How to Know When It's Time to Fire a Stylist

When a guest calls back for a correction service, we typically find that the fail in the service can be tracked all the way back to the consultation. In some way, we were misaligned in our communications and expectations. When we find that a team member is no longer working out, we can similarly track it back to hiring them and see that there was a misalignment between who they are, and who we hoped they would be. Additionally, that team member most likely believes that who they thought we’d be as a salon was not in line with their expectations.

Clients choose to do business with your salon because, as Simon Sinek would say, “They believe you value what they value”.  It is no different with building your salon team! You have to recruit and hire people that value what you value. If you are hiring people based on their technical capabilities or client following, versus hiring based on who they are—you’re going to have a problem. You can help build a stylist’s clientele and work with them on their craft, but you cannot change their mentality or beliefs.


Do They Live Up to Your Salon Values?
The first and most important sign that an employee should be terminated is when they display behavior that is not in line with your salon values. It is imperative to have company values established that everyone is aware of and knows are the standards for the salon. Examples of salon values are education, guest experience, integrity, loyalty, mentoring and a great attitude. The next step is defining what each value means to your salon. Take integrity for example. For my salon, integrity means you do what you say you are going to do and you make honest and ethical decisions when no one is watching. If someone is behaving in a way that goes against your salon values, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad person, nor does it mean they should not behave that way—it just means they cannot behave that way in your salon. Do you see that distinction?


How You Know It’s Time
When a stylist or team member behaves in a way that goes against your salon values, you are faced with two questions. Can you coach them and guide them to change and fit your salon standards? Or, has this crossed the boundaries and is cause for immediate termination?

Let’s say a stylist is very rude to a client and the client calls to talk to the manager about it. You find out the details of the event and realize that the stylist was out of line. They didn’t live up to your salon value of “guest experience”.  You talk with your stylist right away and make sure they acknowledge that they were in the wrong. You document the talk and create an agreement that if, and when, the stylist is in a similar situation with a client in the future, they will choose to behave in a new way. This is an ultimate win because it was a one-time offense and your stylist took ownership in their behavior. If the stylist had argued about the occurrence, or shifted blame on to someone other than themselves, and it just so happened to be the third complaint with this stylist—this might be cause for termination.

Another scenario could be that one of your stylists builds great relationships with their clients. They have massive growth because their soft skills are amazing and as a result, they end up producing the most revenue for your salon. Most salon owners would consider them a star stylist and an “A” player. As time passes the stylist becomes proud and at times arrogant. The salon chalks it up as confidence that is admittedly borderline cockiness, but lets it go because the stylist is a total rock star behind the chair. The stylist is given massive perks such as weekends off and they’ve been given the right to no longer provide certain services that they don’t want to do. All of a sudden the owner catches wind that the stylist has made a deal with their client to provide services for them outside of the salon at a lesser price point. What do you do? Is this coachable or has this crossed a boundary that is immediate cause for termination? The answer is, they have to go.

You cannot keep one rock star stylist who doesn’t live up to the values of your salon because it sends the wrong message to those who do. You cannot keep one guest service representative who doesn’t have a great attitude, who’s constantly negative or gossiping, just because it’ll be hard to replace them and cover their hours. You let them go because they are compromising the overall well-being of every single team member.

In Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings, he shares two profound thoughts, “Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.” And the second thought that we cannot afford to ignore is, “Your business and your life will change when you really, really get it that some people are not going to change, no matter what you do, and that still others have a vested interest in being destructive.” 

Firing a stylist, manager, assistant or guest service representative is never easy and typically an emotional event. Many salon owners and leadership teams will do whatever it takes to salvage the working relationships for that very reason—we are in relationships with our team members! Even though there are fears attached to someone leaving, we have to recognize there are greater risks in keeping someone who is not meant to be on the team.

Kati Whitledge opened Be Inspired Salon in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Her passion for salon marketing and business grew tremendously and encouraged her launch of Meet Your Stylist, a matchmaking marketing tool used by salon owners nationwide. She’s also the beloved host and founder of The Beyond The Technique podcast—where valuable education is provided on the vast topics of salon business. Kati’s mission is to equip salon owners and their teams with the most innovative business marketing strategies.

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Originally posted on Salon Today