Leaving So Soon? Are Stylists in Your Salon Checking Out Early?

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It’s a Saturday afternoon and your chair has been empty since 2 p.m.; you’re on the schedule until 5 p.m. As a stylist, do you stay and hope for last minute business? Use your downtime to catch up on cleaning or prep work you haven’t gotten to yet? Or is it better to cut your losses and take off early? Our BTC Facebook community chimed in with their opinions after BTC Member Linda Cruz posed this question: “I have a 12 stylist salon: all are on commission, not hourly pay. What are your feelings about staff members leaving early?  When stylists are finished with their last client, instead of staying for walk-ins/building their book etc., they leave. Thoughts?”

Stay ‘Till the End
For many stylists and owners, staying until the end of a shift is a not only a no-brainer—it’s a requirement. Some argue that staying at a salon despite a lack of clients is a reflection of dedication, drive and a good professional work ethic. As the old adage goes, “there’s always something to do…”

Amy Lynne DeFriece
 said, “I work in the same type of salon [as Linda]. We are hired under the understanding that ‘this is your schedule, these are your responsibilities. Do not comply, and you may lose your privilege to work here. At the end of the day, that salon has to have people in it to take care of business. That is how you keep the doors open.”  Jen Hastings agrees:  “They are still your employees—not self-employed—and should respect their schedules and the rules of the salon. Most of my stylists are on commission and they all ask permission to leave.” Kim Cole-Simpson has the same perspective: “Legally, a commissioned employee has to be paid hourly if commission does not meet minimum wage. Therefore, if they are an employee, not booth renters, then they need to stay for the whole shift. I was employed for years at a commission salon and have run several salons. I always stayed and so did my employees. If they are leaving early, this is indicative of their work ethic and I would re-evaluate their place on your team.”

Likewise, Alli Nicole adds:  “You can’t fake passion. I wouldn’t let anyone touch my hair who says they would leave [before their shift is over]. People who stay are the people who challenge themselves as artists and truly fine-tune their craft–those are the people I let do my hair, because I trust their skill level completely. Staunch supporterRose Newman Kaiser says there is no ‘gray area’ when it comes to the issue of staying or leaving, passionate or not. She believes stylists are on the schedule for a reason: “I am an owner and have been for 26 years. [Issues like this] are part of the reason why our Industry is taking such a beating and being bought out by big corporations. Look, you work there, you stay there, you clean there. Period. How is it the owner’s responsibility to clean the salon? She opened her doors to you, assumes all financial responsibility, insurers the place and stocks it, advertises, and somehow it is her job to also clean it? All for the ‘blessing’ of receiving 50-percent of your pay? Taking into account the other bills that need to be paid like lights, water, gas, etc., it’s almost never a clean 50-percent anyways. Wake up, smell the perm solution and take responsibility for YOUR salon.”

Head For the Door
As with many other hotly debated salon issues, Tammy Moore, like many others on the “pro-stylist” side of things, has a lot to say in response: “Renting a chair in an establishment, commission or otherwise, does not mean the stylist is responsible for your BUSINESS responsibilities, outside of providing courteous services, with integrity of cleanliness for the space they are sharing with you and other staff. If it is yourbusiness, then you are responsible for details, not your commissioned staff.” Ashley Farrell heartily agrees: “We are PEOPLE, not robots! Hair does not have to be on my mind 24/7 [for me to be a “good” stylist]. I have a life outside of my career.  Just because I want to leave early after a full and successful day, I have no passion? That’s not true at all. I have worked 14 hour days, I have worked 11 days in a row, I have forgotten to eat for an entire day, I have traveled hours just to attend hair shows… I have put ten years’ worth of blood, sweat, tears and hundreds of destroyed white shirts into this career and no one is going to make me feel bad for leaving an hour early!”

Ashley Ann Henry said, “The stylists that have sat in a salon countless hours just hoping someone would walk in to get a haircut appreciate the feeling of a full schedule, but come on… be realistic—let the stylist(s) go home. If they miss a new client, then that’s their loss. Be honest—any chance I ever get to leave earlier on a Saturday is a treat for me, and every last one of you that are real, full-time, behind the chair stylists have felt the same way.” Tina Lombardi has some sound advice for those struggling with this issue at their own salons: “I’ve been doing hair for 28 years, and was on commission until I became an owner 10 years ago. No lunches, dinner or breaks—Ibusted my butt to build a clientele, all to be able to leave that hour or two early once the salon was stabilized so I could actually have a life. If you are an owner and you want staff to stay, it’s simple… pay them a base. I never worked for free and my employees shouldn’t either.”

“As a stylist for 16 years and a salon owner for two, I have seen it all and when I opened my doors, I swore I would never treat a stylist working in my salon how I was treated, or make them go through what I had to endure.  I have five girls working by commission and although they are my employees, when their last client on the book is done, they are free to leave after cleaning their area/mess. If they choose to stay for the hope of walk-ins, great! If not, I always smile and tell them I am jealous with a grin and to have a FABULOUS night! Ladies, we ALL work hard enough in this business.  I know as an owner that if I have a light shift, I am the first one to call it a day and head home to my family!” said Nancy Campobasso.

Meet Me In the Middle
Though it appears to be a rare occurrence, there are times where stylists and owners can come to a compromise that works for both parties on those not-so-busy days.

Karen Smith explains that at her spa, “We have a stand-by system. The first person to go on stand-by can leave up to one hour early, the next person 45 minutes, then 30 minutes early. We just recently implemented the rule to have at least one person from each department be on the property for walk-ins. Everyone has a list of side work, inventory and a client list so they can send cards, make phone calls, etc. We have this in our new hire paperwork as well.”

Indeed, outlining the expectations of both the owners and the stylists right from the get-go can help to avoid tense situations, problems or misunderstandings down the road. And if you are unsure what your salon will or will not allow with your schedule—just ask!

Originally published here.

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