Why stylists should consider Elle Marie’s commission-based structure versus booth rental

(Sept. 9, 2015) One of our newer stylists recently shared, “One of the reasons I didn’t look at Elle Marie sooner was because I repeatedly saw the hiring ads on Craigslist and assumed it was due to high turnover rate.” In all actuality, we simply need to keep up with growth. With a strong commitment to marketing and education, our salons welcome far above the industry average in new guests per location each month. This does not include referrals either. We are incredibly proud of what we’re accomplishing together and would love for you to join us!

Originally Published April 14, 2012

Commission-based pay versus running your own business as a booth renter has been a somewhat controversial topic in our industry for some time now. Everyone has a strong opinion and, as far as I can tell, each and every one of them is right. You see, everyone has their own set of forces driving the decisions they make. These are their motivating factors and include everything from experience level to personal commitments. For example, “I have a mortgage payment so I am motivated to make as much money as possible,” or “My son has little league games I would like to attend so I am motivated to acquire a flexible schedule.” Once someone determines their motivations, the next step is to evaluate the opportunities available to them and, let’s be honest, perfect opportunities are not always easy to find.

This article isn’t to sell you on why a commission-based salon is better than a booth rental situation, but rather to let stylists in and around Snohomish County know that a unique opportunity exists for them that should definitely be considered in regards to their career path. At Elle Marie, we believe an opportunity exists that benefits not only those right out of beauty school but even more senior-level stylists…an opportunity that just might cause them to re-evaluate how they plan to accommodate their strongest motivations.

When considering your motivations, it’s also a good idea to consider where your passions lie. Be honest with yourself and ask, “How passionate am I about styling hair?” In Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, he points out that “most people approach their work in one of three ways: as a job, a career, or a calling.” Transfer that to the salon industry and you could consider the following profiles:

  • Styling hair is your HOBBY if you occasionally do hair for family and friends in your kitchen.
  • Styling hair is your JOB if you show up at the salon and shuffle through your schedule, painstakingly eyeing the clock every ten minutes to see how many hours are left in the day. Perhaps you are simply waiting for a more interesting line of work to present itself?
  • Styling hair is your CAREER if you’re satisfied doing hair because you see it as a means to larger goals of advancement, promotion, and prestige. Perhaps it is something you do because you have a knack for it?
  • Styling hair is your CALLING if you go to work excited and feel a sense of adrenaline when discussing what needs to be done that day. Perhaps you enjoy being part of a team, contributing and knowing that you are making a difference? Do you approach hair styling confident that you chose it, as opposed to it choosing you?

If doing hair is your Calling, or even if you’ve been more of a Career Stylist to this point, you owe it to yourself to keep an open mind to new opportunities. With this article we simply share an opportunity that our styling team has been extremely receptive to and we hope you will be to.

Jon Gonzales wrote a brilliant piece titled Booth Rental: Is it Right for You? In it he states, “Many people are going into booth rental without a clear understanding of its consequences.” I believe this is true. Let’s be honest, the number one motivating factor for most people is surely money. The problem however, is that I think there are a number of stylists out there asking the wrong question. The question isn’t, “How can I get the most money out of each client?” The question is, “How can I run a successful business?” A business has nothing to do with squeezing dollars out of guests. A successful salon business is about building powerful relationships with each and every guest that will motivate them to visit you time and time again. For select clients, just coming to see you, knowing you’re there for them, is enough. But the vast majority, they demand more. From the second they learn about your company and are inspired to walk in the door, to how they are treated by the entire team, to enjoying how the team works together, to experiencing your amazing talents due to the vast education you’ve had the opportunity to receive, to the loyalty programs, ample product supplies and so forth, guests ultimately make their buying decisions based on their feeling for a company’s brand. A positive brand is challenging for any company to maintain when their entire staff works independently.

At Elle Marie we empower our stylists, believing that each and every one of them IS their own brand, but make no mistake, guests will ultimately make their decisions based on the overall experience. Do you really want a station next to Susie Clutter who discusses religion and politics near your guests all day in front of the floor-length mirror covered in pictures of her great aunt Ethel? Or would you rather be a part of an organization that has a high standard of professionalism and consistent set of standards?

Many small business owners get their start because they have a passion and talent for their craft. Lucky for our industry, rock star hairdressers are some of the most passionate people in the world! Unfortunately, many business owners (ie. booth renters) quickly realize they have less and less time for their craft. Before they know it they’re consumed with inventory, taxes, maintaining their schedule, bills, marketing, the list goes on!

Some of you may be thinking to yourselves, “Yes, you do need to be business savvy to maintain a professional salon presence that guests are eager to be a part of, but in addition to my cosmetology license I have a masters in business administration, am a marketing wiz and am an extremely organized person so I can effectively juggle all of those things and make time behind the chair to offer my clients an exceptional experience.” If that’s you, great! But do you truly crave all that responsibility? Wouldn’t you rather delegate some of that busy work?

