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This thread is directed at all of the salon owners out there.

We all know that California is not a state that is friendly for commission based salons. Most successful salons in California are chair rental based. My qualm with this is quality control. Because of this fact, I have and will continue to, resist restructuring to a rental salon.

The question is, who of you out there run SUCCESSFUL commission based salons with happy stylists? What is your pay structure? I am certain there are many salon owners out there that would appreciate your candor. 

I want to retain my integrity and also my stylists ... 

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We have two VERY successful Aveda Salons and have appx 125 stylists, and spa technicians. Our turnover rate is extremely low and all of our stylists make a very, very good living. I am in management, yet I also am a Colorist. I see every side of the story with commission, and I am 100% for it. I think it gives the salon owner the ability to control the integrity of the work being produced, yet it also gives the stylist the ability and security to build a book and work in a salon with reputation that represents the masses. We pay a sliding scale commission, and we also pay hourly if the commission earned is less than what hourly would pay. Being a commission salon also affords the ability to provide health care and 401k plans to our team. Its a no brainer!!

Can I request the details of your scale? What commission percentages do you pay and what numbers do your stylists have to reach to achieve those percentages? My stylists are currently at: 

$0 - $1800  @ 38 % 

$1801-$2400 @ 42%

$2401 and up @ 48 %


We pay a base wage for 3 months after the stylist graduates from our assisting program; after that, we offer commission on services provided.

Our haircut prices starts at $50.00 and cap out at $115.00, depending on the stylists skill level .

Theses are numbers based on a 2 week pay period.

I want to revive this conversation! 

Adam, are you still following this pay scale? What is your average service income per week for a stylist at the 50$ level? Does your staff generalize?

I currently pay a base wage plus tiered commission, but am toying with the idea of going to just straight commission. There's pros and cons to both, so i'm trying to see whats working for everyone. 

I received an e-mail alert about this thread so I must have participated somewhere. I probably noted that in a commission environment it is possible to pay about 40% to the stylist before the profitability fails for the salon to want to support that stylist very much, and we all know where that ends up.

What I would add at this point is this: Team Based Pay.

While I think commission is a decent way to pay what is fair for everyone, there are much better pay systems being developed that maximize all that Professional Salons and Professional Stylists are looking for, and they all fall, under the overall concept of being Team Based. Think of all that is good about commission, and put it on steroids and you get the idea of how team based works.

We used the team based pay from Strategies group from 2006 til about 2012.........when the economy took a nose dive and our clients had to cut back on hair services or loose their house...we suffered greatly and went into the hole after mid 2009.......we still paid the hourly salary for team based pay by borrowing money continually until end of 2012.......

I know Strategies would say "you just didn't hold stylist accountable!, or you should always be growing and retention should remain hi if you do enough stylist education"!......... That is true in theory, but when you are doing great work and have no complaints and are not overpriced.......only the clients are loosing their job and house.....they can't afford to come in as often........that's when team based doesn't a good economy and growing salon or even slow growth salon, it is good. IT is hard to cut a stylist hourly rate even if they know the salon isn't producing the numbers....
The other problem we had was paying new stylist hourly when they were going through our training program......paying hi enough rates to attract students from beauty schools and then perfecting their skills before they went on the floor or before they had a client base.......only to have them leave for a booth rental.........over and over, year after year.........we trained them and then never got a chance to grow now we offer 40% commission.

Good luck finding what works.....everyone will say this one is best or that is best......

Hi Jen,

 I currently still sit at the above commission scale, although I am revamping it a bit in the next few months for all future hires. I will be dropping the scale down to sit between 32%-42%. My reasons to do so that running a commission based salon that there are literally pennies made for the salon when my stylist hit 48%. We take all earnings and reinvest them back into the salon to nurture continual growth of my team as well the future of the business. We are looking at opening up a few more small satellite salons where my senior team would then be-able to take on more leadership in management and education and become a profit sharer of the salon.

My staff does not specialize, I would love to have a salon where they did but honestly our market is a challenge for that type of in salon structure. 

 As far as weekly service totals for somebody at a $50 haircut price..... Their average salon ticket is $78.00 in serviced per client due to other serviced being done at a higher ticket value. They average on 6 clients a day at $78 times 4 days a week equals about 1850 plus or minus dollars........ Please remember this is my first tier of stylist, these numbers are average..... Where some of m stylist do a lot more than that represented number and some do less..... Its all about self accountability..... well most of it anyways.

Adam, these numbers translate to just shy of $50,000 per year (figuring another $200 per week in tips). I would think that this puts your lowest tier stylists in the top 10% of all hairstylists in the U.S. In an industry with such a huge stylist attrition rate and the chronic under-employment problems (e.g. chain salons designed to run on minimum wage pay scales and trying to make a go at it in the world of independent self employment) I applaud you. In what other industry is it possible to go to one year of school and have the potential to make this kind of money? 

Dennis, Just to be clear that this is after they have spent the better part of 1 1/2 years in addition to their schooling in my assistant  program. As they are developing their technical we spend just as much time as how to build and retain a strong clientele. By the time they are out of the program they should be booked at an average of  80% productivity in a 4 day work week.

Yes, Adam, I figured as much. This is the part of the industry narrative that is simply missing, and why so many  hairstylists fail and/or struggle to make a living. From what I see, essentially beauty school students have come to the idea that a year of beauty school will get them to this point. Of course, it won’t.

I just want to make sure I'm understanding this when someone first hits the floor in your salon they average being 80% booked right from the start? Would you mind giving me a quick few ways that you make that happen? I don't doubt you at all and have great respect for you but that seems almost impossible to me, unless I'm misunderstanding you.

Hey Alex,

 The way it works is like this....

They enter the salon as a assistant. They have 2 full days of education Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are required to bring in a minimum of 3 models per day. 

 They are given 2 hours per model. minus lunch and theory that takes care of their 8 hour work day.

At 6 months in (average) they gain an additional model day lets say it happens to be Wednesday. They are now required to have models each day but their time allotment has been dropped to 1.5 hours for each model...

They must maintain a 80% productivity for 3 months  as well test out on technical proficiency to gain another day to take models. 

 on average the above phase is about 3 months.

The next phase they are given a 4th model day say its Fridays, now they are being booked on the hour and must maintain the 80% as well have tested out on techniques put forth....

 The next period of growth is to become a stylist, to obtain this they have maintained 80% productivity as well tested out of the program....

 This is a quick answer as I am in between clients typing this.... Does it help clarify it a bit more?


Adam, I am a rent based barbershop in Miami with salon like principles. Everyone is actually on board to create a more salon-like operation, as we consider ourselves a Men's Grooming Salon. It started as a rent based shop because that's all I've known in my 13 years as a barber. What ind of apprenticeship would you put inlace at an establishment like this? What would you begin to consider in making that shift. Saw your vid on that event you did with the guys, loved your place and vibe, how could I incorporate that out here, in a men's grooming only setting?


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