What Would You Do: Telling Your Boss You’re Opening A Salon
Here’s a tough one: When do you let your boss know that you’re opening your own salon? While the hairdressing community is one of the most open, creative and respectful environments out there, it can also be one of the most competitive. A BTC member wanted to know how to handle this very situation. What would you do?
“A friend of mine and myself are thinking about opening our own salon. What is the best way to tell our bosses without them being upset? Will they make us leave during the building of our salon? Will they let us take clients? Should we wait until it’s being built to tell them? Help!”
When it comes to setting out on your own, salon owners appreciate honesty and are willing to support you.
“My boss is incredibly supportive and loves to see the organic growth of her stylists even if it’s past her space,” says @gina.devine. “I think if you have a good relationship with your boss, and you can be honest and open there is no reason not to tell her. That being said, don’t prematurely announce anything you can’t commit to, because they will need time to fill your stations and help introduce new stylists into their space to replace you. If you want respect, give respect. The rest will follow.”
@haiirbysam shared her personal experience after going with a coworker who opened a salon. The two of them told their boss together, offering thanks for supporting them in their growth. “Everyone who owns their own business had to leave a business at one point to open up their own,” she says.
For @iwearblackallday, honesty was definitely the best policy…but she has some good advice in case that backfires. “I am currently working on my own studio and have been completely open and honest with my bosses. They are being as supportive as possible! Full disclosure is always the way to go in life. You can never control another person’s feelings or reactions, only your own. But also think about another salon you could use a chair in for the interim if you are asked to leave sooner than later.”
From an owner’s perspective, being transparent is encouraged if you want to maintain your reputation and client base. “When I hire barbers to work in my shop, I specifically look for people that express their desire to one day open their own shop,” says @city.barbers. “I teach everyone to give the best service as if it was their last day and they are about to open their own business. Everyone working in my shop knows that when the day comes for them to advance in their careers, I want to invest in them and their new business. Be open, be honest and work with your current shop owner to make a smooth and seamless transition.”
More input from an owner—consider offering to “buy” your clients by paying a percentage of every sale that comes to you in the first six months, says @localsbarbershop. “Your current boss invested in you and likely brought many of those clients to you. Err on the side of respect and at worst, you will be able to sleep at night knowing your own conscience is clear. As an owner, I can attest that I am willing to do MANY things to help my employees be successful, even as competition. But, you MUST respect them and communicate with them early and often for it to be reciprocated.”
On the flip side, many hairdressers haven’t had the greatest experiences in leaving to open their own salons. “I would wait until everything is done and give your boss a two-week notice,” says @leo_poshhairsalonnyc. “My friend and I were fired during the building of our salon—even though I was willing to stay until I found our replacements and trained them. He harassed us and stole from us. It was the worst experience I have ever gone through and don’t wish it upon anyone.”
“You can’t control your boss’s reaction to the news of you leaving his or her salon no matter how polite or respectful you are when you tell him or her,” adds @stylistmelika. “You have to look out for yourself. From my experience, it’s best to not give any notice. Most salon owners will view you as a threat to their bank account. And there’s no need to give a two-week notice when you have no intention of returning to work at that salon in the future or using them as a reference. On the day of the move, send the salon owner a text informing him or her of your move.”
But if you don’t want to be that secretive, @julieacosta_rch has some advice. “I wouldn’t say anything to anyone until your shop is built, and depending on your rental contract, give your current salon owner two weeks’ notice if that’s what the contract asks for. In the meantime, make sure you get every single client’s phone number and email address so you can contact them when you move. I opened a studio 3½ months ago. I gave my salon owner two weeks’ notice. I explained it wasn’t personal at all, that I just wanted to try something new and different. I told her I knew it was a risk, but if it didn’t work out, I could always go back into a salon environment as a renter. It will never be easy to break this news to your owner. But hopefully if he or she is supportive, it won’t feel awful.”
@queengober agrees that you should wait until you’re ready to leave to tell your boss—but above all, don’t recruit co-workers OR their clients. “People talk, and your clients talk. This should be handled without any negative speak about your current salon. Step out in class with a big thank you to your current salon owners. Be prepared for both positive and negative feedback.
And should you take your clients? For @leo_poshhairsalonnyc, it depends. “If they are your own clients because you rent a chair, then yes, you should take them, but if you work FOR the salon (commission or salary), then no, you shouldn’t take them,” she says.
But @stylistmelika disagrees. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a leaser or make commission: inform all your clients of your move,” she says. “Who’s going to open a new salon and not take their clients? You secretly call all your clients and inform them of your move at least a month in advance. But let them know you haven’t shared the good news with the salon, so they need to keep it on the hush. If they want to go with you or remain at the salon, it’s their decision.”
Adds @julieacosta_rch, “Make sure your clients know you have a Facebook page, an Instagram page, etc., in case the salon won’t forward them to you. That way they can easily find you.”
Food For Thought
Ultimately, think about how you will handle this situation as a future salon owner yourself, and the relationships you’ll build with your future employees, then act accordingly. Some #realtalk from @bridalhaircouturebykatie: “How you start your professional relationship with your bosses is how you will finish them. Most stylists know they will not work for the same person forever. If you want the support, love and encouragement of your bosses, then build a good relationship with them. Work hard, show respect and try not to make it so much about being besties as it is a good solid, professional relationship. If you get too cozy with your bosses, it becomes personal when you leave.”
As for “taking” clients, @lolaetmoi has some input: “A trend that has always disturbed me in the salon industry is the whole “keeping,” “taking,” and “giving away” clients. Your clients are not widgets, they are people. Most successful organizations understand this and work extremely hard to cultivate meaningful relationships with their clients in order to ensure long-lasting success. From day one on the floor, a stylist should be working hard to establish a brand with 1. an online presence; 2. a commitment to quality; and 3. a focus on developing and maintaining relationships with the 20 percent of clients that deliver 80 percent of their success. These are the clients that will follow you and be champions for your success and they will not be kept from you by anything or anyone, especially not by bitter bosses. If you’re not taking these measures, it will not matter who you work for, you will either stay on a steady course of doing “OK” or fail just as quickly as you started. Be your own business no matter who your bosses are.”