Are You Putting on Your Own Oxygen Mask First?

by Pam Stellema

in Salon and Spa Business Development

Are You Putting on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

In this article, I want to delve into why many salon and spa owners struggle to become successful.

After all, the majority have the required technical skills, offer amazing customer service, and love what they do, so why aren’t they financially successful?

It also begs these questions,

Why aren’t they taking home a decent wage for themselves each week?

Why are they constantly living on the edge of burn-out, and

Why aren’t they getting all they deserve from their efforts?

All great questions, right?

You might have even asked yourself the very same questions once or twice.

Well, I’ve given it a great deal of thought, and I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the major issues holding them back from getting the outcome they really want is their unwillingness to put their own needs before others.

Many salon and spa owners feel guilty and selfish if they put their own business needs first, so instead, they spend their lives putting everyone else’s needs first.

Don’t get me wrong – that’s a very selfless and generous way to live, however, in business, all it will give you is burn-out.

Here’s an interesting analogy. If you’ve ever taken a plane flight, there’s a part of the safety demonstration where the stewardess drops down the oxygen mask and says, ‘Put your own oxygen mask on first, so you can then help others’.

Wow. Such simplicity, and yet, so important.

You need to look after your own needs first, and only then, are you in a position to help those around you. If you don’t, and pass out from lack of oxygen, then you can’t help anyone else.

So, by putting your own needs first, you are not being selfish or greedy. In fact, you are ensuring that you are able to look after the needs of others because you put yourself in a position to do so.

The same holds true when you’re in business. If you don’t look after your own business needs first, then you’ll never be able to look after those who depend on you.

Too often, I’ve coached salon and spa owners on how to improve their business, and too often I’ve have hit a brick wall because the sensible and practical things I asked them to do (put their business first), hit some pretty solid resistance.

At first, I struggled to understand why they couldn’t see that their resistance to do what was necessary for their business was hurting both themselves and other people who were dependant on the business.

I knew that if they would just do as I asked, they would see a great improvements, which would lessen their stress, decrease the likelihood of burnout, and keep them in their business for the long-term.

But, for some salon owners, they simply couldn’t come to grips with putting on their own oxygen mask first!

One important example of this revolves around service pricing. When I’ve told clients that it’s time to have a fair price increase (which was many years overdue), they felt that they simply couldn’t do it.

The reasons given ranged from, ‘But I can’t ask my long-term clients to pay more for their services than they did 7 years ago, when they first came to my salon’, to, ‘But if I increase my prices, all my clients will leave’, or ‘I feel greedy asking for more money’.

Clearly the clients were getting their oxygen masks first, but what was going to be the consequences of that for the business? 

The fact is, it’s not greedy to ask your clients to pay a fair price for what they receive. Yes, there will always be clients who huff and puff and try to blow the house down, but in reality, they are in the tiny minority.

If these clients choose to move on, rather than pay you a fair price for your services, it’s probably a blessing for your business.

These are not the kind of clients who are going to help you grow a happy, healthy, sustainable business that will provide for your family, keep your staff employed and fulfil your dreams of owning your own business.

Other examples that come to mind are when clients are disrespectful of salon policies and there are no consequences.

This eventually leads to loads of no-shows, late cancellations and late arrivals.

When there are no consequences to poor behaviour by a client, that behaviour tends to worsen, rather than improve.

And of course, employee behaviour falls into the same category.

Changing client appointments without permission to suit their own schedules, not making any effort to reach realistic sales targets, taking time off during busy salon periods, enticing clients to come to their home salons and so much more.

All these behaviours escalate when the business owner does nothing to put the needs of her business first and enforce employment conditions.

When salon owners don’t put the needs of their business first, it will inevitably impact on many other people surrounding them also.

So, here’s what I tell my coaching clients now, when they choose not to put their business needs first…

~ When you refuse to increase your prices to a fair level, eventually your expenses will grow too big to be covered by your revenue. Overheads continue to increase and so does the cost of running your business.

~ When your employees and clients are making your life a misery, you will hit burn-out at a rapid rate.

~ When the day comes that you can no longer keep your doors open, or when you no longer want to keep your doors open, the following will happen:

  •  Your employees will be without a job. They will struggle to pay their own expenses until they can find other employment. They will go without because they no longer have a secure job working for you.
  • Your clients will feel disappointed for a minute or two, then get on the internet and find another salon to go to, where they will gladly pay the price for their services that you were too frightened to ask for.
  • Your suppliers will suffer because they have lost an important cog that keeps their business running profitably.
  • Your dreams will shatter. You will no longer have your own business to run the way you want to.

So, if looking after others is something you want to be able to continue to do in the future, be sure to put your own oxygen mask on first!

Pam Stellema
Join me

Pam Stellema

Pam is an industry experienced coach, past salon owner, speaker, author and copywriter. She works beside salon and spa owners to show them how to effectively grow their profits and remain in business for the long-term.
Pam Stellema
Join me

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