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Overcoming the Fear of Change in Your Salon or Spa

Overcoming the Fear of Change - 8.1.16


Can it be a scary endeavor for salon and spa leaders?

It sure can.

But the more important question to ask is this: What's better for the long-term health of your business...avoiding change because you're afraid of the unknown, or succumbing to your broken/outdated systems and not taking any action at all?

Let's look at some facts that we've proven through our years of coaching and educating salon and spa owners...

FACT #1: The fundamental fear of implementing change in a salon/spa is almost always tied to one...or both...of the following:

  • Staff resistance

  • Loss of business should one or more employees leave with "their" clientele.

Yes, walk-outs can be devastating.


Walk-outs are almost always a symptom that leadership and cultural problems were festering too long.

FACT #2: All owners want to implement change to make the salon/spa better … not to incite staff resistance and blow up the business.

Yes, sometimes the changes needed can be extensive and tough … but needed nonetheless.

FACT #3: The longer an owner waits to implement needed change … the more stuck and stagnant the business becomes … and the more staff resistance encountered.

FACT #4: Change always rocks the boat. It's supposed to.

To best learn how to get past the fear of change, I'm going to use the change that many owners apparently fear most … changing their compensation system from commission to Team-Based Pay (TBP). You can then apply the methodology to any change.

Here we go…

An owner just returned from our Leading a Team-Based Company seminar and posted the following on our Salon & Spa Business Idea Exchange discussion group on Facebook:

The post …

"Back from Leading a Team-Based Company. Chatted a bit with a staff member about the class and a few things I'd like to implement in the salon and what it all means.

We have an employee that came from a TBP salon and I learned this past weekend why she left … broken trust. (She was promised hours that were cut in half.)

Our monthly staff meeting is Thursday and I'm so excited to approach it with new information than I haven't shared before. Yet, I have a huge knot in my stomach not to say too much where they will immediately resist.

Chatting with the one employee today, who would actually benefit most from a regular steady paycheck, I could see her perk right up, not in such a positive way.

 Any thoughts on how to approach the meeting? Maybe not talk TBP at all. We are currently not TBP."

My response …

"Vision and describing where and why you want to take the salon to a better place comes first … not the method of pay.

TBP is simply a system that allows so many wonderful things to grow. TBP is like fertile soil. It's what you plant and care for that makes your business and your people grow.

Talk about where you want to take your company. Talk about what it takes to be the best salon in your marketplace. Talk about what it takes to achieve success. Don't shy away from describing the "hard work" and commitment that leads to success.

Talk about how you want to achieve your full potential as a salon owner and that you're 100 percent committed to doing the work. Challenge your team to rise to the challenge and join you on this special journey.

Only then can you create the change you want in your business/company … that just happens to be salon. That's where leadership, huddles, scoreboards, Broadbands, cash-flow plans, honest conversations, trust building … and TBP come in.

It's not about TBP. It's what and how you grow with TBP that matters. Now … turn that knot in your stomach into excitement to take your team on an amazing journey."

RELATED: Learn the intricate details on how Team-Based Pay works and what it can do for your salon or spa's productivity, culture and customer service standards by downloading our free Team-Based Pay white paper.

Here are five simple No-Compromise Leadership steps you can use to turn fear of change into excitement to implement change:

  1. Lead with the destination … not the change: The change is the strategy or fix - not the destination you envision for your salon/spa. In coaching, we regularly see owners frustrated with staff resistance and lack of buy-in for the new change initiative. In the above response I wrote for the owner, I shifted all of the energy, focus and anxiety to the destination and away from the desired change to TBP. Heck, it would be pretty hard to motivate a couch potato to get physically fit by detailing the pain and sweat of a structured workout regimen. The destination is to feel better, look better and have the energy to enjoy life.

  2. The more clarity … the less resistance: Once the vision/destination is thoroughly defined and presented, then you can start layering on the "in order to get where we want to go … these are the new systems we must learn, implement and master." Resistance yields to clarity, information flow and understanding. People can't support what they don't understand. Resistance is a defense mechanism. Think of resistance as a person overwhelmed with all the question marks floating around his/her head. It is the leader's job to address and remove every possible question mark. That requires patience and commitment to thoroughness. It's the essential process of trust building.

  3. The destination is adaptable … non-negotiable: Too many owners set themselves up for change failure by sending up trial balloons to see what their employees are willing to support. Damn, this is your business and you're the one with everything on the line. The destination is your vision and your company's future. You must believe in it. You must want it more than anyone else. It is not negotiable. It is certainly adaptable and open to input and refinement. If employees want to vote on the destination … let me buy stock in your company. Let them put their personal guarantee on a bank loan and lease. I'm not demeaning employees here … I'm clarifying business ownership.

  4. 80 percent or more buy-in is pretty damn good: Not everyone is going to start singing, dancing and cheering over your new new vision/destination and change initiative. You know this. If 80 percent of your team is pretty much on board, it's time for your business train to leave the station. That 20 percent not onboard are made up of employees that need more question marks removed, employees that don't like anything … and a few that haven't been onboard for quite some time. When your business train starts to leave the station … it's decision time for you and the resisters. If you earned their trust, they will get onboard. If not, wave goodbye, blow the whistle and pull out of the station. The worst decision is to leave with any hardcore change resisters onboard. You know this.

  5. Be the leader … not the wimp: Your employees know you. They know when you're on your game, when you're serious and when you're determined to go the distance. They also know when you're disengaged, indecisive, stressed, afraid and not at your best. Wimpy leaders fail at making even the simplest change initiative stick. Wimpy leaders sprint back to safer ground when the going gets tough. Being both the owner and leader of a salon/spa is tough work. You don't have to pretend to be a super hero, but you do need to be comfortable in and with your role as leader. Be authentic. Be compassionate. Be appreciative. Be a little vulnerable. But no matter what … be the leader your company and your employees need.

Here's my challenge to you: If anything in this MMWU struck a nerve with you regarding your ability to lead your salon/spa through change … then it's likely that your business is overdue for change. It's time to take that change initiative out of your business toolbox and turn it on.

Learn all about Team-Based Pay and the systems that drive it at our flagship four-day training program, the Strategies Incubator.


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