Ken’s clinic

Ken’s diagnosis:

The first thing to understand is whether you have a job or a business.
If you have a job then you spend all of your time cutting hair and putting money into the till. You probably generate the most money in the salon but often pay yourself less than you pay your team. If you have a business then that should produce money for you when you are not cutting hair and this is when you can work on the business and not in the business.

There is rarely a time when you switch from job to business overnight, but understanding you will never achieve success without management skills is vital. Salons rarely fail because of poor hairdressing, but many fail because of poor management. The next thing to understand is there are three clear management functions. Administration, business development and team development. All three are vital. Most salon owners spend too much time on the admin of their business because they don’t have the correct systems in place. The ‘paperwork’ of a salon should be reasonably simple and consume very little time. A computerised bookkeeping system, updated weekly, should take no more than an hour or so and will save time for you and your accountants in the long run. It is likely that HMRC will make this mandatory eventually so get on board early.

 Many salon owners believe an hour spent cutting hair is more important than an hour spent promoting their business. This is short-term thinking and unless you spend time developing ideas and opportunities, others will take them and you will miss out.

And finally, failing to focus on team development and creating a career path with long-term opportunities, is the major reason why salons lose team members. This should be a key priority of management. Regular one-to-ones where performance is reviewed, aims, ambitions and long-term goals are established and set, should be diarised and prioritised over anything else. Often these are overlooked or moved in the misguided belief that the needs of a customer for a haircut are more important. Nothing is more important than your team. Without them you won’t be able to serve clients anyway!

Early in the life of a salon all of this can seem overwhelming but, as you grow, self-discipline, time management and prioritising what is best for business is vital. Slowly move from ‘working in’ to ‘working on’ and then cutting hair becomes a choice not a necessity, a pleasure not a chore!

Ken West is director of business experts 3•6•5 – email him on


Ken West