How to Properly Develop a Salon Education Program


Education is the heartbeat of the hairdresser. Stylists in this industry are drawn to salons that provide ample opportunities for growth and development in their practice. Of course, building a successful salon training program is no small feat, but it has become a necessary component for establishing a strong salon in today’s competitive marketplace.

Whether you’re looking to improve your current salon education program or you’re interested in developing a new one, industry experts Lenore and Kenny Gibson share their best practices for raising the stakes via educational training.

You might remember Lenore and Kenny from our Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed the previous episodes we’ll give you a quick recap: The Gibsons are both former Tony and Guy U.S. Creative Team Members who have since started their own education-based business, Collectiv Academy. Collectiv Academy is an enrollment based formal training program for students and stylists looking to hone their craft in order to create a prosperous and fulfilling career in the beauty industry. With their adept educational insight, these two offer their best advice for implementing a similar program into your own salon.

Why Investing in Education is Worth It

Educational programs have become a critical component for stylists in choosing which salon environment they want to work in. In today’s fast-paced climate, in which beauty trends are constantly changing, stylists stay motivated by the continuous opportunity to learn the new skills and techniques necessary in order to keep up and advance their career.

New and transitioning stylists are drawn to salons that offer quality educational programs with room for growth, so as a salon owner or manager, you don’t want to be behind in providing your
employees with these tools for advancement.

Determine Your Area of Focus

You have to first determine your salon’s specialty, or area of focus. Whether it’s mastering hair color or creating gorgeous updos, you have to decide what you want to be known for so that you have something to build your educational program around. If you don’t want to be limited to just one domain, you can combine a few of your best skills, offering a small handful of specialty services—but don’t stray too far from your niche.

Having an area of focus is good for both you and your stylists, you don’t want to spend time developing an expansive training program. There’s no need to go over all of the basics, your employees have already been through beauty school. Stick to what you know, and teach it well.

This will make it easier for stylists to decide whether or not your salon is the right fit for their skill base and interests, and it will lend itself to creating an extensive and in-depth training program tailored to your specialty services, ensuring that all of your employees live up to your salon standards.

Ditch the Ambiguity

 Be straight up when discussing your educational program with a potential new stylist. Lenore and Kenny urge salon owners to go into as much detail as possible, tell your stylists exactly how many weeks it will take them to complete their training and be specific about which skills they’re going to learn.

You also need to provide a final objective. Once they finish their training, are your stylists able to increase their prices? Do they level up or gain more status in the salon? Whatever objective you decide on, make sure the end goal is clear to all of your employees before they begin their training. Making these objectives known helps in building team unity and strength, and it continues to push your brand forward.

Choose Your Educators Wisely

From the salon point of view, how can you help your stylists be successful during their training? It’s likely that that you’ll need to hire several educators to teach your stylists these new skills and techniques, especially if you choose to specialize in more than one area. That being said, it’s absolutely critical that your educators are all on the same page in their practice to avoid contradicting one another.

Quick Tip: Becoming an educator could be an objective in one of your training programs. Salon owners often allow for advancement in a structured manner in which stylists work their way up from new talent, to intermediate, to advanced. Once your stylists have climbed the ladder, having completed all of their formal training, they could move into a teaching role, turning the page to the next chapter.

The Risk is Worth the Reward

The constant turnover that is natural to the beauty industry discourages many salon owners from taking the time to develop a proper training program. Lenore and Kenny flip this idea on its head by arguing that instead, you should let the fear of turnover be your motivation for this kind of training.

If you can create a solid educational foundation upon which your stylists can continue to build, you’re actually more likely to hold onto your employees. Not to mention, your well established, loyal stylists also appreciate some stimulation, and additional training will keep them feeling engaged and fulfilled in their current work environment.

Lenore and Kenny note that while building a cohesive and successful training program does require a substantial investment of time and energy on behalf of the salon and the educators, the outcome is well worth it. The unification of the quality of the type of hair going out of the salon will raise to new heights and your brand will continue to grow stronger.

To learn more about Lenore and Kenny and their focus on salon education, listen to their first podcast on choosing a valuable training class, episode 125. To listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 139.

Emily Kelly