I own a beauty salon. Right now I have 6 workers (2 stylists and 4 therapists). The stylists are specialized in cutting and all hair treatment, while the therapists generally do creambath, hair mask, and body spa.

My problems:

First, when I don't have enough customers, someone will not work. No problem for me but they will be fighting over it (they get paid by commision although they still get basic salary).

I try to make a turn based system, the one who comes to work earlier will take on the first customer. They all agree on this. This seemed to be my best solution until I realized that's not the only problem. They all now look for certain work, the type which takes less time and is expensive (so they get more income). This makes them picky especially during the peak hours (or days).

My other problem is I have one pro stylist that has asked to be prioritized (stated in the contract). I find this difficult to manage as now my therapist are also able (and trained) to do all kinds of treatment (including smoothing and coloring), it's a benefit for the salon but not for my stylist.

All these problems reappear every week and I am now confused with my own system, the customers come by with or without reservation. Some of them only want to be handled by a specific person. This ruins my turn-based system.

I always motivate my worker to give their best service to their customer so they would come back and pick them. But now I think that could collide with my own system.

The friendship among workers is not strong anymore, they hold grudges for each other, the workplace is not a home for them anymore.

  • 2
    Why did you decide to pay by commission in the first place?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 7:37
  • 3
    So if it doesn't work for you, switch to the other 5%. You should filter out laziness in your hiring process. And the risk of a business (e.g. no customers) should be better at the business itself, not the employees.
    – dirkk
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 8:10
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    your idea is good but unfortunately i am not in a big city, i put ads looking for good local hairstylist/therapist but no one so far could fill up to the criteria. all my workers right now are from other/big city, with good offer they're willing to come to small city. with qualified worker, my salon actually gained fame so fast and become popular (if not the best) salon in my city. its actually paid off. but as manager/owner i need to find solution to my problem asap before it spread and become a wound.
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 8:40
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    @Relaxed changing my payment model is currently impossible. they all have lengthy contracts. I prefer on creating a better working system. i believe my worker still has good attitude to comply with new system/ rules, its on me now to give them the fair one.
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 8:58
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    Meanwhile, and I think that this is the most important: remember that in the end, all the clients are your clients, or more technically, the salon's clients. Be careful of boxing yourself into a situation where one day, if a stylist leaves, all their clients leave with them! This means that every now and then, you need to work with the client and the stylist together so that the client is loyal to the salon, not to the stylist. Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 10:35

4 Answers 4


Solution is simple, have a receptionist/cashier do the work and assign the customers to stylists. This is how it's always done here for exactly the same reasons. So the customer comes in, asks for a haircut etc,. at reception, and the stylists have no say in who gets the customer. That makes it transparently fair to all.

Appointments with particular stylists go through the same process, the receptionist has a list of them and makes sure everything goes smoothly. Lastly the receptionist handles all the cash.

  • 'and the stylists have no say in who gets the customer' except that now everyone wants to be receptionist's best friend to get a preferential treatment. Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 10:01
  • @SalvadorDali it's what works, goes without saying that the receptionist needs to be carefully chosen. If you don't do it that way you have chaos, bitterness, rivalries, missing money and a lot more. This way you just got to keep an eye on one person. If everyone knows the rules, there are no issues.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 10:08
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    thank you, great answer, my casheer actually has the same jobdesc like you said. she list the guests and tell whose turn is up. the problem is (look at my 2nd question) if reserved customer come for particular stylist, does it mean her turn is considered used and goes to the back of the cycle again? one way or another the one who has many loyal customers will benefit from this. but it relieved me when you said this is a common problem.
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 11:22
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    oh and also, if i were a stylist,and i know the next turn is mine, oh and i see the next customer ask for the treatment i don't like to do (whatever the reason) , i will then look for any way to skip that. so i could take the next one, i just need to provide a good reason to my cashier. this happened but sometimes it happened for really a real reason. and i am not there to decide.. again one way or another , other stylist would come complain to me. the cashier is not fair.., that stylist was cheating, etc..
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 11:22
  • 1
    That's why you need a good cashier, because you only got one person you need to discipline. If everyone is complaining about the cashier, you need to discipline or replace them.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 11:58

