Fairfax agreed to give a modified version of the communications seminar he conducts through his consulting business, and the attendees agreed to bring along a list of their salon benefits, copies of their policy manuals and any successful marketing promotions. For the three-day meeting, the group decided on loosely structured mornings, networking time in the afternoon and optional dinners together.
When the group convened, participants included Lennon, Loboda, and Fairfax, as well as Rowena Yeager, owner of Studio Wish Salon and Colour Café in Streetsboro, Ohio; Lisa Cochran, owner of The Studio of Hair Designers in Laurel, Mississippi; Suzan Watson, owner, Premier Salon Concept in Dublin, Ohio; Tina Anzivino, owner, Ciao Bella Salon in Gainesville, Florida; Roberto, owner of Roberto of Italy in Naples, Florida; Sarah McGee, owner of Visual Changes Salon in Ellicott City, Maryland; Leif Christensen, owner of Leif’s Hair Studio in Houston, Texas; Pat Helmandollar, owner of Savvy Salon and Day Spa in Cornelius, North Carolina; Josie Vitale, owner, and Becky Seward, manager, of Salon Bellissimo in Southgate, Michigan; Tracy Townsend, owner, and Rebecca Alexander, marketing director, from True Salon and Color Café and J. Winter salon in Westborough, Massachusetts; and Tracy Ferrell, owner, For Men Only in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“We all came armed with a great idea to share,” says Loboda. “For example, on the first day I shared a referral program that worked well in our salon, Pat Helmandollar shared marketing materials and Leif Christensen talked about setting up photo shoots and producing salon newsletters.”
Throughout the three days, each owner also shared with the group a challenge his or her salon was experiencing. Then in the afternoons, other participants who had information that would help resolve the challenge would seek out the owner who’d shared the problem and offer any advice.
“For example, I wanted information about setting up my own training program,” says Loboda. “I came home with three complete programs, down to the letter.”
“The biggest thing I took away from my business came after I shared my financial statements,” says Lennon. “I thought my payroll expenses were at 45 percent, but Roberto thought my payroll costs were closer to 75 percent. I learned that I was calculating them wrong, and although they weren’t quite that high, they were higher than I thought they were. I came home with a new plan for reducing those costs.”
“It was one of the most incredibly powerful, as well as one of the most fun, experiences I’ve ever had,” says Fairfax. “While we had a few hours specified for learning, we ended up with several hours of learning and sharing.”