Salon owners often ask me how to avoid a stylist walkout. (We once had a 7 year stretch without losing a staff member to another salon) There are no guarantees, but, you can do your best to avoid it by following a few simple rules.
1. Don't hire superstars.
Superstars expect to be catered to. Your mission should be to set up a team atmosphere where everyone wins. Also, when you hire other peoples people, they come with preconceived ideas about how you should do things. "But that's not how we did it at my last salon." Instead I suggest you go to the best cosmetology school in your neighborhood and offer to do a "guest artist" class. The students will be excited to hear from you, and in the coming months you'll have a stack of new applications. Also many states offer a program that the students can come to your salon and assist you with no compensation in exchange for school hours. Then you take that new hire and train them to become a star within your system.
2. Require new hires to sign a non-compete agreement.
I require new hires to sign a non-compete, not because I want to have to enforce it later, but because it weeds out the people who weren't serious from the start. You eliminate the people who were thinking that they would let you build their clientele and then would bolt when they were busy. I let new people know that I want them to be as successful as possible, but, we need to be successful together. If I am going to spend a small fortune marketing and promoting them, I want to know we are in this for the long run together.
3. Become a salary and commission based salon.
This one should be a no brainer. If you're renting space, you're a landlord not a salon owner. In most booth rental situations it is everyman for himself. I want a team atmosphere where we are all working towards common goals. That rarely happens in booth rental salons.
4. Cool Factor/Have Fun
There are a lot of things that we do in our business just because they are cool. It may be internet at every station, big screen T.V's, a juice bar, or just amazingly friendly staff. Whatever it is, if your salon is the coolest place in town it will be difficult for staff to leave because anywhere else they work would be a let down. Have fun! It's pretty hard to leave a place where you're having fun. If your staff enjoys what they do they'll figure out all on their own how to be excellent at it. Want to know more about becoming unique? Read Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Seth explains how you can either be remarkable or invisible. A must read if you're serious about standing out from the crowd. Remember, it is often all the little things that add up to make a big difference. A beautiful salon, a friendly staff, complimentary refreshments, continuing education etc.
5. Love your people.
You can't fake this one. If you truly care about your staff and want them to be successful they'll know it. If you are doing everything you can to provide a great place to work they'll want to stay. I have found that the vast majority of people want to be part of something. They will be loyal if they know they are being treated fairly and they have the opportunity to advance through their efforts. If you help them become successful, they'll help you become successful.