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Salon & Spa Culture: How to Get it Right


"Culture" has officially become the new business buzzword in the salon/spa industry…

...and rightfully so.


Because the more defined and disciplined your culture is … the better your salon/spa performs across the Four Business Outcomes:

  1. Productivity

  2. Profitability

  3. Staff Retention

  4. Customer Loyalty

FACT: "Culture" IS the collective thinking and behavior of an organization. 

It is the culmination of all the hard work on leadership, systems, coaching, team building and accountability.

So, what does “getting your salon/spa culture right” look like?

  • It's when "whatever it takes" thinking and behavior, replaces resistance to change and lackluster performance in every area of your salon/spa.

  • It's when the consistency and systems become the number one priority for all team members.

  • It's when team accomplishment takes precedent over individual accomplishment.

Collectively, the three preceding bullets are where culture building at salons/spas encounters the most challenge … and resistance.

Why salon/spa cultures are so challenging?

FACT: The level of leadership engagement at most salons/spas is simply too deficient to create the high performance cultures owners dream about.

  • Owners or managers that are also service providers simply don't have the time necessary to devote to leadership and culture building.

  • The business lacks the financial resources to fund an effective leadership team capable of culture building.

With or without leadership engagement, a culture will emerge. But when left to chance, it may not be the culture you want.

FACTEmployee walkouts occur in leadership-deficient and dysfunctional cultures.

  • No other industry is more plagued by the devastation of employee walkouts than the salon/spa industry.

There are disciplined and structured salons/spas with team cultures … and there are what I call "country club cultures" where the inmates run the asylum. (Employees essentially do what they want.)

The closer your salon/spa is to a "country club" culture, the more dysfunctional the business … and the less in control you are. This is what the industry refers to as "hostage management" … and it's all self-inflicted.

Written policies without engaged and focused leadership won't fix your absentee problem.

You need to take back control of your company and navigate a culture shift from the behaviors you don't like, to what you've always envisioned for your company.

Here is a four-step plan to create the culture you’ve always wanted in your salon/spa:

  1. Define it: Define exactly what and how you want your culture to look and function in each of the Four Business Outcomes. For example, define the thinking and behaviors you want all employees to share in the Productivity Outcome. It can be getting to work on time for daily huddle, working within service time standards and rebook all clients. To drive productivity rate, it can be all employees taking responsibility for every hour the salon/spa has available for sale. KEY: Once you define the gap, the next step is to design and build the bridge to cross it. Just remember, it took years for the gap to evolve. It’s going to take time to build a culture capable of closing it.

  1. Commit to it: This is where too many owners freeze. You know what you don't like and want in your salon/spa. You know it needs to change. But you also know that change is tough and pushes everyone … you included … out of their comfort zones. We see this all the time in coaching where owners are handed the solution and allow their fears to get in the way. It's no different than an obese person starting a diet and workout program where the journey to better health is a long and daunting one. KEY: Leaders must always commit to change first. If you truly want that culture you've always dreamed of having in your company … commit 100 percent to the process. Committing 90 percent leaves you ten percent wiggle room to quit.

  1. Lead it: To effectively lead your company's shift to the right culture, you will need to allocate sufficient time to lead. I was having a coaching conversation with an owner on this very subject who was planning on devoting one day a week to leadership. That's eight hours out of an entire week's operating hours for leadership in a salon/spa doing $1.6 million in revenue. It's impossible to deliver the attention to detail, training and one-on-one coaching in a business that size in eight hours a week. The culture shift is doomed before it starts. My instructions were simple; "If you truly want to get your culture right … your focus must be 90+ percent on leading your team to a better place … doing hair is secondary." KEY: Most salon/spa owners massively underestimate their leadership role and responsibilities. Creating the right culture is the work of leadership.

  1. Be accountable to it: The most often asked question in the history of leadership is, "How many times do you have to tell them?" And the answer is always, "Until they get it … and it sticks." Accountability keeps your commitment in check. Accountability to achieving the right culture and taking your team to a better place delivers a powerful message to your team that says, "We are going the distance … we are going to win." It also communicates that you will make the necessary and tough decisions to get there. KEY: Accountability is not a bad or mean word. In fact, being accountable to what you believe builds respect and trust in you as a leader. Accountability also means fairness that everyone will be held to the same rules and standards.

Here's my challenge to you: Even the best cultures need upgrading and fine-tuning. If this MMWU inspired you to take your company to that infamous next level … do it. If this MMWU inspired you to do something about that "country club" culture … do it. If you're afraid that change will rock the boat and push some toxic employees to leave … the rocking - and their departure - is long overdue. It's time to take back control of your company.

Where can you learn the systems and thinking to create this type of culture? There is no more in-depth and proven way to learn these systems, that the four-day Strategies Incubator Seminar. Click here for upcoming dates and locations.


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