Whether you’ve been in business for decades, or you’re just beginning your journey as a salon owner, the challenge of hiring new staff can be daunting. Where do I look? What kind of hairstylist am I looking for? How do I know that I’ve hired the right person? Regardless of if you require one staff member or an entire salon full, well-chosen team members ensure productivity, growth and profits. In my experience, the following are some proven strategies to make sure you hire the right employees, every time.

Always be recruiting
There’s nothing more stress inducing than needing to fill a chair in your salon. The problem is, most salon owners wait until they need a new stylist to start looking for one. If you are always looking to recruit new staff, you’ll have a larger pool to choose from when you’re ready to hire again. “Instagram has proven to be a successful hiring tool for us,” offers Tiffany Smith of Bamboo Hair Salon. “We have a saved Instagram story titled ‘Join Our Team’; this highlights the positions we are hiring for as well as our core values and team spirit. We are contacted often!” Most of the biggest hiring mistakes I see salon owners make are the result of selecting someone out of desperation. Selecting the first warm body to respond to a job posting is rarely the best decision for your business.

Trust your gut
I’ve seen many new hairstylists come and go quickly in a salon because they weren’t the right fit. Once the dust settles, most owners will admit to me that they had a feeling the hire wasn’t right for them, but they went ahead with it anyway because they didn’t have anyone else. But making a hire like this doesn’t just affect your ability to bring in more clients, it could also affect your current team’s chemistry, or your salon reputation moving forward. Sometimes, deciding who not to hire can be just as important. “Look for a positive, coachable attitude,” says Hush Salon owner and stylist, Jodie Gray. “Hairstyling techniques are easier to teach than self-motivation and work ethic.”

Choose what’s right, instead of what’s easy
Many salon owners shy away from bringing on junior staff, for fear that their hard work in training and growing a new hairstylist will go unrewarded when that staff member decides to leave.“ Junior stylists are eager to learn,” confirms Smith. “I would much rather build a stylist from the ground up than deconstructing them and breaking bad habits. Time invested in the beginning will pay off in the long run.” Whether you’ve hired someone fresh out of hair school, or an experienced hairstylist with clientele, the risk of them leaving one day is always present. Avoid the urge to make the easy decision, and hire based on what you think will be right for your business long-term.

Maintain your core principles
This is your business. You’ve got your blood, sweat, and tears invested in this dream. As such, you should be the one to decide how it operates. Resist the urge to break your core values in order to satisfy your staff. If one of your staff members wants to negotiate terms of their employment that you’re uncomfortable with, don’t be afraid to say no. It may not be the popular decision, but it will most likely be the decision you’re happiest with. When I’ve witnessed a salon owner make a choice that violates their principles, the long-term implications have always caused regret and dissatisfaction. “It’s hard not to let your staff walk all over you,” advises Smith. “But if you set firm ground rules in the beginning and stick to them, you will earn respect! I am always shaking things up; it keeps my staff on their toes.”