The dirty truth of a salon owner turned coach!



Richard McCabe

As I stand here today I’m the fastest growing salon lifestyle coach in Australia, personally looking after over 150 salons and counting. I perform live on stage to passionate salon owners, I’m a #1 best selling author of ‘The Lifestyle Salon Owner’ (you can buy your copy from amazon here, cheeky plug) and I work one to one with some of the worlds top salons.

I live in a cute little house right by the beach just north of Sydney and get to walk on the beach and get my feet wet and sandy every day. I truly live the LIFESTYLE and my mission is to help as many salon owners reach theirs too. I aim to help thousands of salon owners finish rich, and that could mean more money, more time with their family and more purpose in life. We each have our own idea of what being rich is!

But this story could easily have gone another way, with 80% of salons closing down every 3 years, passionate salon owners losing their dreams, money, houses and cars.

It’s not easy being a salon owner in 2018 but it never has been, not even when I started my salon owner journey all those years ago.

My confession:

  • I left school at 16 with no higher education
  • My results were below par at best
  • I didn’t go on to University
  • I was unmotivated and was happy NOT TO WORK and just hang around all day with my friends
  • My English spelling and grammar was just awful (and still is now)
  • I’m slightly socially introverted
  • Money doesn’t motivate me
  • I became a hairdresser by accident as all my friends started getting jobs and I didn’t want to be left behind it was just a job
  • I never had the urge to open my own salon
  • I was scared to open my own salon, so I asked a friend to back me, big mistake!
  • I was not a born leader, in fact I would be average on purpose to hide in the crowd.
  • I was useless with money.
  • I never did homework or wanted to learn more.

My life should and could have been so different from what it turned out to be…..

Every single one of my friends worked in a factory (in my town that’s what you ended up doing without any qualifications, working on the track building cars, day in, day out, for good money) and you lived for the weekend escape. I remember my friends saying, “that they work to live not live to work”. I didn’t want that life, I wanted to live for what I did, I wanted a purpose in life.



There had to be another way?

So I made the decision that I needed more out of life and a job wasn’t going to suffice, so I bought my first salon with a friend (because I was scared to do it alone).

Before I knew it I was the proud owner of a salon in Coventry called SAMSONS and working 6 days a week.


To get the salon busy I had to work 6 days initially due to my business partner walking out on me in week one. I had no money left, no back up plan, I was even building the chairs and stations around clients (but hey, at least I had clients). As I grew it was the most amazing and awesome feeling in the world. My salon. My business. And people liked me!

I employed people I liked (friends) and we got to hang out and bounce around all day. This was great for a while, the passion was high, but a few years in, the tax, VAT, wages, stock and general bills increased and the takings seemed to decrease somehow. I was busier than ever, so why did it feel like I was poorer than ever?

Having to put taxes and VAT on payment plans, juggling money around to pay wages and stock.

Suddenly I wasn’t feeling like that proud salon owner anymore!

My friends at the time didn’t care as long as their own pay was in their bank accounts. It was at this point that I knew something drastic had to change. This was NOT the life I signed up for, this was worse than any job in a factory, doing the same repetitive task day in, day out, at least factory workers got paid regularly.

But for me, my house and family were being affected.

I was a bad salon owner, absolutely useless at business and about to fail BIG time.

Something HAD to change

So heres what happened to change my life and career:

  • I read more business books in a year than anyone I knew
  • I went to every business seminar I could
  • I tried and failed bringing new systems into my salon
  • I had a passion for business like I never knew
  • I became obsessed with numbers
  • I tracked everything and started to know what results were
  • I tried everything and anything
  • I was a business sponge
  • I learnt leadership

And the big one…………

  • My mind shift! I knew that to succeed it had to be the new way or the highway, and that made a huge difference to me. I shared my dream with my team and gave them the choice help me get there or you’ll get left behind.

The salon changed, not straight away but slightly every day, better clients paying more, happy staff staying around longer, more clients referring us, and clients spending more. I had changed, the salon had changed and the dream of running a successful salon was now a reality. After 5 years struggling to pay bills, living ground hog day and not really believing but just wishing I was successful, the reality happened.

I was a businessman at last!

The salon gave me a great life, money to buy a house in the right part of town, get my children into a great school and start living every day and enjoying life. I definitely lived for work and every day felt like a holiday, the saying ‘I’ve never worked a day in my life’ is more apparent now than ever.

Fast forward 15 years and I am a multiple salon owner living the dream, house by the sea, living in Australia and working very part time hours getting 4x a wage that anyone else was getting.

Life was great.

While I was on the hunt for another salon, I realised that a lot of salons that were up for sale were from salon owners that just couldn’t make it, they were missing some simple steps and it cost them HUGE, they had to sell their salons to pay off their debt. So I decided that as hairdressing has been so kind to me, I would give back to other salon owners. I decided to coach salon owners for free, helping them with their salons and giving them the chance to have the life that I had. I loved it, giving back. I had found a new passion and it was addictive. Helping others achieve more, helping others change their lives, it was glorious.

