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Management Practices

Power Players

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 12:32 PM

They are admitted movers and shakers. They quickly established a point of difference, and built stand-out salon businesses, often with thriving, multiple locations. They’ve established themselves not only as successful salon owners, but as business leaders within their communities and within the industry. In essence, they are the Power Players.

While we know these are far from the only power players in the industry, they represent a strong sampling from across North America. By examining how they shaped their growth and what they’ve learned from their winning strategies and also their mistakes, you can power your own success.

Power PlayersMichael Anthony

Owner, Michael Anthony SalonSpa

Established in 1991, Michael Anthony has four locations in Chicago, Illinois.

What makes your salon operation unique?

“We offer the client one place to receive all services, and a full-service salon and spa experience—the Michael Anthony Xperience (MAX). We developed a marketing strategy to reach clients who many not be experiencing all departments within the salon, and implemented new programs targeted at first-time clients. We’re always doing something in the salon to stay on top. For example, to stay looking fresh, we recently hired a director of operations because we realized that it is often difficult to attract new clients. Our goal is to let customers know about all of our services and try to get them to use these services.”

How would you define your success?

“My definition of success is when every part of my life lines up, from my faith to my family. It’s not about all the other things that you think will make you successful. With my wife Andrea’s help, we’ve been able to open almost three locations in three years. One of our strengths is our training program, headed up by Andrea and Creative Directors Ashley Sierra and Souline Yonan, who oversee our education team of 13 stylists and colorists. The easy part of the training is the technical side. But we find many people don’t have the life skills they need, so we try to pick up where they’re at now and coach them and teach them on everything from how to speak to customers to building life skills.”

What has been your strongest strategic move in the building of your business?

“Location is an important part of our growth. The opening of our State Street salon in 2006 was our first downtown location, and a huge opportunity for growth. We recently opened in Wicker Park, in a move that now gives us two locations to grow into as a company. Clients can choose between any of our four convenient locations in Chicago. Our strategy is to grow what we have. We will be working on increasing our staff by 40 stylists and colorists over the next three years. The goal we’ve set for each of our salon professionals is to be 85-percent busy.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“I think we have stayed consistent with company standards over the last 17 years, but I think we would have implemented more goal setting, such as what we’re doing now.”

How do you keep connected to the industry?

“Keeping an eye on our staff because they are the ones who bring in the new fashion and ideas. We also send our creative directors to New York, Italy and London for new ideas.”

What motivates you?

“Seeing the people we hire and train grow within the business and company cultures at Michael Anthony. The potential for growth is endless. And, seeing first-year hairdressers today who really understand salon operations and how to build clientele—that’s motivating.” >

Who inspires you and why?

“In business, I am inspired when I see results. For example, when we implement a goal for the company, I get inspired when our staff takes the idea and runs with it. We recently approached our staff with a marketing idea and an opportunity for them to grow their business. When we asked for a show of hands on who was interested, all hands went up. Even if in the short-term it may mean sacrificing a percentage of their pay, everyone was excited about the opportunity to grow their business.”

How do you celebrate success in your business?

“We hold monthly celebration meetings for our entire staff and acknowledge top producers. We recognize individuals who have done well in the organization. We ask our staff to mention people who they feel should be recognized for going above and beyond company standards.We also recognize their achievements with a promotion, and personalize an announcement from Michael Anthony using a branded mirror talker at their station to communicate to clients this important achievement.”

 What’s the best business-building book you’ve ever read?

“Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen is a motivational book that talks about dreaming big and going out there and getting what you want. Principles such as living your life now and how to be happy in your life are really inspiring to me.”

 Power PlayersJoseph Cartagena

Owner, Genacelli Salon & Day Spa

Established 20 years ago, the Genacelli Salon & Day Spa resides in downtown Chicago. Co-owner with Cynthia Porcelli, Joseph Cartagena currently serves as vice president on the board of Cosmetologists Chicago.

 What differentiates your salon?

“We have a team that has been selected based upon their fit within our culture, and as a result, our team plays well together. We strive to inspire and challenge our team, both creatively and technically, which fosters individual and professional growth. Education has always been the driving force in our company’s success.”

