Hey there, Susan Wos here! I work with hair stylists and beauty pros across the US and Canada, who are ready to quit a salon and move on to a new venture. Yeah, not the sexiest position to be in, but it sure does give me the advantage in giving decent advice for when this career change occurs.
Before we dive into how to quit or why you should move on to a better salon opportunity, let me just put this out there: We do not advocate quitting salons unless you are absolutely sure you cannot work with your current salon owner OR situation.
We also do not advocate for salon pros to be commission, hourly, booth rental or salon suite dwellers. Quite frankly, there is a salon out there for all of us, it’s a matter of finding your sweet salon, spa or barbershop spot.
In this blog post I will discuss what I see happening in the beauty industry. From my POV, when and why you should move on, and hopefully give owners some insight as to how to prevent high turnover.
I would be foolish if I didn’t mention our massive salon job and booth rental board or the fact that our sister company offers private client services for pros that need a bit of help finding a better fit.
Now that we have THAT out of the way, let’s dig in!
After a bad day, many stylists are ready to move to a new salon. Timing is everything, and being prepared is key to a great career.
Whenever possible, don’t leave until you have secured a new space. Explore your options thoroughly online, and in person.
You haven’t been in your current salon very long. Six months is about enough time to know if this salon owner is right for you. One year is the marker we feel to reach, unless there has been big time drama or the salon has impacted your clients, negatively.
You see a shiny new salon. Look, Instagram and friends opinions can be deceiving. Let’s say you see a new salon, raking in the clients and doing everything that may matter to your career. Give this time, it’s not always what it seems and the truth comes out, over time.
An owner “poaches” you. Did you get a message or a visit from a salon owner promising the world? This is an unethical (and common) practice for owners. You have no idea if their clientele or stylists is a good fit. Stay in touch with the owner but do NOT move solely on an aggressive offer.
You had a bad day. This happens to everyone. Unless everyday is a bad day, hang in there for a bit and see if things change.
You have no idea what is out there for you. Unless you know your options for new salons to work in, it’s best to hang tight. If you feel like leaving now, just start applying and doing your research instead of abandoning your clientele with no plan.
You want to go booth rental but don’t have enough clients. This is a very common thing! You should have more than enough clientele when going to a suite or booth rental stylist position. If you can’t see profit on the client service list you have, right now, you aren’t ready. Learn how to get clients, manage money and be your own boss, first!
The #1 reason hairstylists or any industry professional leaves salons is poor leadership. The #2 reason is lack of freedom and flexibility to grow, ie. going from an employment arrangement to being independent or a “booth renter”.
The rest of the reasons pros quit salons are pretty scattered. Some of you have faced nasty coworkers or move too far away.
Some just don’t understand what they signed up for to begin with, and fantasize about leaving, the moment they start working in a salon.
Salon owners should make you feel valued and supported in ANY salon environment. If you are an employee- you should feel comfortable about your ability to earn enough money to sustain a normal lifestyle.
Although money or financial reasons for quitting salons is more rare, (believe it or not), more money can be a factor in any decision to move to a new salon location.
Before you leave a salon, make sure you understand what your new salon offers. Talk to people who work there to get the inside scoop BEFORE saying yes!
Every single salon on this earth has problems and sometimes you trade one problem for a new one. Make a list of pros and cons to your current salon and salons you interview with.
Think through major salon career changes, and don’t make emotionally fueled decisions.
So, if I hit on some or all of the reasons you want to leave your salon, just know you aren’t alone. Here’s a little insight for my stylist friends:
Salon owners do not typically have proper business or leadership training to be running a business and managing people. There is quite literally no barrier for someone to become a salon owner, outside of having enough money to open a business.
This means your current boss likely is figuring it all out along the way…much like we do with clients skin or hair services. While this is NO excuse for poor leadership or rotten guidance, it should help you understand what may have happened at your soon-to-be old salon.
Often a discussion with the salon owner, before you are ready to jet, can give you hope and (possibly) will allow you to remain loyal. Whatever you decide to do, remember that burning bridges and going out guns a blazin, tends to come back to bite you in the ass.
The truth is, you don’t know where your future will lead you. Be calculated in your professional life, and keep your plans from fellow stylists.
The hair industry is quite possibly one of the only industries where giving a two week notice is not a common practice. Booth and suite renters tend to have to give some sort of notice, usually anywhere from 30 days to 6 months, depending on your lease.
Commission and hourly stylists leave almost always in less than 2 weeks from when you quit a salon.
This practice quite frankly, sucks.
When owners usher a stylist out who tried giving proper notice, this is a nasty tactic unless stylists are disruptive. INSTEAD of making them leave on your terms out of FEAR, try setting an example for your team.
If both stylists and salon owners practiced emotional intelligence, maybe the sh*tstorm of a salon exit wouldn’t be so dramatic. Think about this before you leave your current job or booth rental salon.
This is an excuse we hear for an unprofessional exit, amongst 1,000 other excuses. While I am quite sure you did make the owner money, I am also sure you benefitted along the way.
What about all those new clients or perks the salon job came with? Businesses are not easy to run and it takes a lot of time, money and energy to have y’all on staff.
Everyone benefited by you being in the salon, and your reputation is what’s on the line now. Don’t do something you may feel guilty about, later on!
My point? You never know…the salon owner you are leaving could end up being your neighbor, a relative or god forbid, you may end up working with them again at a different salon.
If you are a booth renter, you are likely under a contract. These contracts guarantee income for the salon owner for a specific duration of time, and they ARE legally enforceable.
This is not to say there isn’t a way out, some of the time. There are exceptions to every rule…
If the owner has been abusive, broken the law or endangered you in any way, you can get out of your lease. We gathered several booth rental contract experts and put them on our free salon mentors list, if you need some guidance.
