**Newsletter Client Profile**

Carol Bakowicz - Owner/Manager, Great Length Hair Salon, Memphis TN.

Inspiring Champions Client since 2009

Opened in 1997:

We have a nice, comfortable, little hair color studio in Memphis that, although it is in a commercial zone, the Salon structure is in a former house.  We own the real estate.  We feature hair color.  Ninety percent of our business is hair color and we are a board certified hair coloring salon.  We also specialize in dry hair cutting and curly hair. We feature our specialization in these different hair services, chemical and cutting.

We have a staff of 6 that is integrated to work as a team.  We have 3 stylists that work behind the chair, one full time assistant, one part time assistant, and one fabulous receptionist.

Carol’s Background:
Carol started her career in 1970 has worked in various salons as well as owning three different salons in Connecticut, California, and currently in East Memphis, Tennessee.

Carol originally became a salon owner when she partnered with her sister who then was an existing owner in their successful family run salon business.  Carol left working behind the chair when she relocated to California for school and took a corporate position with a major manufacturer in the cosmetology industry as an educator and sales manager for Southern California.  After four and a half years of missing the hands on client interactivity, Carol left the corporate cosmetology lifestyle and returned to salon ownership first in San Diego, and later in Memphis, Tennessee where she currently resides and works on hair, education of staff, and improving her business.

IC:            What made you choose to not only return to working behind the chair, but to become a salon owner again …. and again?
Carol:     I like working as a team.  I like the team effort where you are an integral part of many people’s lives.  It’s more personable, it’s more friendly.  If you walk into my salon, my hope is that you feel like you are as comfortable as walking into your own home.  We always have food and beverages for you.  We create a bond with our clients and I like that!  Our clients walk out after their services like it is the best experience they had all month ….. and that is exactly what I want to accomplish.  In the corporate lifestyle, I didn’t feel that due to the actual disconnect between clients and employees.  It was always the figures, always the bottom line.   Of course you want to look at the bottom line, but not at the expense of treating your employees like non-entities.

IC:            How do you define success and how do you see your salon running successfully?
Carol:     Success from an economic point of view is the bottom line.  Success in life is going after your dream and accomplishing your goals every day.  Success is enjoying going to work every day.  Success is when a client walks out of the salon and they can say, ….  “This is the best service that was ever extended to me” …. Or, “This is the best salon experience that I have ever had” ... or even better, “This is also the best haircut that I have had in my life.”  …… These are the comments that we strive to get and are the measure of our success.  We do encounter things that aren’t perfect all the time; however, success is found in striving for excellence and continually practicing for excellence. 

Inspiring Champions helped me tremendously in that area.  I was running into a brick wall by personnel exhibiting resistance to change or improvement for years when dealing with booth renters and independent contractors. I finally realized that I had to throw everything out the window, and start all over again in 2009 by working with Inspiring Champions.  I made a commitment to implement successful management practices and systems and work with a coach to fine tune those practices to my salon business. At the same time as I was introducing the new I was also integrating several of the older concepts that I learned when I was managing my salon in 1975 in Connecticut.  A lot of the old methods are still very successful. As an example; we only work four days a week.  No one in my salon works five days a week.  They give their all and are fully focused in those four days and are accomplishing more than they ever believed that they could do in that time.  Currently the team is at 70% of the goals THEY set and they still have off-productive hours available which allow them to edge that up higher.

IC:            How did you help your team to find success in less work days and hours?
Carol:     They got there using the Inspiring Champions road map, strategies, regular valuations , and staff and crew meetings, but a lot of it is continuing education.  You can’t just throw people behind the chair and not educate them or train them to improve skills.  The improved and improving skills are extremely important in order to render the client retention and reputation needed to increase client demand. 

