August 2013

Clive Lamb

Food for Thought | by Clive Lamb


Achieving a Win-Win Situation

About 20 years ago, a young woman came to work for me from a salon where she was charging $25 for a haircut. We put her through our training program and upon graduation she began charging $45 per haircut.

Two months later she came to me and said, "You are screwing me. My last salon paid me 55 percent and you are only paying me 50 percent."

I replied, "Slow down and think about what you just said. Which is greater – 55 percent of 25 or 50 percent of 45?" She then blurted out "Now you're just trying to confuse me!"

I followed with, "There's the door, don't let it hit you on the way out." And with that, she was gone.

This incident stuck with me for a very long time. I couldn't believe the ignorance and attitude, but unfortunately, that seemed to be the norm. An overwhelming number of hairdressers have the same mentality -- "Why should I give the owner such a big percentage of everything I bring in?"

Since that day, I have focused on how I could educate my staff so they didn't adopt that mentality. I wanted them to truly understand what we as a company can offer and how it is an opportunity for both sides (the stylist and the company) to grow. My goal was to create a WIN-WIN situation where the business AND the staff could thrive and achieve success.

I feel like the culture in my salon now exemplifies this. It's taken me 20 years to get here -- but it was completely worth it. I am a very lucky man to have a team that knows how much they are valued, a team that's excited and motivated to be part of a growing, thriving salon where they can achieve their professional goals.

My team members make a great living, so much that percentages aren't even an issue. It's more about mutual respect. We have a culture where the company comes first. If our company does well, we ALL benefit from it.

How did I get to this point? First off, my compensation and benefits program compares to those of other professional industries. We pay salary, retail commission and full benefits (health, dental, 401K, long term disability, vacation and sick pay).

My staff sees the value in this as well as the advanced education and support they get working at my salon. In return, I see the value in them! In my view, they are the most valued people in the salon. They come before the customers on my list of priorities. We could have a line of customers around the block trying to get in, but without a well-trained staff, the company is nothing. My employees come first, and they know it!

The culture we've created is not one measured by percentages; instead it is one of mutual respect. Individual talent is not what drives our prices, continual advanced training and impeccable customer service does. Simply put, our culture thrives due to the mutual respect we have for each other and our commitment to putting our team and our company first.

During one of our recent staff meetings, a team member shared that when he first came to work for us, he observed that a few people were afraid of the boss (me). After a while, he realized that these were the people that were always trying to get away with something . . . coming in late, trying to leave early, calling in sick, etc.

Then it hit him that the people who did a great job felt very differently about me. There wasn't a fear, just mutual respect, understanding and constant communication. His final observation was that if you wanted to do a good job and be part of the TEAM, you could thrive in this environment. (Go figure!) And by the way, those people who were "trying to get away with something" are long gone.

So, what really makes us click?

Accountability, responsibility, work ethic and communication would be at the top of the list.

This goes for everybody -- from me to the hairdressers, trainees, receptionists and even the cleaning crew. It's all about balance and understanding. Managing is not just the goals, but also the expectations; Accepting that each individual is different and thereby motivated differently. Clear and constant communication leads to greater tolerance and understanding -- and a strong team culture.

Food for Thought...

Salon owners: What opportunity are you really offering your team?

And Team: Are you really helping your company thrive?

Clive Lamb owns and operates Clive and Co., a modern, thriving salon based in Dallas, Texas. In addition, Clive was appointed Chairman of the Texas Cosmetology Advisory Board in 2006, a position he held for five years. Clive has over 30 years of international exposure to the vast and constantly evolving hairdressing industry. Connect with Clive at