Managing Drama in Our Salon Business

Managing a business is hard. Managing a salon has unique problems.

We've recently gone through a lot of drama at the salon, and it has given us a unique perspective on these types of problems and what we are going to do going forward.

Conflict, drama, and change can be difficult to work through. But we can make these into opportunities to grow and become better business owners.

What Happened

The big problems started when we brought on a new booth renter at the salon. She seemed friendly, and we knew she did great work. So we didn't think it was going to cause any problems.

But it seems right away she started clashing with other people at the salon.

We understand that everyone has their own unique perspectives and opinions, and we know that not everyone will agree on everything (booth renters and clients).

But the tension in the salon quickly escalated. It got to a bad spot when a dog was brought into the salon and started making people feel uncomfortable.

At first, we didn't think having a friendly dog come into the salon every once in a while was a big deal. But apparently, dogs can make some people feel very uncomfortable and on edge. This situation led to a very aggressive confrontation and set off pretty much every booth renter to leave the salon.


As much as we tried to stay professional, everyone started talking to each other with different versions of the truth. Accusations were made, and a lot of them landed on my wife, Andrea.

It was hard for me to watch this unfold because people said untruthful things, and Andrea was accused of doing things she didn't do.

The drama continued to escalate, and you could feel the tension in the air at the salon. People were giving each other cold shoulders, and many things were talked about behind the scenes.

Sadly, people resort to making accusations that are not true when they get scared or hurt. There isn't one person to blame for how everything went down, but my wife handled things like a champ — even though it was challenging, and there was a ton of tension.

What We Learned

It only takes one bad apple to corrupt the whole salon.

If anything we learned from this experience, it is worth sacrificing some revenue to prioritize preventing drama. So this is what we plan on doing as part of our massive salon renovation.

Increasing Our Prices

One of the common elements we noticed with the people who cause the most problems are those who want the deepest discounts.

And it goes above and beyond preventing drama; we want a salon where people will do anything to be a part of our team and organized and successful.

People who will do anything to get the lowest price are not seeing the value in the salon. And above everything, we want to protect the space's culture where everyone is professional and is the best in their field.

Increasing our prices will mean that some good people will decide not to come to the salon. But we are okay with that. We rather grow slowly and accumulate the best people instead of going through anything like this again.

Create a More In-depth On-boarding Process

In making sure we are only bringing on the best types of people, we need to create a more strict onboarding process.

Anyone interested in coming to the salon needs to realize that we have to make sure that we will be a good fit for each other. It is more than just their willingness to pay the cost to rent a booth at our salon; it is about making sure they aren't going to cause problems and be reliable and do great work.

We need to make sure that they are a team player and can manage conflict professionally.

They need to know that it is okay for them to have whatever opinions they want, but what they talk about in the salon has to stay politically and religiously neutral. That it is never okay to negatively talk about anyone in the salon with a client or with other booth renters, and if there is a problem, they have to address it directly with that person.

Rumors, talking about people behind their back, giving people the cold shoulder, etc., all of these things affect the salon's feeling, and it is noticed by everyone who is there. We need to prevent this at all costs.

A few other things we talked about doing during the on-boarding process:

  • Ask to see their resume.
  • Ask them questions like this: what is your plan for being successful as a booth renter?
  • Talk to them about if they've ever encountered conflict in the past and how they resolved the issue.
  • Ask them if they are comfortable working next to and seeing clients who may have different views and perspectives and how they handle these situations.
  • Calling a client reference and/or a colleague they have worked within the past.

Installing Video Cameras

Andrea can't be at the salon 100% of the time, and even when she is there, there could be unprofessional things happening that she doesn't see or hear.

To allow us to see if anything inappropriate is going on, we will install video cameras throughout the salon and in the dispensary. We will also set up these devices to record audio. We will include this in our booth renter agreement and post signs throughout the salon.

We aren't going to listen to the audio or watch the video regularly unless there appears to be a problem.

If a problem does happen immediately, we have physical proof of precisely what happened and can terminate that booth renter immediately and possibly press charges.

The hope is that this provides a level of accountability in what is acceptable and not acceptable, even when we aren't there. If they are uncomfortable with this, then we know we aren't a good fit.

Note that some states have laws that specify whether or not this kind of thing is legal. In our state, as long as we have it in our booth renter agreement, and make sure everyone knows we are doing this and posting signs that video and audio recording is happening, that this is legal where we live.

Re-writing Our Booth Rental Agreement

We need to entirely re-write the booth rental agreement to work with the new pricing structure and give us more options to terminate a contract if they are causing any issues immediately.

We don't want people to be afraid that they could get kicked out at any time, but we want to clarify that our top priority is making sure everyone is professional at the salon.

Issues had come up when we didn't feel like we had enough evidence to do anything drastic. And we are learning that with any drama, we have to get ahead of it immediately to prevent it from growing into a more significant issue.

We also realized that there are some things we need to define in the contract. For example, making a blanket policy that no pets are allowed is a smart move because some people get uncomfortable with pets (or are allergic). Making these kinds of things a hard line in our booth rental agreement should prevent these types of situations in the future.

We may get incredible, but if they cause drama or other issues, they are not worth having around. We know that this might slow the salon's growth and hurt our bottom line, but we are willing to take this path to prevent getting to this same spot in the future.

Set up Regular Meetings With Booth Renters

We need to be connecting one on one with everyone at the salon and in a group setting regularly.

If there are issues, we need to know about them ASAP to prevent them from growing. It also allows us to communicate with anyone about any issues we need to talk to them about and how things are generally going.

We can't just assume things are going great because there is no obvious issue happening. We have to take a pro-active approach when managing our business.

This idea will take extra time for us to manage, and we are still thinking about how this should look. But we know we need to start doing something to prevent this from happening again.

Re-launching the Salon

In a lot of ways, we are starting over with the salon.

But another way we are looking at it is that this provides us an opportunity to 100% complete the salon's renovation and make sure we take advantage of everything we have learned in the last few years, without other people in the salon. This transition period will make this change much easier.

Any new people we bring on in the future will have a much better idea of what is acceptable and professional behavior.

This transition is our opportunity to create the salon we want and ensure nothing like this ever happens again. And if it does, we know how to handle these situations better.

Are there going to be some digital repercussions to everything that went down? Most likely. But we are at a point where everyone is almost out of the salon, and the central drama should cease.

We know that people are saying things that are not true about Andrea or our salon, but we know the truth is more powerful than lies. And this was a vast learning experience for both of us. We are excited about the future and are using this as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and grow our business.

Chris is a financial blogger who loves to be transparent about money-related issues. He’s paid off massive amounts of credit card debt and is the blog author of Money Stir. His main focus on Money Stir is talking about how money relates to our relationships, personal development, and how to plan for the future we want. He’s been quoted on Market Watch, The Ladders, and other publications.