Studio 21 Salon: Boosting Morale AND Profits
by Sara Altizer
Dana and Scott Deason opened Studio 21 in Birmingham, Alabama with a wealth of management experience but with little knowledge of the unique culture challenges and business structures that exist in the professional beauty industry. After discovering these challenges, Dana and Scott brought in Summit Salon Consultant, Dave Hodges, to help them restructure their business, teach them how to be strong leaders, and build a salon culture they could be proud of.
Scott Deason had spent twenty-two years as a UPS delivery truck driver when he discovered that his true passion was in the professional beauty industry. Scott went to beauty school, and demonstrated great talent for doing hair. Not too much later, when his close friends who previously owned Studio 21 were ready to sell, they offered the salon to Scott and Dana, who gladly accepted. With Scott’s Cosmetology License and industry knowledge and Dana’s background in hotel management, they felt that they were ready to become salon owners.
Dana Deason was a successful hotel manager before she entered salon ownership. She was accustomed to working with suited-up business professionals who treated their careers with seriousness and enthusiasm. The business world was very black and white and her leadership style exhibited this. She says, “it was my way or the highway,” and in the hotel industry, that had worked very well for her.
Prior to implementing the Summit Salon Systems, Dana describes the salon’s culture as being respectful and supportive in many ways. “The atmosphere was not one of dissention,” Dana explained, “But it seemed that my team was working harder than necessary. Morale was okay, but it could have been better.”
Also, Dana had never encountered a business structure like this where the business’ profitability was so heavily impacted by the employees. She and Scott were constantly worrying about a walk out and did not know how to balance stylists’ demands with business stability. Because Studio 21 was staffed by a majority of higher-level stylists, there was a constant feeling of being held hostage. They were working all the time, but were bringing home very little to no money for their first two years of business.
When Dana and Scott were not seeing the kind of growth they were looking for, they realized that they needed salon business classes and salon leadership training. Dana recounts, “I had heard about The Summit two years before, through my SalonCentric representative Lynn Carmichael,” Dana explains. “While attending Redken Symposium in Las Vegas, Summit Salon Business Center was offering $500 off of the initial visit, and that was when Scott and I decided to sign up.” They were hopeful that they would find the salon business plan that they were searching for.
While attending The Summit, Scott and Dana realized that they were not alone. Dana explains, “Knowing that there were real-life answers and solutions to my problems that had a proven track record was pretty defining for me. Because, as you know, all salon owners think they know it all.”
Dana and Scott left The Summit eager to start implementing whatever it would take to get Studio 21 on the right track.
Restructuring and Leadership
To tackle the issue of salon leadership and culture in Studio 21, Summit Salon Consultant Dave Hodges recommended they begin with a salon culture survey. This survey asks the stylists and support staff questions and allows them to anonymously open up about what they feel and see as the main issues in the salon.
Dana says, “The culture survey that was given to my team by Dave Hodges was extremely enlightening and sad for me. I felt I had an enormously close relationship with my team. What I didn’t realize was they had a degree of fear of me that was not healthy. After reviewing the results, I have to admit, I had a good old-fashioned cry. I never wanted to manage that way, because in my past work history I, too, had employers who managed out of fear. I couldn’t believe that my team perceived me that way.” The survey helped Dana recognize her own shortcomings as a manager and was better able to see what her staff needed from her.
Dave Hodges also went to work implementing the Level System at Studio 21. This allowed the Summit Salon Associate Program to have a place to grow a more balanced team. The Summit Salon Systems also established a way for stylists to earn the schedule they desired and have more flexibility without negatively impacting the salon as a whole. As a result, the morale at Studio 21 went through the roof.
Allison Martin, a level 3 stylist and manager who has worked at Studio 21 for four and a half years shares her perspective, “The Summit Salon Systems have definitely affected my career in a positive way. I have experienced the joy of knowing that those whom I train as an associate will eventually be better in their own career because of my efforts. It has also impacted my financial stability in a noticeable way… it was no accident that I saw an immediate impact to my income once we implemented the system.”
Allison is not alone, the salon as a whole has experienced great growth. Dana says, “I’m a different owner today because I’m more in touch with all areas of my business. I no longer hope and pray for a miracle… I’m more focused on being very intentional about everything.” Clients can feel these effects and love it. Studio 21 averages 250 to 300 new clients a month with the stylists consistently booking 70 to 80 percent of their time each week. Every stylist utilizes the Summit Salon Stylist Planner to maximize their income and draw inspiration from Michael Cole and the programs he offers.
After one full year with the Summit Salon Systems, Dana and Scott are looking to the future. They are working on continued growth, with a goal of eventually adding shareholders. Scott’s dream has become a reality. As for Dana’s future dream, she says, “I want to be Dave Hodges when I grow up.”
Are You Ready?
Thinking about trying the Summit Salon Systems in your salon? Take Dana’s advice: “You have so much to lose (like your own business and sanity) if you do not consider the program and you have even more to gain by becoming a member of the Summit Salon family. Consider how much personal time you want to have in the future, because there is a direct relationship between systems implemented in your salon by the Summit Salon Systems and the amount of time off you can have. I ask you to give it one year because it only took me three to six months to see a difference. After my first year, I truly wondered why I didn’t act more swiftly.”
- Total Annual Sales: $1,260,000
One Year After Summit Launch
- Total Annual Sales: $1,571,075
- 25% Increase!
Studio 21’s Summit Salon Consultant is Dave Hodges.