How would you define your success?

“We define our success by our team’s success. All our people are involved in developing concepts for shows and educational events and participating in demonstrations outside the salon. The talent within our group is inspiring to our guests, and allows for a high degree of success behind the chair.”

What has been your strongest strategic move in the building of your business?

“Our training program. We are not departmentalized, so our training needs to encompass many facets of hair dressing. We train on a 1:1 or 2:1 student-to-mentor ratio per segment to concentrate on the finer points, both theoretically and technically. Each generation pushes the level of excellence to a higher degree, which has allowed us to cultivate a superb staff with a strong culture and a high standard of quality.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“We would have implemented our training program a long time ago.”

How do you keep connected to the industry?

“By being involved. We spend time with other hairdressers talking about fashion and different ideas and concepts. We participate on association and advisory boards to help make a difference in our industry—that allows us to be aware of a lot of issues.”

What motivates you?

“Passionate people of all sorts; youth and their awareness.”

Who inspires you and why?

“The people who inspire are the ones who are the drivers in life. They move with passion and intent to fulfill their vision. They are living with strong conviction.”

What is the best business-building book you’ve ever read?

“Only the Paranoid Survive, by Andrew S. Grove.”

Power PlayersEveline Charles

Owner, EvelineCharles Salons • Spas • MedSpa • Academy

Celebrating more than 35 years in the industry, Eveline Charles has nine salon and spa locations in Edmonton, Alberta; Calgary, Alberta; Kelowna, British Columbia and Vancouver, British Columbia; as well as an academy and a medspa in Edmonton.

What has differentiated your company in your marketplace?

“We are a fully integrated company with many different divisions. These departments work together to perfect the EC brand, delivering an inimitable experience to our clients in all aspects of the beauty business. Branching into product development added manufacturing and distribution to our business model, which has also differentiated us. Eager to offer complete beauty solutions to our clients, EC recently opened its first MedSpa. Another step to creating the EC business model was the opening of the EC Academy—we sought to raise the level of talented service providers by opening our own academy to train future professionals.”

How would you define your success?

“Creating a recognizable brand has been essential to the success of our company, and tied to all aspects of growth. A distinctive brand and consistent services allowed EC to branch into product development; creating a retail business driving clients into our locations to purchase EC products. Building the EC experience to be the same with each and every client visit pushed us to develop the structures and foundation of EC service standards. The credibility of the EC brand led to successful expansion into new markets across Western Canada.” 

 What has been your strongest strategic move in the building of your business?

“Strategic planning with the right management team has been vital to the building of my business. The EC management team lives by the motto, ‘Think big, grow big.’ This way of thinking encourages the company to take calculated risks while continually striving to be the very best. Beyond having the best people on your team, it is crucial to have the right tools to support and grow your business. Most recently, we updated our software moving to a complete enterprise version with Korvue.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“Think bigger earlier. Thinking the way I do today would have had a huge impact on my business years ago. For 20 years, I worked as a creative stylist in a single salon. Once I was able to think beyond that single salon, my business exploded. This time also corresponded with my decision to step away from the chair and focus on the business. In the past 10 years, my business has grown to nine locations in four cities across Western Canada. Thinking big removed the barriers, and paved the way for success.”

How do you keep connected to the industry?

“More frequently, I am leaving my corporate office to spend time on the floor working next to the service providers. This provides valuable input into the industry and influences the decisions made at a corporate level. Until just recently, I served as a PBA Board Member. To continually raise industry standards while setting new benchmarks, I also meet with industry leaders on a regular basis.”

What motivates you?

“Challenge and growth are my two primary motivators. Challenges continually move my business into new directions and overcoming these are rewarding. Similarly, growth pushes me to think in new directions and continually expand our business model. An ever-present challenge is to raise the bar for the industry. I am extremely dedicated to polishing the profession.”

Who inspires you and why?

“When it comes to inspiration, all successful businesses inspire me. I am a passionate knowledge seeker, therefore as my business changes, I draw on new sources for inspiration to move forward. As a creative thinker, I often pull ideas from other industries and businesses.”

How do you celebrate success in your business?