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Change the commissions so that the less desirable work carries a higher commission rate than the more desirable work.
  • Prioritize who gets more desirable work based on how much of the less desirable work each stylist has done during the past week. People who are stepping up and doing what needs doing go up the priority list.
  • its not easy for me to manage the commission rate because some treatments has large price gap. e.g : my creambath starts as low as: $10 to $20 (with 15% commission), while Smoothing price starts from $70 to $ 150 (with 10% commission). reducing the commission for smoothing will not good for my team's morale while increasing the commission , say for example to 30% for creambath still has not much effect because the cheap base price , and also not good for company profit.
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 6:21
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    @Goofy_Phie: Ok, if the creambath is so unprofitable, maybe you should consider not offering it at all. And if it's important to your busingess to offer it despite this (maybe to attract clients, I don't know), then your business will have to eat the cost of offering it, such as a low profit margin due to high commision. You can't have your cake and eat it too...
    – sleske
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 13:27
  • If you choose to adjust the commissions do it as one set of changes, design it to keep the total commission payout unchanged or slightly increased, and explain why you are doing it. Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:28

I'll suggest the following modification - Reduce the amount of commission and increase the basic salary of each employee such that their total would be the same as previous month. This will reduce incentive for rivalry without eliminating competition. Have an open discussion with them if you feel they need to understand the reasons for this. If a customer asks for a particular stylist, that request should be honoured, but 2 such requests should be counted as 1 turn through the queue for the stylist. That will enable everyone to get a fair chance at serving customers, while keeping some upside for the better performers.

  • love it, especially the 2 request counted as 1 turn idea.
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 0:56

A Summary of Your Turn-based System (with a Couple of Suggestions)

  1. Follow your batting order as-is now (the early bird gets the worm).
  2. Stylists must accept their clients, no matter what kind of treatment the client asks for.
  3. New clients cannot choose their stylists their first time, but they can reject the stylist if they do not like them.
    • You do this so that new stylists get a chance to expand their client base...
    • ...but you still give the clients a chance to "choose" their favorite stylist by elimination...
    • ...and this naturally motivates new stylists with a (natural) opportunity to (have to) put their best foot forward.
    • Even if the client has been introduced by a particular stylist, do not let the client choose (this is your salon, not the client's salon and definitely not your stylists' salon)...
    • ...but the introducing stylist may ask the scheduled stylist to cut in, in which case, both stylists lose their turn. This means that the introducing stylist goes to the end of the rotation as does the scheduled stylist. Both people must lose their turn or people will try to cheat the system (e.g., choosing the clients they want to work with or only the expensive treatments, etc.).
  4. Returning clients can designate their stylist...
    • ...in which case, this is just like when stylists cut in, so...
    • ...the scheduled stylist loses their turn...
    • ...as does the designated stylist.
    • Again, this is to prevent cheating of the system and to discourage stylists from picking and choosing their clients and picking and choosing to only perform the treatments with high profit margins.
  5. And this is the most important, key point: Clients must be loyal to the salon, not to the stylist.
    • No matter how good a rapport the clients have their stylists, your rappot with the clients must be even better.
    • If you ever plan on selling the salon one day, what you are selling is essentially your client base, so you will need to be able to pass on a client base that maintains the clients' trust and loyalty as much as possible.
    • How do you know a client is loyal to the salon and not to the stylist? When you are 100% sure that a client will stay even though their favorite stylist has left, then you know that your client is loyal to your salon.
  • My mom used to own a couple of (successful) salons and this is how she used to do it. I manage teachers at an English language school now and this is how I do it as well. Your name, your brand, your reputation is your single, most important asset and so you must protect it at (almost) all costs. Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 11:31
  • And if you think that my rules about cutting in are too harsh, know that I took them from a board game that is for players ages six through adult, so if children can play by these rules, then adults can, too. Plus, cutting in (and letting people cut in) is (almost) always wrong, so of course, there should be a penalty :O :D. Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 11:57
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    Interesting system. However, I don't understand why, when a client asks for a certain stylist, both that stylist and the scheduled stylist should lose their turn. Why can the scheduled stylist not just get the next client? Your system seems unfair to the scheduled stylist, who lose their "slot" even though they did nothing wrong.
    – sleske
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 13:34
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    i appreciate your idea, but still for me, i can't accept that scheduled and designated stylist both lose their turn idea. how can we blame/punish the scheduled stylist just because a client designated particular stylist. if the stylist queue a,b,c,d,e,f then come a client and pick c , so now its b,d,e,f,a,c .. if i am 'a' , i will smash and break all the mirrors in that salon :) jk, what i mean is i dont know if i misunderstood you on this case. its diffrent of course if 'c' rejected and give up his/her turn to 'b', if so, i agree 'b' and 'c' have to go back to the end of the queue.
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 10:13
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    don't worry about my salon, let us just see this as discussion, in the end, i definetely will consider all the suggestions i get from here. back to the case, I do agree the happiness of salon is more important, but the happiness of one workplace consist of / build up from the individual happiness. "a" definitely would be angry, more over it could happened again when she finally in the top queue and suddenly another client come and pick other stylist. this way, the one with more client base (the senior one) would benefit more from this.
    – Goofy_Phie
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 12:53

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