hair stylist

Why You Should Move from Commission to Booth Rent

By | Fashion, hair stylist, salon industry | 31 Comments

kittyupdo salon

Okay guys, I’ll give it to you straight. I worked as a commission stylist, with a full clientele, for over a decade before finally taking the plunge in to booth rental. Once I finally did, I found myself asking – why did I wait so long? The reasons were numerous, but mostly I didn’t make the switch because I was comfortable. I’d worked at the same salon for a very long time, I liked my boss and my co-workers, I had steady money, so why should I leave? Plus, booth renting seemed super scary, I had so many questions – What are normal booth rental rates? What if I want to go on vacation, do I still have to pay? What products do I provide vs. the salon? Where the hell do I even buy said products? What if I have a slow week? How do I find the time to keep my own appointments? How do I manage my taxes? What if my friggin’ brain implodes trying to figure all this out? I’m a worrier, and it all seemed like too much. It was easier to stay put and collect my paycheck. I also, had this idea that booth rental salons are full of loners with an every-man-for-himself mentality (this turned out to be an unfounded fear), and I loved being part of a team of people who worked together and supported each other.

So what finally forced me out of my comfortable bubble? Here’s the real deal, I got fired. I’ve always been an independently minded person. I don’t like authority figures, I won’t wear a dress just because a Kardashian has it, I don’t consider Taylor Swift “good music” and I don’t care how many people disagree. I live my life the way I want to. I’m not a personality type who is all that well suited for a large corporate salon. But that’s where I’d been for almost 10 years. I can only assume they finally got tired of my quiet refusal to follow most of the rules. In truth, the fact that I flew under their radar for so long was pretty remarkable. So why did someone as independent as me stay in a corporate commission environment for so long? I got complacent, and afraid to make a change. This happens to all of us, and over time it made me restless and resentful. And here’s the truth, getting fired from that job was the best thing that ever happened to me. I took my clientele, and decided it was time to work for myself.

And how did I overcome all of my anxieties about working for myself? I started asking questions. A lot of them. Productive ones. I used the vast network of friends, family, clients and coworkers I’d built over the years (as well as facebook) and before long, I’d found myself an accountant and a bookkeeper. Having those two in place, I felt better already, knowing someone else would be looking after my finances since that has never exactly been the most organized part of my life. It was a good first step.

Next I had to find a salon. There are so many salons out there, it seemed overwhelming at first, but I knew there were certain things I didn’t want, so I started there. A lot of those things came down to the location and the salon owner. I wanted to be in the city, not too far from my old salon (for client convenience), but I didn’t want to be right downtown where there’s no parking, and I didn’t want to be in the too-sexy-for-my-shirt neighborhood where stylists are expected to wear all black and speak in a fake British accent. You know the neighborhood I mean. I also needed the salon owner to be responsible and down-to-earth. Let’s face it, the salon industry can be full of wackos. and salon owners are no exception. I wanted someone who paid their bills, cleaned their salon, didn’t do drugs, didn’t have an ego the size of Dolly Parton’s…ehem…hair, didn’t have frosted tips and a corvette. I wanted to work for someone, well, like me. This was easier said than done, but I ultimately decided on a salon where a friend of mine worked. Which probably wasn’t the best way to find my new home, and it wasn’t the all-out utopia I’d hoped for, but it served my purposes to start. Later I would move on to a nicer space that ticked more of my boxes.

The next confusing thing was figuring out what I should be paying for a chair. Booth rental pricing is all over the map you guys, but the bottom line is that most of the time, like anything in life, you get what you pay for.   You only want to pay $165 a week for a chair? That’s absolutely fine, but don’t expect a beautiful space or much in the way of amenities. You want big picture windows, exceptional lighting, big stations, foot traffic, full beverage service, and a receptionist? Great! But these things cost the salon owner money, so expect to pay more. For me, it came down to being able to offer my client the best possible experience. Better client experience = better clients = more money, so I chose to pay more.

And that is the bottom line, right? Money. Being a booth renter means running your own business, so lets talk money, because that’s really the point of all of this. We have chosen creative, fulfilling jobs, and that is wonderful, but at the end of the day, we are here to make money. So listen up, because I’m going to break down my actual numbers for you. You don’t want to skip this part. Your own numbers may vary from mine, depending on where you live and what you charge, but the principle is the same. I was charging $50 for a haircut and making 49% of that at my commission salon. If I did $5000 in services in a month average, after commission, taxes, and deductions I went home with roughly $2000/ month (not including tips). It’s enough to live on, but it’s a pretty modest life. Skip forward to the same service numbers as a booth renter. I was paying $250/week for a chair, plus estimate another $200-400/month in expenses (color supplies, accounting, etc). For that same $5000/month in revenue I was now keeping $3600-3800 of it. Plus tips. That’s 80-90% more money in my pocket at the end of each month for the exact same amount of work.

And once the money started coming in, all those other things I’d been worried about, buying my own supplies, keeping my own appointments, suddenly didn’t seem like a big deal. I kept a calendar on my phone (now our salon has an integrated system with online booking & reception, but clients still text me for appointments too), my co-workers pointed me towards beauty supply, I got Square to process credit cards, and voila! I was my own boss. I made my own hours, I never again had to answer to someone who thought I should come in earlier, or be more involved in team events. And you know what, I was still part of a team of people who loved and supported one another, but wanted to keep more of their money, just like me. All the things I had been afraid of became easy and routine very quickly. It’s amazing how quickly we can adapt, especially when there’s money involved. And yes, I even got vacation. Turns out two free weeks a year is common in booth rental salons. So if you have a steady clientele, why on earth would you keep giving so much of your money to someone else? Take charge of your own business, make a change. I have to tell you, you will never regret the choice. I will never work for someone else again. In fact, liked working for myself so much, last year I took it to the next level and opened my own salon. Revolver Salon at 1489 Steele St, and we are looking for talented booth renters like you!

Start the conversation about your employment with us here or text me at 720-939-5986



Kitty Vincent, owner Revolver: a Salon




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