Reflection Hair Studio: It’s All About the People
by Sara Altizer
Opening and operating a business can be an isolating adventure. Oftentimes, owners learn primarily through trial and error, and feel as if they have no one to turn to for guidance. Sarah Laramie, the owner of Reflection Hair Studio in Westland, Michigan was in this exact circumstance. After experiencing early success, she struggled to understand why her business had plateaued and what she could do to propel it forward. Summit Salon Business Center offered Sarah the salon business strategies she needed, paired with a personal Summit Salon Consultant to guide her along the way. Here is how she went from instability to success—and she is just getting started.
After spending the early part of her career working for corporate salon companies where moving up the ladder meant she no longer was able to work behind the chair, Sarah wanted something different. She yearned for a career path where stylists could be successful and earn promotions while doing what they love—hair dressing.
“It took me ten years to become successful,” Sarah explains, “I craved an environment where stylists learned how to succeed in one year or less—that is what inspired me to open a salon in the first place. We were profitable from the very beginning, but I was not satisfied with the progress of our growth. We hit a plateau and did not know how to rise above it. My employees did not trust my decisions because we were not growing fast enough for them to feel the difference, which resulted in staff turnover—the exact opposite of the environment I was trying to create.”
Sarah says, “I felt so defeated, frustrated, and confused. My friends and family all had plenty of advice for me, but I did not know what direction to go next and felt as though I had tried everything. That is when I remembered hearing about Summit Salon Business Center at a SalonCentric show and I realized it was time to ask for help.”
“My aha moment came when I was attending The Summit and learning about the Level System, especially how it is designed for structural growth and accountability.” Sarah explains. “The system had incentives built into it through price and commission raises that really motivated the stylists to perform better and focus. I realized that I had been so focused on money, money, money that I forgot about the people.”
Sarah’s Summit Salon Consultant, Britta Larson, helped her come up with a strategy to build a strong salon team. “I did lose people when I implemented the Summit Salon Systems, but it was a blessing in disguise,” Sarah explains. “I lost those who feared the change Summit Salon Systems offered for their future in this industry. So, what I did was take the Summit Salon Associate Program to the cosmetology schools and explain that I had a program that could make these stylists successful within their first year in the industry. Everyone that I hired from then on came fresh out of school. I realized that when I opened my salon, I had hired already established and educated stylists who could immediately begin servicing guests because I did not know any differently. Now I see the benefit in training a new stylist to have that career mindset from the start.”
Michelle Waun, a level 4 master stylist and one of the few who was with Sarah from the very beginning, has this to say about her experience:
“I was introduced to the Summit Salon Systems just a few years ago and I have to say it has changed my career in so many ways! Over the past few years, my salon developed a program called Mastery of Foundations that makes my career feel more stable and organized. The Level System has given my salon structure and the know-how to grow and manage the clientele on a day-to-day basis. Our team is now bigger and better. Our guests have great loyalty now because they know they can be serviced by any stylist at the salon because of our close teamwork and education. I have been able to track my progress from a level 1 to a level 4 in just a few years! It has given me guidelines of goals to strive for and I have been able to see my accomplishments as I make them. I’m proud of many moments in my career and I always strive to deliver and achieve more. The Summit Salon Systems continue to guide me in becoming more successful every day!”
Since becoming a Summit Salon in 2011, Reflection Hair Studio has increased from six chairs to ten, from two shampoo stations to four, and now includes manicure services and make-up applications. Service sales have increased by 73 percent and ATV from $41.47 to $51.94. When Sarah looks to the future, she envisions opening a second location or moving to a larger space within the next five years. The culture has grown as well. “We work now as a team instead of as individuals. We teach and help one another and love watching the new talent grow with us,” Sarah explains. “As an owner, I am excited to be in the salon. I am no longer held hostage by the salon’s need for attention and guidance. The Summit Salon Systems have allowed me to take care of my staff and clients without being stressed and worried about what will happen with the sales tomorrow.”
“I have personally grown through this whole process.” Sarah explains, “When you finally break it down and realize that it is not about the money and it is not about the hair, but that it IS about the people, that changes everything. And that is what the Summit Salon Systems are all about.”
Reflection Hair Studio’s Summit Salon Consultant is Britta Larson.