Now naive as I was, I thought not charging salon owners and giving them my all, that they would fly with their newfound knowledge and succeed just like I did. I was so wrong! As I lay awake at night worrying about their problems, they just didn’t seem to care in the same way. I would give them some work to do and they wouldn’t do it, I had sleepless nights for nothing, it all changed the day a salon owner that was struggling said to me I just love meeting you to ‘vent’ and it was at that point that I realised that I had to charge these owners enough money to hurt them a little to make them work and get more value, they didn’t value my time, energy or knowledge.

They were like I was all those years ago, they didn’t know any better.

My decision at that time was to move into coaching full time and sell my salons, as I needed to give coaching 100% and no less of my time.

iSalon was born, I sold my salons and went for it 100%, and loved every minute of it, every salon owner I meet I love doing a little bit of life with them.

I threw myself in the deep end and gave every salon owner my 20 years of knowledge, they would surely be making millions before long! I built classrooms in the cloud, delivered seminars, Q&A’s, and demonstrations, they had all the knowledge that I had and they did ok, but not as good as me. Was I not that good? Was I just lucky in being a salon owner?

Just because I was a good salon owner doesn’t mean that they will be.

  • I overloaded them with information
  • They were not me or my personality
  • I knew how to be a successful salon owner, but I was a bad teacher
  • Do as I did and it will work (that definitely was not the case)
  • Just because it worked two years ago doesn’t mean it will work now, times change fast.
  • I knew I needed to learn again, or give up.
  • I read more books on leadership than anyone I knew, I still read and listen to books by the bucket load
  • I got a mentor to teach me how to teach
  • I got a mentor to teach me how to deliver my content in a great way
  • I attend seminars of people who show me what’s working now
  • I have framed my business and simplified what works and what doesn’t, to get faster results.
  • I invest in my future, their future, your future
  • I work more hours now than I have in 10 years and love every second
  • I have rewritten my courses 4 times in two years
  • I have honed my skills to be a better teacher, deliverer and leader
  • My misspent youth watching Columbo, Starsky and Hutch, Magnum and other ‘guess who done it’ TV shows came back to help me in later years.

I have the ability to see what the problem is with salons with ease, and sometimes it takes someone on the outside to see what’s going on on the inside.

So today three full years of coaching behind me has taught me some life lessons, just because others had been successful doesn’t mean you will be if you copy them.

Your location, your ability to be a great leader and your willingness to learn and adapt to new ways matter.

This December will see the biggest change and growth ever for me, the LIFESTYLE SALON COACH.

I’ve have spent the last year building new templates, re writing our programs and re learning our delivery techniques to make the best most advanced salon business program ever written.

This new style of coaching with ‘never seen before’ topics will help salon owners make more profit than ever before.

The world outside your salon has changed and you need ‘what works now’ not what used to work.

‘The Lifestyle Salon Systems’

Is being implemented in software for salon owners, its being used to grow small and multi national salons around the world.

I want to invite you to check it out.

You will have seen a new name change, new branding but more importantly more changes in our client’s results. More money, less time behind the chair. More results less learning. More lifestyle living, less working for nothing.

This next year is going to be epic, we’re  hoping to change the lives of thousands of salon owners around the world.

We would love you to be considered for one of them. Click here if you are ready to chat today. 

To conclude 

My confession for writing this is simple, if I could change the course of my life by learning new techniques, new ways and implementing this in my salon, then so could YOU!

I was rubbish as a hairdresser but I learnt to be the best

I was rubbish as a salon owner but I learnt to be the best

I was rubbish as a business coach but I learnt to be the best

I’m not clever; I have no formal qualifications and never desired this life. But me and you have the power to change the course of history by going out and learning how to be good at what we do. If you’re a salon owner be the best owner you can, and that means you need to know how to attract clients, convert them into raving fans of your salon and deliver the best experience you can.

This is what you are called to do.

No excuses in todays world, there are plenty of specialised coaches, Youtube, books, seminars, videos and the internet to help you.

Your destiny is waiting for you.

I want to finish with a quote from a very smart guy C. S. Lewis



“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” C. S. Lewis

Wishing you all the success in the world

Rock your world, work smarter and have fun


Here are 4 ways I can help you grow your salon:

  1. Check out the website for more details of what we do 
  1. I’m putting together a new salon case study group at Lifestyle Salon Systems this month… stay tuned for details. If you’d like to work with me on your salon growth plans… just send an email and put Case Study in the subject line and I’ll get all the details to you 
  1. Watch this FREE webinar on what it takes to get your salon fully booked in todays world.
  1. Work with me and my team privately. If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to increase your salons takings by 30% in 12 months… just send an email and put Private in the subject line… tell me a little about your salon business and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! 

Free Video Training Reveals How To Grow Your Salon FASTER and SMARTER