Skip to main content

Making Tough Salon and Spa Decisions


Making tough decisions is just another responsibility of being a salon/spa owner. You don’t have to like them, but you absolutely do have to make them.

The tough decisions I’m referring to are the ones that rip at your core, keep you awake at night and refuse to give your mind a few moments of peace.

The problem with making tough decisions is that when you finally make them, the relief is only momentary. The weight on your shoulders simply shifts to the execution phase.

A really tough decision

A coaching client recently asked for my guidance on a really tough decision regarding a long-term, full-time employee’s health challenges. Eight months ago, this busy and popular stylist began having life-threatening health issues that required surgery and extended time off of work.

The owner did her best to support the employee through her health challenge. The team also stepped up by chipping in to pay the employee’s half of her health insurance until she could resume full-time work, which was supposed to happen four months ago.

The challenge is that the employee has yet to work more than part time and the work is intermittent at best. The back up stylist that was hired and put through training now qualifies for the company’s health insurance.

The cost of “good intentions”

The employee cannot give any indication when, or if, she will ever be able to return to work full time. The situation is causing a financial hardship on the business. Higher payroll and training costs have exceeded budget. Then there’s the high cost of health insurance for an employee that no longer qualifies for full-time benefits.

This all culminates in one really tough decision for this owner. The choices are:

  • Have a really tough conversation with the employee communicating that unless she can return to full-time status, the health benefits will end.

  • Continue to support the employee through her health crisis and absorb the costs.

  • Terminate the employee to allow time to focus on her recovery … and leave the door open to return on a part- or full-time basis. (With proper legal guidance.)

Yes, the choices suck, but that’s the intrinsic nature of tough decisions. This employee isn’t just a “number” to the owner and staff … she is a teammate and friend.

For this owner, it is tough decision time.

This scenario is just one example of a tough decision.

It could have been a story about firing a high producing service provider that went toxic.

It could have about ending a bad partnership.

It could have been a decision to cut popular but excessive costs that are threatening the financial stability of the business.

It could have been about the decision to downsize to save the business from going under.

Lastly, it could have been about closing the business.

Here are some No-Compromise Leadership thoughts to work through the tough decisions that are inevitable in business:

  • Don’t rush … but don’t delay it: Really tough decisions are actually dilemmas. A dilemma exists when a decision must be made and the choices are equally undesirable. Doing your research and seeking knowledgeable advice is imperative. Understanding the consequences of each choice and how to work through those consequences may not make the decision easier … but it will make you more confident of the decision you choose. TIP: Set a deadline to make your final decision. It will help prevent the potential for “avoidance.”

  • Easy fixes never fix tough problems: Almost always the best solution is the toughest to make. It’s tough because it cuts to the core of the problem. It may not be popular. It may ruffle feathers. It most assuredly will push you out of your comfort zone. TIP: Picking the easy fix is like throwing a tarp over the real problem. It’s still there. It’s still festering. Go tough and fix it for good.

  • Clarify term limits to avoid things going tough: We deal with it every day in coaching. An owner agrees to something like a key employee taking over education … with a boost in pay. Six months later … nothing has happened. No one has been trained in anything. The key employee is busy working on clients … and still taking the extra pay. I’m positive you have a bucket full of similar stories. TIP: Putting “term limits” on new projects and position changes simply means clarifying checkpoints to assess progress, make course corrections or completely pull the plug. It prevents things from going tough.

  • Procrastination fuels tough problems: Ah, the ever-present procrastination bug. It bites everyone sooner or later. Some people get seriously infected and procrastinate on damn near everything. If you have a history of procrastination bug bites … you probably have a history of having to address tough problems. TIP: When a procrastinator sees a problem … it gets avoided. When a No-Compromise Leader sees a problem … it gets addressed. Be a No-Compromise Leader.

Here’s my challenge to you: There is no escaping really tough decisions. It’s how you approach making tough decisions that matters. The best leaders approach tough decisions confidently and decisively. This doesn't mean they’re not stressed and nervous … it just means they are prepared to implement their decision and see it through to completion.

If you’re facing a tough decision right now, reread the four bullet points above. Get clarity on what created the problem in the first place because it’s the cause you need to fix. Treating the symptom does nothing but cloak the problem.

If you need help, take advantage of our complimentary Zoom Coaching Session.


No comments found. Start the conversation!