located in Green Bay, WI, and Team-Based Pay Award Winner, posted the following in our Strategies Salon Spa Business Idea Exchange discussion group on Facebook:

We are very selective who we allow on our team. I find myself struggling to discover what makes service providers tick and be motivated. Am I focusing on the wrong area?

I want to grow our team but struggle with the graduates coming out of cosmetology school. So, we decided the best thing to do is to go visit the schools, right?!

Yesterday a team member and I went to a school and did a presentation on “Life After School.” We presented a 50,000-foot view of need to knows including an overview of the different pay systems. The students were very engaged.

I also figured that this would be a great test group to help me better understand the next generation’s thinking. I gave them three simple questions to answer.... Read More

Where Your Salon/Spa Would be Now?

October 27, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

“A business moves at the speed of its leader.” That’s what Strategies Coach, Daryl Jenkins, says when an owner asks how long it takes to implement change.

There is so much truth to Daryl’s statement because every salon/spa owner is a unique collection of thinking and behavior, strengths and weaknesses.

Owners have their own tolerances for financial risk taking. In the coaching business, it’s pretty common to work with owners that have amassed a mountain of debt. Likewise, we work with owners that strictly manage debt and many that are debt free.

When it comes to decision making, there are owners that weigh every detail multiple times before making a decision.

Some owners procrastinate on decisions hoping the problem will fix itself or just go away. Business problems never fix themselves.

Of course, there are those owners that make decisions based what they feel in their gut. Sometimes, gut decisions work out. Most times, that “gut feeling” is just gas.... Read More


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