Salon Spark Blog

with Phil Jackson

Home/Salon Partnerships - a recipe for disaster?

Can home/salon partnerships work? Working and living with the same person. A dream come true or a nightmare waiting to happen? How can we run our salon partnerships and our relationships successfully when your partner at home is also your partner in the business? Home/salon partnerships are quite a common feature of our industry, and if you get it wrong it can have dire consequences not only on the business front, but it can finish your relationship as well. I’ve lived and worked with the same person for about twenty years now, so I know more than a little about this! And for the last fifteen years we’ve had our Salon together as well. There are some amazing benefits from working and living with your partner. It’s beautiful to think that when you’re having a rough day, when everything seems to be going against you, there’s someone in the Salon with you who is always on your side. But there are a lot of downsides as well; you’ve got to be really careful. I will admit that I’ve had one advantage which you may not have. That is that we’ve always worked together. Very early on in our relationship we started working and living together. That means we haven’t had that period of adjustment where someone’s come into a business which is already running, or where you’ve had a relationship for a long time not working together and then started working together. I do have some advice for you if you are thinking of starting salon partnerships with your loved ones. Some are lessons I’ve learned the hard way. Others I’ve learned by observing the salon partnerships of my coaching clients. Happily ever after? First up you’ve got to start with the end in mind. I was coaching one very unfortunate Salon Owner whose business was on her knees. After a little digging, I found the reason for the business failing was she’d gone into business with her husband. While she thought they were going to be working together for ever – in his mind he had a different goal. In fact he only envisaged that for two or three years while he searched for a more lucrative job. Agree on the answers to these questions: Are you going to be selling the business at some stage? Is the idea that one partner leaves the business? What happens to the salon partnership if your personal relationship fails and you split up. You need to have these difficult conversations before you embark on working together. Sometimes they are hard conversations, but it doesn’t matter how many bottles of wine it takes you simply MUST get agreement in the end. Settle the big stuff You have to agree on the big stuff. Quite simply, you have to be pushing your business in the same direction. You will destroy your relationship and your business if you’re pulling in different directions. I don’t mean that you have to agree on absolutely every element of the business. That’s unrealistic and probably not good for your success either. But agree on the big stuff. Agree on the overall strategy for the business. Agree on the long term goals. Then, when you have arguments (and there will be arguments!) all you’re arguing about is how you’re going to get there. You’ve agreed on the destination. You’re only arguing about the slightly different routes that you want to take. Role play Point number three is you need to be crystal clear on your roles in the business. This is not only for your own sanity. If you’re not clear on your roles there’s a real waste of resource while you end up duplicating. You end up with two people doing something that one person could do a lot more effectively. This is particularly important if you have staff. It’s only fair that they need to know who it is that they go to when they want holiday approved. Or who it is that they go to with a training request. Or who’s in charge of the ordering. Otherwise they’re very confused and they end up not communicating effectively with a member of the Management team at all. Work/salon partnerships depend on everyone knowing their role. Who is the boss? Point number four is you have to manage or be managed. In every element of your business someone needs to be in charge. If you’re not willing to be in charge, then you’re going to have to hand over control to the other person and not interfere. For example my partner in the business doesn’t particularly enjoy the staff management side. He is pretty good with the paperwork. And he’s pretty good with dealing with the supplier relationships. But when it comes to coaching, when it comes to appraisals, when it comes to nurturing talent or bringing people on it’s just bores him. He doesn’t enjoy it, which makes him not very good at it. If he’s not willing to take part in that he’s going to have to be treated as a member of staff in that area of the business. That means he has an appraisal meeting with me every year. He has targets that I set with him and I coach him towards those targets. You have to either manage or be managed. Getting personal? There are times when you have to literally toss a coin to figure out who’s going to be in charge of an area of your business. This happens with personal relationships in the Salon as well. For example we had a guy working for us for quite a number of years. And over years you know what it’s like: you start to get close. Maybe you start to hang out outside work as well. We had to have a discussion between the two of us and decide who was going to be this guy’s friend. More importantly, who was going to be this guy’s Manager? Because we knew there were going to be times when we’d have to have difficult conversations. So you have to be that clear about your roles and you have to manage or be managed. No crystal ball And finally say what’s on your mind, and you say what’s on your mind when it occurs to you. It is impossible to put artificial boundaries into your home and work relationship. I can’t count the number of times we’ve gone on holiday and decided we’re not going to talk about work for a whole week. Then two days into the holiday we have to go out and buy a notebook and a pencil and start making notes. You can’t effectively put those artificial boundaries in place. It’s like me saying to you right now “do not think of an elephant”. The first thing that happens is you start thinking about elephants. If you put artificial constraints in place you also put unnecessary pressure on your relationship. Because it means your partner isn’t speaking their mind. So if you need to get something of your chest, if you need to talk about it, it doesn’t matter where you are. You could be having the most romantic meal in the world. But you have to just get it off your chest, get it out there. Then you can put work behind you and start focussing on your personal relationship instead. If you’ve got a successful work and personal relationship with somebody, share it over on the Build Your Salon Facebook page. I love hearing about how salon owners are making a success of their businesses and their lives.