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Family Matters at the 2015 2 to 10 Leadership Conference

Elizabeth Jakaitis | December 30, 2015 | 10:52 AM
Attendees at the 2015 2 to 10 Conference in Chicago.
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Loyola University Chicago’s Anne Smart enlightened the group about the benefits and challenges of family businesses.
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Qnity’s Tom Kuhn welcomes attendees to the 2 to 10 conference.
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Through its partnership with the Family Business Center at Loyola University Chicago, this year’s 2 to 10 Conference focused on the benefits and challenges of managing a family-owned business.

At the 2015 2 to 10 Leadership Conference, salon owners were eager to investigate the facts and figures that outlined this year’s best practices from a study in which they had all participated. This year’s study revealed that qualitative factors play just as important a role in a salon’s success and longevity as quantitative ones.

At the conference, which was held in April in Chicago, 2 to 10 Founder Tom Kuhn welcomed Anne Smart, director of membership of Loyola University Chicago’s Family Business Center, to share findings on family business practices, in recognition of the 92 percent of 2 to 10 member salons that are family-owned.

Smart described the familiar scenario of a salon owner/parent and a successor/son or daughter having a conversation that seamlessly transitions from a discussion on what went wrong in the salon today to, “And what time are you arriving for Thanksgiving dinner?” Complexity exists in the question of, “What hat am I wearing: boss or parent? Apprentice or son/daughter?” Smart revealed that the conversation about Thanksgiving might have a greater impact on the salon’s success than evaluating business practices.

During the recent recession, Loyola’s studies revealed that emotional family bonds and pride in the business played at least as large of a role in the salon’s survival as focuses on financial success. Unity and family cohesion are the greatest strategic advantages of a family business, and communication is important. Family emotional connections, a strong sense of pride in the business and alignment in family values were all factors that lead to longevity.

“A proactive approach to managing transitions was essential to success,” Smart said. “Salons that have successful successions hosted frequent family meetings and were proactive in strategic planning.”

After Smart’s presentation, the audience split up into roundtable discussions where they spoke about leading best practices in their salons. Each discussion focused on different topics ranging from marketing, education and human resource to operations and finance. On the following day, the owners talked about challenges they were having in their businesses.

Salons in attendance, all with between two to 10 locations, spoke on a range of topics. Susan Haise, owner of Neroli Salon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, spoke about developing a salon culture.

“There’s a lot of communication that comes with culture; it’s all about celebrating and using company meeting opportunities,” Haise says. “Our culture is about what we believe in—our values. We incentivize our team members to bring their numbers up. Our culture rewards team members who retain a high number of guests, which allows them to charge more for their services.”

Larry Silvestri of Mario Tricoci Salons and Spas, which is headquartered in Chicago shared how they are leveraging the stylist-client relationship to attract new clients through Instagram.

“We have 1,200 employees and we have been in the salon business for 35 years,” Silvestri says. “We taught our technicians how to start their own Instagram accounts co-branded with Mario Tricoci. Fresh and consistent content is key on Instragram. We instituted a program that taught them how to use Instagram, how to take great pictures of their work, how to establish their profiles. Our biggest hits are nails and haircolor. Instagram has brought in a lot more business.”

The 2016 2 to 10 Leadership Conference will be held April 26-27, 2016 in Chicago.

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