Target practice: why salon targets get a bad rap

As a salon owner, do you love to whinge about how targets don’t work? How they’re too much effort to manage? Does your team freak out at the mere mention of a target (let alone hitting one). The Zing Coach, Lisa Conway, says it’s not the targets that are the problem, it’s the way you’re setting them.


Target practice is not such a dirty word.
Target practice is not such a dirty word: creating well-considered targets and incremental wins will help you get your salon to where you want it to be.


Let’s start with your motives. My experience is that, unless you go back to the basics and understand your WHY, you won’t ever get off the starting blocks when it comes to salon targets.

Take a long, lingering look at why you do what you do, why you became a salon owner in the first place, and you’ll soon be in the mindset you need to give your targets a good makeover.

When someone comes to me and tells me the targets they have don’t work and never did, I know without even asking questions that the targets they introduced were simply about the finish line. They were framed in this type of one-sided discussion: You need to do this and I’ll give you this target without any good reasoning or step-by-step process as to how you need to get there. No wonder things never even got off the ground!

Other owners complain about the disappointment of no-one keeping track of where they’re up to with the targets. So I ask: Did you give them a tool or a system to help them keep track? Thought not.

The other common thing I find is salon owners setting targets that are so ambitious that no one on their team feels they can get close, let alone reach the goal. Result?  No-one’s interested. Can you blame them? They feel they can’t possibly measure up.

Like everything in your salon you have to take ownership. If your team are nowhere near the targets you set, then the truth is: You are the problem. That’s the bad news. The good news is this: You are also the solution.

Setting up targets in any of these ways means you relegate them to the “fail bin” before you even begin. My advice to you is if you have targets in place that aren’t working, stop them now, call it quits and start over.


Many salon owners set targets that are so ambitious that no one on their team feels they can get close, let alone reach the goal.
Many salon owners set targets that are so ambitious that no one on their team feels they can get close, let alone reach the goal.


Now, start thinking about targets in terms of incremental gains, rather than focusing on the finish line. It’s never one thing that turns a salon around;  it’s a cluster of things that make up the one hundred per cent you’re all searching for. If you change five per cent here and ten per cent there, they all add up to something worth counting. Before you know it, the culture in your salon is completely different. In no time, you’re smiling more often than not. Targets are all about percentages and incremental wins.

Consider this example. I couldn’t jog at all. I always said: not even to a shoe sale. I didn’t want to run, even though I always felt it would be cool to be able to! I loved walking my dog so instead of thinking I’m going to be a runner, I thought I’m just going to be a power walker.

So I started walking my dog very fast (not a stroll anymore) morning and night. After a month, I found myself going for longer walks and they became easier and easier. Then I started using the Couch to 5K app, which asks you to jog for 60 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds. I thought: I can do that. At first it seemed too much of a progression, so I just repeated week one – three times! Eventually I found week one too easy. Long story short: now I can actually jog. And if you’d told me that four months ago, I’d have said: Rubbish! I’m not a jogger.

It’s no different in your salon when people see that their target is $4000 a week. They give up before they begin because they don’t believe it’s possible. Your challenge is to take them there slowly, using well-considered targets to give them (and you) incremental wins.

Let’s take the example of a first-year apprentice hairdresser. She’s not going to be doing full heads of foils straight off. She’ll be doing basin services or tint re-growths. But if you train her in bite-sized increments, she can’t help but grow.

You don’t say to her: I expect you to be doing 15 basin services a week. The poor kid only does one a week now!

That’s the biggest challenge with targets – setting them so high that nobody reaches them. Nobody gets rewarded and nobody grows.

Instead, set them just a stretch from where they are now. That’s what engages a team and gets them excited.

Ask your first-year apprentice this: Let’s see, if over the next month, we can get you up to doing four basin services a week.

Then explain to her the steps she’ll need to take to get there. Make it seem do-able. Encourage her and reward her.

That’s just one simple example. It’s horses for courses and unless I know your horse and your course I can only give you a rough guide here. But you know your salon, your team and your clients, so no one is better positioned to take an honest look at what targets are likely to work in your business.

Instead of out-of-reach overall team goals and inflated, self-sabotaging retail targets, look at where you can use one per centers – smaller increments and attainable targets to grow your team step-by-step, service-by-service, product offer-by-product offer.

I know it’s hard to believe but, when done right, salon targets can be a thing of joy. Executed well they will bring powerful rewards to your team, your clients and your business profitability. Learn to love them!



Lisa Conway is the author of The Naked Salon, an essential guide to time, team and money. And look out for her soon-to-be released follow-up title, Your Salon Team.




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