Not every plan for turning over a business comes with the drama generated by the feuding family members of TV’s popular “Succession.” And while Los Angeles salon owner Ginger Boyle may not preside over an empire worth billions as the fictional Logan Roy does, she still wants her thriving Planet Salon to continue at some point without her.
“Better to Make a Plan”
Boyle and her husband Robert Lynden have no children, but what they do have at the 22-chair salon is a team of young, ambitious hair pros. She offered all of them an opportunity to explore ownership. Some weren’t interested. Some paused, mulled it over, and bowed out. Only stylist Sam Dean didn’t blink. His eyes were fixed on this unexpected entrepreneurial path ahead of him.
This all took place during the pandemic, which struck just as Boyle began wondering what to do next.
“I knew I could close the salon, because I’m of age to retire,” says Boyle, now 72 and capping an enviable career as both a renowned stylist and an award-winning business owner. “But I wouldn’t do that to my staff. In these challenging times, instead of just locking the door, saying good-bye, and wiping my hands after spending so many years building relationships with people and businesses, I realized that it would be much better for me to make a plan.”
Role Model: Olivia Newton-John
Not knowing what that plan might look like, Boyle used the ample downtime during Covid to find mentors. She asked business coach Keri Davis, with whom she’d worked before, to help her determine the value of Planet Salon in the marketplace. She sought help from Karen Allen in completing paperwork for securing the funds to get through the pandemic. She made a wheel to give herself a visual of what was important to her. She brought the topic of succession into conversations with her posse of salon-owner friends.
“We’re a mirror for each other,” Boyle says of these friends. “They tell me, ‘You can be too kind. Make sure there’s profit for you.’”
All this time, she also was communicating regularly with her staff to help them get through the pandemic and introduce the idea of passing along ownership of the salon. At first, the concept was simply profit-sharing, and most weren’t ready for even that small step. Boyle wanted the salon to live on partly to make it easy for herself so she could continue to do some hair and remain active in the industry.
“This is a fabulous industry and I love it, but I want to diversify,” explains Boyle, a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award from Southwest Hairdressers Guild and the Women Making Waves Hall of Heroes award from the Arrojo company. “When you own a salon, you have to be present; you can’t be an absentee owner. I felt myself wanting to start transitioning, to still work there but position myself as an employee.”
She compared notes with her husband, a photographer.
“Robert has worked with Helmut Newton and other fabulous photographers, and he says that photographers get better with age,” Boyle reports. “He wants to always keep working. I thought, too, that I might go out with my boots on—but probably not wearing them 12 hours a day. I think we all tend to see retirement as a time to plant gardens or take care of our animals and, yes, I’ll do some of that. I’ll walk my dogs and feed the hummingbirds. But I hope to do other things as well. For example, in the past I’ve collaborated on creative projects with my husband and would like to do more of that.”
For a role model who managed to fit it all in, Boyle looks to her late celebrity friend Olivia Newton-John.
“In the couple of years before Olivia Newton-John died, she didn’t tell any of us that her stage 4 cancer had come back, even though we were very good friends. But we watched her do what she intended to do. She sold a lot of her possessions to donate to causes. It had always been her dream to have a show in Vegas, and when Donnie and Marie Osmond gave her their place for a couple of months, she’d invite her friends to come watch her. So she didn’t tell us it was the end of her life, but she got things done. She got her bucket list filled.”
Hair Heir Apparent
The Planet Salon brand is 30 years old and was settled into space in Beverly Hills until Boyle moved the salon to Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles about 10 years ago. Both Boyle and her salon enjoy name recognition and a stellar reputation. That’s a substantial commodity to turn over to someone new, but Boyle is confident that Sam Dean is the right person. He loves the business end—management and numbers—and Boyle feels that, at 40, Dean has time to grow the business. He’s been at Planet Salon for 14 years, so his new leadership role will create minimal disruption for the employees and the clients.
“How nice that my clients won’t have a change,” Boyle says. And Dean likes the way the salon is run. In fact, he first asked for a job there long before Boyle says she could afford him, but eventually the salon caught up.
“Sam is impressed with the way I run the salon, and that’s why I chose to do it this way rather than sell to a big company for a potentially large buyout,” Boyle says. “He likes the way my heart is in education. He likes the way I don’t get upset when someone leaves—I let them go with love. He likes that I don’t get caught up in the minutia, that I just want to create for the people who are there.”
The deal in the works is that Dean will purchase Planet Salon outright, paying a lump sum in a friendly, but formal, arrangement that Boyle frames as “getting Planet Salon for less than he could build or buy a new salon.” Boyle decided that she didn’t want to finance any of the purchase herself, and she discouraged Dean from pursuing his initial idea of having his friends lend him the money. “Keep your friends your friends,” she urged, and Dean listened. He has applied for an SBA loan.
By staying in the salon’s orbit, Boyle can help Dean navigate whatever path he takes. On her accountant’s advice, Boyle thought carefully about the parameters of the sale in terms of her own role and her husband’s role. She says, “I tell Sam that if he gets to a place where he’d like to grow and develop even more—maybe through franchising or opening more locations—I’ll be there to help him.”
The salon’s lease is up in October 2023, and Boyle has arranged with her landlord for a simple owner switch on the next contract. The sale should be final sometime this summer. While Boyle still talks to her mentors and meets with Dean regularly, she says she’s in good health and looking forward to her next chapter. She advises other salon owners at retirement stage to make decisions while you still have a lot of options. She’s so glad she did that.
“I go in every day and I’m the biggest cheerleader of the salon, because I want to make it good for Sam,” Boyle says. “It’s such a sense of relief that I’m leaving the business in good hands.”
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