Hands holding the Vagaro logo


For businesses affected by a COVID-19 closure or shelter in place order, maintaining and strengthening your employee relationships is more important than ever. During this uncertain time, your employees are depending on you to guide the way. You may also need to hire on new employees to meet the surge in demand once you re-open for business, and these tips will help ensure a stable relationship with your staff. Click here to read a letter from our CEO, detailing how Vagaro is here to help your business get through this crisis.

When operating a salon, spa, barbershop, or fitness center, the greatest asset you manage is your staff—the service professionals your customers interact with daily. As a small business owner, it’s up to you to make sure that a talented staff, like your customers, feels valued and appreciated, too. Employee management is a vital part of your business plan, whether you’re coordinating commission-based, booth renters, salaried, or hourly workers. If your staff is happy and motivated, it’s a value they’ll pass along to clients. Here are the top five employee management pain points, and how to treat them as opportunities to fine-tune your management skills with Vagaro. 

Motivate Them to Be Their Best

Your clients expect top-notch service. In a competitive, service-based profession, customer satisfaction is directly related to retention. Therefore, it’s important to make sure staff performance is directly bound to customer satisfaction as a measure of success. Keep in mind, accountability is not the same thing as ownership. Accountability pertains to the individual and their job and goals, while ownership is the willingness to help with things that aren’t technically “your job.” Thus, accountability isn’t a quality that you can mandate in staff. However, when managing employees, you can only cultivate both accountability and ownership through your management tactics. Think of the saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” By understanding that individual performance helps not only their career, but their workplace, accountability transforms into a positive result, rather than a burden of responsibility. When your staff understands clearly how their individual performance contributes to the overall success and growth of the business, you instill a sense of ownership. Which, in turn, motivates each cog in your “wheel of success” to operate at peak capacity!

Bright Idea

Institute a monthly staff meeting. Make sure to schedule it so it doesn’t cut into shop time (or employee off-time). To do this in a low-pressure way that doesn’t lead to resentment, try having staff come in an hour ahead of business hours and treat them to breakfast while you set the month’s goals. Or, if your staff aren’t early birds, schedule a dinner meeting after the day’s appointments have concluded. Remember to use reports to recognize employee achievements as well as business goals.

Happy Employees Are Engaged Employees

It’s one thing to hire the right staff, both for service professionals in beauty and fitness or your front desk. But don’t forget, keeping a talented staff engaged and motivated is every bit as vital as hiring them! In salons and fitness centers, management often forgets that staff turnover plays a part in customer attrition rates. When brainstorming ways to keep your clients well-served and happy, don’t neglect to make sure you’re devoting equal attention to retaining your in-house talent! Encourage staff to contribute their ideas and suggestions, especially when it comes to planning promotions, marketing, and events. You can do this easily at your scheduled meeting, and you can even use Vagaro forms with your staff to collect their ideas and objectives. By involving your staff in areas that directly affect their daily workflow, you increase their sense of ownership in those efforts. Finally, don’t assume your employees know when they’re performing well. Tell them! A simple “Thanks for cleaning up that area,” or “Great job with your client!” goes a long way to building employee morale. Appreciation is a little key that opens big doors!   

Bright Idea

Hold in-house trainings, make time for continuing education, and make attending trade shows a team building practice. Consistent, ongoing training improves individual performance and workplace culture. Building an educated, knowledgeable, well-trained roster of in-house talent communicates a message of respect and value to your staff.

Lead With Positivity

Approaching performance issues in the workplace can be an intimidating situation for all parties. In service-based professions where staff isn’t always employed through a traditional model, this can be even more difficult. First, address performance issues privately—never in front of clients or other staff. A relaxed atmosphere makes it easier to receive criticism and suggestions, rather than creating a situation where a talented member of your team simply shuts down. Remember the saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” and apply this philosophy to addressing performance issues. Lead by example using positive critique, incentive-based rewards, and an open line of communication. Except for egregious breaches (such as theft or workplace violence), rather than assigning blame, instead concentrate on correcting the problem and avoiding its reoccurrence.

Bright Idea

Use the “compliment sandwich” approach! When addressing a performance issue, “sandwich” the critique and suggestion in-between two compliments, to improve staff receptiveness to feedback. Lead with a compliment before addressing a performance issue, and then end feedback with another compliment. The “compliment sandwich” approach increases the sense of ownership and accountability with your in-house talent, which leads to both their increased loyalty and improved performance.

Employees Who Feel Valued Sell More

Set your staff up for success when it comes to retail sales and service upsells! Learning the art of the upsell strengthens customer relationships, which is important for client retention. Create incentives for your staff for everything from advance bookings and add-on services sales to retail. Make sure that when you’re creating sales incentives, you have realistic, attainable goals. Examples might include “Increase average checkouts by $5,” or “Sell one add-on service per day.” Instead of hard-selling to customers, use a helpful, knowledgeable approach to sales. For example, “This product will help you with your itchy scalp issue. Should we add it to your checkout today?” Help each service professional create a short list of products and upsell services that they believe in. For instance, if you’re managing salon employees, help stylists develop a short list of products they recommend for colored hair, short styles, damaged hair, etc. For fitness professionals, develop a list of products or training equipment that helps clients perform better.

Bright Idea

At your monthly meeting, have a product sales report available and create an ongoing challenge for employees to engage in team building through friendly competition. This could be especially valuable for a slow-moving product, to see which employee can get it off the shelves quickest!

Help Them Stay On Time

Did you know that unscheduled absences and chronic tardiness cost small businesses an average of $3,600 annually (for hourly employees) and up to $2,650 for salaried, commission-based, or booth rental employees? First, remember that your attendance policies are contingent on your employment structure. For instance, you can’t give a booth renter a set schedule. But what you can do is ask booth renters to provide their schedule in writing and require they stick to it. For instance, you can require a week’s advance notice for extended absences in your booth rental agreement or call-in notification for unavoidable last-minute absences. For commission-based, hourly, and salaried employees, the right software system helps you effectively track and manage time cards and minimize tardiness issues.

Bright Idea

Take it back to elementary school and incentivize employees with rewards for attendance and timeliness! At your monthly meeting, make sure that employees with stellar attendance are recognized and rewarded. You’ll be surprised at how much this can increase employee engagement and create a positive workplace atmosphere.


Use Vagaro employee management tools to create the ideal workflow for your small business. Easily and efficiently manage the most important asset of your beauty or fitness business—your staff! Want to take it a step further? Offer your clients retirement plans and benefits using Vagaro’s Gusto integration!

Header Image and Icons: Mia Montemayor via Vagaro