A NEW JERSEY SALON OWNER CHARGES HER STAFF WITH RESEARCHING, PRESENTING AND IMPLEMENTING NEW BUSINESS PRACTICES, WHICH IN TURN, DRIVES A NEW, ENGAGED STAFF CULTURE.

Concrete AccountabilityChristine Zilinski, owner of Salon Concrete in Red Bank, New Jersey, is an experienced educator who loves teaching and coaching salon professionals as much as she loves providing client services. That said, even she discovered it was tough to do all the training and policy making herself in her own business.

After several years as a salon owner, Zilinski decided to enlist her staff in the training process with an accountability program that makes stylists responsible for addressing a particular salon issue, presenting it to the rest of the staff and ultimately implementing positive changes in salon procedure.

ST: What sparked the salon accountability program?

CZ: As a former educator at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica, California and a certi ed Strategies coach, I know the value of education and establishing a salon culture. When I opened my own salon, I found that all I had learned at Strategies was really too much to implement myself. I began to feel like my employees were guinea pigs. A mentor of mine asked me if I had lost any staff.

“You will,” she said and I did, and that made me decide to virtually‘start over’ offering my staff a stake in the business: making them want to do things rather than merely doing as they were told.

I devised a program in which an issue that affects salon business is assigned to a staff member who is charged with becoming a specialist in that area. The staffer researches the topic, prepares a presentation and ultimately implements policy change—that is the accountability piece of the program.

ST: How does the program work?

CZ: When I launched the accountability program, I began with the senior staff members. They had four weeks to research their topic and prepare a presentation. The initial topics were client retention, salon vocabulary, upselling/upgrading client services and handling client feedback. I was available to help with Power Point and offer source material.

Once the topic is assigned, the staff member/ trainer presents it to the entire salon team who provide feedback and input. The presenter re nes and reworks the presentation after hearing from fellow employees. The nal step of the presentation includes a call to action with a plan in place to implement a policy that re ects what the staff learned together. It is the presenter’s responsibility to see that effective changes are made. By the nal presentation, after input and revisions, the team is really listening, asking questions and shouting out ideas and suggestions. It is a very emotional and powerful experience for me to see them so engaged. Now everyone is part of the program and it has really empowered the staff. For example, we have established a policy for in-salon vocabulary so that everyone is using the same terminology for salon services and techniques (“blow out” rather than “blow dry”). Language is a component of consistency that adds to the professional atmosphere of the salon.

Concrete AccountabilityStaff members now spend a lot of their salon downtime focusing on business issues and coming up with ideas for future topics. As an owner, I have made mistakes and the staff has to be allowed to make mistakes. This is how they grow, but coaching them through this program establishes leadership and team spirit. They take ownership in the salon and it becomes much more than just a job.