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Management Practices

Culture Starts at the Top

Stacey Soble | April 11, 2016 | 8:39 AM

The older I get, the less excited I am about collecting the afternoon mail. Bills and junk mail tend to overwhelm anything of interest, and sorting through the stack tends to waste valuable time.

Recently though, a small, hand-addressed envelope caught my eye. When I opened it, there was a lovely Thank You note from Ty Bobit, the owner of Bobit Business Media, the publishing group that purchased Salon Today along with the Modern Salon Media family a few months ago.  The note personally thanked me on a job well done on a recent issue. It may seem a simple gesture, but that hand-written thank you note was incredibly gratifying.

The note also served as a subtle reminder that a company’s culture starts at the top.

A clearly defined culture is a determining factor in the success of a business. According to the Harvard Business Review, culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable competitiors.” Strong cultures include things like a purposeful mission or vision statement, decision-guiding corporate values, clear business practices, a positive environment and motivated people.

In the world of professional beauty, the topic of growing a strong salon culture is cropping up everywhere.  Several of this year’s salon owner speakers at Serious Business focused on the topic of salon culture. On April 11, our publisher Steve Reiss will be moderating an industry panel session of salon owners at Club Intrigue in Atlanta on “Building a Healthy Community & Culture.”

We also made Salon Culture one of our new competition categories in the 2016 Salon Today 200, and it ended up being one of our most competitive categories. Even in its debut year, it yielded more entries than any other best practice category. It also yielded the most phone calls, emails and text messages from salon owners disappointed to have not captured a salon culture honor this year.

In January, I launched the Culture Corner column which regularly heads up our Check In Section. For example, this month, on page 10, Summit Salon’s Kristi Valenzuela talks about the culture gap that often exists between the front desk staff and the rest of the team, and she offers three strategies for helping these valuable team members feel embraced by the salon’s culture.

While there’s much evidence that developing your salon’s culture is good for business, doing so is a tougher task than it may seem. That’s why in this month cover feature Culture Club (starting on page 22) we sit down with six salon owners who reveal that strategies they’ve used to define their cultures, ideas for getting the team on board, and examples of how they use culture to guide their important business decisions. They also share specific team-building activities and reward programs that keep their cultures strong. And, Wendy White McCown, the owner of Signatures Salon in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and this month’s cover owner, offers a touching story on how her strong culture helped her team through a trying experience when a drunk driver plowed through their storefront.

As for us, America’s Beauty Show was an important experience in building our new corporate culture. Because the show is based in Chicago, near Modern Salon’s offices, our entire team, including our designer, our IT and digital teams, and all our support team members were able to join our editors and sales representatives to witness the professional beauty industry in action. And, for the first time, many of us met our counterparts at our new sister publications, NAILS Magazine and VietSalon, while we shared a booth at the show, along with exchanging ideas and sources.

As we look forward to the months ahead in growing the culture within our new media family, I hope you will embrace the ideas, tips and strategies within this issue to strengthen your salon culture.

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