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Success is on the Other Side of Your Comfort Zone

Hiring Practices and Price Strategies for Profitability

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by Sara Altizer

Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. Our fight or flight instincts, designed to ensure survival, can oftentimes be the very instincts that threaten our business sensibilities. Becoming a business owner in the professional beauty industry tends to push all of your senses to the limit and test your breaking points. Opening a salon takes courage; opening a salon at the age of twenty-two takes passion, ambition, and a whole lot of guts. That’s just what Julie Mitchell did.

As the new owner of Hair Company & Spa in New Richmond, Wisconsin, Julie had the drive and people skills to make her salon a success. But she was paralyzed with fear when it came to establishing consistent hiring practices and pricing strategies, the two hurdles the salon had to overcome to move forward to the next level.

Read on to discover how Summit Salon Business Center armed Julie with the salon business strategies to overcome her fear and soar to new heights. With the help of SSBC, Julie quickly learned that courage is not the lack of fear, it is simply the ability to feel afraid and keep going anyway.

Hair Company and Spa

Julie MitchellIn high school, Julie Mitchell already knew she wanted a career she could start working towards as soon as possible. She was not interested in the typical four-year degree pathways, and while she wasn’t initially inspired to be a hair stylist, she liked the artistic side of the industry. She also liked that she could complete her training in less than a year.

When the owners of the salon where she worked decided to put the company up for sale, Julie seized the opportunity and took over Hair Company and Spa. Despite her young age, she was able to foster a very positive and loyal culture among her stylists.

“I did not have a lot of experience, but the experience I did have showed me the kind of leader I didn’t want to be,” Julie says. “ I had initially started Hair Company and Spa with a business partner, but quickly realized that their way of speaking with the staff and ‘leading’ was not going to work for me. So I bought them out and started fresh. My philosophy was to lead by example. I did not ask people to do something I was not willing to do and I worked right alongside them.”

“When I found out that I was pregnant,” Julie explains, “I realized that despite our positive culture, we really were not focused enough. Our average tickets were very low and my team had stayed small because I had a fear of hiring. Knowing I was starting a family made me realize that I didn’t want to just coast through each year anymore. I had heard about Summit Salon Business Center ever since I started in the industry and I finally decided to jump all in and see what they had to offer.”

“When I attended The Summit my eyes were opened to the main issues holding me back in the salon,” Julie says. “I did not have a clear hiring strategy and I did not have a strong pricing strategy, which resulted in lower average tickets and less profit. My Summit Salon Consultant Britta Larson and I started working on these problem areas right away.”

Hiring

“What had intimidated me about hiring so much in the beginning is that I had the mindset that everyone had to be really busy before you could hire someone else,” Julie explains. “My stylists would get upset when I mentioned growing our team and I sympathized with them. Because I only had a few stylists, I knew that I was vulnerable as a salon owner if any of them did decide to leave. I was scared if I did something to upset them that I would be stranded with no one.”

“Britta really helped me change my perspective,” Julie says. “I learned that it is not my fault when stylists are not busy and that I could potentially be passing up good career-minded stylists while I was waiting for the existing stylists to get motivated. I ended up hiring a new stylist immediately after I returned from The Summit, and to my surprise, that stylist level-jumped before all of the other stylists, setting a new standard for everyone else. I couldn’t believe that hiring someone new would end up helping to inspire and motivate the other stylists to do better.”

Hair Company and Spa has grown from four stylists to ten since attending The Summit and are now utilizing the Summit Salon Associate Program to grow stylists from within the company.

Charging Enough

“Our other main problem area was with pricing,” Julie explains. “Britta Larson came into Hair Company and Spa and told us that we had one of the lowest average tickets she had ever seen. I had not done a price increase since owning the salon and I also questioned whether clients were being correctly charged for the services they were receiving.”

“Britta showed us how to match the prices of the community, and we put the Level System into place in our salon. This made a huge difference because stylists started level-jumping and charging even more,” explains Julie. “What surprised me is that clients never even really said anything. In my head I was picturing a giant backlash that would result in losing a lot of clients; the reality was not like that at all. I realized that you just have to get over that initial fear and accept the fact that if you do lose clients over a price issue that is leaving an open spot for clients who don’t care about what we used to charge.”

Long-Term Focus

“Prior to implementing the SSBC salon business strategies, I knew a lot of the things that I should be doing, but I needed a more organized plan to get there. Having a Summit Salon Consultant helps me follow through with my action plan. She holds me accountable and is always there to support and encourage me.”

“I now am able to take time away from behind the chair to have scheduled hours to work on the business, Julie explains. “Before, I would just do it in between clients and during slow times, but being able to have focused time for this helps me to be more organized and disciplined in keeping up with everything.”

“As a team, we are way more focused on numbers and tracking,” Julie points out. “We have an organized promotional calendar, monthly meetings, coaching sessions, and an in-salon Step Up! class. We are now a Redken Elite Salon and are in the process of implementing the Smart Scheduling system to set up the stylists for optimum business building. Over the long term I would love to find and delegate a manager and add shareholders.”

Now that Julie has discovered how to master her fears and overcome the unique challenges of the professional beauty industry, the sky is the limit.

Pre Summit (2011)

  • Total Annual Sales: $317,250
  • Average Retail/month: $3,023
  • Average Services/month: $21,674

Three Years after Summit launch

  • +88% Total Sales

Favorite SSBC Products: STEP UP, Summit Salon Stylist Planner, Anatomy of a Great Front Desk

Hair Company and Spa’s Summit Salon Consultant is Britta Larson.

Are you interested in implementing proven salon business strategies into your salon company? Click to view upcoming Summit Salon Business Center programs.