Stylist Spotlight: The Challenges & Secrets Of A Successful Salon Owner
I first met Angie when she joined my Thrivers Society program and I knew from the start that she was something special. I speak to salon owners every day, but I don't think I've ever met an owner with the incredible outlook and positive energy that Angie has.
When Angie talks about her team it almost seems too good to be true, but once you read her interview you'll see that she truly does lead a happy, productive team every single day and her success is attributed to her skills as a leader.
In a world where salon owners everywhere are seeing walkouts and wondering where the motivated stylists are at, Angie has realized that she is the secret sauce and it's her skills as a leader that inspire her entire team.
BS: Alright Angie, so tell us how you ended up in this incredible industry
AM: Funny story. So, my dad does hair! When I was young (under 5), I wanted to do hair. As I got older, that kinda faded away. I went to college my senior year of high school, and one day during my last quarter of my freshman year I decided I was going to get a degree in business and then go to cosmetology school. So fast forward 3 years and I had finished my bachelors degree in Business Administration and had got my cosmetology license. Today, I'm behind the chair 3-4 days a week, managing the salon, updating our curriculum for our Cosmetology program and I'm a Paul Mitchell National Educator. I think it's more exhausting thinking about it than it actually is just doing it all.
BS: Oh my gosh, no way! I didn't know your dad is a stylist too. Now, you're kind of like a unicorn in this industry in the fact that you have a degree in business. Props to you for prioritizing educating yourself before diving in as an owner. Tell me about your first year in the industry?
AM: After getting my license, I spent a few months behind the chair at an amazing salon in our area, but decided it wasn't for me. I got my instructors license, and started working as an instructor at my dad's Cosmetology school. He was re-opening his old salon, so I decided to work there a few hours a week to keep up with friends and family clientele that I had built. Less than a year out of school, the doors were opened and I quickly found myself "managing" the salon, building my clientele and I was an instructor!
Bs: Wow, you dove in head first! Okay, so tell us about your first year behind the chair:
AM: I've always been really big into marketing. I had a Photoshop class for a few months in high school and have continued to teach myself how to use the program. Every month, we have promotions going on at our salon, and I always put them into an image and email them to our guests, post them to our website and social media.... people definitely look forward to them. And if I'm behind, I hear about it! I think the real secret to building a clientele is treating people the way they want to be treated, explaining everything to them without assuming they understand anything about hair (they're really not supposed to), consistency and a referral program!
BS: YES! I could't agree with you more. Do you use social media at all as a way to market and what kind of impact has it had on your business?
I LOVE all things social media... I'm a computer nerd! Social media has allowed me to put my business out there without spending a ton of money. While we do do a small amount of donations, the only "advertising" we've ever done is one billboard when we first opened. Everything else has been some sort of social media (free!) or website investment. The most important thing I've learned about social media is that it's social...interact with every guest who makes an engagement or engage with others. They love to be noticed!
BS: I'm a fellow self professed computer nerd too! It's incredible how learning online marketing and social media has become non-negotiable for successful stylists today. Okay, so be honest: what social media platform has helped you the most in building your clientele?
AM: Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. As much as I would love to say a beautiful Instagram influenced my business, it really hasn't. I used to put a lot of time into Instagram, but I definitely wasn't doing it right and decided to let it be for a while and work on Facebook. I'm excited for 2017 and making video marketing a thing we do regularly!
BS: I hear that SO often from stylists. I'm really glad to hear that Facebook has been such a great tool for you. Tell me how your journey as a salon owner got started.
AM: I started in my salon as a stylist, actually two other girls were hired before I was. Over time, I'd ask for advice and my dad would say, "you're the one who has to work with them/deal with them... you make the decision." It took a while for that to really sink in. The only goal I've ever had in life was to be happy.
One day, I was at a Paul Mitchell Educator training and we were all talking about the first time I had to fire someone (and, yes, it was awful. And, yes, I'm still glad I did it). I realized during that conversation and hearing things people hated about the salon environment they were in, that I had everything in front of me to provide other people with a job they loved, and decided to go for it. Although it's a ton of work, I love the fact that I literally can help people achieve their goals and their dreams, all while being happy! I get so much more out of helping dedicated stylists achieve their goals than I do from being the top stylist. One of the most powerful things someone ever said to me was, "Congratulations, you're a business owner, not a salon owner." That statement made me realize it's just as important to work ON the business as it is IN the business.
BS: Brilliant advice! One of the things I love most about you is how you lead your team. Tell me about how you do that so successfully.
