Achieving a Promotion from Beauty Therapist to Salon Manager


Becoming a manager means taking on extra responsibilities and is quite a different role to being a therapist. A beauty therapist and a manager require completely different skills and a very different mind set and way of looking at things.

You may need to take a step back from beauty treatments or possibly stop doing them altogether, depending on the individual salon or spa. If treatments are your main strength or what you really love then think before you decide to give them up for a role where beauty skills aren’t really necessary.

Beauty knowledge however is something you will need to manage the staff and this is where I think therapists applying for managers positions really have the edge over managers from other sectors who apply within the beauty industry. You will be the ‘go to’ person if the therapists have any queries on how best to treat a certain client or what to do when things go wrong. As the manager you will be the decision maker so you need to know your stuff!

The people skills you have as a therapist will be very handy. Managing staff and clients requires you to be an excellent communicator. Ideally you want to get on with the staff but you also want to gain their respect. It can be difficult to be friends with the therapists, like you were when you were a therapist too. You will now be their boss and naturally your relationship will be different with them and you will need to maintain an air of professionalism.  The same goes for clients. Obviously you would have been professional around them as a therapist but you might also have been quite personal and chatty with them. As a manager you will need to be slightly more professional with the clients so that they have faith in you running the salon and put their faith in you. Sometimes there will be complaints, either from clients or amongst the therapists. You need be able to remain calm and control situations, being diplomatic, non-argumentative and listening properly to come up with a solution.

Organisation and numbers

Accounts, stock checks, rotas etc. may be some things that are completely new to you however these skills are essential to keep the salon running smoothly. Running out of stock, going over budget or not having enough/having too many staff in at once can cause mayhem and then you’ll be left to sort out the mess.

You will also need to be good at motivation. A lot of salons or spas focus on retail and treatment targets and offer commission schemes. It will be your job to help the staff hit these targets and motivate them along the way to keep them and therefore the business on track. A low morale can make a very unhappy work environment and prevent the staff from trying their best and making the effort required, so it’s important to keep staff spirits high and maintain a happy working environment.

Express yourself

A lot of beauty therapists love what they do and love the fact that they come in, do the treatments and go home. Some therapists are happy with this and have no desire to change their role. How will your boss know if you are one of these therapists or if you want more responsibility – they won’t! – unless you tell them.

You may have asked them in the interview about progression and expressed your ambitions then, so the owner/boss may already have an idea. If not or if it has been a while since your interview, then an appraisal is the perfect time to bring it up. If you don’t have regular appraisals then ask for one or if it’s not due for a while then ask for it to be brought forward. Or you could just ask for a meeting with your boss, either way bringing it up at an appropriate time and being official about it shows that you are serious about it rather than just a quick word between waxes!

It will also give you an opportunity to find out where you stand and if realistically there are positions available within the salon or positions that might become available. If you work for someone that owns and manages the salon themselves and they have no plans whatsoever to change this in the near future then you may well want to think about starting somewhere else that has more prospects. If there are opportunities at the salon your boss may be able to advise you on some areas that you need to develop, or things to work on for you to be considered for a role. They may even be able to offer you something in the meantime, such as a senior therapist role. Or you may be able to take on further responsibilities a little at a time – for example becoming in charge of stock control. This will be good experience so even if you are at a salon that has no managers positions, the extra responsibilities will be good for any future roles you apply for.

What qualities will you need?

There are a lot of qualities I’d look for when choosing a manager. I own a salon and leaving my business in the hands of someone else would be scary! The most important thing I’d want is someone I can trust. A reliable, loyal therapist who shows that they care about the business would be an absolute must. Whether it is a small salon or a big company with a chain of salons or spas I think really what the boss is looking for is someone who wants the business to succeed and shows a real love and passion for the business. If you have always been helpful, put in time and effort and go that little bit further than you have to sometimes that shows that you are willing to drive the business forward. What wouldn’t be attractive is somebody who puts in the bare minimum with a ‘well it’s not my business, why should I care’ attitude. How well the business is doing reflects how well you are doing as a manager, so it is in your interest to care about it.

I’d like someone with the utmost professionalism when working with clients and the other staff. If there is any arguing going on in the salon then the person in the midst of all this would not be my first choice. Somebody who can work well with everyone and get on with the job without getting involved would be ideal. I’d like someone who treats everyone fairly and with respect, I wouldn’t want someone to have ‘favourites’ or treat people disrespectfully.

Using your initiative is key, whilst simultaneously being able to follow instructions well. I wouldn’t want to have to tell someone every little thing to do, this would defeat the point of having a manager! But remember that it is someone else’s business so you are not completely free to run it however you like (unless of course this is what the owner wants you to do!) I’d like the manager to get on with the tasks that need to be done and make decisions at their own discretion. If it is a big decision or something completely new then I’d like the manager to run it past me first. Personally I’d still like to be quite involved and know what’s going on, however not all salon or spa bosses would be like this so it’s really up to the individual.

Not everyone is cut out to be a manager, it takes a certain type of person. Even some of the best therapists who know the industry inside out are just more suited to staying as a therapist. I think you know in yourself whether you would like the extra responsibilities or whether you are happy as you are. Being a therapist in the industry already gives you a great advantage over other managers. What you would lack compared to them would be experience but this can be gained through gradually being handed more responsibility. There are also courses in management, organisation and finances that you could attend to give you more knowledge. The extra experience and any extra courses are going to boost your CV and show that you are serious about becoming a manager. It can take time to work your way up, it won’t just happen over night but if you work hard you’ll get there. Be prepared for more hard work when you do but also a big sense of achievement, the hard work will all be worth it!


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