The downside of being in a service business like ours is that holidays mean more work, not less. How can salon owners take the sting out of all those extra hours employees are asked to work in the weeks preceding Christmas? Shari Finger, owner of Finger’s Nail Studio in W. Dundee, Ill., suggests several types of incentive programs designed to compensate employees for their extra efforts and keep them motivated when their spirits might otherwise start to flag.

Program 1: Compute each tech’s average weekly service totals for October and November (or use the previous year’s totals if that employee has been with you long enough) and use this number as a baseline figure. Then calculate new goals for the holidays at three different levels and offer a bonus for service income above the average. For example:

Suzanne averaged a $1,000 a week in October and November. Her goals for the Christmas season would be as follows:

Level 1: On service income of $1,050-$1,150, she would earn a bonus of 10% of the amount over $1,000.

Level 2: On service income of $1,150-$1,300, she would earn a bonus of 20% of the amount over $1,000.

Level 3: On service income of $1,300 and up, she would earn a bonus of 25% of the amount over $1,000.

Program 2: If an employee works part-time, say 30 hours a week, raise her commission for any extra hours worked in the same way a full-timer might earn overtime for hours over 40.

Program 3: For every extra hour worked during the holidays, allow employees extra time off in the dog days of summer when business is slow. Or give special days off like birthdays.

Program 4: Give a free facial or day of beauty in your salon or at a local spa. We all like to be pampered.

“And don’t forget to say ‘thank you,’” adds Finger.

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