Petty Theft Or Innocent Neglect?

watching out for petty theft in salons

Now here’s a delicate subject: are your staff or clients stealing from you? If you’re thinking “No, of course not!”, but only have trust and faith to back you up, then I hope you’re not in for a shock.

I’m constantly staggered by the number of salon owners I speak to who either know that petty theft is happening in their business and do nothing about it or have absolutely no way of checking for certain. They see it as an acceptable risk or just part and parcel of ownership. But is it really?

Sweat the small stuff

The vast majority of employees aren’t looking to be on the take, but your lax practice can be easy to take advantage of, especially if you seem distracted or out of your depth. Think about your cashing-up process. Do you demand precision accountancy every single day, or do you ignore the odd tenner shortfall for “client discounts”?
Are your stock takes intermittent? In fact, do you actually know exactly how much stock you have?

Do you measure how much product is used in your treatments? Overuse can literally double your treatment costing and severely damage your profit margins.

Maybe you let staff enjoy cut-price products and treatments – nothing wrong with that – but is every discount properly recorded? Do you log all products in and out in exact quantities and do you always know who’s getting your discounted treatments? If you’re unsure how to answer any of those questions, you’re opening yourself up to problems.
It all mounts up

It’s estimated that small businesses lose at least £100 per month to petty theft or sloppy stock control. That’s £1,200 per year – minimum – of pure profit. Obviously, you wouldn’t stand in your front door and empty a bag full of £20 notes onto the street so there’s no reason you should let your hard-won revenue slip away like this either.

I know it’s tough to confront. There’s no joy in rocking the boat, I get that. But where are you going to draw the line? Is it when the cash starts disappearing from the till, or stock takes never add up and profits continue to slide? Or when that £1,200 in lost revenue turns into £3,000… or £5,000 a year? When will you take action to have accurate control?
Need help?

Everything I write about always comes from personal experience. I understand the consequences of feeling out-of-control and drained, both financially and emotionally.

Every member of Beauty Directors Club can book a Free personal call with me, to talk in confidence with someone who’s been there and who won’t judge you, it honestly feels great to open up. I can tell you how I fixed my situation and took back control. It’s not as hard as you think and I now help so many salon owners to do the same.

Beauty Directors Club is packed with information, including help with the salon business issues that no-one wants to admit to and you can join for only £1 by clicking here.

I look forward to learning more about you and your business in our personal call.

Here’s to your great business success,

Losing Customers – Here’s Why

Loosing customers and to aviod in your salon

As a hair or beauty business, you want to make a consistent, great impression on your client, whether he or she is a loyal regular or someone coming to the salon for the first time.

While some first impressions can nowadays be formed through your website, online booking process or social media profile, your receptionist is still very much the “gatekeeper” of your business. He or she is the person a client will encounter first – and you can’t afford to get this first interaction wrong.
Here are 5 simple tips for your team.

  2. I really do not think that there are an army of clients trying to scupper your business by not showing up. Clients simply have busy lives and it is down to us to keep our client’s appointment time in their minds.

    You should always confirm the appointment at least 24-hours prior, by text or telephone. If a client doesn’t show on the day, contact them to make sure they are OK and reschedule.
    Most clients will be extremely apologetic and grateful for the call. But the key is, if you don’t contact them, then they may be too embarrassed to return.
    (I will be covering the topic of, the for and against of cancellation policies in a follow up email soon)

  4. I find it incredibly disrespectful when a regular client gets moved from one column to another without being asked or consulted.
    When taking a booking, always repeat back to a client their appointment time, treatment and who the appointment is with at the time of booking. These details should now be set in stone, unless there are circumstances completely out of your control.

    If you do have to change an appointment, the client should always be fully informed and give their approval. Change without client acknowledgement at your peril!
    This should be no different with new clients. The client may have noted who their appointment is with and will feel totally undervalued instantly at their first, and possibly as a result, their only ever visit to you.

  6. Always introduce yourself and preferably wear a name badge. One sure way to make a client feel worthless is to refer to them in a three-way conversation as “he”, “she”, “him” or “her”.
    Always ensure you remember a client’s name – and know the preferred name they wish to be addressed by, and then use it frequently during the conversation.
    In written correspondence, where possible either always use a person’s name or a simple “hi” but never, ever refer to a client as “Dear client”. This is so impersonal!

