At some point in our careers, we’ve all had to assess our current employment situation and decide whether or not we’re in the best salon for us and our career goals. Sometimes, the decision is easy and obvious. In other instances, you may end up “on the fence” so to speak. Coming to a conclusive decision may be difficult. You don’t want to make a rash decision you’ll end up regretting later but you don’t want to stay in a toxic workplace either.

When it comes down to it, you spend quite a lot of time at work–you shouldn’t spend it being miserable.

This article will help you decide if it’s time to leave your workplace, approach the owner about making some changes, or wait it out.

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before submitting your resignation:

1.) Do you wake up excited about your workplace and your coworkers? Obviously, you are not going to jump out of bed every day thrilled about going to work. There will be good times and bad times at your workplace. However, if you’re waking up every day dreading the time you’re going to spend in the salon, you need to start considering your options.

2.) Are the salon’s professional values (or your own) starting to drift in conflicting directions? Let’s say you’re working at a family salon. When you began your employment, the dress code dictated that everyone wore black and conducted themselves professionally. As time goes on, things change and those values slip. Eventually, the dress code no longer applies. As a result, the employees are behaving unprofessionally and acting inappropriately at work. These changes cause you to lose clients. Your professional values no longer mesh with the environment you work in.

Consider whether or not you want to allow the salon’s reputation to alter your own.

In this case, approaching the owner and proposing a solution first is a good idea. If the owner is unwilling to compromise, hit the classifieds.

3.) Are you hearing complaints from your clients? This business is about service. If the people you are servicing are expressing to you that they are unhappy, you have two options: you can take their complaints and address them or you can ignore them and eventually lose their business.

Talk to the owner and try to resolve the issues. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to go.

If clients are unsatisfied with your coworkers and your work environment, get out.

It’s only a matter of time before they all bail and the salon goes under.

4.) Are you at a salon that helps you grow as a professional? If you’re interested in being more than “just another hairdresser” are you at a salon that encourages and helps facilitate professional growth? Plenty of salons offer continuing education and opportunities for advancement. Some even offer portfolio building assistance and participate in fashion shows and photoshoots for local fashion magazines.

If you want to grow as a professional and your salon is not willing or able to offer you those opportunities, resign and find another salon that will.

5.) Are you making enough money? If you’re not getting enough business to build a decent book or the prices are set so low that you’re barely making enough to get by, pack up and get out. Business is business.

You’re at work to make money. Once the cash flow dries up, there’s no reason for you to be there.

My personal rule is this: I will give a salon a six month probationary period. If, at the end of that probationary period, I am not booked six weeks out–I need to move on. I know what I’m capable of in terms of building my clientele. If I haven’t built a following after six months, I know I’m in the wrong place for me.

If you know what you’re capable of as well, you can set a similar benchmark and deadline.

(Side note: If you don’t understand that you should be getting paid at least the prevailing minimum wage–even if you’re considered “commission-only,” you need to read this post.)

6.) Are your coworkers making you miserable? Every salon has at least one asshole who makes it their personal mission to make your life a living hell. Hopefully, you’re in a salon that’s managed properly and those problem employees get dealt with accordingly but if you’re going through constant bullying and mind games and the manager or owner has failed to put a stop to it, it’s time to leave. Nobody deserves to be miserable at their place of employment or suffer abuse at the hands of malicious coworkers.

Bottom line: business is business.

Leaving a toxic workplace can be hard. Despite the problems that compromise your professional happiness, you may be close with the owner or your coworkers on a personal level, which complicates matters even further. If you’ve decided it’s time to go, read this post about how to quit your job the right way.


Have you ever had to leave a toxic work environment? What happened and how did you know it was time to make a run for the door? Let us know in the comments!

19 COMMENTS

  1. Should I consider leaving when my boss keeps changing her mind about how she runs her business. Example, first she wants booth renters, then she wants just commission stylists, then she wants to sell her salon, then she tells us we are now going booth rent, then she changes to a focus salon. She is wishy washy. This is all within the 9 months I’ve been there and 9 stylists have left. So that’s an average of 1 stylist per month.

    • Oh god, get out of there. Flakes like that can’t retain employees or clients. I’ve had consulting clients exactly like this woman, and I can tell you it’s only a matter of time before she gets frustrated and gives up completely. Find a new job now before you show up and realize she’s locked the doors and won’t be reopening.

  2. I am an employee. I am being attacked by the mgrs because they are intimidated by me because i had the highest numbers in the salon for sales and services. Then they cut my hours to only 3 days when im full time employee. So i decided to quit and they boxed my stuff up and took my stuff. Is this allowed? What can i do?

  3. I work at a salon, where the owner does 50% commission. The owner expects me to do my clients answer the salon phone and record messages, and book her appts. If one of her clients needs to be seen and she is not there she expects me to do them but then gets mad and talks bad about the clients and fellow bueaticians in my presence so I know she talks about me. She brings her children to the salon but mine are not allowed. Lastly my faith in God is questioned at least twice a week. I just relocated to Florida so I’m trying to build a stable clientele but I don’t know if I should stay here. Sometimes I have appts and myself and my client have to wait outside.. The new stylist that works there now. Has tried to talk to me about my marriage it’s really frustrating . I find myself leaving or praying for patience until the end of the day when can leave. What should I do?

