Salon Business Savvy: Be a Coach, Not a Boss

Salon Antebellum

One of the hardest parts of owning a salon is managing the staff. Hairdressers are naturally creative, stylish, hard working, opinionated people—and that's why we love them. But supervising creative people can prove to be challenging. Luckily, Kelly Bileddo, Sexy Hair International Master Artist and owner of Salon Antebellum in St. Louis, MO, figured out the key—stylists respond to coaching instead of being told what to do. “I read an article a while back about being a coach instead of a boss. No one wants to be bossed around, but a growing individual wants to be coached to the next level," says Bileddo. "I think if we did more coaching as salon owners, we would find our staff wanting to achieve more.” 

“I have 14 employees at my salon. I do a lot of traveling with Sexy Hair, so finding time to keep my girls happy, and give them the attention they deserve, can be demanding—yet it's essential for their growth and the success of the salon,” says Bileddo.

She believes that an integral part of the staff’s happiness stems from their work environment. “First and foremost, it's essential for my salon to have an environment that feels free of cattiness and drama,” she says. "When a stylist feels comfortable and at ease, their work reflects it."


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To ensure that the environment is "drama free," Bileddo invites her staff to be a part of the new-hire process. “When looking into a new hire, I allow my team to be involved, creating a 'shadow day' before anyone is invited into the salon. That way, the new hire has an opportunity to make sure the salon is the right fit for them, and the staff can develop an initial bond with the stylist as well.”

Not only does Bileddo see the importance of inclusion and building strong relationships with her staff, but also sharing in successes.

“I conduct a monthly personal development meeting with each staff member. In this meeting we go over numbers and any personal development goals. We track our successes at Salon Antebellum. This includes making sure we know that our pre-book percentages, referrals, and retail sales every week all directly correlates to growing the company and ourselves. It's these numbers that we rely on to level jump and earn raises and incentives. These include higher commissions, money towards individual and salon education funds, establishing a 401k, and earning the right to be a mentor and have an associate to work with you.”

Bileddo says these are just some of her coaching-style techniques and motivations that keep her team working towards their goals. “At Salon Antebellum, I believe that being a good mentor—not a boss—and having solid relationships with each of my staff members has helped me build a successful salon.”