Articles > WWYD- What Would You Do? > What Would You Do: Do Salon Owners Hire Stylists With Zero Clients?
Last updated: December 04, 2017

What Would You Do: Do Salon Owners Hire Stylists With Zero Clients?

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Starting over in a new city is tough, especially when you’re worried about getting a job. One member of the BTC fam is planning a big move and had some questions on the likelihood of working in a salon without an established clientele—check it out!


Do salons hire stylists with ZERO clients? I’m currently a stylist in Houston and I’m pretty set here, but I want to relocate to the opposite coast. I know I will have to start over and wait for clients to start building in—would it be smarter to start off in a salon or in booth rental, since everything is run through social media now? Would a salon owner take a chance on someone with zero clientele?


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Yes—Clients Aren’t Necessary

For some salon owners, attitude and skill are more important than a client roster.


“I love hiring stylists with zero clients, it’s a good way to feed them our walk-ins and offer a stylist whose prices may be lower until their book is full.” – Meghan Rainville Beer


“As a salon owner, I only hire people with no following because my structure is different. We don’t hire until our books are bursting and are ready to bring someone else on. No stylist I have ever met does well with just sitting around waiting for clients. When hired, our salon is the one who will hustle to fill your column, BUT it’s your job to do a fantastic job and bring them back in for their next appointment. If I am hiring someone with experience, it helps me if you can bring some of your numbers with you, like your pre-book for the past six months, your new client retention number for the past three months and your repeat client retention for three months. RPCT (retail per client ticket) is always another good one to see. Good luck to you!” – Sarah McGee


“I have hired stylists with zero clientele. You may start out assisting while you build. But hey, good way to get to know people. Or you could start say, two days per week and work the area with your awesomeness until you can extend your days. Possibly work a second job to make ends meet.” – Debra Whitney Cole


“I hire based on attitude and work ethic, not how many clients they have. My business will give them all the clients they will need.” – Khai Bui


“Go corporate for a while—they offer extra training and you will never need to bring in your own clients. Plus, a base hourly pay is awesome. I did it for a year and it was the best thing I ever did. Some places will even help pay off your tuitions.” – Dee Bonet



Maybe Not—It’s Tough To Build Your Books

For other salon owners, zero clients is a recipe for failure.


“When I look for new hires at my salon, having a clientele is very important. Not because I want to make money, but because I don’t want to set you up for failure. Our location is on a second floor so we don’t get more than two to three walk-ins a month. Not a place for someone to start out. I’m always up front about it. If I feel you are the right type to self-promote and have a portfolio to back that up, I’m happy to give you a chance on a commission basis for a set trial period.” – Alanna Murch


“We’ve hired stylists without clientele (mostly those who have moved from other areas). To be honest, it hasn’t worked well. It will only work if someone is willing to hit the streets and be proactive in building. We don’t distribute walk-in or Yelp leads to anyone until they’ve proven they can bring in their own business, whether it’s free blowouts to promote their services or paying clients they’ve found through their own resources. We’ve experienced a handful of people who show up and expect a book of business to be handed to them. We start out on a 90-day trial. That’s sufficient time to determine if they have what it takes to support themselves.” – Peter Lewis



These Tips Can Help You Get Hired

No matter where you’re seeking employment, here’s some good advice on getting hired.


“When I moved across country, I came with an actual portfolio and my personal client retention number. It opened the conversation to the type of work I could bring, instead of the number of clients I could bring. I also had letters of recommendations from bosses and coworkers, and I quoted online reviews from clients and put it in the portfolio too.” – Oliver Porter


“Make sure you have mastered the basics and know the fundamentals of hair cutting. Get models. Pound the pavement. Get people in the door. Give them the best haircut they have ever had. The rest will follow. P.S. I’m an owner. I provide full training to all new stylists. Trust me. It works.” – Louis Mathieu Alberta


“If you’re a good stylist with a good personality and you put it out there, your clients will come. You must be willing to earn very little at first with the faith that you can make it grow. You only get out what you put in. It will NEVER be handed to you on a plate. It’s important to present yourself properly. Never look sloppy.” – Jacqueline Ann May Veart


“When I was a baby hairdresser, I was told by many seasoned stylists to work somewhere where there’s a lot of foot traffic and walk-ins. In my situation, this would have been the local mall. You make your clients there, and later, if you want, you can move to another salon and take your clients with you. Or, if you’re happy, stay at the mall salon. It was good advice.” – Patrick Davis


“Start with a high foot traffic and a high-volume walk-in rate…the right salon, hiring for the right reasons will bring you on to handle overflow. After that, it’s up to you to retain. If you have skills that need honing, take classes now. Build your social media platform so they can see that you’re able to make a presence and draw. Also, be prepared with numbers regarding retention, sales and client list. But high-volume salons need skilled stylists, as they’d rather not turn away clients. And if you’re lucky, they’ll want to help you build.” – Deana Potter


“Lots of people on the West Coast hire without a clientele, but they make you sign a non-compete where you can’t contact any of your acquired clients or move to a salon within a certain mileage after leaving. So, if ultimately your goal is to rent, be very careful.” – Kim Erin Smay