My Take: Commission vs. Booth Rental
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:
- I miss the full on customer service that fuels loyalty to a salon, and consequently, to the stylist.
- The ability to really cross promote services by suggesting complimentary services such as skincare, manicure, etc., also adding to repeat visits.
- The prescriptive retail allowing you to be the single source of all your client’s beauty needs.
- The security that if you are away from the salon, and a client pops by, someone will see to their needs.
- 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.
- 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.