  8. If you need to contact a client and cannot get in touch, please only ever leave a message on a personal mobile phone. Never leave a personal message with a family member or friend, or on a landline answerphone.

    Remember, it is a client’s own private choice to visit you, and you may be breaking their confidence and trust in you by revealing to a third party that they use your services.
    If necessary, only ever leave a personal name, along with a contact number requesting for the client to call you back. Never mention the business name unless you are 100% certain that you are not divulging unknown information.

  10. I always say that there is one thing you don’t ever know about a client – and that is what they don’t want you to know. When a client arrives, you don’t know what kind of day they have had, or what is truly going on within their work, family or life in general.

    If a client does arrive in a less than pleasant mood, it is essential to read the situation and never, ever react. There is a saying “attitude breeds attitude” and it takes very little to accelerate a situation.

Always stay 100% professional, as there is a strong possibility that the client is unaware that their behaviour and attitude is noticeable to you.

Have a written policy and verbally go through the steps you expect your team to take if a client ever makes them feel uncomfortable due to their actions. It is not acceptable for a member of your team to tolerate aggression or abuse. Calling on someone senior and more experienced to help and intervene will normally result in a client apologising for their behaviour and your calming actions will help diffuse the stressful day they have previously experienced.

These tips are taken from my book, The Little Book of Client Retention, rrp £9.99, which can be downloaded for free, for this month only, when you join Beauty Entrepreneurs Hub. Click to join now and meet up with me and over 300 other salon owners supporting each other in our great private facebook community.

My Salon Insurance Claim Scare And What You Can Learn From It

insurance for your beauty salon and how it can save you

Have You ever had a Salon Insurance Claim Scare?

I did. Read here how I overcame the experience and my lessons learnt…

This is something that I have never really talked about but it seems so appropriate in light of a new safety guidelines booklet released this month.
I’ve got the guideline download for you too.

My experience and this can happen to any of us

In this ever-increasing world of ‘Claim Culture’, It is imperative that we, as salon business owners, protect and arm both ourselves, and our staff with the best protocols and continually stay updated on safety protocols. Even though the ‘Have you had an accident at work’ adverts have dulled down, work-related claims are still on the increase.

I have always prided myself and my business on our really high standards of health and safety and the personal protective equipment we enforce.
All that didn’t stop a small loophole forming and resulting in over a year of worry and mixed emotions when an employee tried to make a claim.

This was back in 2000, and it was the worst time I have ever experienced in the 31 years of owning my salon. I contested, along with my Insurance company, against an employee who was trying to make a claim for industrial dermatitis.

I could have opted just to expect my insurance to pay out but that just didn’t seem fair on my insurance company either. Instead of paying out, they decided to fully back my decision to fight the claim.

The support from my insurance company was amazing, as the case turned out to be very complex taking up lots of time and resources.

Their support totally instilled in me the benefit of having legal support as part of my insurance package.

Cutting a long story very short, at the end of the day there was no real winner, but that didn’t stop such sad energy which overshadowed my whole life at the time.
Although I was repeatedly told not to take it personally, I found it so hard to separate myself, my business and my reputation from it all.

The 10 happy years of experience I had from building my business, seemed to pale into insignificance when the biggest dose of imposter syndrome kicked in making me question if I even wanted to still be a salon owner.

That feeling thankfully past with the support from my friends, family and amazing team who I will be forever grateful to.

My thoughts Now

I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, but now, I look at it all as a blessing. That may sound crazy, but I always believe things happen for a reason. To be totally honest, I am sure that I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if it hadn’t all happened. I learnt so much.

It also propelled my whole passion for our Industry and high standards further, enabling me to work closer with standard-setting organisations and to offer help and guidance from an employer’s perspective.

It pushed me to succeed further, allowing me to help fellow salon owners to achieve, by utilising best business systems for the long-term.

What to do if it happens to you?

Please remember, that If ever you get thrown into a similar situation with either a client or staff member trying to claim against your business, that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that some good will eventually come of it all.