So, building a team is hard. And, I mean really, really hard. You have to be patient. And, I mean really, really patient. But it's all worth it! I believe in hiring people still in school or just graduated and helping them grow into an incredible stylist. Honestly, I don't want someone who has bad habits from another salon who "never had to help restock the drink station at my old salon." When I hire someone, the team pretty much knows within a month if they'll be a good fit or not. We never sit at the salon. Whether your cleaning someone else's color bowls or helping someone blow dry, it's just all about team work. As soon as you're the one who is behind and someone volunteers to help without being asked, you never mind doing that in return for someone else. It's simple, treat others how you want to be treated! Same for owners, step in and help your team when they need it! Something new we are doing in 2017 is team mini trips, and I'm excited to see how that helps our team grow.
BS: I can't wait to hear all about the mini-trips. Stylists today 100% value and are seeking out that kind of bonding. Tell me about how you coach of your team.
Our team is very close. I encourage all of my team to please come to me whenever they have an issue of any sort. I never want work to be something they dread walking into each day. We have quarterly one-on-ones, where they get a chance to express what they feel we can be doing better along with coaching from me. We also have team breakfast meetings whenever necessary to go over updates and celebrate victories. This happens every quarter, and sometimes more often. We used to do these far more often, but I created a private FB group for our salon team, and it's nice to be able to utilize that for small updates instead of taking time away from everyone's personal life.
BS: I love that you offer breakfast at each meeting and you value your teams personal time. They must feel so loved and respected by you! How do you motivate your team to continue to grow towards a common goal?
We use a company called Zeezor, and it tracks real time your numbers and compares them to everyone in your salon. It integrates with our software, but stylists can view it on their phone. You can see a ton of numbers including service sales, retail sales, number of clients, rebook percentage, dollar per guest and more. It also gives you a comparison of where you were exactly one year from today in sales. It's been a really great tool to help us see where we are for the day and how far we are from hitting our goals.
We also have a lot competitions to push each other. We currently have a $50 bill taped to a basket. For every $50 you sell in product and every conditioning treatment, you get an entry. We'll pull a name at the end of the month.
We have Dream Boards in the dispensary loaded with goals along with things that make us happy. We actually put star stickers on our goals as we achieve them. All of the competitions help push each other to the next level, and we all get excited when a teammate gets to star something off of their Dream Board.
BS: YES!! Even as adults we all LOVE contests and prizes so I love that you've found a fun, creative way to increase sales. I want to see your dream boards! How do you market the salon?
AM: Our most effective form of marketing is definitely our rewards program. We have always had a referral program, but we now utilize our software to track points and rewards. I'm also HUGE on hand written thank you cards. Any time someone sends a new guest in, they get a thank you card in the mail and a big bonus in rewards points.
Email marketing is HUGE for us! I send out our newsletter on the 31st of every month. Some months there's a little more, some months there's a little less. I have a little checklist that I go through each month so I remember to change the promotion on our website, etc. It makes my life so much simpler!
Bs: You're speaking my language now!! You know how I feel about email marketing and rewards programs. You're just absolutely incredible Angie. So, tell me, what do you think stylists look for in a salon owner today?
I think stylists are looking for someone who is understanding of their wants (professional and personal) but keeps structure in their business. Stylists definitely want to be able to take time off for their personal life, but they also want rules within their work place. The most important thing to remember is sometimes they need to learn on their own and you are their coach, not their owner. Help them when they need it, but never degrade them.
BS: I agree, 100%. So, how do you show up as the owner and what is your role as the leader?
I try to be really understanding of my entire teams goals. We sit down quarterly and talk about anything they want to. We talk about goals in their life (professional and personal) and then we talk about what we have to do to achieve them.
We actually have coloring sheets that we use to set our goals. So we take a month goal, divide it by the number of days you are working for the month and that's your daily goal. If you hit it, you color that day in green. If you are under your goal, you color that day in red. Each day you write down how far above or below that goal you were, then total it at the end of the month. It's funny how much seeing the red makes you more driven to hit your goals.
BS: What a great idea!! You could just glance at the sheet and the colors would tell the full story. I love that. What message do you have for stylists or salon owners who are struggling right now?
To all owners, first off, never forget that they feed off of your energy... if you're in a bad mood and complaining, they will be, too. And you should know that it's hard, but the pay off is definitely worth it. And I don't necessarily mean money. If you do everything for the money, you'll always find yourself looking for money. Do it to make not only your life better, but to make someone else's life better. Once you understand that part, it's actually pretty easy. To all stylists, don't give up! There are so many people out there who are willing to help you become the best version of yourself! Push yourself and set goals you never imagined were possible, and focus on them every single day! We are all apart of the best career in the world, and don't ever let anyone steal your passion!
BS: Incredible advice. Angie, thank you so much for your time. You're truly an inspiration and I appreciate you sharing your story.
I want to personally thank Angie for being so open with all of us. The reason I wanted to showcase Angie is because she and I share identical views on the industry in every single way. This industry is going through a period of rapid evolution and Angie is the perfect example of a salon owner who stays right on the cutting edge and is rewarded handsomely for her efforts.