Back to Basics: Your Salon’s Key to Survival in 2021


Like many parts of our culture, 2020 has exposed some cracks in the beauty industry. In the salon or barbershop, it was not unusual to work from early morning until late at night, trying to fit in anyone who wanted to come in, in order to pay our bills — and what we told ourselves to accommodate them, so we wouldn’t disappoint. But, more often than not, we disappointed them anyway, as witnessed by the fact that 7 out of 10 NEW clients NEVER came back.  

Something was VERY broken. And instead of addressing it, we thought we were doing okay because we were making money and could go back and make more tomorrow. But, what about the clients? How were we treating them? Let’s take a look. 

These are generalizations, although they are not far from the TRUTH. Take a moment to look at your business and see what areas you may need to address to play, and to win, in this mid and post-pandemic world.

  • First, we didn’t listen. We heard “haircut” and just headed to the bowl.
  • We didn’t make a professional recommendation about their requested style.  
  • We didn’t tell them what products they would need to keep their hair looking great.
  • We didn’t tell them about the upkeep or commitment needed for the style they want.
  • We often kept them waiting.
  • We didn’t keep them up to date and stylish because “she’s just getting ‘the regular’.”   

These are just a few of the things that “we,” our industry, MUST address, IF we are going to survive.   

The great thing about our business is that what we do makes people feel good. Hair continues to grow and will need to be maintained (as we clearly saw during the shutdown). However, the realities are, some people are still hesitant to come into our salons. Even with the vaccine, it may take awhile for everything to shift back. 

In addition, some of your clients’ finances are okay, but many are not. Your clients may need to space out their appointments, which means less money in your business. They may get fewer services, or they may look for lower cost options, including doing it themselves at home. With all of that in mind, what’s your plan to maintain and grow your salon business in 2021?

Taking time to up your hair skills is great, but more importantly, you may need to focus on the 5 R’s: Relationships, Retention, Rebooks, Referrals and Retail. And don’t forget Pricing. We need to focus on taking the absolute best care of each and every client and creating a niche or specialty that allows us to generate the most money in the least time (without double booking). The best way to win in 2021 is to not only get back to basics, but to get brilliant at the basics.

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Miki Wright

Miki Wright is a hairstylist, salon owner, business coach and founder of


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