“Twice annually, all employees gather together to recognize individual and company successes. By understanding what drives our employees, EC is able to offer incentives to employees on all levels. Also, EC tries to tie together personal and business goals—achieving goals on a personal or business level start with an action plan.”

 What’s the best business-building book you’ve ever read?

“Ten years ago, I read The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber. This book proved to be pivotal to the foundation and growth of my business. It encouraged me to make the distinction between working on my business compared to working in my business. After reading the book, I stepped away from the chair to put the right procedures in place to grow my business.” 

 Power PlayersJohn Donato

Owner and President, Donato Salons+Spas

Established in 1983 maintains two locations within Toronto, Ontario, and recently launched a magazine about the salon.

How would you define your success? 

“To me, success is having lots of opportunities and not having to work behind the chair if I don’t want to. I can choose to see clients in the studio, travel abroad and work on education, contribute to product development, or work on a shoot. There’s a lot of variety and I can participate in all the worlds from film to studio. I don’t believe success comes from being comfortable financially—that comes from loving what you do.”

What are the keys to your business success?

“I believe there are three key areas—location, marketing and education. I have two salons, but I could grow that to 100 if I had the desire to because I have the structure in those three areas.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“I would have dedicated more space to my retail concept. In my larger salon, my retail area is 1,200 square feet, but I wish I had 2,000 square feet. I wish I had more space so I could integrate ‘try-me’ sample bars and other interactive areas.”

How do you stay connected to the industry?

“I go to more trade shows than anybody. I’m a board member of Intercoiffure and maintain a strong friendship with several owners, manufacturers and distributors. I also do a lot of consulting for manufacturers. All that keeps me very connected.”

What motivates you?

“Again, I love a good trade show—I always come away with a great idea and it’s such a reminder of the things that I’m not paying attention to. I was speaking at a show in Miami a few weeks ago and after my presentation I stayed to hear the other speakers. Several attendees remarked how unusual it is for a speaker to watch the other acts—but whether I’m watching someone cut hair or talk about management, I always enjoy hearing what others have to say.”

Who inspires you and why?

“One of my biggest inspirations comes from my dad who was a hairdresser and an entrepreneur who emigrated from Italy in 1950 and became a success in business and in life.”

How do you celebrate success in your business?

“Once a month we hold a staff meeting. It always opens with a creative presentation, then we talk about general business, and we always end by celebrating the success we’ve experienced in the last month. For example, we recognize those who’ve hit milestones, received great letters from clients, earned a promotion or award or had their work published.”

Power PlayersInez Gray

Founder, Habitude Salon and Spas

Founded in 1996, Habitude has two locations in Seattle, Washington.

What makes your salon operation unique?

“Habitude is a real word—used more in the French language than in ours—it means a state of body or mind. What makes us unique is our culture—our devotion to how our company makes our customers feel. Hair cuts, massages, nails and skin care—we do it all really well like our competitors, but Habitude clients leave filled up with a soulful experience which is much harder to replicate and adds amazing value to their whole experience. They leave in a different state of body and mind.”

How would you define your success?

“My success is realized when, on sunny summer camping trips with my three kids in Yellowstone, I don’t call the salon for two weeks and don’t even worry; during group interviews, my management teams gets teary-eyed laughing about the opportunities they have realized; on those days we are faxing documents for anxious and excited kids out of beauty school and buying their first condo—something neither they or their parents thought they would accomplish; I think about all of the people who have worked hard for Habitude, learned a lot and now are successful salon owners themselves; when the kids on my team have more in their 401(k) than their sisters and friends who are dentists and bankers and business types; every morning when I get up and can’t wait to see what crazy path ‘the Tude’ is going to take me today.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“I’m not much of a ‘look backer.’ Every mistake I have made has taught me an incredible amount, and I know I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without them. I do wish I would have videotaped every staff meeting—I would like to sit and watch myself grow up!”

How do you keep connected to the industry?

“I read SALON TODAY, of course, and lurk on the TSA List. I am more focused on connecting to my local business community. I don’t want to just be the best salon for people to frequent or work in—I want to be the best business of any sort.”

Who inspires you and why?

