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Some Things I’ve Learned From 10 Years in My Industry

May 17, 2014


Today when I was walking down the hallway in the spa side of my friend’s salon, I got a whiff of a familiar scent. The smell of cucumber water and almond cream took me back to my first ever job when I started in this industry. Maybe it’s an appropriate time to reminisce, this summer is my 10 year anniversary since I started working as an esthetician and massage therapist (I only started doing nails in 2011).

I started out in a small skin care clinic after getting licensed, then moved to a small day spa because I wanted to do more massage instead of just doing facials and waxing. Eventually I moved to a rather large salon and had my first room rental. Prior to that I had been an independent contractor for years working on commission.

Gradually I worked my way to the side of town I wanted to be working in, got into another salon, then finally got into my office three and a half years ago. As much as I adore my office, I have found that I miss brig around other salon professionals and picked up part time commission spots first at a fabulous well known local spa, and now at the salon I fill in at currently. I’ve worked in 7 places, sometimes two at a time, and for one crazy summer, I was between 3 different places!

In this time I have learned a few valuable lessons. I have been both an independent contractor and a booth renter, and have many reasons for liking both. (I have also met so many incredible women, but that’s worth another post!) I thought I would share a few things that have helped me the most.

1) Don’t engage in salon gossip. Some salons are worse then others, but don’t feed into the fire. No one likes to be talked about behind their backs, it’s even worse to walk into the break room and know you’ve interrupted a gossipy conversation and worry that they were talking about you.

2) Trust your gut instincts. I left a place because I had a sinking feeling that the owner wasn’t going to be renewing her lease. Sure enough, 5 days before she was closing her doors, I got a panicked call from the receptionist wondering if the salon I moved to had an opening. I was grateful not to have to be in her position, but when you work closely with other people you learn things about them and how they function in life. If something seems off, it likely is. Same goes for when you interview at a new place, if something feels off, ask more questions, talk to current and former renters. Never commit without being 100% sure!

3) Don’t let a salon owner take advantage of you. You signed a contact (if you didn’t, demand one immediately, it protects you and her!), it holds you and the owner accountable to certain criteria. You will keep your room presentable and ready for a state board inspection at the drop of a hat. She helps provide an inviting atmosphere to get clients in the door and in some cases promises that the receptionist is competent. It is not the salon owner’s job to have access to your existing clients. If she wants your client list, RUN!

4) When working with people who do different services then you do, trade with them! Get your hair done, get a spray tan, allow the girl who specializes in wedding make up to do you up, get a pedicure. In return, give exceptional services back. Do a flawless massage, get the hair dresser’s knots out. Give a facial that will knock their socks off. They will refer their clients to you! It does you no good to go to another salon to get your hair done/brows waxed/nails manicured. It sends a message that you don’t trust the people you work with. The only acceptable exceptions are if you go to a family member outside of the salon. But be warned, your clients will ask you for recommendations within the salon and if you don’t have confidence in the people you work with, your clients won’t either. This also greatly reduces your ability to creat strong referral relationships within the salon.

5) Be nice to the other girls that you work with that provide the same service(s) as you do. It doesn’t do you any good to see them as competition. Get to know them, compliment them on things they do well. Trade with them and learn what makes them different from you. It’s always good to have someone you trust to refer your clients to on the off chance you get sick, move, or take time off to have a baby. These are the people you can learn the most from. Sure, some girls won’t share their trade secrets, but creating a healthy professional relationship with them will help your business. If they are booked with clients, you will be too and vice versa. These are your teammates, not the enemy. I can’t tell you have many times I have needed the help and support of my other massage therapist friends over the years. We absolutely have referred clients to each other since we all do different things. Additionally, these are the gals I call when I need a massage therapist because I’m doing pedicures at a spa party. Reaching out to give them business makes my business better. It comes back to me too.

6) Be flexible. Be easy going, but don’t be a door mat. Being standoffish isn’t professional. But being willing to come in on a Friday night because of a spa party when you’d rather be on a date with your husband could land you a new life long client. You never know what you are saying no to. With that said, if you can’t come in, then you can’t come. People are pretty understanding and generally respect that you have a social life.

7) Don’t burn bridges. With owners, co-workers or clients. It’s a small world. Everyone knows each other, especially where I live. Word does get out. If you are flakey, your salon owner has likely complained to someone about you. If you fire a client or screw something up with someone, it is possible to run into them again. Also, keeping things on good terms allows you to be in the position of having a former boss call you in a pinch to fill in because someone didn’t show up. You can always say no, but when you’ve had a slow week, it’s a sweet surprise to your wallet to go to an old salon and do 3 massages.

Obviously the most important thing is to hone your craft to make yourself stand out. You’re still in business for yourself and you have to get the bills paid some way. I’m sure I’ve left out other helpful things, but while I sit here, waiting for my next client, these tips are the ones I’ve carried with me for years. Most people drop out of the beauty industry in the first 5 years. It’s competitive, you can get very burned out, it can hurt your body. I’ve learned that taking my time to build my clientele and to learn from those around me has been amazingly beneficial. I can’t wait for what the next 10 years brings.


From → Beauty, Massage, My work

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