Great Minds INSPIRE!


by Sara Altizer

Peter MahoneyAs the owner of several successful salons and a training center, Peter Mahoney is well-versed in what it takes to effectively lead in the professional beauty industry. He has been teaching financial and business principles to salon professionals for more than seventeen years and is one of the most respected trainers in the salon industry today. His true passion for people shows when he explains that the true high point of his career was not teaching at UCLA, speaking at Redken Symposium in 1999, or earning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award; instead it was meeting so many incredible people throughout his time in the industry.

Where He Started

“My first experience with the professional beauty industry was in 1982 while I was in graduate school,” Peter explains. “I bought into a student consulting company and ended up doing a six-week review of the industry in Atlantic Canada for the local Redken distributor.”

“It was a couple years later, in 1985, that I attended a Redken event in Anaheim, California, and it was there that I discovered that I wanted to be a teacher/mentor for the professional beauty industry,” Peter says. “Zig Ziglar was the keynote speaker. He spoke about how you can have anything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want. As a non-hairdresser that moment changed my life because I thought, ‘I don’t need to know how to cut hair; I just need to help others get what they want, and that I can do!’”

Learning to Build Trust and a Strong Culture

Peter does an incredible job of teaching salon owners how to run a successful salon and spa company, because he has lived through this experience himself. Peter has mastered the art of building trust within his companies, creating a positive culture that has helped him stay ahead of his competition.

“When you own nineteen full-service salons, two medi spas, and one training facility, you learn that trust is the cornerstone of everything you do,” Peter explains. “Building trust with team members, business associates, and customers is the most important quality of great leaders, and I’ve learned how to do this by being a good listener. Listening is really about learning to understand what is important to the other person. Before you start trying to show someone your idea or perspective, you have to find a way to acknowledge and validate the other person’s feelings so that they do not walk away missing the point. Trust is about caring, and making people feel as if they’ve been heard.

“I have also learned that business is the ultimate sport, because you cannot always see your competition or even know what they are doing, but you know the game is on 24/7,” Peter explains. The number one key to staying ahead of your competition is to build a positive culture within your business. When your culture is strong, and your employees believe in you and your company, you are able to react and adapt to industry changes overnight.”

Giving Others the Courage to do What They Already Know

Although the industry is constantly changing, the principles Peter teaches remain current and relevant. “I’ve been teaching the same fundamental principles all along,” Peter explains. “It was relevant then, and it will continue to be relevant because everything you have, everything you do, and everything you’ve become are nothing more than the choices you make and habits you develop. These principles govern the universe and have been around since the beginning of time. The minute people become completely conscious and in control of these principles, life becomes easy. I see my role as nothing more than helping people become conscious of these principles and teaching them how to apply them productively in their lives.”

“Facilitating is about fostering an environment of self-discovery,” Peter explains. “Most of the time people know what they need to do; they are simply looking to you for the courage to do it. Once you accept this, that the ‘knowledge is in the room’ then you can begin building trust with the audience and delivering real-life solutions.”

Industry Forecast

While the fundamental principles remain constant, the professional beauty industry is experiencing a shift. For one, the demographic of North America is changing and the industry must adjust to meet these new needs. Two, the use of technology is on the rise. Forbes predicts that by 2025, Millenials will make up 75 percent of the workforce; this shift will affect how companies market to their client base and how owners choose to lead a generation known for pursuing work that is meaningful to them and rich with purpose.

“Companies in the salon industry are predominantly owned by Baby Boomers, who predominantly hire Millenials,” Peter explains. “As the demographic shifts and Millenials make up more and more of the workforce, the Baby Boomers are going to be confronted with the need to adapt their style to the shifting perspective. Baby Boomers live to work, Millenials work to live. Baby Boomers want a task; millenials get bored easily and want to multi-task. Baby Boomers want you to work for them, but Millenials want to work with you. Baby Boomers must learn how to adapt their style so they are not at risk of having constant staff turnover, which can be a make or break in the salon industry. Summit Salon Business Center caters to Millenials, and teaches owners the business strategies to build strong companies with and for them.

“The changing demographic makes it a must to have a good mix of ages on your team,” Peter explains. “For example, my director of marketing is twenty-four, and that is because she has already forgotten more about social media than I can remember. To me, it is not about age, it is about talent. You have to keep evolving and enlist the support of the young people in your salon—they are more current than you ever will be. You have to care less about who makes the decision, and more about it being the right decision.”

“The other major shift is that technology has increased competition and has changed the way that we should be thinking about doing business,” Peter says. “There are now more options for consumers both online and in store. This results in less loyalty. There are more defined market segments: brow bars, blow bars, etc. This leads to a much higher expectation in the full-service salon. Additionally, technology will be used to create incentives and influence service provider and consumer behavior.”

Interested in learning more about Peter Mahoney and Summit Salon Business Center? Click here for more information and to find an event near you.