It makes you super vigilant so that it will never hopefully ever happen again. I am sure like me that it will take you to a new level with your business.

Please try not to take it personally. That was the hardest part for me. A better way to look at the situation is that it is all part and parcel of being a business owner.
Things happen to learn and grow from.

How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Business?

A good idea is to regularly review your insurance policy to make sure that you are covered in every area.

  • If your policy requires named staff, then always update the policy after every new training.
  • Check if you have any legal cover as part of the policy.
  • Hold regular 1-2-1 reviews with each team member and keep up to date records.
  • Ensure that you have updated Health and Safety documents and documented Risk Assessments.
  • Keep up to date with Safety data records from your suppliers and train staff to use any recommended Personal Protection.

We will be covering how to handle uncomfortable and challenging work situations further in our 2020 Beauty Directors Club Business Bootcamp. More details are at the bottom of the page.

Protect your salon environment with The New Safety Guidelines from the CPTA.

A great way to start protecting you and your team is to read the new guidelines that I was privileged to work along with a team of experts and the CPTA, (The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association), addressing issues that Salon Owners face in relation to safe practice.

The CPTA website also has oodles of useful information.

You can download the CTPA Guideline on Artificial Nails and Minimising the Risk of Allergy. In this link CTPA Guideline on Artificial Nails and Minimising the Risk of Allergy

Join us in The Beauty Entrepreneurs Hub, my free Facebook community.

…oh and if you want to learn first-hand how to avoid ever landing in hot water with any aspect of your business then watch out for our 2020 Beauty Directors Business Bootcamp. More details will be released soon in our facebook group.

Here’s a snapshot video from 2019 giving you an insight into what’s to expect.

Employment Law–Can an Employee Legally Steal Your Clients?

employment law

You Really Can legally protect your client base once an employee leaves!

In the last video in our series with Employment Law Expert David Wright, David covers your legal position on what you can do when an ex-employee attempts to take your clients with them when they leave.

David also offers some frank advice on how to protect yourself from an unwelcome tax investigation and a hefty fine if you don’t meet the criteria on the HMRC Checklist.

Self Employed or Employed? This is an important question, as there’s a fine line with this one. Cross it and it could easily cost you a £10,000 HMRC bill.

At 10 minutes’ duration, this is the longest of our videos, but you really don’t want to miss a moment.



David will be speaking at Professional Beauty North on Monday 23rd October on Staff & Employment – The reality & Myths.

Click the link here to book David’s seminar…or any of the other business seminars. I’ll be speaking there too, so make sure to come and see there!


If you missed Video 1 Click Here to view>>

If you missed Video 2 Click Here to view>>

If you missed Video 3 Click Here to view>>


Here’s to YOUR great business,

Susan. x

P.S. Do you have any burning business issues you would like me to tackle for you? Drop me a line in the Ask Susan box or comment below and we will tackle your business issues TOGETHER.


How to avoid a hefty fine…

salon employment law

Are you aware that HMRC has a dedicated team where there only focus is to hunt out businesses who are not paying the minimum wage?

In Part 3 of this Employment Law series, David Wright explains how one of his clients who thought they were doing things correctly ended up with a hefty fine even though they fell foul of the minimum wage laws by only a few coppers.

The fine can be up to £20,000—Gulp!

Click on the video below to hear David tell this story and explain exactly why hair and beauty salons are a favourite target for the HMRC team.



PLEASE NOTE. The video was recorded Pre April 1st 2017 and the rates have now changed.
The New Minimum Pay Rates from April 1st 2017 are:
25 years & Over   £7.50
21-24 years           £7.05
18-20 years           £5.60
Under 18 years     £4.50
Apprentice Rate   £3.50

Ignorance of the law is never a valid defence, so make sure you don’t miss any of this important 4-video employment law series where the following topics are addressed:

  • Changing Hours, what to do if your employee works different hours to their contract
  • Commission and how you can easily fall foul of the law
  • The legal requirements for Apprentices of different ages
  • Self Employed/ employed and how the law views this
  • How to legally protect your business against an employee taking your clients
  • And how to avoid that £20,000 Fine

You can find out more information on David and his work at

If you have a burning question for David or I, you can comment below. We love your feedback! Or you can pop your query in the Ask Susan box and David or I will respond as soon as we can.

