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It's a Hard-Knock Life

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." He was talking about the French Revolution, of course, but he could have been talking about today's economic climate. For the 7.5 million millionaires in the United States, up from six million in 2004, it's the best of times to be sure. For the rest of us, who are paying nearly $5 a gallon for gas, dreading the onset of winter now that oil prices are at an all-time high, or struggling to pay our mortgages, it's the worst of times. Harvard University's Martin Feldstein, president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, believes that the U.S. economy is now in a recession.

Brett Vinovich
Brett Vinovich

Still, USA Today reported recently that "even in a slowing economy, worldwide ad spending is expected to top $600 billion this year, up from $500 billion just two years ago." Most of our advertisers understand that you've got to spend money to make money, which is why they continue to book space in American Salon. They are also committed to education, as you should be. Keeping up with the latest trends and techniques can help you stay ahead of the competition. But what else can you do as salon owners to weather the storm?

The incredible shrinking dollar: The dollar is worth about 50 cents in Great Britain and 63 cents in the rest of the European Union.
The incredible shrinking dollar: The dollar is worth about 50 cents in Great Britain and 63 cents in the rest of the European Union.

Laura Harris, a nationally renowned speaker and author of Surrender to Win, a self-help book for small business owners that will be published in October, says that hiring and retaining the right staff is the key to staying afloat in hard economic times. Harris suggests taking enough time to get to know your prospective team member rather than trusting a gut reaction. She's also in favor of hiring someone less experienced if you can train them to mesh with your style of leadership. "Personnel with experience often come with old habits and preconceived notions," she says. The superstar with a database filled with clients quite possibly also has an attitude that will cause problems for the rest of your staff. Harris also suggests hiring someone with different strengths and weaknesses than your existing team members. "Adding staff should expand what your business has to offer," she says.

When it comes to retaining and growing the employees you have, Harris suggests investing in your employees' education by paying for courses and offering time off to take classes. "Rather than worry that your team members will get so smart they'll leave or want a raise, worry that your business will remain stagnant if you don't invest in employee education and they don't grow their current level of expertise," Harris says. Knowing the type of clients who provide the greatest return is also important. "Gear your advertising and public relations toward taking on new clients like those," she says. —Brett Vinovich, publisher, bvinovich@questex.com

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About the Author

Brett Vinovich

Brett Vinovich