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How To Build Salon Culture

How important is workplace culture for your salon business? This question finds its way into our DMs all the time. Our special guest is Maribel Lara, Senior Vice President and head of consulting at the Sasha Group, a Vayner Media company. Anyone who’s been following the YN journey lately will know how much we respect the passion at Vayner Media @vaynermedia, its founder Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee, and their unique take on life and the world of business.
Maribel’s a fountain of knowledge and we’re so lucky to be able to tap into it directly from the source. Get your daily dose of wisdom from Maribel on Instagram @latina_sweetie.

How can I build a good culture in the salon? The first step is to make a commitment to what your company culture is. Who are going to be the people who will be there, day in and day out? These are the people who are going to be your culture leaders; who need to lead by example. Culture leaders don’t just talk about it, they actually live it. For example, if you want to have a non-toxic workplace culture, then as a leader you need to not gossip and be driven by empathy.

One thing in common that the Salon, Sasha Group, and Vayner Media share is an open environment. So it’s important to be able to start thinking about the conversations that happen in that public space. Think about how to give constructive feedback that is positive and in a nurturing tone instead of one that is undercutting and derogatory. It’s important to build a culture that speaks from a place of empathy and care, especially if you are looking to keep someone with you. So think about discussing how you see someone’s potential and the opportunity for improvement.

People will show you who they really are, pretty early on. You will see the more comfortable they get, the more likely they are to show their true colors. So it’s really important to ask questions from the very beginning at the first interview. You need to get to know them and ask questions to get to the core of them. The first interview is the most important opportunity to see if someone is going to contribute or be counter to your culture in a bad way. To build a positive culture, talk about it from the get go. Discuss openly, that this place is a special place. Let them know, we are trying to build a place that is counter to any of the other salons you have worked at before. Here, if you want to be a part of this, we don’t accept gossip. We want people to be here for the long term. You might be used to working somewhere for only 3-6 months before moving on. Here we are looking for people who want to be working here for the next 5-10-20 years even. If you want to be a part of something completely different than what you are used to in the industry, These kind of questions completely change who you might bring in and then from there you can change the industry.

You should care who you are spending your time with. You spend more time at work then you do with anyone else. You want to make sure that the company you are working for deserves that special part of you. You want to look for a company culture that values its people and the relationships over sales and product campaigns. You want to work in a place that feeds your soul. And if it doesn’t feed your soul, that’s when it’s time you have to go.

Ultimately, where you work is a personal decision. At different stages of your life, you have different priorities. You will be faced with making a cultural decision versus a financial decision in regards to where you earn your money. Sometimes it’s financially driven. Sometimes it about personal growth. Key to remember is stress is a price that gets paid emotionally and physically. That is something to consider that price tag. Nothing beats working at a place where you are eager to get to even when you’re exhausted because you are looking forward to the conversations and the work to be done. That’s an amazing feeling.

Having a healthy and positive work culture is so crucial for growing your business. A place where people are genuinely happy to come to work can be seen in performance and efficiency. As a business owner, with the right people and culture in place, you will be spending time not filling in vacant positions but actually growing your business.

Sometimes culture, gets confused with free snacks and happy hour /events for your staff. That is not culture. Culture is the relationship you have with people who are there and how you treat people. It is how you value humans. Treating them like human beings not like a disposable resource. It’s not the fluffy stuff because that doesn’t work if the foundations are not set up.

Create a place that people don’t want to leave. Build that environment of respect. You have to let go of the fear of people leaving. It’s inevitable. Sometimes money is the priority. And sometimes not, that’s life. Build a place where people want to stay. If you do this, the turnover is going to be very low comparative speaking to other salons.

You have to role model a positive work culture. For example, balance is really important to me. So as a new leader on a team that I inherited with some strained internal relations, I let them know that I was going to leave everyday with my goal to be home by 7-7.30PM. It is important to me to have dinner with my husband. What does it tell people that the person who just came in says its ok to want to have balance? And if there is work to be done, then I will get some of the work that still needs to be done after dinner. Everyone’s needs are going to be different. You have to know that company culture starts at the top. So I let my team know that if they have things they want to do to manage their needs, I invite them to come to me and let me know. When your team feels comfortable to share what’s going on in their life and share their individual needs with you as a culture leader, then you know you’ve built trust and you’re doing something right.

**This is an adaption from our YN Biz Talk playlist, “How to Build Salon Culture” on YouTube. Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full interview here: