motivated salon staff

60 Second Hot Topic: how do I keep staff motivated while keeping my overheads down?

Sue Maguire


You may have a great team of stylists or therapists, but you also have a business to run and money to make. It’s a balancing act – managing to keep staff motivated with a paid incentive while in the meantime, trying to keep your overheads down.  Here’s my thoughts and advice on how to do just that!

Styling Hair Salon

1.  Don’t address breaks as ‘entitlements’

Give them a short break in the morning and in the evening when there’s available slots or during a quieter period. The reality is though, many salons present pay as a weekly, monthly or annual salary, and people will just take it that they are paid ‘X’ per week for example, not really questioning whether they are paid for lunch or breaks.


2. Pay commission to keep staff motivated

Pay commission and be generous. Try to wean your team off tips by making them realise the real money is in commission from products – this is particularly applicable to hair. It’s going to be a nightmare to shift products if you don’t monetise the selling of them. Products are a great way to increase revenue without the need to hire another person.


3.  Keep staff motivated them by constantly reminding them of the OTE

OTE as you may know, stands for ‘opportunity to earn’. Before they come to you asking for more money, remind them that there is a fantastic opportunity to earn more through products. If you’re pro-active rather than reactive about this, you’ll succeed in keeping salaries lower while they actually earn more money for you and themselves through commission.  Encourage your team to earn more by reminding them frequently about the OTE.


4.  Give a bonus to the best salesperson… but DON’T give them money!

Give your star therapist or stylist  a small bonus every month i.e. whoever sells the most retail.  But don’t make it money. Give them a bag or a voucher. If you give them money as a reward, they’ll spend it on an electricity bill or it’ll end up in the local pub’s cash register and while that’s all fine, they’ll forget about it! If you give them an item or a voucher, it’s more of a treat . Plus every time they see it they’ll be reminded of an achievement, not “Oh my God, where did that go?”.


5.  Be fair in who gets what.

You know your team talks about money to each other,  and being human, we’re prone to negativity and complaining. Always make sure your salaries are fair in terms of who gets what e.g. it’s ok to give some people a little more to because they’ve been there longer, BUT, be very careful to follow through on the same for others when they also reach that number of months, years etc.


New Phorest Feature – Paid & Unpaid Breaks

We thought we’d take this opportunity to show our new paid and unpaid break features.  Our head trainer, Caroline Quinlan, explains how it works here right:

Paid and unpaid breaks phorest salon software


FYI: Do I have to pay my staff for their breaks? 

Firstly let’s look at the law. Their are some minor differences between the UK and Ireland when it comes to this, but the general rule of thumb is:

  • A person is entitled to a 30 minute break for every four-and-a-half hours they work
  • You have to provide the break, but you don’t have to pay them for it!
  • There is no statutory right to smoking breaks

So, by law you don’t have to pay staff for breaks.

Sue Maguire has worked in the hair and beauty industries for over 20 years with leading companies such as Dermalogica and Jessica Nails. She is the Sales Director and Head of Education for Phorest. If you have questions for Sue, you can contact her on

  • Susan Carter

    great blog I shall look at introducing OTE, Thanks for good tips

    • Thanks a mill Sue. Connor’s going to be in touch with you today on a post we want you in for next week. Chat then