Understanding the Term "Salon Culture"

The term “salon culture” has been bandied about for years, but what does it mean and why is it important to you as a salon owner?

Think about what you believe in—your core values and the standards by which you do business. Quite simply, it’s the things that make your business special. Malcolm Gibbons, a salon business coach and founder of Shock Consult, defines salon culture like this: “It’s the way you behave and act in relation to the work you do.” More important perhaps, if you haven’t thought it through, it could be sending the wrong message to your customers. Think of your salon culture as the guiding hand that motivates and inspires your team. Maybe it’s providing opportunities for continuing education or creating an enjoyable atmosphere for both clients and stylists. To help you get started, we talked to some salon owners and managers who have it all figured out. 


Culture: Brand Partnerships
Who: L’Erin Stortz, general manager of Matthew Morris Salon and Skincare Where: Denver, CO Website: matthewmorrissalon.com After years of using the same color line, Matthew Morris decided to switch to L’Oréal Professionnel. What he discovered was that the company greatly supported his team during the transition and gave him the necessary tools to grow his business. Now a Black Elite salon (a designation based on how much product a salon orders each quarter), Matthew Morris Salon and Skincare gets more access to education and more points to use toward tools, classes and other perks. “We take pride in our business culture,” says L’Erin Stortz. “We speak with one voice.” RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Avoid over saturation of different brands. If you carry too many brands, you’ll never have a cohesive culture in the salon. 2. Think of your relationship as a partnership. Ask how you can represent the brand in the best limelight. PERKS Morris bought a second building and increased his team from 21 to 55. The whole location was designed with education in mind; workstations can easily be transitioned to accommodate a larger classroom setting. Called SOHO Central, it’s now the third flagship L’Oréal Professionnel academy in the country. “Because of the academy,” says Stortz, “other stylists are hearing about our company, which gives us good exposure nationally.”
Culture: Team Building
Who: Mo Elkurdi, owner of BH Hair Studio Where: Katy, TX Facebook: BH Hair Studio For owner Mo Elkurdi, team building “establishes relationships that break barriers, promotes creativity and continues to motivate team members for more than just a paycheck.” One team-building opportunity that ties into the salon’s continuing education focus is the opportunity to attend classes at TIGI’s Learning Lab in Dallas, TX, and at its New York Academy. Team Building Ideas 1. Build a leadership team that inspires others on a daily basis through transparent communication. 2. Offer monthly contests and quarterly rewards in a spirit of friendly competition that builds camaraderie and motivates staff.
Culture: Atmosphere
Who: Tami Sprintz Hall, owner of Escape Day Spa and Salon Where: Nashville, TN Website: escapespaces.com Creating an enjoyable atmosphere for employees and hiring for passion is another way to build a strong salon culture. Tami Sprintz Hall started the tradition of having pizza delivered every Friday since that tends to be their busiest day, making it difficult for stylists to take a lunch break. Hall says she can feel a palpable buzz when she walks into the color room where stylists are quick to share ideas and inspiration. In fact, the cooperative spirit is so strong that if one stylist is overbooked, another one will take over. “Our team is a really strong family,” she says. “We even celebrate holidays together.”