Business Management

In the Eye of the Beholder

Does your salon give off the right vibe? Do people pass through and do a double-take when signs of dirt, dust, clutter, or neglect creep into view? Take a moment to look at your salon as if seeing it for the very first time.

Just like physical beauty, your salon’s appearance registers as attractive depending on who’s looking. Customers come in with critical eyes, not purposely, but because they are entering a new environment. Owners, on the other hand, view their salons’ appearance every day, which may make them less aware of what the customers really see. We spent a few days visiting salons - and looking at them through a client’s eyes. Check out our photos, and see if you need to walk through your salon with a new perspective.

Dust is easy to overlook. A salon can look clean, bright, and inviting when a client walks in, but when she sits down she gets a different angle. As these photos show, accumulated dust can get ugly. Dead leaves and clumps of dust give a negative impression in this front window display. Dust is piled not only on the corner of this retail rack, but also along the wall, which the photo mercifully hides. The shelves of the polish display have been dusted recently. Clearly the less than fastidious cleaner failed to move the polishes and polish rack. To clean corners and pick up large amounts of dust such as those featured in the first two photos, using a vacuum would produce the best results.

Where dust is almost is almost excusable, these dirty shelves have no defense. This didn’t build up in a week. As a salon owner, you may be able to rationalize the soiled carpet or the towels or flooring that have been stained with hair color, but clients won’t. Clients who weren’t there to witness when you wiped the towel or sprayed the floor, view this as someone else’s mess. In this cooties-conscious culture, owners need to clean these messes up as they happen. Each of these pictures shows a situation that would make clients wince, but they can all be reminded easily by cleaning up spills and messes as they happen. What takes only a few minutes to clean will make a huge difference in the appearance of your salon.


These pictures could have been filed under “Dirty” but, bathrooms have enough influence to mandate their own category. Let’s say your whole salon is spotless, but your bathroom resembles one of these pictures? What will the client remember? You’re looking at it: the toilet.The splattered mirror, the bulging trashcan with the space behind the floor molding that doubles as a storage nook for trash liners. These rooms needs serious attention. The mirror and wastebasket could get that way during the hours of one busy day, so a possible solution is to check the bathroom throughout the day and wipe down any visible watermarks; at the very least, this should be done each night. Perhaps a larger trash container would solve the problem in this other salon.

The toilet is going to take some time. Some cities have water that stains this color when it pools. If this is the case, put a package of pre-moistened wipes in the bathroom and have someone on staff check the room every few hours.


The problem with clutter is that it is so hard to detect - until you view your area with new eyes. Take for example the picture of the tech’s desk. She undoubtedly likes having everything she would ever use within arm’s reach, but look closely. There are two-see-through bins stuffed full, pictures, cards, and magazines crowded onto top shelf (and one on the floor), a package tossed off to the side, and a stack of drawers with a child’s crayon creation on the side. This tech could clean this clutter by determining what she uses on a daily basis and moving the rest of the stuff to a less visible location.

What happens with clutter is that a person places an item down with the intention of getting back to it. But busy techs get involved with taking to clients and providing great service, and the clutter is forgotten. Look at the front porch. What was the original reason for placing the bouncy baby chair on the front porch? Whatever the reason, it’s long forgotten, and the staff of this salon will probably never notice while coming and going.  A disheveled closet, a cord draped over the polish racks with a table whose sole purpose is to hold a couple of phone books, and [photo 5] yesterday’s lunch containers left on the shelf all suggest that someone intended to “take care of that later.”

Clutter problem can be solved by deliberately looking around the salon and removing anything that is out of place or unnecessary. If space contains are an issue, go to a local store and get closer or drawer organizers to maximize the space you have.


Wear & Tear

OK, now we’re getting personal. We understand that replacing rugs and furniture takes money, but the photos shown here can be fixed with a limited amount of resources. If money is an obstacle that prevents the rug costs nothing to fix: The hangers need to be picked up and the boxes need to be moved out of sight. The chairs could re-covered with a minimal investment. Any local fabric store will carry the material needed to upholster them. Arm yourself with new material and a staple gun and you’ve got all the tools you need to create “new” reception area seats.

Now the door. This isn’t a tucked-out-of-the-way back door; there are displays on both sides beyond the frame of the picture. Quick solutions: a coat of paint. (Make sure you sand the door first.) It would make a dramatic difference. The exposed outlet with the cover careless left on the floor is not only unsightly, it’s also dangerous - and could cost this owner a fine if an inspector came for a visit. This should never have been left in this condition, but could be up to code quickly with the help of a screwdriver.

None of these tell the whole picture, of course. The overall appearance of the salons pictured here were welcoming and attractive. We set out to photograph salon transgressions, so we were perhaps less forgiving than most clients. However what we started: the salon can look beautiful to the one who loves her, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Michelle Pratt is a freelance writer and licensed nail tech based in Johnson City, N.Y.

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