The Venere brothers, owners of Salon Venere in Toronto, make the most of their Italian heritage to achieve a good work/life balance, with a way of doing things that takes all the stress out of running their salon group and makes even the most mundane tasks a pleasure.
Born of Italian parents, Maurice, Nick and Ermanno believe there is no better way of keeping the business on track than sitting down with family over a good meal to discuss what needs to be done. So come rain or shine, they meet up every Tuesday night for dinner.
"We are Italian. We like sitting down to a nice long meal with good food and excellent wine,"says Maurice, youngest of the three. "So as things got busier we decided the best way to keep on top of the business was to establish a regular place and time to meet. Being Italian, of course we chose to make it over dinner."
The brothers now meet every Tuesday at various restaurants across Toronto and spend the evening eating and chatting, and not just about hairdressing, but about all the things people talk about over dinner.
"Often we just spend the evening talking about what's happening to the family or reminiscing, but it’s where we get our best ideas," says Maurice. "It's a very creative time and being chilled and happy helps to drive our creativity. But we are Italian, so sometimes things can get a little heated."
Though it’s very social and sociable the brothers also use their weekly get-togethers to discuss what’s happening across the company’s various locations and at the Venere Academy, which opened in 2012, ensuring no-one is left in the dark about any aspect of what’s happening right across the business.
"If you are only in one location once a week, and sometimes don't overlap, it can be hard to keep on top of what's happening," says Maurice, who along with his brothers, has taken part in a new series, produced by Shortcuts, revealing how salon owners can reclaim a healthier work/life balance. "But if you can share that knowledge it makes running the business easier and more efficient. We all three still run columns, so our time is at a premium, but our Tuesday ritual is sacrosanct."
The Venere name has been a staple of the Toronto hair world for more than 50 years since their father, Giosue Venere, opened the first salon in 1962. It had a small team, so the brothers were expected to help out, and they did, learning the craft of hairdressing even though they had no intention of making a career of it. Ermanno went to university to study engineering, while Maurice studied business. Nick the eldest was the first to enter the family business at 18. But the allure of the industry eventually proved too much. By the mid-80s all three brothers were back together working in the salon, with the external experiences making them hungry to grow the business. The second Venere salon duly opened in 1986. Now the Venere brothers have four gorgeous salons, the academy and solid expansion plans.
But it's unlikely the group would have grown so smoothly without the Tuesday night dinner ritual.
"We have gradually taken responsibilities for different parts of the business," says Maurice, who is in charge of marketing, technology, HR and branding. Nick watches over the operational side of the business, developing new services and investigating new products, while the Academy is Ermanno's baby, along with financial responsibility for the whole company.
"Take our software," Maurice adds. "We were with one company that simply could not meet our needs, so I was tasked with researching the alternatives. This took a long time and involved lots of sampling, but I was able to keep Ermano and Nick up to date with everything on Tuesday nights. It was made easy because it is a relaxed feeling, and we aren't constantly being interrupted or stressed. I was leaning towards Shortcuts Software because it had great financial reporting and a great suite of marketing tools, enabling us to have greater control of operations across all locations. We discussed it every Tuesday for months, so when the final decision came, we all knew it was the best one for our business. It’s like that with all decisions, and we wouldn’t have it any other way."
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