Successfully Build A Sustainable Career in The Salon Industry

Part 1 of a Series

Explore Your Unlimited Possibilities ~ Salon Gurus Provides Online Courses, Guidance &Wisdom for Beauty Professionals


Janet McCormick & Karen Hodges

Fort Myers, FL – Whether you are a full-service salon and spa owner or an independent beauty professional, you need to think long term about how to build a sustainable career. Most owners and independent professionals do not have a sustainable business model or a long term strategy which creates extra daily stress and financial worries. Karen Hodges and Janet McCormick started Salon Gurus as a valuable new online resource for advanced education and industry advice for how to be successful in the business of beauty.  They regularly counsel beauty professionals on the importance of building a rewarding career that will be both profitable and enjoyable.

Examine Your Business Model: Hodges shares, “The biggest issue we are seeing with salons and spas is that they do not create a business model that separates employees versus independent contractors. In order to be profitable, salons should keep their commissions at around 35%. The smaller salons have bumped their commissions to be competitive, paying 50% or more to entice workers. Yet, that high commission structure is not sustainable and they end up needing to cut corners in other ways.”

sglogoThe first thing being cut is holidays and vacations. Then, owners often institute back bar charges, credit card processing fees, receptionist costs and more. Salon owners simply cannot fulfill the obligations of an employer, if they are paying too much commission. Another vital issue is payroll taxes. “If a salon owner is not deducting payroll taxes, then they do not have employees at all. They then have contractors.  If they are treating contractors as employees, there will be a problem if they are audited. The IRS has discovered what a cash cow auditing salons is. They can immediately charge owners for back payroll taxes plus penalties and interest.  For example, an employee who earns around $1,000 a week will have annual gross wages of around $50K. The employment taxes alone on that is 15.3% or $7,650 due to the IRS for one year. Imagine if you had ten employees and were audited! Keep in mind the IRS can audit you for the three previous years. The numbers would be devastating to any business.”

Create Self Awareness: The first step owners and independent practitioners need to do for a sustainable plan is do an analysis of their business model and to create self-awareness. Hodges says, “You can’t fix something that you do not know is broken.  Not having enough clients is not a problem, it is a symptom.  Are you marketing, are you getting sufficient new clients, are you retaining these new clients and are you getting positive referrals? Get some self-awareness and then once you have a feel for your issues and challenges, we can talk about the specific things to target.”  The most common issue for employers is staff and client retention. Owners often do not recognize that if they have recurring retainment problems, it may be them!  Hodges says, “People will stay where their self-interests are being served. So, put your ego aside and consider why employees should want to work with you and what you offer.”  For salon and spa practitioners, the issue is usually commission or whether they are expected to do the duties of an employee versus a contractor, such as folding towels in downtime. Next, take a look at what is going well.  “When you knock the wind out of someone’s sails, then you have to give them a little puff!  What are your strengths and what makes you unique? Once we know what we can highlight about you we can move forward and build a solid and sustainable plan around that.”

Change Your Mindset:  Salon owners and professional beautycare practitioners should recognize their value and the worth of their time. “We have to wedge in the brain the fact that you have a career. If you do something every day for a number of years, that is a career and you need to treat it as such.” Hodges and McCormick teach time management skills and productive scheduling to positively affect success. They advise scheduling clients back-to-back in either the morning or afternoon and using the rest of the day for telephone calls, planning referrals or going out to market yourself. “When clients are scheduled together, it is more efficient and gives the impression you are booked solid!  When you have openings, call clients you haven’t seen lately and tell them you have an opening that would be perfect for them.  People will love that you thought enough of them to call and provide a personal touch!”

Elevate Your Career & Grow Your Business:  For more information about Salon Gurus and their online certification programs for independent estheticians and nail technicians, as well as for spas and cosmetology school education programs, visit, contact Janet McCormick at [email protected] or call 863-273-9134.