Simon Scott, the founder of Scott Consulting, which offers business training for the beauty industry, is a born guest speaker. He makes jokes about his “Austin Powers accent,” wears a shiny pin-stripe suit, and says “hello!” whenever he thinks he’s made a particularly great point. He also insists we give a round of applause whenever a student answers a question.
“Fact,” says Simon, giving us a faux-stern look over his horn-rimmed glasses. “80 percent of students who graduate beauty school leave the industry after five years.”
“Fact!” says Simon, warming to his theme. “Beauty salons have the second highest failure rate of any business.”
We’ve been restless and chatting — about Simon’s accent, where to order dinner during break, Miss Susan’s oddly vertical updo — but that shuts us up quick. He asks us to volunteer ideas as to why so many beauty school graduates drop out, and some of them (“no money,” “bad hours,” “no one is hiring”) sound like they might hit pretty close to the mark. But Simon shakes his head mournfully at all of these.
The reason (say it with me now) is No. Business. Skills.
And we’re in luck because Scott Consulting has just what we need to fix that.
“Fact.” Simon is conspiratorial now. “Customers don’t care about your life. They’re paying for your full attention while they’re in the salon and they don’t want to hear you yammering on about your kids or your dog.”
Over the next 75 minutes, Simon does his level best to pack in this and as many other Business Skills as he can teach us. Some, like “stop tipping waiters,” are supposed to improve our personal lives as well. “If you tip everyone all the time, even if they just give you mediocre service, how can you reward someone who gives you really great service?” Simon asks, faux-socratic now, apparently having never waited a table in his life.
Hairdressers, Simon wants us to know, make 42 percent of their annual salary from tips. That’s enough to take you from $14 to $24 per hour or $48,000 per year (his numbers, note that the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates your median hourly wage as $11.13).
“So you see how important it is to give really great service,” Simon sums up, since in his world, one only tips on merit, and never, say, a moral imperative to do your part for an unfairly compensated workforce. “It truly accounts for almost half your income. Hello.”
Then he asks us how much we think we can earn, provided we develop our Business Skills, and are still in the industry five years after graduating.
“Maybe $100,000?” asks Rachel, a cosmetology student with freshly henna-ed hair. At Simon’s urging, we give Rachel a dutiful round of applause for using her words, I guess.
“One Hundred Thousand Dollars,” says Simon, pausing for dramatic effect. “Yes. That is what top stylists can make — that is what you can make! — in this industry. With the right business skills.”
At that, everyone breaks into applause.