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The Little Salon That Could

by Carlos Valenzuela | August 30, 2018
Kimberly Broyles-Meisterhans
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Kimberly Broyles-Meisterhans
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Broyles-Meisterhans
Suzanne Ragel
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Suzanne Ragel
Photo courtesy of Suzanne Ragel
Kimberly Broyles-Meisterhans
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Kimberly Broyles-Meisterhans
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Broyles-Meisterhans
Suzanne Ragel
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Suzanne Ragel
Photo courtesy of Suzanne Ragel

Essenza Salon & Spa is located, along with four other full-service salons, in Tucson, Arizona. Even on a good day, this is too many salons competing for clients and employees for one mall, and yet each day, the salon takes a step forward and prospers. With no knowledge of how to own or manage a beauty salon, Kimberly Broyles-Meisterhans, a nail tech with a loyal clientele, took over a failing salon with only three employees and one receptionist, a little over a year ago.

 The odds were stacked against Essenza--all three employees opted to leave. As a part-time employee (full disclosure) and a salon management consultant myself, my advice was to nix the investment or strictly adhere to proven salon management concepts. Neither of these happened. Instead, Essenza highlight’s key success elements for anyone opening or wanting to improve a salon’s performance in today’s marketplace.  

 Kim’s focus was to first create an environment where salon professionals are happy. This is counter to focusing on clients first, as many new salons do. If you think of it, happy employees make for happy clients plus create positive team relationships evident to clients. Eighteen months later, everyone works together and gets along well.

Commission or lease? Mixing it up was the solution based on realities of salon employment today. Kim hired experienced renters and gave opportunities to those building a clientele by offering a commission agreement. I’ve heard warnings to never mix these two work modalities, and yet, it all works.

 Next, came finding employees who would respond to this philosophy.  Kim’s desire to not be a control freak, an attitude she knows turns creative people off, required careful screening new salon professionals for likeability and teamwork. Experienced stylists doing cutting edge work, those more conservative, and new stylists learning and building would work together as a team. This hiring process creates a quick cash flow and defies the empty salon waiting to hire only experienced stylists with a solid following.

 The Essenza mix of services is an overture to today’s diverse demographics. Offering trendy to conservative skills welcomes a wide range of clients. Essenza is not a “concept salon” with a narrow philosophy.  You walk in to find diverse ages and lifestyles getting trendy work, a curling iron set, a manicure, a pedicure and a facial or lashes.

 Receptionist and customer service are at the forefront in order for a highly diverse clientele to feel welcomed in the salon. Suzanne, the receptionist, a carry-over from the previous salon, guards salon clientele loyalty carefully. Every client is greeted with a coffee, tea or water choice and acknowledged with a personalized comment like, “How’s your daughter doing? How was the trip? Did you buy the dress?” Priceless, I cannot overemphasize the value of a personalized connection with clients for retention.   

 I am in awe of Suzanne and admit to eavesdropping on one phone conversations with a caller who complained about prices being too high, she replied, “I am sorry—but we work until you are completely satisfied with your service. Imagine if you held your arms out in front of you from nine in the morning until late at night, ate your lunch in one bite and had one minute to pee. It’s hard work and needs to be paid well. Thank you for considering us. Have a lovely day.

Case closed, move along.

No matter how independent you want to be, remember always that we are in this together. We each take a hit for someone’s lack of professionalism and benefit by another’s great haircut. Daily we each raise and lower our industry’s standards. Some, like me, by styling and teaching. Others, like Kim and Suzanne by their insightful actions. Pitch into salon professionalism.

Carlos Valenzuela shares forty-five years of beauty experience at industry shows, seminars, workshops and on WordPress: https://ifabulousu.wordpress.com Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ifabulousu/ Instagram: @carlosvalenzuelabeauty

 

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