Sue Woodall

Communication Is The Key To Success

Connor Keppel

In the past few months I have had to go through a bit of a transition on a personal and professional basis. Interestingly friends and business clients I know have indicated to me that they have been on similar journeys! Let me explain.

Sue Woodall

In recent times some people have had to start a new venture or indeed start again. I find it incredibly interesting that in some way we all have had challenges to surmount. I find sharing experiences gives us food for thought. Recently I had the opportunity to re visit where I started off in this industry many years ago. That’s right, for all my sins I stepped back into a treatment room. However this time it was to do some research and to test the water for my own venture. I assumed a position in the salon as a temporary senior therapist. As always my ideas were full of wonder and excitement but the reality was very different. Visiting the past or even stepping into the shoes of those that work for you is incredibly eye opening.

Being back in the ranks and in a treatment room allowed me to experience life as a therapist and be privy to the staff room chatter. Upon arrival I was excited by the prestige, pride and excellent working conditions, an honour for me to work there.This business appeared to have everything, beautiful surroundings, excellent treatments and very unhappy staff. The reality was that this was not a very harmonious salon, the goalposts had been moved somewhere along the way. More often than not owners/managers are completely unaware of how their staff feel. Consequently the foundations of the business are rocky. From an owner/manager perspective I completely understand the challenges of a business. I have now come to realise I too may have been guilty of miscommunication in the past. To unravel this web of miscommunication it is necessary to consider the following stages.

Follow the signs

Wages and pay rises can be a red flag to sit down and listen to your staff. If your staff are whispering about not getting paid enough it usually means something else. That is, money is usually on the surface but as you all know the problem usually stems deeper than that. For example, poor working conditions, not feeling valued, not listened to or included can just re enforce their own low self esteem. These situations can cause tantrums, drama and in most cases unhappy endings where they may leave. You might say this is for the better as their attitude is not positive, but when girls leave with that impression that reflects on your business. Sometimes staff are too scared, not sure, and too inexperienced to be able to approach sensitive subjects so it’s up to you to have that honest conversation.

Create boundaries

Have you changed the goalposts, Did you promise the sun, moon and stars and not deliver? At the beginning of any relationship laying down expectations and boundaries are of the utmost importance. Say what you want upfront. If it’s not a fit it just means that they are not for you, very often we try to fit square pegs into round holes. With a “Oh this will do” attitude you will soon experience frustration along the line for both parties. If you find yourself deflated, hiding in a treatment room or pulling your hair out, take a step back, reevaluate and create mutual boundaries so you both know where you stand.


Communication is the key to every successful business no matter what industry you may be in. We communicate with clients and treat them with respect. Very interesting business statistics indicate that if you treat your staff as you do your clients, using a fair but firm attitude, with a mutual respect your business will always be a place of productivity. Look around at the most successful business that you know and you will see loyal and long serving staff. How we approach and deal with awkward situations can be tricky from both perspectives. As an owner/manager or therapist, one quote springs to my mind, “don’t do on to another what you wouldn’t want done to you”.

Sue Woodall, a salon management expert, has been running successful salons for more than 20 years and now works with Phorest salon owners. Phorest.comis the leading salon software company in the UK and Ireland.