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My Take: Commission vs. Booth Rental

Carlos Valenzuela | December 7, 2015 | 10:50 AM
My client, Tang (on the left), and me.

Recently, I added three days in a salon to my forty-three year beauty career. I waited a couple of months before sharing anything with my readers, because random observations are usually not what’s really happening. In order for me to comment anything to you, I need a good grip on reality.

Initially, I searched commission salons. Most didn’t really welcome an older, albeit experienced, hairdresser with no clientele. Commission salons preferred new graduates and paid 40% commission. I have no issue with the business model, if that’s what they need to do, but it was one that didn’t work for me.

Hoping to find a cohesive group of hairdressers, I marched into a lease chair salon where long time friends worked. What concerned me were never the clients, services, trends or an acceptance of a long wait to build a clientele, but my relationship with the other stylists. The quality of the many hours I was prepared to spend building a clientele was something that concerned me. If the salon was a den of negativity, I knew I would bolt very quickly, and, changing salons is often a step back for most stylists.

My salon was a good choice, the team is as cohesive as possible for today’s “everyone for themselves” salon world. But, don’t misunderstand, this does not mean I like a lease chair model. What I don’t like is not specific to my current salon, please. My observations apply to every lease salon I visited in my search:

  1. I miss the full on customer service that fuels loyalty to a salon, and consequently, to the stylist.
  2. The ability to really cross promote services by suggesting complimentary services such as skincare, manicure, etc., also adding to repeat visits.
  3. The prescriptive retail allowing you to be the single source of all your client’s beauty needs.
  4. The security that if you are away from the salon, and a client pops by, someone will see to their needs.
  5. In a nutshell, I miss a concept salon. The one where you offer quality services and confidently charge top dollar because you are fully dedicate to the client’s needs.
  6. Due to my minimal current clientele, I am not clear on the finances of independent vs. commission, as yet. Still looking at this both from an owners and a contractor’s perspective.

So, am I badmouthing lease chair salons? Not at all, I am reminded that our business is all about a one to one client-stylist relationship. Lease chair builds on that connection with less emphasis the group experience and points the way to a future where the most individually qualified professionals provide services. And that is not such a bad outcome.

Next time: let’s examine the reasons for leasing and the elements of building a clientele in this environment.

Carlos Valenzuela is a stylist, trainer and author of iFabulous Salon Success. www.ifabuloussalonsuccess.com
Send Carlos your question:  [email protected]

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