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Attracting and Retaining a Team in 2020

With Game of Thrones, Instagram and the Avengers all vying for our attention, it can be tough. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find great people to join our team. Those that have a passion, like we did when we started.  Sometimes they just don’t seem to care or are totally distracted—am I right?

Recently, I chatted with Alan Austin-Smith for the Salon Owner’s Collective Podcast.  Alan is a Salon Owner turned author and motivational speaker, whose company ‘The Fantastic Hairdresser’ is all about why being GOOD simply isn’t enough anymore- you need to be fantastic. We chatted at length on this topic… go have a listen when you have a moment.


Times have Changed!

The Salon Industry is ever-changing—that’s a given. It can be hard to wrap your head around, especially when everything is so different to when you first started.  There is such a difference between being a good hairdresser, and a fantastic hairdresser and that difference does not lie in your ability pair of scissors or tinting brush. It lies in, what Alan calls, the other 50%—your customer service skills, people skills, business skills, the list goes on!

There is also a massive challenge in attracting and retaining staff. In our amazing industry it used to feel like you were lucky, and so very thankful to get a job in any Salon.

Now, new stylists are spoilt for choice, they don’t need to or won’t stick around. It can feel as though they aren’t even interested in the first place!

Instead of blaming it on them and their unreliability, flakiness, or downright rudeness, you eventually have to stop and ask yourself— “what could I be doing better?”

Let’s face it- times are changing (or have already changed)! And naturally, so is the industry.

While it’s easy enough to forget this, or set it aside and pretend it isn’t, this is not going to step you forward in your business. Instead, we have to start thinking differently if we want to have better luck attracting and retaining a team moving into 2020.

Salon Team Passion Staff Industry

Attracting Your Team

Salon and Customer Experience is now equally as vital as actually cutting someone’s hair or performing a facial service. Clients will come once for a haircut. They may like the haircut, but even the best haircut or colour in the world won’t compel someone to rebook like an experience will.

Just as we changed the way we value customer experience, we now need to change the way we recruit, train and retain new staff. And although there are so many changes happening in the industry, some things never change.

There is a stigma around hair and beauty jobs,  that it’s not a good job or doesn’t earn good money. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase— “just a hairdresser?” It is still not a profession that most parents and teachers exactly jump for joy about, but there’s really no good reason why. We all know that hairdressing is a great job and can, in fact, earn really good money.

So we have to stop and look at what we could be doing to help change the reputation that the Salon Industry has. Just like we sell ourselves to clients, we have to start selling ourselves to potential employees, and the general public, whose opinion affects that of our potential employees.

‘If we’re not on the pitch, we’re not even competing’ is the phrase Alan used in our chat. And I think this is so true. If we’re not competing with the likes of the corporate world, universities, or other interesting roles then we don’t even have a chance of recruiting the masses of young people that we need in this industry. The first step to successfully attracting new staff is actually starting to sell the industry enough so that more people want to work in it.


You Can’t sell a Secret

Does your Salon’s website have a recruitment page on it?

How can you expect to attract staff, if you aren’t putting yourself out there as a Salon who wants to attract and employ people?

Having a recruitment page, and having a good recruitment page, is fundamental to attracting a team into 2020. You not only want to make it known that you’re actively looking for new staff, but you also want to sell your Salon to these potential new staff as you would with a client.

Just a note, a good recruitment page will make it all about the potential team member, not you. You’ll want to talk to the reader and use a lot of “you” language, not “me” or “we” language. You will want to:

1) Attract your Ideal Employee. Get really clear on the skills and qualities of the Ideal Employee. Sounds obvious maybe, but… you don’t want just anyone.

2) Use WIIFM (what’s in it for me) language. Make sure “It's all about meeeee” (the new employee, that is) and that what you offer is aligned with what she/he is looking for.

3) Make it easy! The fastest way to help someone lose interest in you or your business is to make it hard to do business with you! In a digital, social and online world, don't put too many clicks between you and your next team member OR make it too hard to connect in a way that we just don’t do anymore. Create a very easy and clear path to get in touch with you and apply for that position

And be creative! Promote it like it’s 2020 (not 1999). Capturing the attention of young people online and on socials can be tough with so much noise and distraction. So be different and creative, and take action!


