Why We Become Salon/Spa Owners

May 5, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

We recently had a salon/spa owner ask, “Why do we subject ourselves to the financial stress and sleepless nights to be an owner?”

Here’s my response:

The older I get, the more interesting those Social Security earning history statements become. Why? Because each statement is a look back in time to my annual income each year since my very first paycheck.

It’s so easy to see the two worst times in my working career. Both were stressful beyond words. The last worst time was 26 years ago. Damn near lost our home.

But that’s when I started Strategies. September 13, 1993. Like any company, we’ve had our ups and downs … but every lesson learned and applied is a better step in the right direction.

Strategies has been consistently and extremely successful for many years now because we practice what we preach. More importantly, we never rest on our laurels. We keep pushing forward. That’s the culture that makes us strong and resilient.

I couldn’t be more proud of my company and my team. I would not hesitate to do it all over again.

There is a significant moment in time that we have a career choice to make. We can choose to be an employee, or we can choose to bring our vision to life as an entrepreneur business owner.

So, for all of you that chose to be an entrepreneur, I offer you these six No-Compromise Leadership thoughts:

  • You will be tested: There was never a question that leading my own company was the right choice for me. Although I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I had no idea that my abilities and tenacity would be tested to the extreme. FACT: Owning your own salon/spa is no different than investing in the stock market. “Don’t invest if you’re not prepared to lose.” Passing the tests and learning from your mistakes makes investing in your own business a safer bet than the stock market.
  • It’s always your choice to win or lose: After many decades of coaching salon/spa owners, the owners that struggle are the ones that say they’re doing the work of leadership but, deep down inside, they know they’re not. FACT: Culture reflects leadership. Growth, profitability and financial sustainability reflect systems and discipline. You can’t achieve your success when you compromise the very things success is built on. Winning is hard work. Losing is almost always self-inflicted.
  • Don’t be a wimp: Tough decisions are supposed to be tough. In business, most major challenges manifest over time until you, the leader, take action. You became an owner and accepted the responsibility of leadership because you believed in your vision, the wellbeing of your company and your team. FACT: The longer you wait on the solution, the tougher that decision becomes. And rarely do easy fixes fix the problem. Easy fixes avoid rocking the boat that should have been rocked all along.
  • Teamwork means everyone carries the torch: The torch is the vision of your company. As owners, we can’t carry it alone. We can’t give life to our vision without empowering others to help carry, protect it and share the load. FACT: We become owners to build something so special that it captures the hearts and minds of those we lead. Over time, people will come and go, but few will leave what they believe in and more will want to become part of it.
  • Getting your business model right: In these days of booth rental, suites and low beauty school enrollments, it’s easy for owners to complain and point the finger of blame. But you started your company to be in charge of your own destiny. FACT: You have the power to adapt and change to fit new business realities. I’ve been preaching it for decades. The traditional salon/spa business of building individuals doesn’t work. Be everything booth rental and suites cannot be — become a powerful and unique brand.
  • Ownership is privilege: Not a day goes by where I don’t appreciate my company, my team and the work we do. My company is unique and special. FACT: Your company is unique and special. We create careers. We make the lives of those we touch better. What an honor and privilege it is to be the owner. To share responsibility and success with the people that share the passion for this living entity that is our company.

Here’s my challenge to you: As an owner, the moment you begin to question why you put up with the stress, it’s time to ask the deeper question.

There is a fantastic book by John G. Miller titled Question Behind the Question. It’s easy to ask, “Why are we so tight for cash?” The right “question behind the question” is, what must I change and do in order to create positive cash flow?

When you blame booth rental and suites for turnover problems, the question behind the question is, how does my leadership and business model need to change in order to attract and retain the best employees?

I will never allow changes in the marketplace to threaten the viability of my company. We have evolved Strategies and changed our business model to ensure our relevance and success. And that’s exactly what we teach and coach salon/spa owners to do.

I am a business owner. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Categories: Leadership

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  1. In the time and place pre-booking happens I wonder if we are unwittingly encouraging a “My client” “My stylist” relationship. Especially with first time clients. Perhaps clients feel locked in to the stylist they pre-booked with before they have lived with their style to determine if they are completely satisfied. Thoughts?

  2. You could try client callbacks for new guests. Within 3 days ask them how their experience was, are they having any challenges with their style, etc. Get them back in if they need something changed or need help styling their hair.


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