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Management Practices

Owner to Owner: The Gratitude Page

Stacey Soble | November 4, 2015 | 1:35 PM
Sarah Wisda, co-owner of Aura Salon and Day Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Like most Scottsdale, Arizona-based businesses, Aura Salon and Day Spa feels the slump of a slow summer until the snowbirds return in October. “Toward the end of summer, morale can come down a bit,” admits Sarah Wisda, who owns the salon with Christy Vowers and Michael Ament.

This year, Wisda noticed a higher degree of grumbling than usual. “Team members were quibbling about what music to play in the salon or coming down hard on the front desk team for a rare ticket error,” she says. After watching Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work,” Wisda decided it was time to create a new salon mindset by generating some positivity. After sharing the 12-minute video with the team, she challenged each employee to write three positive posts a day for seven days on the salon’s private Facebook page.

Specifically, team members were asked to post about why they were grateful for Aura or their fellow teammates.  To encourage participation, Wisda dangled a gift card to a restaurant, and stated that anyone who completed the three posts a day for a week would be eligible for a raffle for the prize. 

“We have 36 employees and we have had more than 150 posts with 1500 comments over the course of the week,” Wisda says. “There was such a boost of positive energy in the salon, and it almost changed overnight—it’s been remarkable. I haven’t heard one petty complaint in a week. It’s been like everyone thinks things through before they speak.”

Wisda says the comments started out a little predictable, but then each positive comment would fuel the next, and a momentum started. Several employees expressed gratitude for working at a salon that is continuing to grow in its 12th year, while other appreciated the fact it had been Salon Today 200 honorees several times over. Although the salon usual grooms its own talent, Aura recently hired a group of experienced stylists from a local salon group who had one of its locations close—many of those new stylists expressed how well they’ve been treated and respected. Several staff members expressed appreciation for other team members, while others were grateful for the salon’s recent renovations, its relationship with cosmetology schools and its consistent commitment to education.

“It’s been amazing to witness how the environment shifted with something so simple. And, it’s led to conversations about how stylists can shape the client experience by focusing on positive conversation in the chair,” Wisda says. “And, I’m looking at how we can maintain this positive momentum with monthly posting challenges.”

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