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Retaining Salon/Spa Employees is an Earned Outcome

Strategies definition of Staff Retention: “The staff retention business outcome is all about creating a dynamic and empowering culture to attract and retain the best employees — and doing so with no-compromise leadership, open communication, integrity, and respect.”

FACT: Employees come and go. However, the “employees just don’t stay with salons/spas very long anymore,” or, “Why train them if they’re just going leave,” thinking is doing more to encourage turnover than improve it.

  • Excellent employee retention doesn’t just happen.

  • Paying high commission doesn’t improve retention.

  • Allowing employees to do as they please doesn’t improve retention.

Building an integrity-based culture with a team that’s committing to growing the salon/spa is what retains employees.

This year’s winner of the 2020 Team-Based Pay Staff Retention Award is…

Tiffany Lahn, owner of Salon Secrets Salon Spa in Kennett Square, PA.

Salon Secrets Salon Spa opened in 1992. Tiffany was still in high school. She started as a shampoo assistant, became a hair stylist and worked at Salon Secrets for 20 years.

Tiffany purchased Salon Secrets in 2012. She fully implemented the Team-Based Pay Business Model in 2013. Tiffany is an Incubator graduate and has been in Strategies Coaching since becoming an owner.

To win the 2020 Team-Based Pay Staff Retention Award, a company’s culture must be exceptional.

Tell us about the culture at Salon Secrets?

Tiffany: Compared to other salons/spas in the area, I know we have something special. We’ve weeded out those who were not the right fit for us. We’re constantly learning how to hire smarter for our culture and focus on excellent training.

I love that stylists from other salons/spas contact me, not for a job, but advice on how to approach their boss, how to deal with a co-worker, and how to encourage implementing a training program in their salon/spa. They see that my staff is special, and they want to figure out how to recreate that feeling.

We each have different personalities, but we’ve created an environment where everyone expects the same dedication to the company and high integrity work habits. We apologize when we are wrong. We talk about accountability in a positive light. We work together to grow each other’s skills and behaviors.

As the owner, there is nothing better than trusting team members to make good decisions — especially concerning new hires and whether or not they are the right fit for the company. Likewise, showing the staff that they are trusted in making hiring and firing decisions, builds loyalty to the company.

How did you lead your team through the COVID-19 shutdown?

Tiffany: During shut down, the team felt confident they would have a company to come back to. As the owner, making sure the team trusted that I would take care of them was my number one priority.

Communication was more important than ever. From guiding them through the unemployment process and the importance of engaging with clients via social media, to explaining the tricky PPP program and what it meant for all of us.

As a team we wrote letters to our Pennsylvania state senators and representatives asking to reopen.

I took the constant text messages and questions as a sign they needed my one-on-one attention more than ever.

When it was time to reopen the salon, we retained every single team member. To me that was an unforgettable compliment.

What are your most successful Staff Retention Initiatives?

Tiffany: Here are my top three …

  1. The career path. Knowing and understanding how to grow in the company through the Broadband (a career path/income tool used in Team-Based Pay) and our Internal Training Programs. This includes a clearly defined schedule from start to finish in training.

  2. Paid holiday from December 25 – January 1. For this benefit, all team members must put in extra time before Christmas when hours to sell are in demand. This allows us to make up the sales for the slower post-Christmas week ahead of time. We have to work hard for it, but it pays off by having a week to be with our families and a nice long break, while still receiving a paycheck.

  3. Rewarding birthdays and good behaviors by giving team members reservations on the book to receive services. We love being able to book a service on our own time, it's a valued gift!

How do your guests respond to your Team-Based Culture?

Tiffany: If client loyalty was a number it would look like 85%+ existing client retention along with an average of seven visits per year.

Our guests understand and appreciate our culture and our Team-based systems. Guests understand they are a guest of the team, not an individual. They can trust how well they will be cared for within the walls of our company. They know we all work together to provide their service.

Late in 2019, our highest ranking, 27-year team member/stylist had to be away from work for two months. We assumed the clients would wait for her to return — and that we would not make our revenues goals. Instead, our team hit goal and guests were so grateful to still have their hair done by other well-trained stylists to keep them on their service schedules.

Any final words of wisdom?

Tiffany: We work hard at the Team-Based Pay systems and plug away at making them part of our everyday thinking and behavior.

These systems are "what we do.” They are what we use. We aim for consistency throughout the company. Sometimes one system falls by the wayside and we have to pick it back up and practice making it consistent again. It's never a surprise to any employee when we circle around, focus on a pre-existing system, talk about it at huddles and meetings, to make it even better.


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