    • Find another job immediately. No position is worth putting up with all of that. You have to put yourself first. When you find a new job, be very clear about setting boundaries with the employer. People like the owner you work for currently don’t continue that behavior if they’re firmly and consistently told to stop. (If they do, they’re assholes and there’s no redeeming them, lol. Most people will not continue that kind of harassment when they’re repeatedly and publicly condemned for it.) You know the saying, “Give an inch and they’ll take a mile?” This is one of those times. Never give anyone the opportunity to mistreat you or disrespect you, or you will set a precedent and they’ll never stop.

  4. The last salon I was in, I was forced into a rental situation before I was able to build a clientele that would keep me financially stable. The salon owner moved the salon and then immediately doubled my rent. She promised the new location would have lots of walk-in clients, but as a renter, I dont get any walk-ins until after she fills up her book for the day, her assistant, then her commission stylists, before I can benefit from this move. She also made the mistake of telling me how much she is paying for renting her salon space, which is the price of my booth. Business is business and if I’m paying for a salon, it’ll be mine and not someone else’s, so I left.
    I now rent a booth at a great price in a nice area, with great coworkers, an owner I respect and in a salon that is truly drama free. It’s a true gem and very rare to find in our industry. I’ve been here for a year now.
    Here is my problem, after my divorce, which left me with nothing, I was forced to move in with my parents, giving me an hour and a half commute to work. I gas up my car 2x a week (which is expensive in California) add my booth rent and my small but lovely clientele, I am barely making ends meet and my bank account suffers every month.
    I can’t afford to move out of my parent’s home, but if I scrape up enough money to rent a room closer to work, I would save so much on gas, but still not make much for a long while. Or I sacrifice my business, I can get a stable job closer to home, save on gas and booth rent, but lose out on being my own boss, keeping my clientele and a job I’ve been in for 13 years.
    I don’t want to leave the salon industry because I love it, I was meant for it and it’s the only thing I know I can do well at, but financially it isn’t working out and it breaks my heart. I’m at a crossroads.

    • Why not have both? I’ve spoken to many people in your position who didn’t want to leave but were temporarily having a difficult time affording to stay. Maybe find a middle ground that makes sense for now–rent a booth closer to home, find a part-time job outside of the industry, and book your clients around your schedule while you’re getting back on your feet. The part-time job will help carry your expenses while you’re building up in the new area, and when you can afford to go back to running your own business full-time, you’ll be prepared to transition easily since you never really left the business entirely. 🙂

  5. Hi, I’m at a salon that I’m having a really hard time booking myself up at. I’ve had to lower my prices, give discounts on product, and usually get less than 10% tip. I want to rent a booth closer to home, but it would meet completely starting over with zero clientele. I’ve never rented and am wicked scared cuz it’s so foreign to me. I really don’t know what to do. The growth potential where I am at is stunted as I pay comission, but never get to go to classes and the owners don’t stay educated so I’m not growing… how do I move myself into another situation without screwing myself ? I have a mortgage and a border collie to feed !

    • Yikes. Okay, so something is broken. It’s either the salon, the area you’re located in, the clients you’re attracting, deficient salon management, or it’s you. My guess is that it’s a combination of factors. If you’ve never had a problem booking up before, it’s likely not your fault.

      The current situation you’re in doesn’t sound as if it’s sustainable, so I don’t think you have much of a choice.

      If the owners have been standing by watching you struggle to build (and haven’t done anything to help you), they can’t blame you for walking away. You have bills to pay just like they do. If your employer isn’t doing their job (which, for the record, is ensuring you’re building and busy), that’s a huge problem and indicative of many more potential management problems.

      You say you’re on commission–does this mean the owner is not guaranteeing you minimum wage? Often, salon owners will “hire” a bunch of so-called “commission-only” employees, even though the business has no need for a new employee of any kind and doesn’t have enough of a clientele to ensure that employee can earn enough to live. They fill chairs with stylists under the false assumption that they don’t have to actually pay those workers. Unfortunately, that’s not how employment works, nor how one builds a successful business. Salons don’t manage themselves, and if your salon owner expects you to build their business for them while they sit around and collect money, you’re in the wrong salon. In that situation, you’d likely be better off renting.

  6. I love how open you are with your knowledge,it’s been incredibly helpful. But I have a question I don’t see an answer to and would like to ask.
    I have been at a corporate salon for 18 years that started using a “jump” system a few years ago I haven’t been able to jump in 5 years because time can’t be found in my book to accommodate the required number of “conversion” clients I advertise to since I’m so booked with my regulars, so my conversions go to others. But though there is another reputable salon looking to hire me,I’m afraid to leave since I have a loan on my 401K. What do you advise?

