As part of a new Tour de ISBN program, about 20 members of the International SalonSpa Business Network gathered in Seattle in late September to tour the operations of Gene Juarez Salons and Spas. A chartered bus took the tour group to three of the salon group’s ten existing locations, including downtown Seattle, University Village and Bellevue, where Gene Juarez President Scott Missad and the salon manager from each location led tours through both the client areas and the back-of-the-house areas, while detailing day-to-day processes and answering questions.

“We celebrate our 46th anniversary this year, and in today’s world a 50-year-old beauty business is rare,” Missad says. “While we are honored to win awards in service and business excellence, we are not without our challenges and obstacles, and it was our goal during the tour to be as transparent as possible and share our ideas, concepts and strategies. I believe that bringing fellow owners into our operation will foster a more collaborative approach among salons and create new opportunities for the beauty industry.”

As part of the day, the tour brought owners to the salon group’s headquarters where they toured the call center before hearing informative presentations from senior leaders at Gene Juarez.

Maryline Desjardins, senior director of salon and spa marketing, walked participants through the company’s external marketing plans designed to bring a steady stream of clients into the salons, as well as market to existing clients. “We’re currently doing a huge amount of social media to bring in a younger clientele. Each location has a selfie wall with the ring-shaped Diva lights where clients’ after pictures can be taken,” Desjardins explains. “Our marketing team follows our own stylists and we repost their work on the Gene Juarez page and tag them. Before and after images of clients get the most engagement, but we also post information about products and Seattle-related content.”

Jeanne Girardot, director of retail and merchandising, showcased a number of programs that connect clients to the salon’s product stories and boost retail sales. Two of the more successful retail programs have been Silent Sellers and the clearance tables. “For Silent Sellers, we invite Gene Juarez employees and Seattle Sea Gals (the Seattle Seahawks cheerleaders whom Gene Juarez styles) to share their favorite product and why. We make little signs and display them with the product, and we’ve learned to keep a number of products with the signs because they sell themselves,” Girardot says. “To clear slow sellers and discontinued inventory, we’ve established clearance tables in the back of each retail area and these have sold more than 8,000 unites in five months.”

George Jones, assistant vice president of information technology, and Jamie DeMarco, assistant vice president of salon and spa operations, described a number of new technologies, including Textel, self check-in kiosks, employee apps and booking wizards, that the company is rolling out to improve the customer experience while making the salon business more efficient. “For example, we will have beacons installed into our friend desks, and when a client who has downloaded the salon’s app onto their phone walks in for her appointment, the beacon will recognize the app and automatically check the client in and notify her she can have a seat,” says Jones.

Molly Spane, senior vice president of salon and spa development, reviewed the salon’s cultural initiative, employee performance measurements and compensation programs. “We measure employee performance based on what we call the Demand Rate Criteria (DRC)—a number that has three components including clients per occupied hour, occupancy rate and request rate,” Spane says. “Our system rewards productivity, not seniority. Staff who lead in DRC rates receive priority booking for new clients, preference in time-off requests, preference for specialty and in-demand training opportunities, permanent schedule change preferences, the option to opt out of promos and certain services, station and room choices, exclusive event participation options and opportunities to be selected for company-arranged travel.”

Margery Huff, vice president of brand training, detailed technical and retail educational programs, as well as careerpathing. “We’ve calculated that for every person who starts a career at Gene Juarez, it takes $15,000 to train them,” Huff explains. “Our design and color training start new classes every four weeks so we have a steady stream of new stylists hitting the floor, and we provide continuing education in nails, massage, skincare, makeup, design technique, business building and color technique.”

To wrap up the day of tours, the salon owners and managers donned hard hats to tour the construction site of the new Bellevue flagship location due to open in early November. The 16,578 square-foot new salon will replace the existing Bellevue location but because of efficiencies will be almost 7,000 square feet smaller. Susie Burrows, who is responsible for managing the new buildout, walked the owners through the space while painting a visual picture of how it will look when finished.
The Gene Juarez tour was the first of series of Tour de ISBN programs. The next one will tour V’s Barbershops as part of the association’s annual conference held in Scottsdale, Arizona, May 6 through the 9. For more information about the International SalonSpa Business Network or the Tour de ISBN program, visit

Originally posted on Salon Today