How a Happy Staff Makes a Healthy Salon
By Meredith Simmons
Walking into a salon for the first time can be an intimidating experience. New clients may not have ever met their stylist before and may have even selected them from a headshot and bio on a website. Since the first visit is vital to your salon’s reputation, it’s important to have buy-in from your staff to create a welcoming and positive atmosphere. So how do you do it? I sat down with Lavender Park in Chicago, Illinois, about how they incentivize and recognize their staff to retain them and create a welcoming vibe for anyone who walks through the door, myself included.
The Lavender Park story starts at a different salon—one where co-owners Katie DeVries and Jane Henderson were booth renters, and unhappy with their work environment. The two discovered they shared a vision about what type of salon they wanted to work in and decided to create it.
“We both had like-minded ideas of what a salon should be, and how to keep stylists happy so that they can give good service. That’s kind of what we stand for is keeping employees happy,” Katie explained.
But while the journey from being a single stylist to salon owner wasn’t always smooth—Katie describes it as building a plane while in flight—the salon, located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, has been thriving for more than four years, much of it due to the high-quality staff they’ve been able to attract and retain.
Katie says that keeping the stylists happy starts seeking out the right professionals to fill their schedule. “We have an environment where everybody is like-minded, and not just hiring people. We’re picky and make sure that who we hire is going to fit into this whole ecosystem we have here.”
Once hired, each stylist shares their goals with Katie and Jane, allowing them to set goals together And if they meet their service goals? “They get a Saturday off each month. It’s huge,” Katie says.
Beyond performance incentives, the salon offers continuing education to salon staff, believing that stylists need to grow and learn to move forward. It keeps stylists motivated and excited about what they do.
Lavender Park also believes that giving staff the right tools to manage their schedules and appointments through salon software is important, too. “I like that the stylists can have a business app on their phones and that they can see their own schedules and come in mentally prepared before they get here,” Katie said.
The end result of all of this dedication to the stylist experience? A dedicated client base who keeps coming back year after year. (In fact, Katie met her husband when he came into the salon for a haircut.) “It’s been four years and business is booming,” Katie said.