How Do You Become a Salon Manager?

Is becoming a salon manager your dream job? Salon manager is a job that combines managerial skills with a passion for aesthetics. Salon managers are planners, promoters, confidants, trendsetters and pillars of the local business community. With training and hard work, this profession allows you to rise to the top of the “beauty ecosystem.” The best part is that you get to do it all while working in a profession that excites you.

A Look at What Salon Managers Do Every Day

A manager oversees every aspect of running an establishment. This means working closely with the salon owner to offer the best salon experience possible. In some cases, managers run the whole salon. Larger “medspa” wellness clinics may hire managers to oversee all operations for each specific department. Some of the responsibilities of a salon manager include:

  • Marketing and promotion for the salon.
  • Hiring new hairdressers and cosmetologists.
  • Training new hires.
  • Managing payroll and scheduling of all employees.
  • Managing social media for the salon.
  • Staying on top of all legal and licensing requirements.

Many salon managers also maintain client lists. While you may not be able to take on a full roster of clients, you often continue to cut and style hair. This allows you to enjoy all of the perks of “being management” while staying close to your passion. Next, take a look at the path to managing a salon.

Why People Pursue Management-Level Cosmetology Careers

People are drawn to cosmetology because it offers a creative outlet that also requires very technical, precise skills. Cosmetology is a profession of beauty and wellness. Many professionals find it to be a satisfying career path because it allows them to enjoy a steady career while helping others to look and feel their best. The spark usually happens when someone realizes that they have a talent and passion for hair, nails, makeup, skincare or aesthetics. The next step is turning that passion into a real career. While the road from “beauty enthusiast” to actual salon manager doesn’t happen overnight, a motivated person can rise through the ranks of a salon once they begin training. Take a look at what the trajectory might look like for you in becoming a salon manager.

The Steps to Becoming a Salon Manager

It starts with certification and licensure. First, aspiring salon managers should look for cosmetology schools offering certification for the specialty they would like to pursue. A cosmetology school program consists of both “classroom” time and hands-on practical work. It’s necessary to graduate from a cosmetology program with a diploma. Next, an aspiring manager needs to complete all certifications or licensing required by the state. This usually includes passing state boards to become a licensed cosmetologist or hairdresser.

Starting a Cosmetology Career

It’s customary to start from the bottom in the salon industry. While this may not seem exciting, it’s necessary in order to learn every aspect of running a salon. The experience and lessons gained in these early days of your career will help to you build up your managerial skills and make you an effective salon manager. Entry-level salon jobs might include working the front desk, shampooing, stocking products, sweeping up hair, preparing equipment and cleaning workstations between appointments. Expect to be the first person in every morning if you’re tasked with helping to maintain the day-to-day needs of the salon. Again, this is an opportunity to truly see what goes into running a salon. Through this experience, you are preparing for the next stage of being a staff hairdresser or cosmetologist.

Once you have spent time working in an entry-level role, you are typically invited to begin taking on your own clients or walk-in clients. You may also get overflow clients when the more established hairdressers at the salon are booked. This same process applies to new graduates in most cosmetology specialties. For instance, someone who handles skincare may begin by taking on clients who request walk-in or last-minute appointments. The good news is that those “spontaneous” clients are likely to request an appointment with you the next time if they like your work. This is how you build up your client list.

A cosmetologist might spend years enjoying a very robust client list before setting their sights on a management position. While there’s no hard rule that says you can’t become a manager right away, it often takes a few years of truly learning your craft to feel confident enough to take on all of the responsibilities of running a vibrant salon. When the time comes, salon managers employ some specific skills that allow them to thrive in their roles.

What Skills Are Needed to Become a Salon Manager?

Salon managers must possess many of the same skills required for managers in all industries. While salon managers work within the cosmetology industry, many of the tasks they handle are universal to running a business. Here’s a look at some of the core skills needed to be an effective manager in a salon setting:

Skill #1: Leadership

As the salon manager, you’re the person that everyone looks to for guidance. Your leadership style sets the tone for the workplace. Salon managers must feel confident about making decisions that will impact an entire staff.

Skill #2: Communication

In a fast-paced setting like a salon, communication is important. A manager is tasked with clearly communicating and implementing all company policies. Salon managers also set expectations.

Skill #3: Organization

A salon can have dozens of employees operating with unique schedules. Salon managers are responsible for making sure that everyone is scheduled appropriately to ensure that the salon is properly staffed when customers arrive. Salon managers also take care of payroll, vacation time, employee relations and hiring. In addition to managing the “human” end of running a salon, managers deal with inventory for beauty products. They’re also responsible for replenishing and repairing tools and equipment.

Skill #4: Delegation

A salon environment is very much a “crew” environment where everyone does their part to keep the salon running smoothly. Salon managers know how to assign the right tasks to the right people. While it can be tempting to try to “do it all” as a manager, a salon works best when tasks are delegated.

Skill #5: Prioritization

Salon managers are always putting out “little fires” throughout the day. As a result, they need to understand the proper order of operations when handling tasks.

While all of this can seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that nobody becomes a manager overnight. Going through a cosmetology program allows future salon managers to learn everything that they’ll need to successfully run a salon. In fact, getting the right training is important to build the confidence a salon manager needs to run a salon. When attending a cosmetology program, you learn from the industry experienced instructors who have been working in salon settings for years. In addition to learning technical skills, you are also absorbing information about the little-known secrets of salon management from the best of the best.

Overseeing the Health and Safety of a Salon

It’s also important to note that a big part of being a salon manager is maintaining a clean, hygienic environment. Salons are highly regulated for the health and safety of both customers and workers. A manager is responsible for ensuring safety compliance at a salon. Again, this is where the training learned at cosmetology school really allows a manager to shine. A big component of a cosmetology program revolves around hygiene and safety practices. In fact, this accounts for a large portion of the final exam needed to become a licensed cosmetologist.

How Do You Become a Salon Manager?

Rising to a management position at a salon is attainable for anyone who is willing to put in the work to run a flawless salon and create a satisfying experience for customers. While all of the skills mentioned above are important, the quality that sets a person apart for management potential is enthusiasm. Salon managers need to be enthusiastic about where they work, who they work with and the customers they serve. This job is an ideal fit for an outgoing “people” person who takes pride in going the extra mile to help people feel good.

Final Thoughts

Every future salon manager begins in cosmetology school. One of the perks of getting a cosmetology diploma is you can still reach all of your goals even if you decide to open your own business instead of waiting to be promoted to manager. A management-level career in the beauty industry begins by finding a diploma program that offers what you need to make your entry with the right credentials. Today’s cosmetology students truly are tomorrow’s salon managers.

Want to Learn More?

Now that you have learned how to become a salon manager, ready to take the first step? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist and start a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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