“My family, including my kids, Odessa, Ruby and Jasper—I admire their ability to put themselves first while still having a real concern and commitment to others. And, my husband Tony for his unwavering dedication to his beliefs, for his eccentricity and for his incredible artistic vision.”

 How do you celebrate success in your business?

“We party, we eat cake, we toast, we pat each other on the back, we tell our clients, we post it on the Wall of Fame and on our website, and then we get quickly and steadfastly back out on the floor to love and amaze more people!”

What’s the best business-building book you’ve ever read?

“Steve Farber’s The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership.”

Power PlayersArsalan and Arezo Hafezi

Owners, Modern Salon and Spa, Inc.

Established in 1989, Modern Salon and Spa operates five locations in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as a corporate call center.

What makes your salon operation unique?

“It’s what exists behind the scenes at Modern Salon and Spa. Our corporate office serves as the brain for developing innovative systems that ensure the overall well-being and success of our company. This team of full-time, business-focused directors allows the service providers to flourish creatively with their clients. Our people are what have differentiated us. We hire passionate and motivated individuals who want to be here and grow here. We are proud to call our employees family members and we are grateful for the opportunity to achieve success together.”

What has been your strongest strategic move in the building of your business?

“Creating and implementing value-based systems has been our strongest strategic move. We can simply say that we believe in giving exceptional customer service to our guests, however, if we do not show and explain why we believe in that philosophy, our staff will not buy into it. We have a two-day new employee orientation that teaches our history, culture, products, systems and structure. When the new employees learn what and who we are, they feel a part of something greater and understand why and how we are Modern Salon and Spa. By focusing on communication in all aspects of our business, our systems and structure remain consistent and sustainable.” 

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“We would have started earlier! The beauty industry is powerful in how it touches guests and inspires passionate people to fulfill their dreams. We have had the honor to watch many people grow and reach their goals with the environment we have created over the years.”

How do you keep connected to the industry?

“Our connection to our people and the industry has always been a priority. Serious Business is an annual business summit hosted by Neill Corporation that we look forward to each year. We also favor domestic and global hair shows.”

Who inspires you and why?

“The success that our team achieves inspires our vision of Modern Salon and Spa. Whether it’s striving to be pre-booked for three months or achieving an Aveda Purefessional status, having the pleasure of watching them fulfill their dreams and desires is what coming to work is all about. With nearly 200 employees, we have a lot of success to watch!”

How do you celebrate success in your business?

“Once a month, we hold a joint staff meeting where the entire company comes together. Each location manager picks an employee for a monthly superlative, and that employee is recognized with a colorful award and a $25 product gift certificate. We also have Modern money that’s given as on-the-spot recognition. It is designed in $5 increments and is given to employees who go above the call of duty, such as acting out of their job description, driving a co-worker to work, or handling a unique customer situation with grace. The great aspect of Modern money is that staff can hand it out to each other, as well as their manager.”

 What’s the best business-building book you’ve ever read?

“To name a few of the books that have guided us through the years: The 80/20 Principle, Think and Grow Rich, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and The Eighth Habit.”

Power PlayersGretchen Monahan

CEO, President and Coach, Gretta Enterprises

Founded in 1995, Gretta Enterprises consists of three Grettacole full-service salons and spas, the hip and trendy GSpa, and Grettaluxe, a cutting-edge fashion boutique. All are located in the greater Boston area.

What makes your salon operation unique?

“We’ve managed to offer celebrity-level services to everyday women. We were the first salon, and still one of a few, in Boston to be departmentalized and maintain an apprenticeship and training program that encourages our staff members to develop a level of expertise in line with other professionals, like physicians. Our focus on giving our clients makeovers led to us being fashion consultants and personal shoppers. Eventually that led to the opening of a boutique.”

 How would you define success?

“We still define our success one client at a time—that’s the key that makes it work. We designed a business that’s very personal and we keep it that way even as we grow larger. At each location, we know every single client, and each client feels a part of the family.”

 What has been the strongest strategic move in the building of your company?

