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Who Gets the Credit? The Salon & Spa Dilemma


It seems like the most basic and innocent question anyone in the salon/spa business could ask.

Someone does a service, assists in delivering that service, or upgrades that service with an add-on. Someone asks, “Who gets the credit?”

  • Too often, the prevailing industry thinking is, “Why should I do this if I’m not getting credit?” More accurately stated, “If I’m not getting paid a piece of the service price, I’m not doing it.”

A client is at checkout. Doing her job, the guest services employee sells a retail product to the client that the stylist never recommended.

  • When ringing out the retail sale, she rings the service out under the stylist’s name and the retail under her name.

  • The stylist has a fit that he/she didn’t get the credit.

  • The owner moves the retail sale credit to the stylist.

  • The frustrated guest services employee says to herself, “So every time I do my job and sell some retail, I lose the credit to a service provider. It’s not worth the effort, I always lose the credit.”

Recently an owner posted this question in our Strategies Salon/Spa Business Idea Exchange Facebook Group:

"Can you help me solve a debate? Who gets credit for a retail sale when the guest has an appointment in the salon with a stylist she normally does not see?"

The first three answers illustrate the extent of the “Who gets the credit” dilemma:

  • The stylist who recommended the product.

  • The stylist doing the service.

  • The team.

To keep things in perspective, and a bit on the lighter side, why not give the client purchasing the retail “the credit” because no one in the salon/spa bothered to recommend any retail?

The salon/spa blew its professional responsibility — and the client bought anyway. Yay client!

Who gets the credit is really about who gets the service or retail commission.

My response to that discussion group post was this: The question, “Who gets the credit?” killed professional salon retailing before it ever got started. Treating “retail” like a service never worked.

As much as owners and service providers adore their favorite professional products and brands, professional product retailing has been more of a gigantic missed opportunity.

History has proven that the majority of service providers ARE NOT motivated by retail commission. But, when a client does make a retail purchase, owners, managers, service providers and guest services will waste more time bickering over “who gets the credit.”

NEW CLIENT FOCUSED/NEEDS FOCUSED THINKING: What would professional product retailing look like if the needs of the client were front and center and the “who gets the credit” debate was eliminated?

Here are some of the comments Team-Based Pay business owners made to the “Who gets the credit” post:

Jessica Sassu: The guest is your guest only when they’re in your chair. If you’re fighting over who wins or loses credit, the stylist won’t recommend any retail next time someone “else’s” guest is in their chair. If you’re going for a team goal everyone will educate the guest. The guest receives the proper recommendation. The salon team wins.

Michell Bartlein: This question always pains me. It truly does. I mean this in a loving and supportive way. It creates unnecessary stress to the stylist, management, and most importantly, the guest. The commission system, and its 900 variations, complicated our industry. It doesn’t need to be this way. That’s why I chose the Team-Based Business Model and the team-based culture it creates.

Tiffany Lahn: Guest services mentions product promotions at check in, the shampooist talks about what shampoo is being used, the stylist speaks about the styling products, guest services closes the sale. How can you give one person credit? The answer is to be Team Based.

Paul Luebbers: In Team-Based Pay salons, the “who gets the credit” question never comes up. It's not about anyone getting credit, it’s about the team working together to give the client the best experience. If you know what TBP is, then I'd encourage you to dig deeper to really understand it, so you can move on from debates like this.

Professional product retailing is a ripe target for internet websites, especially Amazon, that methodically and aggressively seek to disrupt traditional retail sales.

The problem is that salons and spas never excelled at retail sales, which means web-based companies like Amazon have little trouble competing with “professionals.”

FACT: While salons/spas bicker over “who gets the credit” on generally weak retail sales, Amazon just keeps selling and disrupting.

FACT: Booth rental and suites are the end of the commission line. The single biggest advantage for employee-based salons/spa is to be Team Based and client focused.

Here’s my challenge to you: The “Who gets the credit” question should have been escorted by armed guards out of industry thinking long ago.

“Who gets the credit” is divisive in a personal service business like salons/spas.

“Who gets the credit” is not about delivering extraordinary customer service experiences.

“Who gets the credit” doesn’t exist in a Team-Based Business Model.


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