I sold Studio 91 in Overland Park, Kansas in 2005. This is a true selling my salon story that will help you sell yours and learn about navigating this challenge!
In year 5, I successfully sold my salon, on my own to an owner a few miles away, who needed the injection of my talented and younger staff. I had hired a business broker who didn’t understand the salon industry, once the contract was over, I connected with the person I sold the salon to.
The deal we struck held promise. I stood to receive a modest initial payout, while my hair stylists and nail techs would relocate to his salon.
Additionally, I would earn a percentage of their earnings for the next 2 years.
Assisting in maintaining the happiness of my former salon team became imperative. Nevertheless, my intention was to relocate abroad.
Most of the post-sale developments would fall beyond my ability to help.
Accompanied by my team, I transitioned to the new owner’s establishment. This included several experienced stylists who were on the cusp of retirement. The new owner’s decision to acquire my salon proved to be a wise move.
If this salon didn’t get the infusion of my accomplished salon team, he would have continued to struggle to hire and attract new salon staff. This arrangement was a mutually beneficial outcome for both the new salon owner and myself.
Controlling what happens in the Selling My Salon Story. I did notice a few personality “quirks” with the new owner that made me think about my team’s long-term happiness in their new salon home, that were a concern.
Many people buy salons, in the salon industry and from outside of the industry. Our new salon owner was not from the salon industry- he wanted to buy a building and he would say, “the salon just came with the building”.
He had bought this building and a thriving, yet aging, neighborhood salon, two years prior.
He tried to relate and understand our industry. I helped coach him and attempted to make him understand why stylists do like this, or don’t like that.
I moved out of the country hopeful the new owner would keep my team happy, I could settle into a new life in paradise and life would be peachy keen. It didn’t take a month to go by before several of my former stylists would call to complain about their new situation.
The coaching I had given the new owner had fallen on deaf ears…the calls from my former salon team came almost daily. My distance was slowly becoming a nightmare as I struggled to help the team and the new owner.
It became clear after 6 months from my departure, in order to keep the money coming in, I would need to come home to manage the team and help their new salon owner.
This was heart wrenching and very stressful to me…had there been too much damage to be able to preserve the team? Would I be able to receive my full payout?
What did coming home to manage under someone else’s ownership, look like? Questions and uncertainty filled my mind as I took the big step to move home.
Once I settled in managing of my former team, I noticed that my role resembled my time as the salon owner. Depending on my ability to create change and a positive impact, I felt optimistic about my potential to uphold this salon’s legacy.
The first few months of managing the team went smoothly!
The new owner was receptive to suggestions, which boosted morale and set things on the right track. However, as time passed, issues with the new owner began to surface.
They treated the team poorly, lacked support, held unrealistic expectations, and had values that didn’t align with ours. Moreover, changes were implemented without my input or control.
I started to believe that this situation wasn’t permanent and that once I received my final payout, I’d likely move forward. The sale of the salon came with a 10-mile non-compete agreement.
Essentially, I couldn’t do hair or own a salon within a 10-mile radius of the sold salon.
It was a fair agreement and I had no problem signing it. I understood the threat I posed to the new owner, and I had no desire to own a salon again.
Once I knew that my time at the new salon would be limited, I was concerned about my livelihood-how would I provide for myself if I had to relocate 10 miles or more away from my loyal clientele?
After receiving the payout from the salon, I found myself dealing with two years of constant surprises. This added stress – the very things I aimed to sidestep by selling my salon.
Then, a game-changer: I became pregnant with my first child. This event triggered a shift; my priorities were reshaping, and my life was taking a new course.
It dawned on me that it was time to set aside my management role and venture into the next phase of my career.
Funny enough, I was so engrossed in addressing immediate challenges that I had no inkling of work opportunities, outside of this salon.
One of my former team members had moved to a new concept salon recently, a salon suite a few miles away. Sola and other salon suites were just starting to pop up around the country, I went to visit my former stylist in her suite and was in awe.
