Time Management: The Key to Salon Success

Larissa Macleman
Salon Owners Collective Founder
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Salons actually don’t sell haircuts, they sell time…and finding 15 minutes in your appointment book could make you $23,000.

When I started my apprenticeship I learned a sneaky time management trick from my senior stylists: how to book ‘fakies’. They would use it to fill a 7pm booking so they could go home an hour earlier. I tried it a few times, but it wasn’t long after I became qualified that I started my own salon, and the focus on time management changed. There were no more ‘fakies’ or going home early. I had learned that time is money.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you sell haircuts or waxing services in your hair or beauty salon, because you’re really selling time. Being smart with your time management and scheduling should be a key area of focus for you as a business owner, because failing to do so can cost you a lot.

Time management = more money

In my 20 years of experience in the salon business, I have noticed that many stylists have smatterings of 15 minute gaps in their appointment schedule throughout any given day. While it may seem small, have you ever worked out what those 15 minutes are worth to you?

Take your own column, or that of a busy stylist in your business, and count how many 15 minute gaps there are in a day, week, and month. If you found four 15 minute gaps in a day, thats 60 minutes or the time equivalent of one client. If your average client bill is $100 for the hour, then that’s $500 a week in lost revenue, assuming that you run a 5 day week.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you sell haircuts or waxing services in your hair or beauty salon, because you’re really selling time.

Taking this a step further, that can add up to $23,000 of lost revenue if the average stylist works 46 weeks per year (after sick, public holidays and annual leave). Maybe you don’t need more staff or more clients, but better time management skills. It’s often the little improvements in your business that make the biggest difference

5 tips for better time management

Here are some tips to running a more successful business with better time management:

  1. Find the gaps: Take a few minutes every few days to surf your appointment calendar and find those small gaps between bookings. Call your clients up and ask if they’re happy to move their appointment time by 15 mins. It’ll feel like a big job to start with, but you’ll soon get better at making your bookings sit hard up against the previous appointment.
  2. Automate: Move those offending appointments in the appointment book and let your Timely salon software notify the client via email/text. Make sure your message is polite and gives them an option to respond.
  3. Bring the team along: Meet with your team and do the math with them on their own targets and wages. It’ll be much easier to manage appointment times if you can get buy in from the whole team. Most team members will want to work smarter-per-hour rather than harder-for-longer, especially if they feel the reward in their pocket.
  4. Measure success: Gamify your changed activity by counting back how many 15 minute gaps you’ve had over the last few months and measure them each week to your increase in productivity. Measure it in minutes or dollars; whatever is more motivating to you and your team.
  5. Smooth out your schedule: Streamline your service menu appointment times for all your service types. It can be quite simple to make everything run efficiently.

Make the most of your schedule

If your service menu includes 1 hour hair cuts, 45 minute colour applications, 30 minute mens’ cuts or processing times and the odd 15 minute services, you greatly increase the likelihood of creating random and unproductive gaps. There are two ways you can manage your appointment times for increased productivity.

  1. You could make all of your appointments either 1 hour or 30 minutes long for everything. Women’s cuts could be 1 hour and mens’ 30 minutes. Processing times and colour applications would be either 1 hour or 30 minutes.
  2. If all your appointment times were 45 minutes long for women’s and men’s cuts, colour applications, and processing times, your day would be more efficient and you’d have no gaps at all.

I’ve see some salons that have set times in which they take appointments in their day. This could be at 9am, 9.45, or 10.30, and so on and then everyone has lunch at the same time each day.

time management tips for salons

Managing the changes to your schedule and team

Implementing time management structures like this in your business can take time, and you will need to think of some processes you can put in place to support the change. It may be difficult at first, but it will certainly be worth it. Making these small adjustments to your business could add $23,000 per stylist to your sales income. What would that number be for you if you had 5 stylists?

These small adjustments could add $23,000 per stylist to your income.

You could use this money to hire someone in a salon support role to help care for clients, make their experience outstanding, stay on top of housekeeping, support front of house and of course stay on schedule. They can be the ones who are in charge of making everything run smoothly. Don’t forget, you should also be able to purchase at least 15 pairs of new shoes, thanks to those 15 minute gaps.

Managing your client and team expectations around your available appointment times can be tricky while you listen to their woeful tales of why those bookings must be on their terms. Politely taking back control of your appointment calendar is a process that you should not expect to nail overnight.

Streamlining the way you do things is best planned and prepared ahead of time. Progress slowly but steadily.

4 Tips on managing the change process:

  1. Prepare some scripts for you and your team to practice and use when changing bookings. This will take the pressure off when you’re talking to clients. Having some rehearsed responses allows you to better manage a demanding client or team member.
  2. Don’t try to change everything at once. Make your change process a long term project, and start with changing one category of appointment type at a time.
  3. Put some speed and efficiency training in place for any team members who need it.
  4. Help each other stay with time management. Do all your staff wear a watch? Have a code in place if you notice someone is running late, or their next client has arrived. How will you notify them without alerting the client?

Remember that not only is there a lot to gain by being more efficient, clients will love you for it. The biggest complaint about visiting a hair or beauty salon is being kept waiting. Time is precious for everyone in the modern world; its the one thing you can’t make more of. You can’t control time but you can manage it and make it work for you, your team and your clients.

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