Rent vs. Commission, what's the deal?


Rent vs commission: the old age debate between salon owners, stylists, and anyone caught in the cross hairs. Okay, that might be a little dramatic. But it remains a big point of discussion and something new stylists often have questions about.

I know both sides of the coin pretty well because I’ve worked as both. The truth is that which one you choose should depend on your personal circumstances and where in your career you are. There are great benefits to rental and there are great benefits to commission - you just gotta know where you’re at and what’s most important to you.

Here’s a little breakdown:


  • Make your own schedule

  • Do your own marketing

  • Build your own business

  • Supply your own products and tools

  • Pay for your own insurance/retirement/and days off

  • Keep what you make


  • Curated schedule made by the salon

  • Marketing provided by the salon

  • Products and supplies provided by the salon

  • Possible benefits

  • Guaranteed hourly wage (if the salon does not do hourly wage at least, or hourly + commission, it is not somewhere I would recommend you work at. That is a hefty way that salons take advantage of stylists and is quickly being made illegal in most states.)

Now that you know the basic break down, I gotta hit you with my personal opinion:

If you’re just starting out and you don’t have a clientele, or a strong clientele, I suggest you go with commission. It’s a great way to build without having to worry about making your weekly or monthly rent. The salon will typically do your marketing, the products are supplied for you, and you’re making a decent amount of money for the amount you’re working.

If you have an established clientele or are doing significantly more in services than you’re making on your paychecks - it’s time to move to rent. Though the responsibility is much higher with rental, the money you’ll make with an established clientele is night and day to commission. I do suggest doing some research on how much your products + rent will cost you weekly and seeing how that compares to how much you’re currently taking home. You’ll also need to learn about how to do your taxes as an independent contractor or LLC, and have some sort of business knowledge because you will be running your own once you’re on rental.

There is a third option here, which is employee, but with the new laws and regulations around commission, I would assume that all commission salons are paying their employees hourly as well. IF they are not - I suggest looking up your state laws and making sure that what they are doing is legal. But you can pretty much lump commission and employee in the same bracket here, as I consider them very similar.

Have more questions about rent, commission, or employee? Comment below and i’ll be happy to answer them!

Esther ChapmanComment