Management Practices

Guardians of Culture

Stacey Soble | June 30, 2016 | 9:18 AM
At Headlines The Salon, Culture Guardians meet with their assigned team members regularly to encourage each other on their goals and work on ideas to improve the salon’s culture.

Like most salon owners, Gayle Fulbright and David Linde, who head up Headlines The Salon in Encinitas, California are always looking for new ways to grow their numbers.

While attending Serious Business 2016, they were impressed by one of the speakers, Van Council, co-owner of Van Michael Salons headquartered in Atlanta. They were particularly interested in how Council could possibly stay in close contact with his massive team at his salons, even knowing them on a personal level. Council had shared that one of his values was to create ‘Guardians of the Culture,’ and how these key team members help keep culture alive every day. With that in mind, Fulbright and Linde came home and started thinking, “How can we touch base, get to know team members better, and strengthen culture within our team of 40+ employees?”

The owners came up with charging some of their stylists with the mission of becoming Culture Ambassadors, and they hand-selected these ambassadors based on their leadership qualities, their demonstrated belief in the salon’s vision and their own strong numbers. “For each one, their task and goals were to lead and listen to the six team members that were assigned to them,” Fulbright says. “The six members were chosen based on their service-to-retail numbers, as well as their personalities, and how well they would interact with the others on their respective team.” 

 Each team was given a $200 budget to use at their discretion. They could use the money to facilitate their team meetings, as a reward in their own contests or decide to donate it to a cause, which one of the teams did by giving their $200 to a charity the salon was doing a fundraiser with for that month.

David Linde and Gayle Fulbright, owners of Headlines the Salon in Encinitas, California.

The teams meet at least once a month, outside of work, to talk about how they could contribute to improving the Headlines culture. By getting to know one another better, they were able to create ways to support their team and set goals for themselves, as well as the salon.

During monthly huddles at the salon, the owners give the employees time to break out into their culture teams to answer a specific question that is posed to them.  They get to work on it with their team and then share their findings later in the huddle. “Last month the topic was, ‘listening to our guests and coming up with better scripting for the consultation,’” Linde says. “We came away with so many new, fresh ideas that we revamped our consultation forms!”

“We already are witnessing how this is giving everyone a stronger voice and ownership of the Headlines culture,” Fulbright says. “We also see how it brings them closer together, especially the ones who may not work together on the same days. When they aren’t meeting, they use the GroupMe app to keep in close communication with each other.”

While setting and accomplishing goals for the teams is important, Fulbright and Linde are quick to add that’s not what it’s all about. “They also have a lot of fun getting together outside of the salon,” Linde adds. “The ambassadors have set up meetings at local restaurants, on beaches and in the parks, which is nice for stylists who have babies and young children.”

Last month, the owners decided to challenge the teams and set a goal for improving their retail numbers. The winning group got a day at La Costa Spa, complete with services and lunch.  “The competition for this was insane!” Fulbright says.

“In the future, we want to have the culture branch off and do some fun things like photo shoots, fund-raisers and fashion show,” Fulbright says. “The more they support our culture, the more they are aware that it’s about communicating with each other, praising each other and as Van would say ‘Be guardians of the culture!’ We are so fortunate to have such a great team of individuals that find their culture so valuable they are willing to work on it consistently.”

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