    • If I were you, I’d look to the employee handbook. If the answers can’t be found there, arrange to speak with someone in HR to learn about your options. After 18 years of service, you may also want to consider speaking with management and letting them know exactly what issues you’re experiencing and why you’re entertaining other offers. If you had been with my company that long, I’d work damn hard to find a solution–especially since you’re right. Any system based on acquisitions/conversions for advancement will cripple those professionals who have superior client retention. You shouldn’t be punished for inspiring loyalty in your clients, and that’s what this system appears to be doing. Any conversions brought in as a result of your skills, marketing, or client referrals should be credited to you. It’s ridiculous for another professional to not only get the client but to get conversions they didn’t earn.

  7. Hello Tina, I am a salon owner and I have a booth rental salon..This is my 5th salon and for the first time I have a situation where I have two girls that have jumped on the bully train so to speak with another of the Girls Here mind you these are grown women not in their twenties we are talking in their 40’s and 50’s.. There has now come to a place where it is a complete impasse, demanding mandatory meetings and with no solutions.. I have to say I really don’t know what to do about it . It is truly foreign to me.. I have been so lucky this salon has 6 chairs and its between 3 girls and it is the war of who is right or not. I really could use some advice.

    One more thing as for the mandatory meetings they are not by me I am the Landlord only they do not seem to understand that. I have offered to have meetings, talked individually, but no one will come up with a solution.. and as I have told them I will not have a bitch session i want ideas for solutions…
    Thank You again!

    • The way I would handle this, fair warning, is probably not the way most landlords would handle it. I *hate* this childish, catty shit, and I have no time for grown women who behave like toddlers and require “grown-up” intervention. So, I would have that meeting, but I’d be the one doing the talking.

      First of all, they are business owners and they need to be minding THEIR OWN businesses and NOT trying to sabotage YOURS. Your business is retaining tenants. The second other renters start trying to push out other renters the way these two sound like they’re doing, they are creating a problem for YOU, and that’s unacceptable. They are fucking with YOUR money, and that should make you mad as hell. (I’m sitting here getting mad for you, lol.)

      Tell them to cut it out. You are their landlord; not their mother, babysitter, or mediator. They need to behave like adults. If they are incapable of behaving appropriately, they will run the risk of having their leases terminated. The tenant they’re harassing is paying rent just like they are and she shouldn’t have to deal with their bullying when she’s trying to run her business.

      The entire purpose of that meeting, if I were holding it, would be to shame them and put them back in their lanes. If they wanted someone to kiss their boo-boos and tattle to, they were not ready for business ownership. They can bring that shit to an employer. You aren’t their boss or their manager and their petty grievances with each other are not your problem. Don’t let them try to make their issues your issues.

  8. I just quit a job where the manager treated me like I didn’t exsist and when I did my job by communicating what was needed to still be done I was labeled someone wanting brownie points. I worked there for 6 months and was never welcomed into the group. I was isolated and felt left out. My birthday was “forgotten” while everyone else’s was celebrated. I was constantly looked at as always doing something wrong yet the manager allowed girls to be unprofessional and not show up for 2 weeks and still has her job and was giving a key after all this. During her disappearance I had to work extra shifts to cover her as well.. the assistant manager would talk a lot of trash about everyone working there on a daily basis then act like their friends to their faces. Anytime I went to confront the manager about anything she would walk away from me and never give me a chance to have a voice. After finding out that even the manager made comments about me I said enough is enough and quit.. I am being belittled for my choice in quiting because they feel if it doesn’t effect my pay don’t let it effect my day..I’m sorry but to me that applies to little mistakes made at work not your coworkers belittling you and isolating you and making you feel unwelcomed..

    • They’re wrong. You should never be made to suffer a shitty, hostile, miserable work environment in exchange for a paycheck. No amount of money in the world is worth that. You deserve to be happy where you work–or, at the very least, not miserable.

  9. Hi! So I’m in a situation where I hate my place of work I’m topped out at 50% commission with really no extra perks or benefits like education or really anything except for just a great location. My boss just doesn’t run the business properly, the salon has lost 5 girls in the last year with a very weak effort on trying to replace them, we have major receptionist issues where I’ve had clients say they’ve been trying to get in touch with someone at the salon for DAYS and no one answers or calls back. Sometimes I’m the only one working and my clients are starting to question me, I don’t want to talk bad about the owner or the salon but it’s getting harder to cover the unprofessionalism behind the scenes. My boss also told us a year ago she was not signing another lease so now I have a year to get out unless someone buys the place but she’s not making much of an effort to put it out there for a potential new owner to come in. So obviously I need to hit the road right?! buuuttt I’m having so much trouble finding a salon I love near the location I’m at, I’ve been in this location for about 5yrs so I have a very solid clientele it’s in a nice shopping center and there’s always walkins so it’s been fairly easy to build, but I’m very interested in this gorgeous salon that’s a tad closer to me but it’d be about an hour for my clients who I know probably about 90% will not follow bc of the distance. This new salon is bigger, beautiful, full of younger stylist has education and their STARTING commission is 50% so there’s the opportunity to grow and eventually if I wanted to go booth rent I have that opportunity too but I don’t think they have the walkins like my current location so I’m just nervous about having to start over and it be a veryyyy slow process . How do I choose? Do I go for a place that I’m not absolutely in love with and keep my clientele or do a make a jump and go to a beautiful, professional salon but have to say goodbye to good clients and start new? I’m sooo torn

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