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Management Practices

Achieving Business Balance

Stacey Soble | July 10, 2011 | 2:41 PM
October's SALON TODAY In-Depth feature focuses on what we've dubbed, Yin Yang leadership, the payoff of establishing unity between business and creative thinking in the salon. In helping us with this article, Tom Kuhn, owner of Qnity, interviewed a number of industry friends on the topic, and they enthusiastically responded with their tips for blending business and creative minds for a stronger salon business:


"If your salon is strong in business, but weak creatively, you struggle to recruit top talent, and your staff is bored. You need creativity to enroll staff. You don't go to beauty school to work in a boring business."

—Van Council, Van Michael Salons


"I am really good at the business end, so I have surrounded myself with super creative people who take over that end."

—Keri Davis, Gila Rut Salon


"To keep the balance between business and creative, infrastructure is needed for both. It's like two engines on a plane. It's usually out of balance in salons."

—Charlie Price, Click Salon


"If a salon is very strong in business but weak creatively, stylists tend to move on. The creative growth of an artist is paramount. Without that, they break down, become stagnant. Eventually the true artist finds his or her own path for growth."

—Maureen Anlauf, JUUT Salonspas


"I tend to be numbers-focused, so I work hard to go out of my way to honor each service providers' work. I ask a lot of questions to better understand their point of view and try to relate every 'business' conversation to their 'creative' work."

—Michele Schuster, Fusion Lifespa


"With every task executed I'd ask the question, how does the other person perceive it? This type of questioning is both creative (emotional) and critical (unemotional). Being able to see through the lens of your service provider, customer or colleague gives you the ability to communicate more effectively and creates a stronger connection that builds trust."

—Julie Swenson, 


"To keep the balance between business and creative, I encourage staff to participate in photo shoots, as well as share overall business sales and performance indicators with everyone."

—Ed Brown, Ladies and Gentlemen Salon Spa


"Educating yourself on both business and creativity is the same as taking care of your mind and body. "you cannot expect to achieve maximum health by not working on both the mind and the body. Trying to run a salon without an investment in creativity and business education is like planning to cut a hair cut without any technical training."

—Leon Alexander, Ph.D., Eurisko


"Get out of the office and spend time with your guests. It's very important to not lose sight of your guests' point of view. I believe too much time in the office can make you lose sight of the important creative aspects of the business and team motivation."

—Lisa Vann, Milagros Salon Spas


"There is a book Soar with Your Strengths which encourage people to do what they are good at. To keep the balance you must encourage both sides to develop and grow their specialties. Don't ask a creative person to develop inventory or yield management. Likewise, you don't ask the businessperson what is the next style or color coming in fashion. both must have strong influence in the direction and influence of the salon."

—Gerald Hines, Milagros Salon Spas


"Assign each staff member to his or her best area. Some aren't as equipped to handle the creative, they are more streamlined. Those who are more focused on strategic are better at handling the consistent requests of business than those who are free in creative thought."

—Melissa Chambers Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Salon and Coastal Day Spa


"Owners focused on business get locked away in their office, and those focused on creativity do most anything possible to avoid the office. So, I say both need to wander more, connect more and go to lunch with the opposite strength. In my wandering around, I explore and hang out with my staff and students so I can connect to that creative energy."

—Jill Kohler, Kohler Academy


"Whether it's the brands you carry or the distributors you work with, consistently look at whom you partner with. Both should be providing quality education to keep staff motivated and their creative juice flowing. Additionally, business education should be part of this offering for both the owner/manager and the staff. This keeps everyone on the same page and moving toward the same common goal."

—Brandon Ranney, Creative Salon Concepts


"Most of the great salons balance the business with the creative. Here is a list of salon that I pick their brains, watch their moves, and try to replicate and improve their steps: Van Michael, Art+Science, JUUT, Robert Cromeans, Nick Arrojo, Ted Gibson, and Toni and Guy."

—Stephen Adams, Moxie Hair Salon


"I have always subscribed to the following—you need someone to work in the business and one to work on the business. It is difficult to do  both, so pick your strength and hire out the other if you are a one-soldier operation and need a real life."

—Steven Brooks, Diva Studio


"Talk with your team. Inclusion is the best way to find balance and then reward those who want to push further and contribute more to the team."

—Patrick McIvor, Patrick McIvor Color Studio


"I think we need to keep the balance between artistry and our business. For me, it's been trying to get the pendulum back to the middle. It started very creative then went business and losing its core reason for being which is to enhance the beauty in people and was getting very heavy on the corporate structure. I think it needed to go that way and now I have a culture that understands the art and business of what they do."

—Scott Buchanan, Scott J Aveda Salon Spas


"Hire offsetting talents, don't expect one person to be both. It's rare to possess both traits at a high level."

—David Wagner, JUUT Salonspas


"Keep your team involved in the financial aspects of the business and share information and goals. Sometimes try giving the responsibilities to the team to create awareness of what's happening to the money." 

—Mark "Pardo" Gonzales, Mark Pardo Hair-Skin-Body


"We keep the balance with play. At Avant, we shoot fashion forward photos, which are used in our marketing to increase our business and expand our brand. Because we have done this for 25 years, we have the best models, photographers, and stylists who want to work with us." 

—Roy Fredericks, Avant Garde Studio Salon Spa


"Identify your strength and really focus on that area, then enroll someone in the business who naturally has the other side of the yin-yang model. Support each other to a higher ground."

—Albie Cortes, Bumble & Bumble


"Keep balance with regular classes that both push stylists in directions they otherwise would not go, and at the same time educate them on how this will grow their business,"

—Jeff Dahlberg, 526 Salon Spa Gallery


"Hairdressers generally need and want creative opportunity and financial security. If you can help staff be rock solid with clientele and give them creative opportunity, things will take care of themselves."

—Rodney Cutler, Cutler Salon


















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