The Pursuit of Happiness

Exclusive tips from members of American Salon’s Better Business Network

Members of American Salon’s Better Business Network share ways to keep staff members happy and create solid employee retention.

Salon employees want freedom, positive reinforcement and stability, says Mary Verlander, owner of Salon Eden LLC in Baton Rouge, LA. “They want to be part of the growth of their salon home, and they want to know what part they can play in the business’ success,” she says. “They want their owners and management to work hard for them, and they will in turn do the same.”


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It’s for these reasons that Verlander created several incentive programs at Salon Eden. The first system is based on earnings, similar to a sliding scale commission strategy, but with in-salon privileges such as assistants and responsibilities. “It inspires the team because they all want the privileges of being on the top tier, and they push their average tickets and upsell to meet their next level,” Verlander explains. The salon also has a retail incentive program in which money from the stylists’ sales is put into an account for educational events, license renewals, tools, and product and equipment purchases. Salon Eden also has contests based on overstocked or featured products with prizes such as paid vacation days and meals.

Verlander says these programs help create healthy competition and offer a chance to celebrate victories as a team. “It helps us keep our focus, shows us an expanded earning potential, encourages learning of products, and helps us expand our consultations among many other positive outcomes,” she says. Most importantly, Verlander adds, it makes each day more fun.

Linden Tyler Glavich, educator, cosmetologist and owner of The Linden & Company Salon & Spa in Eureka, CA, also provides retail incentives for his staff by giving them a percentage of their sales profits as well as prizes, and he agrees that competition is a perk of these programs. “It makes the staff feel motivated to work as a team, and competition makes everything more fun,”
he says.

He also includes the staff in advertising decisions, making them part of monthly ad meetings. “It’s insanely easy to make your own decisions, but with the staff’s input I’m able to learn about different options,” he says. Annually, he gives each staff member personalized advertising that they design and distribute any way they choose. All the staff’s hard work doesn’t go without celebration; each year before Thanksgiving, Glavich hosts a company appreciation dinner to kick off the holiday season at the salon.
“I think it’s important for the staff to feel appreciated,” Glavich says.

Kim Smiga, Redken artist and owner of Impressa Salon in Mountain Top, PA and Main Stage Hair Studio in Virginia Beach, VA, is also a believer in making each staff member feel special. “I’ve always been a huge fan of celebrating employees’ birthdays within the salon,” she says. “It’s a great way to shine the spotlight on each employee on their special day.” In addition to cake, a birthday lunch and a group gift, Smiga gives each staff member $100. She also offers employees flexible time off as well as educational resources through Redken Education on Demand.

In the future, Smiga says she would like to offer team-building and leadership workshops to her employees. “It’s important to me that my employees develop in all areas of their life, as well as their skill set,” she says. “These special extras keep employees motivated simply because they know I care. They understand I care about their development and growth both professionally and personally.” ✂—Corie Russell