It’s a familiar story. The majority of stylists in the salon are 25 or younger—members of the Gen Z or post-Millennial demographic. The owners are…older. Probably Baby Boomers and definitely coming to the table with very different experiences and attitudes from their young employees. So how do these divergent generations not only survive in the salon, but use their differences to build a thriving business? Gayle Fulbright, owner of Headlines the Salon in Encinitas, CA just may have figured it out.
“The average age of our staff of 40 is 25,” Gayle explains. “We’ve been in business for more than 30 years. We have systems in place, but we realized we had to adapt to the current generation. They’re very creative. With social media they have a lot of influence outside of the salon. I had to adjust the way I ran the business to accommodate these post-millennials.”
Here are seven strategies at Headlines that have played a role in forming a strong, cohesive, successful, cross-generational team.
Their Instagram Game is Strong. “I woke up one morning and realized we only had 800 Instagram followers with no plan,” Gayle shares. Realizing her limits, Gayle put one of her staff members in charge of Instagram for the salon. “The first thing she did was fire me!” Gayle laughs.
Now the salon boasts 21.7 thousand followers, and a purposeful program. Staff members pose with their Instagram handles on the salon website, so prospective clients can view their work. Guests are encouraged to tag and mention their stylists. There’s now a selfie wall that gets rolled out into the California sunlight each day, and a ring light. The staff participates in classes on photography and hashtag best practices, often led by Instagram influencers.
They Embrace Influencers. Gen Z adores influencers! So Gayle invites these social media celebrities to the salon to conduct classes, on everything from hair color to hash-tagging. “We’ve had artists from Masters of Balayage and others,” Gayle says. “And we make sure we invite people the staff wants to see. They told me about Johnny Ramirez and Anh Co Tran, for example. I would never have known about them if my kids hadn’t told me about them. A group decided to go to Ramirez Tran in L.A. for extra training, and we encouraged them to do so.”
They Emphasize Education. “Our strong education program is the key to our success,” Gayle believes. “It attracts and retains stylists. We close every Monday for education. We have an internal team of three trainers for our junior talent. We use the Train You program—how-tos and handouts for cutting, color and blowouts. It allows us to fast-pace our assistants. We try to get them on the floor in four to five months.”
Headlines also negotiates with their vendor partners for education, and their hair color education is provided by L’Oréal Professionnel. “We partner with brands like L’Oréal Professionnel because they give us and our stylists an opportunity to continue to grow as educators,” notes Gayle. “This is one important reason stylists choose to stay with us. It's a win/win career path.”
They Understand the Desire for Work-Life Balance. Young people value time over money. So Headlines has implemented a split shift/four-day workweek. “We’re open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Gayle explains. “They can come in early and leave early or sleep in and stay late. Everyone must work one weekend day, but it’s easy to manage because of the four-day week.”
They Scratch the Itch to Travel. “Our team-members love to travel,” Gayle says. “So we work with our product partners to send people out for education whenever possible. They earn the privilege through their retail sales and their overall participation. One of the favorite destinations is the L’Oréal Professionnel Academy in Newport Beach, CA.”
They Give Back. “This generation is a giving group,” says Gayle, “and giving back is important to our culture and to my heart. It allows us to be part of our community, and they embrace it. It’s a way to attract new clients, and as leaders, we need to keep guiding our young people to a bigger purpose.”
They Watch. And Listen. When Gayle noticed an increase in balayage and blonding services in the salon, she leapt into action and partnered with L’Oréal Professionnel to access their high-quality balayage products and hair color education. And she regularly conducts one-on-one sessions with team members to source their ideas and observations. “It’s great to have your vision,” she says, “but you also have to listen and ask the right questions.”
A SNAPSHOT OF HEADLINES THE SALON
Salon name: Headlines the Salon
Names of Owners: Gayle Fulbright and David Linde
Location: Encinitas, CA
Square Feet: 3,000
Number of Employees: 40
Number of Stations: 18
Number of Treatment Rooms: 1
Retail Lines: Eufora, Oribe, Evo
Color Line: L’Oréal Professionnel and Eufora Color
Shampoo, Cut and Style: $70 (average price)
Single Process Color: $70 (average price)
Salon Software: Phorest