“Start with education to banish burnout. Pick a technical or artistic topic that interests you, try some business programs or customer service seminars to help you meet the demands of the post-pandemic consumer or check out systems for retailing more products. The more products you retail, the fewer clients you need to see to meet your numbers.”
As the pandemic moves into year two, women are leaving the U.S. workforce in droves. In fact, according to CBS News, nearly 3 million U.S. women dropped out of the labor force in the past year. Many of those women are beauty professionals.
Some have been furloughed or the salon they worked for closed. Others are frustrated by a lack of clients—or a lack of the right clients. On the opposite side, some are booked out so far that clients trying to squeeze in are causing stress, as is a supply chain that still hasn’t resumed its full capacity. With daycares closed, mothers have left to care for their preschool children or to home-school their older children, who still haven’t returned to school in some states. Many are also caring for their parents who can no longer have outside caregivers come in because of the risk of COVID-19. To compound those issues, many salons often lack paid leave benefits and offer little flexibility when it comes to changing the schedule to allow for emergencies. Of course, with the majority of the salon workforce being independent, they don’t have benefits unless they’re paying for them.
In other cases, the pandemic has simply brought to the surface issues that have been lurking for years, including service prices that are too low to bring in enough income even when fully booked; frustration with disloyal, rude or demanding clients with unrealistic expectations; clients who try to leave without paying; and, of course, an ever-growing number of no-shows. Plus, the inability to double book or work with an assistant in some states has limited income dramatically.
Any two of those together can lead to undue stress, and many service providers are managing multiple issues. If you’re feeling discouraged or burnt out, what can you do?
- Do the numbers—Your day is your week is your month is your year. Know how many clients you must service per day, then how much money you need to bring in per client to pay your bills, live the lifestyle you desire, put money away for an emergency and save for retirement.
- Charge what you’re worth. Factor in your expertise, experience and time. Leave any one of those out of the equation, and you’re shorting yourself.
- Start with education to banish burnout. Pick a technical or artistic topic that interests you, try some business programs or customer service seminars to help you meet the demands of the post-pandemic consumer or check out systems for retailing more products. The more products you retail, the fewer clients you need to see to meet your numbers.
- As benefits become more important, you might want to consider looking into an employee-based salon that offers stability from health benefits, paid sick days and more, at least for awhile.
- Team up with like-minded colleagues for support, camaraderie and commiseration. Focus on the positives and the solutions. Facebook offers many groups for this. Find one with the culture that works for you. Also, find a group outside of beauty—business owners in your town, artists, etc. for new inspiration.
- Prioritize what’s important to you. Especially recently, I’ve heard stylists say things like, “I missed my kids’ growing up for clients who don’t care about me.” Of course that fosters disappointment and resentment. Starting today, schedule your family—or whatever else matters most to you—first.
- Me-time is important, too. Schedule your me-time before you book your clients, so you can recharge your body, mind and spirit. When you’re fresh and happy, you’re more creative.
Finally, some professionals are simply leaving the business for a new career. I’ve heard everything from real estate to sales positions to banking to selling products for multi-level marketing companies to going back to school to pursue a long-term passion. Some found they made more money working Instacart while salons were closed, without the stress of dealing with clients all day. Others are making things and opening stores on Etsy and other platforms, because above all, being creative matters to them. While we never want to see you leave, we want you to be happy.
Are you considering leaving the salon business or downsizing your career? Let me know your thoughts at email@example.com.
Jayne Morehouse is president of Jayne & Company, a full-service Public Relations, Social Media Marketing and Content Development Agency for companies, brands, salons and spas. She is also the CEO of the Beauty Industry Report, a digital magazine for senior executives in the professional beauty business. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.bironline.com.