“Examining my role as onsite expert and leader-on-the-floor and challenging myself to grow the brand beyond on a national level as an on-air expert. One of this industry’s biggest curses is that when you remove the prima ballerina from the business, it all falls apart. It was very, very difficult to put my trust in the business and entrust the management to my staff—but it was a great decision. Today I do a segment called ‘Take-away’ on Rachael Ray’s syndicated talk show, transferring beauty and fashion trends to everyday women. I also frequently appear on other shows, such as The View, Regis and Kelly and the Today Show

 Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“Become the owner of my property. One of the biggest challenges as you grow your business and finally get the economics to work, is to have your rent go sky-high.”

How do you celebrate success in your business?

“Because I’m away so much, I do it by spending as much time as possible with my staff and I’m lucky that they want to spend time with me. I try to include as many people as possible in some of these opportunities. For example, today I’m working on the set with Rachael Ray, and I’ve brought my partner, Nicole Leone, and two of our stylists to help.  They’re excited and proud to partake in something so special, and that helps me keep people.”

What’s the best business-building book you’ve ever read?

“I loved Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company a Cup at Time—it shows how the coffee house differentiated itself in the marketplace and is pretty damn inspirational. But one of my new favorites is Cathie Black’s Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work and in Life. It’s a wonderful, easy read, and she has so much to say about how women view life in 360 degrees.”

Power PlayersCharles and Debra Penzone

President and Senior Vice President, Charles Penzone Family of Salons

Established in 1969, the Charles Penzone Family of Salons today includes eight locations in the greater Columbus, Ohio-area, including four distinct brands—Charles Penzone Grand Salon, Max the Salon, Q Salon and Day Spa and The Studio by Charles Penzone.

What makes your company unique?

Debra: “We are a family-owned business. Charles’ daughter, Chelsea, serves as director of marketing and his son, Colby, as business advisor. Because the company is centered on family, we have successfully fostered a family-like environment and a strong sense of teamwork among our employees and our guests. Also, our constant involvement and volunteerism in our community differentiates us in our marketplace.”           

Charles: “We manage four brands of various shapes and sizes. We have 20,000-square-foot operations, as well as 800-square-foot operations. For nearly 40 years, we’ve maintained a number-one position in our market, based on market studies and polls taken in our community. Our use of computers, call center, our marketing and advertising, as well as a very successful training program which has been in existence since 1969, has also been a key factor in making us unique.” 

How do you define your success?

Debra:  “Our success is defined by our successful hair and spa professionals and loyal customers who are dedicated to our family of salons.”

Charles: “Overwhelming ... To think that our company began with two employees and now has more than 600 employees and is doing tens of millions of dollars in annual sales, all based on customer service and talented professionals. I would define success as a relentless pursuit of uncompromising excellence that has not varied in four decades.”

What’s been your strongest strategic move in the building of your business?

Debra: “Our company’s dedication to training and ongoing education for our professionals. For new hires, we have our Career Advancement Program, a year-long program that begins with a two-week intensive ‘boot camp,’ where the company history, culture and customer service initiatives are reviewed. We also have hair and spa creative teams that are responsible for researching new services, products and provide ongoing training for our entire staff of professionals.”

Charles: “Unquestionably, our training program is the key to our success. But our professional management team, which includes MBAs, CPAs, and great outside advisors in legal and accounting, and a rock-solid recruiting program also contribute immensely to building the business.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Charles: “I would be hard-pressed to think of doing much differently, however, if I had to split hairs, I would have thought more globally and expanded our brand to at least a regional, if not a national presence, earlier on.” 

What motivates you?

Debra: “Nothing motivates me more than a goal that challenges my mind, my body and my spirit. After I ran my first marathon, I learned the true meaning of commitment, dedication and goals. I have taken that very valuable lesson and applied it to my work and my life.”

Charles:  â€œThe people that I am surrounded by. They are young, bright, and creative and are driven to be their very best while embracing our company’s culture and objectives.”   

Who inspires you and why?

Debra: “In our industry, the late Noel de Caprio inspired me to see the power in my hands as a hairdresser. She was volunteering for the ‘Look Good ... Feel Better’ program, helping breast cancer patients and she shared her amazing experiences of how our work not only gives beauty, but heals the soul.”

