Ahead for Business

Tangerine Aveda Salon & Spa focuses on staff retentionThree members of American Salon’s new Better Business Network explain how they’re taking care of business in their salons.

To Sally Meldahl, co-owner of Tangerine Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa in Reno, NV, the most important component of salon success is staff retention. “We wanted to attract the best possible talent and then do everything we could to maintain that talent,” she says. “If you create the best work environment, why would they leave?” Before opening the salon in 2006, she and partners Holly Hodgdon and Ja-Non Barber outlined a plan that included abundant learning opportunities, both through Aveda and co-op funds for education outside the network; paid vacations; a retirement plan; flex scheduling; and top-notch earning power. “Every January I check the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures and our stylists earn well above 50 percent over the national income for the profession,” says Meldahl.

“We also spend a tremendous amount of time coaching and mentoring,” she adds. Monthly performance reviews are supported by metrics such as pre-booking and retail percentages. Also, the owners give staff the opportunity for input into the salon’s direction in ways large and small. This June, the entire staff convened at Meldahl’s house to redefine the salon’s cultures and values as a team. The Mexican-themed event included group exercises and discussions along with nachos and margaritas. “As owners, we know what our core beliefs and values are, but you need to check in with your team periodically,” Meldahl explains. “We’ve found that if the team creates something with us, they support it.”


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Giovanni Carfi, owner of Bellezza Salon & Spa in Glen Rock, NJ, says his staff’s focus on client retention is the main reason for his salon’s success. He uses Millennium SpaSalon software to track client visits and keep his staff of 28 in the loop about their progress. “Our benchmark is 70 percent,” says Carfi. “We’ve worked on it really hard.” He cites Bellezza’s welcoming vibe as the reason, which fosters a sense of family that comes fromChristopher J. Salon has built business through marketing a happy staff that stays involved in the local community. “We do a ton of charitable events,” says Carfi. Most recently, a fashion show Bellezza’s staff helped organize raised $125,000 for a local homeless shelter and food bank. Besides providing opportunities for team building, Carfi says such events are a big source of new clients.

Bellezza Salon & Spa’s many charitable events, like this fashion show for a local homeless shelter, also benefit the salon by building camaraderie amongst the staff.Marketing, especially online and through social networking, has brought Christopher J. Salon in Plymouth, MN back from the brink, according to owner John Jay Dupay. In 2008, after 47 years in the same building, the shopping center that housed his salon was sold, and Dupay and his wife Penny were faced with making a large capital investment in a new location. Though many clients followed, expanding their clientele was a must.

“We realized we needed to be marketing online, but between me and my wife, we just couldn’t keep up,” says Dupay. “It was just so much, and neither one of us was up on the technology.”

Dupay’s solution was to hire an outside expert to handle his Internet marketing. Now, the salon’s website and Facebook page are updated regularly with news, promotions and specials. The salon has also instituted online booking. It was a revelation, according to Dupay. “About 25 to 30 percent of our bookings are done online now,” he says. “It’s fantastic! You leave at night, and when you come back in the morning, your book is full!” ✂—Karen Ford

photography: Lauren Evans (Tangerine); ERIC DE ROSA PHOTOGRAPHY (BELLEZZA); Dino Zoumides (Christopher J)

Join us for the first Better Business Conference and Awards, October 21−22, 2013 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Philadelphia. Meet industry experts, exchange ideas and receive a copy of American Salon’s exclusive Industry Benchmarking Report. To sign up, or for more information, visit salonbetterbusiness.com.