Allow yourself to focus on what you are most passionate about, and you will excel in ways you had only ever dreamed of.

Allow yourself to focus on doing nothing but absolutely stunning hair and new doors will open that you may have never known existed.

Since opening the doors to our first salon in 2006, Elle Marie has experienced tremendous growth. We now employ over 70 people over three locations and continue to grow and develop our team. I can’t imagine how this type of growth would ever be possible for a lone business owner who kept hours behind the chair. The support staff we have in place for our stylists is key to what makes Elle Marie such a unique opportunity!

Elle Marie is owned by family members Lorry Green, Colleen Buck (mother) and myself, Jody Bossert (brother). Only Lorry is an actual cosmetologist. Colleen has years of experience in the telecommunications industry and followed that up by becoming a certified life coach and I’ve held positions at companies such as Microsoft and AT&T as a web developer and project manager. Lorry serves as Vice President of Sales and Operations overseeing all the education, growth and development of our staff along with product development and recruiting. Colleen drives company-wide business decisions, handles the accounting and, when asked, engages with our team members on a personal level sharing her life coaching expertise. As for myself, I serve as VP of Marketing relying on my strong technical background and sense of creativity to fuel my passion in that area. I also help maintain our IT infrastructure, salon software and such. The three of us, along with the help of our amazing front desk team, are 100% focused on supporting our styling team. This enables our company to excel in the various aspects that are so crucial to growing a successful salon business. We are truly a team and when everyone, including our stylists, understand and enjoy their role, amazing things happen…such as providing our guests with exceptionally beautiful hair and a salon experience that keeps them coming back time and time again!

When you interview with Elle Marie, not only are we looking for talented individuals who will fit in with the positive, supportive culture we’ve worked hard to create, but we appreciate that you are also interviewing us in search of the opportunity that will best accommodate the things in your personal life that motivate you. For experienced stylists who are looking for a change, we will gladly work through the financial numbers with you so you’ll be confident about your next career step. Ultimately however, we hope you are able to keep money motivations in perspective because, as I alluded to earlier, follow your heart and financial success will come. This is not to say you will sacrifice income at Elle Marie in exchange for more job satisfaction, but rather by allowing yourself to relinquish some of your responsibilities so that you can truly focus on what you are most passionate about, Elle Marie has the foundation in place to support you in achieving more than you have ever imagined!

Learn more about building your hair styling career with Elle Marie.

Elle Marie is built by and consists of career minded individuals. We chose a commission based system to allow us to offer our stylists ongoing, advanced education, a structured system for career success and growth, and the opportunity of limitless potential in this exciting industry (not limited to being behind the chair). Some of the most common feedback from our stylists that used to rent their stations is:

  1. Our stylists LOVE having a huge back-bar of color, developers and chemicals always stocked and at their disposal.
  2. They appreciate that we carry entire lines of Redken and Pureology products to help their guests maintain their hair at home.
  3. They realize the huge difference it makes having a full time marketing director seeing to it that new guests are constantly hearing about our salon.
  4. They like that we offer 401K, health insurance, free time off (FTO), earned personal days and paid vacation.
  5. Former booth renters find that they are making more money than they did working for themselves once taxes, insurance, education and the purchasing of products is taken into consideration.

~ Hollie Leach – Hairstylist and Salon Manager in Alderwood, joined Elle Marie in February 2008

I choose to come to Elle Marie because I was sick of doing everything by myself for myself. It gets lonely and tiring when everything falls on you. I could never take a full completely away vacation. I always had to answer phone calls and schedule clients to make sure I was booked when I got back and didn’t lose anyone. I loved the idea when presented to me that I was actually making less than a level 1 stylist because of all the extras I would spend money on to keep my business running. I love now that I can come to work, make a paycheck and check out at the end of the day. I leave it all behind. No more 10pm last minute phone calls from clients trying to get in and no more wasted energy.

~ Danielle Hedzik – Hairstylist in Lake Stevens, joined Elle Marie in April 2011

I interviewed at a few different renting salons and I LOVE the fact that Elle Marie is already established and they are able to put money towards advertising rather than coming out of my own pocket. I came from a salon that wasn’t the usual cut and color salon so I needed to build my clientele. I started in December 2011 and now (April 2012) it’s hard for people to make appointments on a Saturday! It’s so rewarding! I’m so glad that I chose a commission salon. Now my clientele is built and I have nothing to worry about but doing my clients hair and getting more education!

~ Susan Williams – Hairstylist in Mill Creek, joined Elle Marie in December 2011

(This is a post Holly made on our private Facebook Group on 3/19/13. We felt it was a great testimonial so she agreed that we could share it here.)

I just wanted to say I was thinking about how grateful I am to work here and it’s so much nicer than being self employed!! No more owing taxes and B&O taxes, licensing fees, buying color and products, running to the beauty supply store every week, etc…. We got it good!

~ Holly McMurray – Hairstylist in Lake Stevens, joined Elle Marie in December 2012