In his 38 years as a salon owner, Richard Calcasola, founder and owner of the Maximus Spa/Salons on New York's Long Island, has built a reputation for one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry. He has one staffer, Thomas Pecora, who has been with him 36 years.

"We are very proud," he says of his more than 200 employees, many of whom top the 15-year seniority mark.

The first key, he says, is his compensation policy, which definitely goes against the salon standard.

"We are not a commission-based salon; we are salary-based," he notes. "I believe that salary-based compensation helps put stability in the personal lives of our employees." Calcasola says that knowing what you earn week to week, month to month, is tremendously helpful in managing your finances.

The salon's reputation also plays a role in employee retention, he says.                                                       

"Employees want to be part of a company with high standards, a company they can be proud of and one that enjoys an ethical reputation."

To assure that employees grow, Calcasola takes responsibility for each one's career path. He learns who wants to get involved in education, who is interested in leadership or management, who wants to develop their creativity through photo shoots, television programs and hair shows. "Providing a link or opportunity in any of these areas helps take our employees beyond the chair," he says.

Education is Calcasola's most important ingredient for personal growth.                                      

"Educating people prevents mediocrity, boredom and becoming stagnant. I try to expose and share with my employees all of my own experiences-what books to read, what museums to visit, what galleries to go to, what music to listen to, all this is part of personal transformation, leading to their creative growth.

"To see people reach their goals and strive for a better quality of life both personally and professionally is satisfying for the employee and the owner."

Finally, says Calcasola, communication must be constant. "Acknowledging their good deeds, their accomplishments and their determination is critical in building self-esteem and confidence," he says. "Having honest dialogue by department or individually is critical in establishing trust."

Conflicts will occur, he says, and the best solution is open and fair dialogue with the intention of finding some resolution. "Our retention validates consistency in our conflict resolution," he notes.

Retention is his own measure of success, says Calcasola. "It has always been very clear that I cannot be successful without a successful staff."

How Can I Keep My Hairdressers?

Take on responsibility for staffers' careers, says Richard Calcasola.

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