If you missed Video 1 Click Here to view>>

If you missed Video 2 Click Here to view>>

Here’s to YOUR great business,

Susan. x


30 Days 2 Grow Challenge

I’ve put together a 2 minute video telling you all about a great NEW 30 Days to Grow Your Business Challenge that the guys at Phorest have put together for us all. This Challenge will run through July.

Every day you get a new idea to help transform and grow your business.

I know one of the tips in there saved me £5000 when I implemented it, and I always encourage everyone in my SSF Programme to do it too.

Watch the video and see what you think…


By the way…30days2grow is totally FREE. It’s a great Gift from the guys at Phorest

So sign up now, I’m all signed up.

Here’s to your great business success…in July and beyond !!

Susan. x

Tip Jar Tips: Make Life a Little Less Taxing

It’s a new tax year so let’s talk tips.

tax on tipsIf you’re wondering what the connection is between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the fiver that nice client just handed your beauty therapist, you definitely need to keep reading.

This is really important: tips are taxable. If that’s news to you then you’re not alone. Through my Salon Success Freedom programme, I meet brilliant salon owners who have never considered the tax implications of a client’s kind gesture. But of course, as with everything tax-related, ignorance isn’t a valid defence.

While the headline is simple to grasp, the reality of dealing with it needs a little more explanation.

There are three main ways of handling tips:

1. Employees receive and keep their own tips

From a salon owner’s perspective, this is the most straightforward option. Each individual is responsible for recording their own tips and making sure they pay Income Tax on them correctly.

However, that doesn’t mean you can switch off completely. It’s still down to you to ensure your entire team is aware of the requirement in advance. David Wright, a personnel advisor to Habia and a consultant on my Salon Success Freedom programme, suggests adding a relevant paragraph to your workplace rules. It also makes sense to spell it out for every new starter and to gently remind existing employees from time-to-time.

2. Employees pool their tips and share them out

This is where things can get a bit cloudier. Collecting tips for distribution among staff is called a tronc and wherever there’s a tronc, there needs to be a troncmaster – a single person responsible for divvying up the pot.

Once everyone agrees who the troncmaster will be, it’s down to you as business owner to update HMRC. This is because the troncmaster makes sure the whole group pays the appropriate Income Tax through a specially created PAYE scheme in their name.

3. Tips are pooled and you share them out

You might decide this is best left to your team because by trying to be a kind boss and acting as the troncmaster on behalf of your hard-working staff, tips become subject to National Insurance as well as Income Tax.

I urge you to start this tax year actively deciding with your team how to manage tips. As Steve Thompson, MD of TEAM Accountancy Solutions and another of my programme’s advisors, warns, once that decision is made it’s critical to record tips accurately. HMRC knows tipping is common across the service sector and is perfectly capable of making its own estimates for additional tax demands.

For HMRC’s overview on tips and tax, click here. Detailed guidance can be downloaded from here.

Do you have any tip-related questions for me or the team? Don’t be shy, just Ask Susan!

Are You Still Trying to Be Perfect?

are-you-still-trying-to-be-perfect_1This weekend I’ll be sharing the stage with some of the UK’s best salon owners at Pro Beauty North. We will be discussing “What we wish we had known when we started in business”. I’m sure this is going to be a really open and robust discussion. If you’re attending Pro Beauty North please do join us!

In preparing for this discussion I got to thinking how we all seem to have a tendency to try to be perfect, then beat ourselves up when things invariably don’t go so well.

Why do we do that?

As business owners we seem to set ourselves some really strange rules around how we should be perceived in the eyes of others. This is usually to the total detriment of ourselves, our nearest and dearest, as well as our businesses.

We set off on the early days of our businesses with our heads full of dreams and ambitions. We are ready to take on the world!

But soon enough the realisation kicks in that maybe it isn’t all going to be a bed of roses. And of course we can’t just walk away or simply switch off when things go wrong.

We don’t want to burden friends and family who have limited time and resources to help, so instead we put a brave face on things.

Often we also have this other weird notion that goes like this:

If business is doing really well, then we should play down our success.
Partly in case it doesn’t last, and partly from the notion that we don’t want your clients and staff to think we are making too much money from them.

