John Allan on the Importance of In-Salon Education

In 1979, I sold my Camaro and decided to move to Paris to learn about the hair industry in Europe. There, as part of the training team at Jean Louis David, I experienced the dynamics of a successful staff and the importance of education on the floor amongst stylists. Today, it seems that most salons depend on outside support to educate their staff and their clients, usually through distributors, product lines or a point system. What I believe is most important is to empower the individual salons and the owners, creating a structure inside the salon that breeds motivation, inspiration and loyalty. When the foundation—YOU, the salon owner/stylist—is trained to teach as I was with Jean Louis David, education becomes part of the core business structure.

A year later, back in New York, I developed an educational round-table in the JLD 57th Street salon. The forum focused on hiring staff, retraining employees, and learning how to rotate in fresh new stylists from Jean Louis David studio each season. We established a training structure and paired internationally trained staff members with stylists who were shampooing for the first time; this motivated everyone. What we were doing is similar to a baseball farm team—we were developing future stars.

The loyalty that develops when you teach someone is amazing. When you empower an employee and show them how to earn money and succeed in the industry, they will show their gratitude with loyalty. Through the years, I have run into people that are still working at their first salons because that is where they learned to grow and succeed. Being able to educate your own staff and sharing knowledge with one another has proven to be a cost-saver and team-builder. I use my company as an example because it’s proven successful. I have always personally trained my staff and encouraged them to share ideas with one another. As for the partners that come to my studio to train with me, I make sure that they are equipped with the skills to train their own staff, it’s an organically growing process. You can see now how education within the salon is beneficial to inspire creativity and grow a lasting business.

Now, I’ve always said that the men’s segment is an underserved category in the salon industry, which is what inspired me to launch our Core Cutting Foundation DVD (see more on the DVD in the January issue of American Salon), for cutting men’s hair. I’ve built my business by focusing on men, and if I can teach others the approach to men’s grooming—which includes core cutting techniques and retail restoration—then I can help them grow their business, too, and they in turn can educate their stylists, once again, empowering the salon and putting success back into their hands. I urge people to look seriously at this side of their business. Setting up an educational structure inside the salons and motivating existing stylists to take on the responsibility of training new people will keep the staff engaged while drawing in prospective employees who will want to work for you because they see a future and realize their opportunities go beyond sweeping hair off the floor for the next two years.  Growth and promise are very encouraging job descriptions.

For me, education is the focus entering into 2010. To be able to give the strength and power to the owners of salons and to create this type of attitude and progression in their place will help grow their business. To learn more or to discuss education, email me at [email protected].

John Allan has been a pioneer in the men’s grooming industry for more than 20 years, creating renowned luxury destinations for men that combine the atmosphere of a private club with a full grooming outpost. Along with his men’s clubs—there are several in New York and a new club in Chicago—John Allan also has an award-winning product line that offers everything from shave products to hair and skin care. John Allan is now distributing his products at salons throughout the country and certifying stylists in his cutting methods and business-building techniques. John Allan’s THE FOUNDATION Studio Session 01 DVD is available for purchase through