Salon Team Passion Staff Industry

A New Opportunity

Students coming through the Salon on work experience are a golden opportunity to get on the pitch and start competing for young recruits. Most Salon Owners that I know will utilise students on work experience to do the odd jobs that no one else wants to do—sweeping the floors, cleaning the basins... you know what I’m talking about.

There is often an “I had to do it, and so will you!” sort of attitude when it comes to putting young recruits through the hard yards. But what most don’t realise, or think about, is that we should be using this work experience as our chance to prove what an amazing industry, and specifically Salon, we are, and why they should want to come back and work for us.

Work experience is a PR opportunity. It’s a chance to really have a positive effect on a young person and make them fall in love with the industry, just like we did.

Making sure these students have an amazing time working with you will increase your chances tenfold of having them back in your Salon in the future—and why wouldn’t you want that? It will also mean that they’ll go home to their parents and teachers overjoyed at the amazing time they had in your Salon. Extra bonus for you AND the industry!


Retaining Your Team

You know that there is a passion burning inside of you for this industry, or there was at least, and you desperately want your team to be passionate and be engaged, but you don’t know why they aren’t!

The answer is simple: You need to engage them.

You need to get on that pitch and start competing for your team’s attention and engagement. If a Salon Owners asked— “where’s the passion?” my response would be, “Why do you want them to be passionate?

Lots of people would say that they want their staff to be passionate about their jobs so that they’re more engaged.

However, this is the wrong way round. They need to first be engaged in passionate things, passionate activity before they can be passionate. And guess what? It’s our job to engage them…. Passionately!


It’s Just Like Dating

I often talk about the dating process when I talk about SalonBot and digital and social Marketing. But it’s no different here… You have to give love to get love, you can’t demand it. And we would only fall in love with someone who is engaging us; giving us love and attention.

This kind of love is the same as the passion that we want from our staff. You want your team to be passionate and fall in love with your Salon and the Industry, so what are you doing to make them fall in love? Remember, you can’t demand it! You need to engage them, let them find the reason to love you with all their might!

team salon hairdresser

Team Engagement Activity

A great way to start is getting your Team engaged and interested in the Industry. Alan had a great idea that he did in his salon.  A great activity that he used to do with his team to spark their engagement. He called it “Icon Thursdays”, where once a month he would assign each member of his Team an Iconic Hair Stylist, and they’d have one month to find out as much as they could about this Icon. Once that month was over, they would meet again, and would all bring along 4 images from this Iconic Stylist’s repertoire— 3 that they loved and 1 that they didn’t like. The team would then all debate on why they liked certain images and not others.

This sort of activity is such a great way to spark your team’s engagement. Not only is it helping them learn about the industry, but it’s giving them something to say about it, and allowing them to form opinions. This is where the passion is born! If they’re not passionate, then all it is, is a job, and they’re going to go where the wages are the best.


At the end of the day, it is up to you to attract and retain your team. And this can only be done successfully by first engaging them. I  know that it can be tough at times, but I hope that these tips helped give you the fuel you need to attract and retain a Rockstar Team in 2020. Remember that times are changing and that that’s ok. Sometimes it can be easy to forget to have fun. But don’t let that happen! Think creatively, and don’t just settle for the norm.

I would love to hear any tips that you may have for attracting and retaining your team. What fun and creative things do you do, to spark that engagement and passion within your Staff?

Join me in the Salon Owners Collective group and share your top tips!


About the author, Larissa

Business Coach & Marketing Strategist: After 20 years of salon business I worked in online marketing & technology development, Business Development Manager at Timely Salon Software and co-founded HAIRshare app for Stylist.

I love helping stylists & salons with marketing strategies, the latest technology and working smarter, not harder in salon business.

Salon Owners Collective is an online community with the mission of inspiring and empowering Salon Owners from around the globe to grow beyond owner operator. Turn your ideas into a reality, build successful businesses and live with clarity and purpose.