Stylist Spotlight

Creating a Winning Chair Rental Culture

Lauren Salapatek | July 3, 2015 | 7:58 AM
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Rachel Phillips and Dana Perez, owners of Glam Salon and Spa in Delmar, Delaware. Phillips and Perez teach interested renters for free.
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A sunflower print makes the waiting area homey and happy.
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Wide spaces between renters allows ample room to operate independently.
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Just because you are “on your own” doesn’t’ mean you are excluded from earning lots of accolades and respect. Rachel Phillips knows this first-hand.

Her Glam Salon and Spa in Delmar, Delaware, just became a Costal Style magazine “Best of Sussex County” nominee for both Best Salon and Best Stylist (associate Stephanie Ralph). It’s a rare event for a rental salon, but Phillips, who co-owns the salon with business partner Dana Perez, says it’s because the stylists operate independently but work as a team for specific things, by choice.

Currently, the six-year old salon has five renters who are all fully booked, and success comes down from the top, notes Phillips. “Dana and I both work behind our own chairs; our renters see how we do things, and that our way works. For instance, our consultation method all but guarantees client retention.”

Sharing Success

The duo’s method involves treating every client like the only one in the world, as a client  who must be impressed—each and every time. Regardless of longevity, clients get a full consultation with every visit. “We look them in the eyes, use their names, make new suggestions and deliver a complete service that includes a blow out and styling, so they leave looking and feeling their best,” explains Phillips. “We show them how to use products for home styling, walk them to the desk and pre-book them. With this method, anyone can have a full clientele in 18 months; I’m personally booked two months out.

Phillips and Perez taught their newest renters their method for free if they were interested, and most were. Many also chose to adapt the duo’s best business-builder, which involves asking for and rewarding referrals. Naturally, renters choose whatever offer they want to put on the back of referral cards, and to date, the most successful has been giving free shampoo and conditioner products to anyone who refers a new haircolor client.

“You can’t be shy about asking for referrals when you are building your book, or you won’t make it in this career,” says Phillips. “This is particularly true for renters. Ask clients, `Who does your mother’s or sisters’ hair,’ and say you’d love to make them happy, too. If you please their families, they will trust and refer you.”

The salon also supports various charities—any renter can suggest one and opt in or out of events like cancer patient days, during which those from a local cancer ward get makeovers, photos and gift bags. The local press covers the event, which benefits everyone in the salon.

Separate Ways

To avoid confusion with walk-ins, all renters have cards with their photos, starting prices and specialties at the front desk, and some include bios. This simplifies choices. Also, the renters come from various backgrounds, so clients naturally gravitate to ones with their hair type.

“It was our clients who made the Costal Style magazine nominations, and one of our renters made a framed photo for the nominated stylist and the salon—there are no jealousies here,” says Phillips. “We promoted the nominations on our salon Facebook page, which our renters can use or not. Some have their own pages, while others love posting their before and afters everywhere.”

Humorously, the only discord among the harmony involves what music to play in the salon. Without separate suites, a chair-rental business has one source that is controlled by the owner of the system. Phillips favors a family-oriented station that mixes up music from the ‘80s to now. But sometimes when she leaves and returns, it’s been changed to country music. “What music to play is always a work in progress,” she laughs.


Rachel Phillips

Glam Salon

Delmar, Delaware

  • Licensed since 2002
  • Rental salon owner since 2009.

Best Profit Builder: Hair extensions. At $600, you can make more money in one day with them than you can doing cuts and color for two days.

Best Money Saver:  Any renter can affordably upload his or her logo and get it printed on referral cards, banners and more. Also, shop smart. Renters need a large color inventory, and I seek out quality, price and affordability.

Best Retail Builder: Offer products at premium, mid-range and value price points. Put products in client’s hands and show them how to use them.

Go-to for Education: Professional academies, CosmoProf stores and Guy Tang videos.

Personal Best Business Builder: I keep my prices reasonable at $85 to $100 for cut, color and styling, which completes the service.


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