I knew after I visited her and saw how happy she was, this was a great fit for me.
I won’t go into what a salon suite did for me and my business, equally good and bad. Several impactful things came with owning a suite. The problem was the suite was not outside of my non-compete range.
Taking the salon staff members away from the salon I managed was not in my plans. I made the decision to leave and take the risk of not being sued by breaking my non-compete agreement.
I didn’t want or need to work full-time, especially with a baby on the way. Three days a week was sufficient to provide for my family by doing hair.
Then, a teammate shared something personal – she was on the hunt for a new salon.
I seized the moment and proposed we share a suite. She jumped on board enthusiastically.
Although I urged her to keep our plan quiet, she was in the loop about other stylists yearning for an exit from the salon.
It just snowballed from there. Four of us ended up signing a lease at Sola, grabbing a double suite to work in together.
Things had become so unpleasant for me and the salon team, most were ready to move on. I had held it together for as long as I could, saving this salon was not within my power.
After enough negative conversations and interactions with the salon owner that I didn’t feel valued or heard. He viewed us as his retirement and treated us as such.
The salon owner had little to no respect for women or our industry. This added up to a situation where there weren’t many people who were content working in this salon.
I felt a small bit of guilt as I quit this salon and left with 3 stylists to go out on our own.
Guilt was overridden by fear of being caught violating my non-compete agreement. After lying that I would be working for my husband in his business, my hope was he wouldn’t come after me.
I knew he would probably eventually find out, but I was hopeful he had his hands full keeping his salon together and would be too busy to sue me.
The salon owner was furious that we had left the salon, but seemed to have no idea why we left. He truly could not understand how the things he said to us, the way we were spoken to and treated had added up to a walkout.
He would do little things like steal our cards from Sola’s waiting area and call our clients to offer them incredible deals to stay in his salon. None of these things impacted our business. This behavior likely just made him happy- to feel as if he got even with us for leaving.
I was grateful for having a buyer for my salon. I was thankful for the experience as many life lessons were learned from the transaction of selling my salon.
Even with the nastiness of the salon owner, overall it was a good experience and I was happy to move on. After the selling my salon story ended, the drama continued.
We left, more followed and came to Sola and to other salons across the city.
One year after my departure he had only 1 of my original team members from the 11 I supplied him in the sale of my salon.
The inspiration for this blog came from thoughts about the salon owner I have had for years…did he ever realize why he lost his stylists or make changes to keep new hires?
He stayed in business and was able to attract some new talent for 5 years after we parted ways. I’ve felt empathy for him, running a salon is not easy-takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it run smoothly. It would have been more challenging without having experience behind the chair.
I always wondered if he held a grudge or what he thought, years after the salon closed and the past grew farther and farther apart.
I got the answer to how he feels, in early 2023. He sent me a friend request on Facebook several weeks ago, so I thought maybe he was peaceful and had come to realize what had really happened.
I noticed he made a comment on one of the posts I did about a podcast I was invited to be a guest on where we discussed hiring the right salon team. He said something about how one person can ruin an entire team. My guess is, this was his attempt to blame me for what had happened.
I thought about this for a few days and kindly just “loved” his comment. He was talking about me…the person who handed him a team he was unable to nurture.
When you have multiple people leave your salon or when you have unhappy team members, please look inside. It is not always your fault or their fault, but almost always, both sides are to blame.
Why am I telling you about the selling my salon story? I do take partial blame for what happened. Had I continuously voiced my opinion and spoken up about team issues with the owner, maybe things would be different.
I could have kept the salon or sold it to someone else, better suited to care for the team I built.
I could have stayed and watched my former staff leave, one by one. So many things could have unfolded differently, and the salon owner had the opportunity to grow.
Yes, you can sell your salon on your own, like I did. View the DIY sell salon business options.
When the time comes to sell your salon, explore your options. Think through agreements made that could affect you, after the sale is complete.
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Yours in service,