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Recruiting Stylists to a Salon

Special to The Times

Question: I have opened a beautiful new salon and need to attract hairstylists to work for me. I put an ad in the local paper but got no response. How should I go about finding talented personnel?

Answer: Your recruiting strategy should follow your business plan. Do you envision a salon that is known immediately as one of the best in town? If so, you’ll need to hire some top stylists away from other shops. Do you plan to build clientele slowly and nurture young talent? You can scout promising students at beauty schools and offer them their first jobs.

If you want to snag established, popular stylists for your salon, you must be prepared to give them good reasons -- including financial incentives -- to join you and bring their clients with them. You’ll also need to establish a professional environment that these stylists will enjoy.

“One of the first things to do is research the current contractual agreements that are standard in your area between independent stylists and salon owners,” said John Musser, owner of San Francisco-based Enhanced Sales Potential, a hiring and training firm.

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Also, call some local competitors and make appointments with the busiest stylists in their shops, he recommended.

“Go get your hair done, or send a friend to get her hair done, and strike up a conversation. Once you have met the stylists and seen them work, you can get a feel for whether they might fit into your new salon.”

While you’re there, you may also be able to learn more about the hairdressers’ work contracts.

Checking out potential rivals " will take time, and it may cause some hard feelings amongst your competition,” Musser said, “but if your work environment is appealing and the money you offer is good, you will draw some of the best stylists to your salon.”

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If you’re content with building your business more slowly, think about hiring younger stylists who have talent but have not yet built a following.

“Visit a local hair-styling school and interview the faculty,” Musser suggested. “Inform them of your plan and get insight from them about who are their most creative and promising students.” Once they graduate, offer them jobs.

For a service business like yours, employees are key, he noted. “The people working for you will either make your business successful or cause it to fail.”

Go to Your Peers for Professional Referrals

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Q: I own my own company. I’ve attended business seminars but the information I’ve gotten about tax strategies and asset protection has been inconsistent and opportunistic. How can I find professionals?

A: Business seminars are often designed to sell you something rather than to give you solid financial information.

Your best sources for professional referrals are other business owners.

So, skip the seminars and ask your peers for the names of accountants and lawyers who have provided them with excellent service at reasonable prices.

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Don’t know your peers? Join a local Chamber of Commerce or business association. Or look for a structured peer advisory group run by a nonprofit economic development or business assistance organization. There also are independent business advisory groups such as TEC, www.teconline.com/www/featuredcities/losangeles.asp.

It also sounds like you need an experienced accountant. Paul O’Reilly, a small-business consultant with O’Reilly & Associates in Los Angeles, suggested you seek out a certified public accounting firm that has tax expertise and that specializes in small to medium-sized businesses.

You can get referrals from the California Society of CPAs, www.calcpa.org (click on “public,” then on “find a CPA”). Ask professionals you contact whether you can speak to some of their clients.

“Combining a formal referral with a personal referral from another business owner will be your best bet,” O’Reilly said.

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Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to karen.e.klein@ latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.


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