When you stop to think about it, doesn’t this seem like a totally crazy way of thinking?

After 28 years as a salon owner I find that when I speak to other salon, spa and clinic owners, one thing is for sure. We ALL have the same business issues in common. Yet everyone I have spoken to thinks the business problems they are grappling with are unique to them.

Most problems seem much bigger than they really are because we don’t want to admit we need help or guidance, or we simply don’t know where to get the right help from.

This gets harder the longer we have been in business. Everyone expects that you should know what to do and that your experience should prevent problems occurring in the first place.

I firmly believe that we should all embrace and celebrate when things go wrong as well as when things are going really well.

Business would be pretty boring if every day was perfect.

We need the challenges our businesses throw at us so that we can learn from them.

Over the years I have had many sleepless nights worrying about challenges in my business. The truth is that worrying doesn’t have any impact on the issue.

Now, when I look back at issues in my business life that at the time appeared to be huge problems, I realise that all worry did was make them appear much bigger in my head then they really were.

The reality is, each of these issues was a lesson that made me stronger as a business person.

That’s why I feel this discussion What we wish we had known when we started in business will be so valuable. We can all learn from each other’s mistakes and short-cut our own learning process.

We really all do need to embrace and celebrate how great we are for taking that big step into business, and learn to tackle our business issues together.

To book this discussion or any of the other business talks at Professional Beauty, all you have to do is click on the seminar link below, select the topics you’d like the most help with, then enter the code DISS50 in the Discount box and SUSAN ROUTLEDGE in the promo box. This will get you a 50% discount on all seminars and workshops too.

I hope to meet you there and help you to grow your Salon to brand new heights!

Here’s to your salon’s success,

Susan x


Could Technology Shut Down Your Salon?

Susan Routledge Salon ConsultancyI am sure, like me, you’ve noticed the increase in salons sprouting up around every corner in towns and cities. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that only the good ones survive…but will technology be our new competitor soon?

Staying ahead of the game and equipping yourself with savvy business knowledge will always be key to business survival.

So the question is…

Could Technology Shut Down Your Salon?

I’ve just returned from a really interesting business seminar where we looked at what the future holds for businesses. And, specifically, the jobs – and entire industries – that will become obsolete, and sooner than you might think!

For example, did you know that driverless cars are already operating in California? Before long we will see this phenomenon in your local area, mark my words. Have you heard how Amazon are developing drone technology to deliver our parcels? Automation is happening all around us, whether we like it or not.

The good news is… our industry is safe. For now.

I think it will be a long time before a robot will perform a relaxing massage or a set of individual lashes… or will it? After all, robots are already performing intricate surgery!

All of this really got me thinking about a conversation I had with a business analyst many years ago. His words of wisdom have always stuck in my head.
He said that anyone trying to run a business was sure to fail, if they don’t keep up to speed. And what worked 5 years ago, simply won’t work today.

This is so true. In fact, we see it all of the time.

Businesses are going bust because of how the world is changing and evolving. No one is immune.

A few years ago who ever thought the retail giant HMV would be in trouble? Now, due to the digital download revolution, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Camera retailer Jessops were hit hard on two fronts—by the emergence of how people now purchase on Amazon, and by the amazing camera technology now found on almost every smartphone today. Jessops couldn’t adapt quickly enough and they went under.

You may not be a retail giant, but these modern day technological changes can and DO affect you, me, and our competitors. Without a doubt, there will be far fewer manual jobs in the future, which will result in less salaried incomes.

How can you make sure that your business is “future proof” from the rapidly changing world?

It’s really simple. We do what successful businesses have always done.
We innovate, and stay on top.

Your business must be the best version it can be to stand head and shoulders above the competition. You simply cannot afford to stand still.

You must have a business that’s attractive to work for, and to buy from, to stave off competition. That means a great team offering fantastic treatments, resulting in outstanding client retention.

You must also have excellent business skills, rock solid systems and be able to learn from the best people who stay ahead of the game. That’s how we will thrive in an increasingly savvy, hyper-competitive world.

Now is the time to start thinking about your skills. And increasing those skills, sooner rather than later. Progress marches on, and won’t wait for you to catch up.

