The Big Debate: Do You Offer Chair Rental?

Published 12th Jan 2024 by Chlo Weldon

In this debate, two business owners discuss their thoughts on renting chairs in salons…

Yes

Allan McKechnie, Rutherfords Hair

“I had a salon of my own for 10 years, and I gave it up in 2022. Since then, I worked as a freelancer, but at the beginning of October last year I took over a new salon, where we only offer self-employment. The decision behind it was that we wanted to know what’s coming in. Everybody’s paying rent to be there, including myself and my business partner, so for me it took away the stress of having any financial issues. Everybody just runs their own business from our business.

“Everybody works at their own pace, on their own days. We have eight chairs and two rooms that we rent out. We charge a monthly fee for the space and people work anything from one day a week to every day of the week. It’s up to them. It puts the flexibility back in the hands of the hairdresser, and it’s much less stressful for me.

“The nice thing is that we still get that team element that you would in a salon. Not having that team mentality is one of the reasons why I never offered chair rental in my last salon. When I worked in the city at other salons that offered spaces for self-employed people, the team element was lost because people were coming in to do their own thing. Here it’s a bit different, it’s a smaller community and a different setting.

“My advice for anyone considering chair rental is to think about your setup. Something that we do is to start everyone off with a three-month trial to make sure that person is a good fit with the rest of the team. At the end of the day, we want everybody to be comfortable with who they’re working.”

No

Tim Scott-Wright, The Hair Surgery

“I’ve had my salon for almost 10 years, and it’s been a fully employed model from the start. Part of it is the control element and that extra level of professionalism that you get so everyone feels part of a team. There are too many grey areas for anyone who wants the kind of salon environment that I want. I want it to be a premium salon. Not only how it looks, but also how it operates, and I think that can get lost with self-employed models.

“I can understand the benefits of it because you can avoid hitting the VAT threshold very easily if you have a self-employed model. I could have my partner as a sole director of the business, and we could put in enough money to pay any electric, gas, rent, and then I could be self-employed and earn more money. We’re all struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, so I understand why people would want to adopt this model.

"However, there are pitfalls. Since the government took Uber to court for disguised employment, they’re now clamping down on the beauty and tattoo industry and they’re coming back with hefty fines, backdating VAT and unpaid taxes. I hope going forward, that it starts to swing in the favour of employed salons – without us you’re going to see a decrease in apprentices and people entering the industry as self-employed models don’t typically hire juniors or apprentices. It’s really important to keep our industry going. You’re not giving the next generation the chance to be trained, employed salons are needed but it has to be a level playing field.”

Chlo Weldon

Chlo Weldon

Published 12th Jan 2024

Chlo writes regular content for the print magazine and website, as well as scheduling the content for HJ’s social media channels. Chlo has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism and previously worked as Assistant Editor at craft magazine Tattered Lace. After moving to London from her small hometown to be part of the HJ team, she is loving every minute of being involved in the industry. She loves a good treatment and is on a mission for a longer and thicker mane.

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