Non-Compete Contracts: To Sign Or Not To Sign (Part 2)
Non-competition agreements. Some salons make you sign them before you’re even allowed to hold a pair of shears in their salon or are given a chair. But should you sign on the dotted line?
Generally, non-competes are put in place to protect the salon from losing their business when a stylist chooses to leave, and on one side, salon owners feel they’ve worked hard to attract and retain clients, so they should be allowed to protect their business. On the other, if a stylist becomes unhappy with their place of work, shouldn’t they be allowed to move on without penalties? And then the question comes up, do these contracts even hold up in court? Some stylists say they do, and some say they don’t.
We took to our BTC fam and asked for your input on the issue—here’s what you had to say.
Most stylists say non-competes won’t hold up in court…
“They won’t hold up if you can PROVE a poor work environment. They would classify that as when you’re required to sit at a salon but they aren’t paying you…that would void the contract itself. If there is any unhealthy behavior, document it and then seek legal representation. They can’t have you sign a contract restricting where you work and then treat you poorly. Most salons that make you sign are dysfunctional.” – Michelle Grabill
“Depends on the state. California does not recognize them as a legal binding contract, but other states do. If a salon has you sign it that is more of a reflection on the salon. Why are they afraid you will want to leave? I wouldn’t want to work for a salon that focuses more on what happens when you leave rather than what would make you stay.” – Michelle Ryman
“The reality is that no salon can tell you that you can’t make a living! So, if you work somewhere where your paid hourly, draw or commission, you need to have them be very clear. It’s obvious that any salon owner wants to protect their income and you are not to take the clients and open up your own shop down the street. But, the judge will often throw these cases out if they even get that far! I only know of one person here in Vegas that was actually pursued legally from the company she worked for. She offered them money for the ‘training’ she received and the owner declined, then they went to court and the case was thrown out. I have signed two of these in my career and nothing has or will ever become of it. If you are faced with one of these just do your research and ask a lot of questions! This is the way a large majority of salons are going these days especially if there is any paid training involved.” – Gina McConnell
“If you live in a ‘right to work state’ the contract will not hold. You have the right to make a living.” – Luis Erickson
“I worked for a salon that had the employees sign one, and the owner took two women to court and the judge threw it out. The two employees went to a salon across the street and the contract did not matter.” – Lisa Knisley Flory
So, should you sign? Most stylists still say don’t do it…
“Never again. I worked for a salon for five years before she implemented a non-compete. She pretty much forced everyone to sign or leave. So, since at the time I was super happy there, I signed. Fast forward two years, I was miserable and the salon was slowly crawling to its death, so I decided to leave. She threatened to sue me if I breached my contract. Two years and a seven-mile radius. I’m so thankful for my loyal clientele who followed me (I retained about 80%) and I’m about three months away from being able to move back and work within my community. Non-competes are NOT designed to benefit anyone other than the owner.” – Tyra Davis
“Never. If a place tries to have you sign one, it’s a clear indication that there have been problems there. It’s the biggest red flag. I signed one and then discovered how unhealthy the place was…DO NOT SIGN. Go somewhere else. You invest so much time and money in building clients…they belong to you!” – Michelle Grabill
“Never sign one of these…stylists are the talent and have the power! My old boss once told me if your good at what you do you could put a chair in a parking lot and be busy. He was right and he should have treated his people better…he went from five salons to zero all because he treated his people like property!” – Sioux Dexter
“Nope. Run. My clients are mine. They can choose to stay with the salon…but 99% are coming to me, not the salon.” – Vikki Sterks
“Never again! There is nothing that could instantly ruin your career more than this! Did it! Yes, they do hold in court! Just takes the right contract attorney to draw it up. Saw many of my colleagues financially ruined.” – Michelle Struck
“I interviewed at a salon once, and the owner wanted me to sign a permanent five-mile non-compete. I could never work in that area, even though my home was about two miles away. Needless to say, I ran and never looked back.” – Isabel Johnson
Even some owners say non-competes are a bad idea…
“I have a salon. I have never considered anything like this. If anyone is unhappy I would prefer to not have the negativity in my place and I’ll wish them the best regardless of where they go. Business is business and there are lots of opportunities out there for everyone! – Kim Hoffman-Hall
“As a salon owner, I would never make an employee sign a contract. As long as you make your employees happy they will stay, and as long as you provide a great atmosphere for clients they will stay too. This is nothing but insecurity on a salon owner’s part. It’s pathetic.” – Brittany Harris
“As an owner I would never ask someone to sign. If you leave my salon I wish you the best. I have always let former stylists’ customers know where their favorite stylist has gone. I am not scared of a little competition.” – Kathy Lynn Martin
“Clients are human beings with power to choose. I don’t feel threatened when someone leaves at all. No one has or ever will outwork me anyway. All of us owners had to leave somewhere once ourselves. We don’t continue to advertise for someone (giving out new phone numbers or maps to the new place) once they go somewhere else, but we will be helpful. We say, ‘Jane is no longer here. Are you interested in seeing anyone else?’ They will say yes or they will ask where the other stylist went. If that is the case, we tell them. I will say this though. If you are truly ready to go out on your own, you are knowledgeable enough to do so without taking client formulas or contact info from the computer or salon. Many formulas were already there before someone started. You should also be professional and not contact potential customers until after you finish your last day. There are many ways to do this, and I went above and beyond with my former boss, and I expect the same from an employee who has integrity. I have treated anyone who left me in a professional manner the way I wanted to be treated when I left.” – Cindy Couture Noyes