It’s crucial to set aside time to learn the best business practices to improve your knowledge and give yourself a competitive edge. And, where possible, seek the advice of people who are already successful in your industry.

That’s why I strongly recommend attending Professional Beauty North in Manchester on September 18th and 19th.

This year’s Professional Beauty North features the best speaker line-up I have seen to date, packed full of leading industry experts. During the event you’ll have access to over 20 dedicated business seminars where you will learn from experts who know what it takes to stay ahead of the game amid tough competition, and through all the latest changes in this increasingly digital world.

From business basics such as learning how to price correctly….
…. to becoming an award standard salon, improving your social media, and so much more.

And yes, I’ll be there too as I’ve been asked to give two different business talks:

  1. How to have a Cash Rich salon that gives you True Freedom
  2. How to Increase Retail Sales whilst improving the customer experience.

It’s a complete salon training event, with up-to-date strategies and tactics for our modern day business challenges. And, even though I might be a little biased, I believe this event is ESSENTIAL for enhancing your knowledge and skills when it comes to running, growing and thriving with your salon in 2016 and beyond.

And the good news is…Registration for the show is FREE and each seminar is only £5! Not a bad investment, especially when you consider the potential Return of Investment from a truly successful salon.

Oh!…and one more thing…

Professional Beauty has given me a code for you to get a full 50% discount off any seminars, too! However, make sure you book early as the seminars always sell out fast.

Simply click on the seminar link below, select the topics you’d like the most help with, then enter DISS50 in the Discount box and SUSAN ROUTLEDGE in the promo box. The discount will automatically work for seminars and workshops too.

Finally, I have a special personal gift for everyone attending my seminars over the 2-day event. I promise you’ll love it.

I hope to meet you there and help you to grow your Salon to brand new heights!

Here’s to your salon’s success,

Susan x

Do You Always Have a Good Friday?

Are You Having a GoodFriday_…Or sometimes does your entire week literally fall apart, messed up by no shows and last minute cancellations?

This can be so frustrating! Even though this can feel like it’s totally out of our control, we do have to step up to the plate and take some responsibility for this.

I don’t believe for a minute that there’s a bank of clients out there trying to disrupt our appointment system and our business. Instead I believe that we have help our clients to remember and respect their appointment bookings with us.

Nowadays we all have extremely busy lives with so much to remember every day, while also juggling work and family commitments. Although our treatments and appointments are a huge focus to our businesses, remembering a facial appointment can easily and unintentionally pale into insignificance in the hectic world of your client. So we need to do all we can to ensure our clients have their appointments with us in the forefront of their thinking by keeping in contact with them to give them gentle reminders.

Historically, most businesses will just sit back and hope and pray that the client will remember an appointment time, which could be anything up to 6 weeks away. Does that now sound rather unrealistic to you? No wonder our clients forget.

Here are some tips to help reduce this problem:

  • With existing clients it is essential to re-book their treatment before they leave you. This not only improves your client retention and appointment planning, but it also means that you can confirm correct details on an appointment card for a client’s safe keeping.
  • If a client telephones to make the booking then you must reiterate all of the details back to the client. Then either text or email a confirmation.
  • You must have contact with clients at least 48 hours before their appointment. This can be a friendly phone call or a quick text or email reminder. Many software programmes now can automate this process for you.
    Staying in touch with salon news and updates also keeps your business in a position of importance to the client.
  • Make sure you have a written cancellation policy in place as a deterrent. Having said that, it can be difficult to impose a cancellation policy unless your services are very unique. You can easily lose a client if they think they have incurred charges on their account, and they will simply move to another salon. My advice would be to give your client the grace of forgetting or missing one appointment, and then if it happens again, simply explain how you love offering treatment but that you would need to take payment in advance. If they refuse, then they would likely re-offend. So let the client go.
  • A pre or part payment booking system is a fantastic way to eliminate no shows. This is easily implemented if you have an online booking system.
  • No Shows can be a thing of the past with consistent action.

I hope you have a fantastic Easter.

Here’s to your great business.

Susan x

Susan Routledge works with salons, spas and clinics to help them to get the most out of their businesses. You can contact Susan here>>