Karie Bennett, stylist, writer and owner of Atelier SalonSpa and Atelier Studio in San Jose, California
Karie Bennett, stylist, writer and owner of Atelier SalonSpa and Atelier Studio in San Jose, California
As part of the ongoing blog series, Owner's Forum, Karie Bennett, owner of San Jose's Atelier Salon Spa shares her thoughts and plans on creating a holiday celebration for her staff:
Dear Karie: When it comes to the holidays, how do you celebrate with your team?
Good question! When my team was just three people, it was easy to take them to dinner and give them personal gifts. As our business grew to larger locations, so did our team and our expeses. Dinner for 25-30 people was out of our budget.
Over the past 13 years, as a salon owner, I've gone from homemade gifts and handwritten thank you cards to grocery store gift cards at Thanksgiving and holiday cards and gas cards at Christmas. I thought the employees would appreciate the money being spent on them, rather than a party. I guess I'm a pragmatic that way.
We've recently crossed the 40-employee mark, and the 'new economy' is making an impact on everyone. Our guests have really felt the pinch, and we've had to reach out farther and harder than ever to stay in business and grow as a company. Our team has really worked hard to bring positive energy and inspiration to our guests and the community. From charity events to business-building events, their efforts have made a huge difference. This year turned out to be quite amazing. 
We were nominated for NAHA's Salon MBA Award, and recently were named to the SALON TODAY 200 for the seventh time. We've made contributions to six core charities this year, and donated products and services to countless local schools as well. And, business is growing. Although we recognize and appreciate personal effort all year, this seemed like the right time for Atelier to have a "What a Year!" employee appreciation party. Close to 70 people attended, and everyone enjoyed awards, food, fun and karaoke. I'm still hearing them tell our guests about it!
Whether you have the budget to host a holiday party, a bowling night, or just organize a summer potluck-in-the-park with your employees and their families, the goal is the same: to bring your team together to relax and have fun. And, that's something that you can do at any time of year.