March 2010

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Diamonds in the Rough

Remember in the beginning of your adulthood when you felt like the world was your oyster? Every day was filled with the possibility that you were moving toward what you were meant to be.

We looked to our teachers, saying to ourselves, “someday, that is what I would like to be.” Some of them were formal educators and others were people we met along the way whom we admired and strived to be like.

As we get older and more successful it is easy to forget those people who really changed our lives and helped us see there was more to us than we knew ourselves to be at that moment of our lives and managed to see a bigger picture assisting us to harness our potential.

It is easy to overlook our everyday contributions to our team. Sometimes in our culture where celebrity and being famous – just for the sake of being famous – is exalted, we often forget what it is that makes our lives important.

One way to last the test of time and create a legacy is to see the mark we leave on others and what we teach them through our interactions and the time we spend devoted to the success of others.

So how do you relate this to your salon? You can start by inspiring others by what you teach them. This can take many forms.

Volunteering your time at your local beauty school to teach a class in a specific area of expertise is one way of being a mentor. You may not realize this but you are living those students dream by making a living as a working talented stylist whether you are a salon owner, independent contractor or a technician.

Sometimes we forget what it was like to be in the school bubble, training for hundreds of hours on mannequin heads and forgetting there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can show someone a specialty outside of the standard curriculum being taught for the state board exam. You never know; they may not be exposed to that specialty for many years, if ever.

Creating a detailed training program in your salon is one of the best ways to increase your productivity while growing someone’s talent. An active training program can allow you to see dozens of more clients a week and not cost you a lot.

Imagine if on your busiest days, you could have someone shampoo and blow dry your clients. They can also help you with all the items that take you away from your higher priced services like making reminder calls, checking out clients and booking appointments. Let’s look at a scenario; if your assistant saves you an hour and a half a day and your haircut price is $50, you can do two more haircuts in that hour and a half. This means the assistant helped you produce an extra $100 dollars that day. If that happens three times a week during peak hours that is $300 more in a week, multiply that by 52 weeks and you are seeing a growth of $15,600. As their skill develops under your watchful eye that number will continue to grow.

You may also want to help a stylist build their clientele while helping them grow their business skills. Many salon owners are caught in the conundrum of wanting to hire someone with a clientele, and will spend months to find this person.

If you do hire someone based on the fact they can bring clients immediately through your door, just remember those clients are the faithful core from another salon. They are clientele that another salon owner helped build and those clients have proven to be faithful to the stylist, not the salon.

When the day comes when this stylist leaves you, they will take a high percentage of those clients with them (remember, they are loyal to that stylist, not loyal to your salon). Instead, when you help build a stylist you will retain a much higher percentage of clients who also became attached to the salon.

Always be on the lookout for potential. When you open up your world to the potential of others there will be many more opportunities to hire really great people. While speaking with a young student, she was asked, “What would it mean for you to have a stylist or salon owner sit in your chair at the beauty school and have you perform a service on them?”

Her eyes welled up and she said, “It would mean everything to me, to be trusted to take care of them, just to give them a good shampoo and blow-dry would be confirmation that my training in school is all worth it.” Visit your schools and look for talent, be the first businessperson to make a lasting impression and you will have top choice of the talent that exists.

Each person new to this industry needs someone in their path to look a little deeper, to take a little more time with them and to offer them encouragement. After all none of us suddenly sprung from the incubator (that is beauty school), to be a top tier stylist on our first day. It took someone choosing to take a chance, teaching with high expectation, enforcing structure, and most of all giving their time and energy to someone who is just learning.

Charlene Abretske is a business advisor with Your Beauty Network and supports salons and spas with growing their businesses through on-demand back office tools designed for beauty professionals. For more information call (866)364-4926 or email