The Power of the “New Sheriff in Town”

by | Farr Factor

The number of times I’ve seen this and been a part of it over my last 44 years of managing people is beyond my “old person’s memory” – but suffice it to say, there are many salons and many salon chains that critically need new leadership. When it happens, when a new “sheriff” or new leader is installed – and it’s the right leader – great stuff happens! Fortunately, or unfortunately, about 9-10 years ago, many salon owners discovered a wide open opportunity called indoor tanning. In those days, you didn’t have to be good … you just had to be open. But, competition in the category and within the “indulgence” fields, coupled with the economy over the last several years, has turned what seemed like a simple business, into real work.

But as an industry consultant, the hardest part for me is getting a veteran salon owner to realize that along with increased competition and less discretionary spending, there is an absolute requirement to have an excellent, engaged staff. And along with that requirement goes excellent leadership to direct the “engagement” process. Unfortunately, when times were better and easier, many owners tended to just throw bodies at the problem of burgeoning sales – any bodies. It seemed that for a while, all that was required for someone to be a salon manager was a beating heart and the freedom to start work today.

However, today’s cash-strapped consumer wants more from the girl behind the counter than, “How many minutes do you want today?” and, “Are you okay with the same bed as last time?” They want and demand real commitment from salon consultants who will guide them and “bond” with them in their “look good-feel great” quest. But, sharp sales consultants are not just born, they must be made. Some DNA advantages can help, such as the interpersonal skills one can inherit; but the more important factor is what a person learns from company leaders about the values of work and delighting customers. That usually doesn’t not happen without a solid, mature judgment manager, district manager, owner, etc.

What are the results of having the right leader in place? Over the years, I’ve had a nearly 75 percent hit record of helping owners to acquire better manager leaders (Sorry, that was shameless self-promotion), and the results are often seen in just a few weeks.

Consider the case of an eight-salon chain in the northeast where we recently recruited and hired a new DM and helped “retire” the person who had been in that position for eight years. A new leader is a new sheriff who monitors compliance with company rules and procedures and gives everyone a sense of direction, versus leading by emotional impulse. But, good leadership is not just being a policeman.

It’s about inspiration. The new DM in our northeastern salon chain is showing that there are success reasons for doing what needs to be done … success for both the owner and the entire staff. Commissions are up and the chain’s PTA will hit numbers never seen before! For details on what makes a great salon leader, see my September ist Magazine column “A Dirty Dozen of Salon Leadership” or visit (More shameless self promoting! My bad.)

Meanwhile, keep an eye on your critical numbers (Per Tan Average, Per Customer Average, EFT conversion ratio, revs and rev trends), and ask yourself, “Do I have the right team at the counter and do they have the best leader?” Even less-than-great-looking salons can win the day with a staff that is charged up and well led.

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