The traits of a successful hair stylist

By Beth Nilssen

What makes a successful hairstylist?

Off the top of your head, you might begin with the ability to cut hair. Okay, that’s a start—but it’s not enough.

That reality at Great Clips. Our franchisees know that in order to successfully run a walk-in haircare salon, they have to provide the best haircut for the best price and the best experience for customers. That includes all the things that customers come to us for: the convenience of no-appointments, a short wait-time, and skilled, friendly stylists.

In other words: a great haircut is not enough in a service industry. So, what are those extra attributes, beyond agility with scissors, that make someone a successful hairdresser?

Many franchisees and salon managers have found that the list of great traits includes the ability to:

  • Pay attention to detail
  • Listen
  • Show sensitivity to expectations and emotions—even when they are non-verbal
  • Be creative
  • Connect with people on a personal level

Some of these may seem like “soft” things to think about as a franchise owner, but they are all things that affect whether or not a customer will return, which ultimately affects a salon owner’s bottom line.

Shana Kolodziej, a Recruiting Resource Specialist at Great Clips, adds one more trait to the list: making a great first impression. Shana works to support franchisees in their recruitment and stylist-training efforts. She is also a stylist, so she understands what it takes to succeed behind the chair. (Additionally, she’s the editor of, a great online resource for stylists and salon managers.)

“That first impression is so important,” says Shana. “It includes the stylist’s body language, facial expressions and the inflections in his or her voice. It’s all about presenting high energy and a positive attitude. This is something that cannot necessarily be taught, but can be advised and influenced.”

So, how do you recognize and hire stylists who have those traits that will make them exceptional? And, how do you nurture those traits that don’t come naturally?

I’m going to address both those questions in subsequent posts, with advice from successful franchisees – and you! Add your comments below and I’ll explore them in a future post.

Here are some resources about traits and skills of successful cosmetologists:

List of Cosmetology Qualities & Character Traits |

3 Personality Traits Leading to Salon Success

This post is by the founder/manager of a London salon chain. She is also a licensed psychotherapist—which has to be an asset when it comes to managing creative employees!