Creating a salon staff rota can be a difficult task. Not only do you have to consider your customer’s needs, but you also need to ensure your staff is satisfied with their work/life balance. The latter, especially since it’s become a strong motivational element for team members. I have met with clients who have been losing money due to a lack of staff at certain hours, or some who had simply not revisited the rota for “it had always been that way.“ To get it right, it usually comes back to what I call your “wellbeing blueprint,” which focuses on finding the right balance between making both the staff & business happy.
There’s No ‘One Solution Fits All’ To Creating A Salon Staff Rota
I’ve said earlier, and will say it again: rota creation can be a complete headache. The bad news is, there is no one rota template that works for every business; there are far too many factors to consider for this to be possible. The good news though, is that there are guidelines that can help you make sense of it all.
Rule #1: Know Your Costs
Knowing how much it costs you per hour to run your business is your starting point – the most important piece of information.
A simple way of calculating this, is to take your total cost for the year, divide it by 52 weeks in the year, and then divide that again by the number of hours you’re opened in a week. The goal of this exercise is to understand at what point your costs are being covered vs your hourly revenue. It will force you to focus on having more staff when it matters.
Rule #2: Know Your Room/Chair Occupancy
Next, you need to understand your salon’s demand. Get the numbers down, it’ll help you understand what days and times are usually the busiest for you salon:
room/chair occupation per day
room/chair occupation per hour
“I know when those times are,” you might be thinking. Trust black on white evidence. Your gut instinct, more often than not, will be right, but having a figure to back up your assumptions is the only way to make your business more efficient and profitable.
Let me give you an example. One of my clients had 3 beauty rooms on the top floor of her salon. Each of those rooms were around the 20% occupancy mark. Not exactly a profitable situation. The treatments instead needed to come down to the ground floor while she got reviewed the top floor rooms’ occupation: she could rent the space, introduce yoga sessions, etc.
Rule #3: Look Into Your Staff Occupancy
This salon figure is your benchmark you look at to know whether you should recruit or not. Any occupancy over the 85% mark means you need to be putting your hiring hat on. In the case where only one or only a few of your staff aren’t at the same high occupancy percentage as the others, you’re going to need to analyse their performance. It could be down to that, but it can also be that they are not on an efficient staff rota.
Rule #4: Analyse Your Days Occupancy
This is the most important aspect of your salon staff rota. Combined with the two previous rules (room/chair occupancy and staff occupancy), looking into your demand on a day-to-day basis will indicate you whether your rota is functioning efficiently.
Rule #5: Cater For Your Hourly Customer Demands
It’s one thing to have right number of staff in on the right days… but are they scheduled for the right hours? Having too many employees in for an early shift can be detrimental to your business when you have customers who want evening appointments.
Also, check the lunch breaks! In hair, they tend to be more fluid, but in beauty, breaks tend to be set. And, quick tip! If you want to optimise your capacity on busy days, you could have what we called a “floater,” a therapist on a self-employed contract who covers lunch breaks so that the rooms are always fully occupied.
Rule #6: Check In With Your Staff, What Does Their Ideal Schedule Look Like?
Honestly, ask them: “If you had a magic wand, what would your idea rota look like?” You’ll be surprised how you won’t always get “Monday to Friday” and “9-5” for answers. You might not be able to cater for all of their answers, but knowing what would make them happy can at least allow you to take them into consideration when creating the rota.
Rule #7: Getting The Part-Time vs Full-Time Balance Right
Although I have met business owners with part-time staff only, I’m still unsure of it being the best solution for salons. Personally, I believe that a balance between part-time and full-time staff has more advantages. Full-time staff members can be more committed and when you have a core team of full-timers, you can then have part-time employees fill in the gaps in your diary.
Rule #8: Analyse Sunday Business
Open or closed on Sundays? The big question!
There would have been a time when I thought we had, without a doubt be opened on Sundays. Funnily enough, I used to love working on Sundays, customers and the team were more relaxed, and so we always had good vibes! However, Sunday trading is a discussion in itself:
Some of my clients are closed on Sundays and Mondays. With their core team working Tuesdays to Saturdays, the HR costs are reduced.
Facing a “no one wants to work Sundays” problem, I have clients who pay their staff 1.5x their hourly wages on the Sunday.
I have had clients who refused to open on Sundays for both their sanity and their staff’s wellbeing.
I have some clients who are profitable enough that they choose to close on Sundays.
If you can afford to close on Sundays, then I’m genuinely happy for you! However, if this isn’t the case of your salon or spa, consider trialing Sunday trading, it might very well be popular with your clients. All in all, as long as you analyse your business and figures, you will find what works best for you. The data you’ll have dug up for all previous points will indicate the rational position to take on the question. Be aware however, that in a big town, it will be more difficult to close on Sundays. In such case, you might want to make this reality part of your business growth.
Depending on the strategy you’re looking to implement (which you should review every year), you could consider opening longer hours on Sundays.
Note: In the UK, to open longer hours on Sundays isn’t an issue as long as you don’t own a huge space (it’s down to the square meters). It’s just a matter of paying the council more money. If you’re considering opening from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm instead of the typical 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, then you’ll gain 2 hours. That’s an extra day of trading every month… extremely beneficial!
Rule #9: Your Own Rota (As The Salon Owner)
I don’t recommend adding your own hours to the staff rota. As a leader, you should be in charge of your own hours and if you want to grow the business, you must be able to step away whenever it’s needed. Consider yourself an add-on to the figures and business.
Rule #10: Consider The 4-Day Week Rota For Full-Time Staff
I’m a huge fan of the 4-day week rota for full-time employees.Although they’re in for longer hours when they’re scheduled, it allows them to have 3 days off, which most of the staff I’ve worked with tend to prefer. This structure allows you to work out a more efficient rota, allowing you to have the same team in on a day-to-day basis, and covering the gaps with part-time staff!
All in all, salon staff rotas require a strong understanding of your business figures. And if you review your systems every year, you will have put all the chances on your side to ensure your salon grows with happy staff!
Looking for personalised advice on salon management? You can always email Valerie at firstname.lastname@example.org! How many of these rules are you already following?
Valerie Delforge is a Business Strategy Consultant who assists international leaders in the spa and beauty industry in creating sustainable and profitable businesses. Keen to support the industry in achieving its best, Valerie has a strong focus on leadership, budget retail, reception and marketing.