It’s always a good idea to talk to an attorney as well to ensure you have a viable case.
Are you dreaming about leaving your current salon to have your own space to serve clients? Booth rental is popular, as well as salon suite rental.
Some of us make great booth renters, and some don’t! Your own business is what you get as a renter, paying bills, ordering supplies and all things your salon may have done for your clients- now that’s on you.
If you decide to leave your career as an employee to be your own boss, just be prepared. Creative freedom can feel like a jail cell when you get sick, have babies or cannot earn enough to pay your rent.
Think through booth rental with our free calculator, to estimate income versus cost of renting.
FIRST let’s address the elephant in the room- no one owns clients. Salons don’t own clients, nor do you.
Letting your clients know you are moving or leaving is best done over social media. Digging into salon client records is a sure fire way to cause a lot of drama.
Contacting a client directly may go against a non-compete agreement. Crossing non-competes takes stylists from super happy, to upset within in seconds of being served with a lawsuit.
If you want your own business, or if you plan to go to another salon where you are an employee, you should have a decent social media following of your clients. If you don’t, getting the message out will be MUCH more difficult.
Telling your clients is solely your responsibility. Your previous salon can say or do, (and they do), whatever they please when you walk out that door.
I see many stylists get their panties in a bunch when former coworkers or the owner use marketing to entice clients leaving into staying. This is the nature of the business, don’t fight it or get mad- win by handling this properly and let clients decide for themselves!
Whether or you gave two weeks notice or decided a quick salon exit was more your style, the conversation must take place. Don’t leave a note, text or email!
Ask to speak to the salon owner in private- no break room chat or nasty text message. Thank the owner for what they have done for you.
Even when you can’t find things to be thankful for, think of things like education opportunities you had or marketing they did for you. There’s always something you can find to say thank you for.
Give the owner credit for things that happened that were good- don’t focus on the bad. A soft delivery where you stroke their ego goes a long way!
“Hey there, I just wanted to chat with you for a few minutes. I am so thankful for the education, friends and new clients this salon has provided for me. I appreciate the support you provided for me when clients didn’t like my hair services and you stood up for me. I’ve decided I am ready to be my own boss and move to a new salon that does not have employees.
At this point in my career I feel I can handle running my own business. I plan to start my new salon location in 30 days. This my be difficult to hear but I hope by coming to you first we can maintain a great business relationship.”
Of course, tweak this conversation template to suit your specific situation. The point is, when you quit the salon, be direct, be honest and express gratitude- even when you aren’t grateful.
Put yourself in their shoes, how would you like to hear someone is leaving your salon business?
Summit salons invest a lot of time and energy into marketing and retaining stylists. Often, you sign agreements about clients that are impactful unless you decide to change careers.
Review your staff member agreements and be prepared to build clientele again. This company has invested in making it difficult for stylists to take clients to a new location and often pursue lawsuits that can impact your career.
Hone your detective skills and quit these businesses with grace, and a plan if things go awry!
This scenario is the easiest way to quit! Be thankful, respectful and stay in touch. As for advice on looking for new salon jobs, the owner may have connections in your new location!
If you are opening your own salon, this is THE hardest conversation to have. It usually doesn’t matter how well you deliver the news- almost always it will not be a good conversation to have, so be prepared.
When I left my old salon to open a my own business, it was discovered by our manager before I was ready. I worked in a large, busy salon that was corporate owned and had plans to take stylists with me.
I was escorted out by the police, 6 weeks before I opened my own salon. It was embarrassing having all of the employees, (and my clients), see me exit the salon in this way.
My new location wasn’t ready yet and I had no income for 6 weeks!! Even though I was ready to do my own thing, contacting hair clients leaving the salon was difficult amongst construction and new business ownership.
I knew most clients would follow from my old salon- I had given them all my phone number, (this was before social media), and they were excited for my new career.
After the dust has settled, it’s great to follow up with a kind gesture.
Once you have been in contact with clients leaving your former location, and your new hair stylist situation is set, it’s time to reiterate thankfulness. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t thankful, a sweet note goes a long way!
Pick a cute or funny card and let your former owner know you appreciate your time as a stylist in their business. Thank them for any clients you may have gotten and open the door for friendly communication.
Believe it or not, things change. You will lose clients and SOME stylists end up back in salons they have left. Keep that door open, whenever possible.
If you didn’t discuss the reasons why you took your clients and left, this is a good time to give POSITIVE feedback. Look, owners often don’t understand what they did wrong or what can improve.
They will get over being mad about losing clients, this is the opportunity to add great Karma to your life. Put yourself in their shoes- if they don’t know how to improve, their business will suffer.
You may be an owner someday. Think about how you would feel if someone you once supported gave you constructive feedback.
What comes around goes around, and the golden rule stands true. Treat others as you would like people to treat you.
Polishing your people skills will help not only build your client records, it’s the foundation for any great career as a service professional.
Let’s say you are giving a hair color service to a new client. The client doesn’t like what you do, but they don’t say a word.
Your new client goes onto Google or Yelp and leaves you a horrible review- one of the only reviews you have! How much would you like clients to tell you something went wrong rather than blasting it on a public platform?
Treat owners, clients and everyone around you in a professional manner, I promise- you won’t regret it!
No matter where you are in your hair industry career, remember the local community is connected. People talk and you never know what path you will take!
If you are in need of advice, check out Salonspa Connection’s resources or reach out to us for help. There is no one right way to do things when making decisions on what to do next.
It’s a matter of conducting yourself in a manner that keeps your integrity and reputation in a positive light. Never sacrifice your professionalism for an emotional decision.
Think through your career choices and take your time moving salons & spas. I wish you the absolute best and hope you are super happy in anything you’ve decided to do in the hair industry!