IC:            How did you attract the kind of team that is receptive to ongoing education?
Carol:     When I hire a stylist I focus on two areas: 

  1. I learned from one of my coaches to ask the candidate to describe their best friend.  When people describe their best friend, they have a tendency to describe their own personalities and attributes that you would typically not be aware of until having employed them for a year or more.
  2. I also ask them if they are willing to attend 8 – 10 classes per year, and if their response is one of surprise or remark such as “I haven’t done 7 classes in 10 years,” I know right away that that is not the candidate for me.  When I started our education quota 3 years ago, the first year we did 10 classes, the second year we did 33 classes, and this year we have scheduled 23 classes.   The education includes business as well as technical skills.  We travel to events usually as a group and we have in-salon education so there is a wide variety to keep the team interested and growing.

You have to be committed to your career in our salon.  There is no question! And I insist upon a balance for each team member.  I believe in God, family, personal and professional balance.  And also I would not have gotten my team to this point without Inspiring Champions.  Inspiring Champions provided me with the organizational plans and skills that I needed to commit to, to reach my business goals, and without that commitment, I would have not have achieved them.  I have relied on myself and self-study for 30 years which just was not quite enough. If I would have had access to these outside IC help plans 25 years ago, Oh My Gosh, it’s overwhelming to think where I would be now.  To be 30 again, and have this kind of information in front of you, and know it, and believe in it, and commit to it …….. the sky is the limit! That is what is so important for the new young stylists to accept, the wisdom of those who came before.

IC:            When you originally implemented the systems into your salon, did you encounter any obstacles?
Carol:     Two obstacles:

  1. Time!  I am my own worst enemy and I like to work behind the chair really probably too much.  That is what I have been working on is getting out from behind the chair.  I can’t give it up for two reasons: Economics and I like it!  As an alternative choice, I am looking for a manger to help me balance it out.  So you could say I am still working on balancing myself.
  2. Being open to change.  When I first started working with my business coach in 2009, I had 30 years of experience that I had to be willing to put aside to learn new systems and ways of doing things.  It was difficult because I was stubborn, but luckily so was my coach and he did not give up on me.  At the time I started I had only one Booth Renter working in my salon; however from 2009 to 2010 we increased annual total sales volume by 44%.   Between 2010 and 2011 we increased 27% and between 2011 and 2012 we increased by 25%!

IC:            How did your team respond when you first implemented the systems?
Carol:     Keep in mind I only had one stylist when we first started to put the systems in place.  Her first perceptions about the systems were doubtful and she didn’t believe in it.  But she did the work out of respect for me and also because it was required by me.  At the end of 12 months she experienced the success from practicing the systems and was a true believer after that.  My last two new stylists were recruited straight out of a local cosmetology school that actually taught them strategies and goal setting, so they were already in tune with the systems we had implemented for the salon.  I will say that in the beginning I had some frustrations trying to keep them adhering to the systems consistently, but I learned in the Advanced Leadership Program to put the responsibility back on them and have them define where they were with their goals during their monthly evaluations.
All of the quality assurance steps, the attention to major and minor detail,  the confidence exhibited by the stylists due to education, and the relentless pursuit of client satisfaction have our salon listed as one of the top five Memphis Salons by “Memphis Most”.

IC:            What advice does you for aspiring Salon owners looking to open their first business?

  1. 1.If your sole reason for becoming an owner is to make more money,  keep in mind that working as a service provider, you can earn as much as a salon owner.
  2. 2.Find a good mentor.
  3. 3.Have a goal, have a perspective, and be clear on where you are going and where you NEED to go.
  4. 4.Definitely have an emergency fund.  You have to have a financial plan and funds to deal with the unexpected events. 
  5. 5.If you can own your own property, definitely do it!
  6. 6.Recruit your team from the cosmetology schools and train them correctly before they have a chance to develop bad habits.
7.Build your business with YOUR expertise!
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Inspiring Champions is a business and coaching company offering live training camps, coaching and mentoring services, webinars, audio tapes and educational resources.

For more information:
call 800-496-9305
visit www.InspiringChampions.com
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Jenny Hogan is the Media Director at Marketing Solutions, Inc., a full-service marketing, advertising and PR agency specializing in the professional beauty business.

For more information:
call 703-359-6000,
visit www.MktgSols.com
email MktgSols@MktgSols.com.

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