Charles: “Still to this day it is Vidal Sassoon. He inspired me nearly 40 years ago when I was a young, struggling hairdresser trying to understand geometric hair cuts and he inspires me today on what leaving a legacy and giving back means.”

How do you celebrate success in your business?

 â€œIt is very important for us to celebrate special moments in our professionals’ lives everyday—from birthdays and weddings to new babies and milestone anniversaries with our company.  We also celebrate with our annual awards ceremony, a black-tie event recognizing our top hair and spa professionals and support staff.”

What’s the best business book you’ve ever read?

 â€œGood to Great by Jim Collins is our bible. It is required reading for our managers. Dream Manager by Mark Kelly is another great book.”

Power PlayersDenise Provenzano

Owner, Zano Salons Hair|Mind|Body

Established in 1985, Co-owners Denise Provenzano and Ron Provenzano recently opened their sixth location in the Chicago suburbs.

What makes your salon operation unique?

“It sounds cliché, but what makes us unique is and always has been our customer service and education. We really live it because it is our core value, and we focus on it at every level. The greatest compliment to me is that all our staff knows what we stand for. Marketing, rewards and recognition to our staff members and guests all revolve around these two core values.”

How would you define your success?

“How I am affecting the people I serve—which are my staff and our guests.”

What has been your strongest strategic move in the building of your business?

“We operate as a family-owned business, not only with our staff but also with our guests. As the saying goes, ‘People don’t care how much you know unless they know you care.’ Our growth comes from growing our staff and growing our guest base.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“We all make mistakes, and knowing now what I may not have known before would have made some decisions much easier. I do think the rewards in business are when your decisions turn out to be winners or great strategic moves.”  

 How do you keep connected within the industry?

“I serve as Secretary on the Board of Cosmetologists Chicago, and am a member of Intercoiffure and very proud of the direction in which it is moving. Our trade magazines have a wealth of information, and I learn something new every time I read one. Friends in the industry also keep us connected,.”

What motivates you?

“I love what I do, I love whom I do it for, I love whom I do it with! Isn’t that a great way to express what, why and who motivates us? I learned this saying from my great industry friend, Luis Alvarez. What more could you ask for?”

 Who inspires you and why?

“My sister inspired me on how to me a good mother. My staff inspires me when they view their careers as vocations and take on leadership roles. My sons inspire me to be a better person.”

How do you celebrate success in your business?

“We like to recognize our staff publicly at salon meetings for outstanding customer service with spa gift cards to treat them to the experience of a guest. We celebrate with our top performers once a year and treat them as VIPs with dinner and bonus gifts.”

What is the best business-building book you have ever read?

“Leadership is an Art—one sentence said it all for me: ‘Leadership is the ability to influence people.’ Let’s hope we are always influencing in a positive way.”

Power Players Power Players

Billy and Melissa Yamaguchi

Owners, Yamaguchi Enterprises, Inc.

Established in 1992, Yamaguchi Enterprises now has its flagship Yamaguchi Salon and Coastal Day Spa in Ventura, California, as well as five Yamaguchi-brand salons located within well-known California resorts, including LaQuinta Resort in LaQuinta; LaCosta Resort in Carlsbad; Hotel Del in Del Coronado; Rancho Las Palmas in Palm Springs; and the Four Seasons Spa in Westlake.

 What makes your company unique?

“Our philosophy on feng shui differentiates us in our marketplace, as well as in our industry.”

How would you define your success?

“Our journey has been one rife with celebration and refocusing.”

What has been your strongest strategic move in the building of your business?

“Bringing in feng shui and incorporating it in all facets of our business.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

“Nothing—all the bumps, challenges and pain have led us to this point.”

How do you keep connected to the industry?

“Through our membership in different associations, including the Professional Beauty Association  and Intercoiffure, as well as networking, attending trade shows and reading trade magazines.”

What motivates you?

“Energy in all its forms—through self reflection, through interaction with our children, our family, our team and our guests, through nature and through joy and pain.”

Who inspires you and why?

“People who are moving forward in their lives. Those who live with passion. And, certainly our children.”

What’s the best business-building book you’ve ever read?

“Mean Business and Natural Capitalism.”

 

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