September 2009

Empowerment Through Coaching

An Example of One Coaching Program That Provides Accountability, Encouragement and Support

By Jenny Hogan

“We move people through a vision that we are passionate about.” That is what Debra Hanson states with emphasis. She is a coach with Inspiring Champions, a business training and coaching company working in the professional salon and spa industry.

“We empower and support salons and spas, one business at a time,” She continues to explain the coaching mission. Hanson regularly coaches salon and spa owners and helps them identify particular challenges to successfully grow their businesses. As a former salon owner and service provider, she worked in the industry for 28 years, before becoming a certified business coach while partnering with Inspiring Champions.

“It is common for our clients to be service providers who have become owners,” she relays. “They may not have had a lot of education or experience in business training. There are many common challenges we consistently see, including the need to analyze compensation structures, to review their team members, to retool their salon and spa systems and to become successful leaders for their teams.”

Business acumen accounts for 85 percent of the success a salon or spa will achieve, while technical ability will only account for 15 percent. Often owners who are also technicians will have a creative, artistic mindset and many will benefit from the business advice that a series of coaching sessions will provide.

Coaching for individuals with Inspiring Champions is customized for each owner, yet there is a basic method for the program. Telephone calls are scheduled twice a month and last one hour. In the time between coaching phone calls, there are action plans and success activities to be completed. Typically a coaching series will last a minimum of nine months, yet clients will at times stay on for longer, looking at their coach as a true partner.

“We really become a sounding board, helping clients brainstorm and an accountability partner, working through challenges as well as wins,” Hanson explained. “We listen to what’s said as well as what isn’t being said.” A typical coaching series will begin with some financial basics. “We first identify the cash flow of the business and look at their financials,” Hanson noted. “We look for the strengths and weaknesses in their numbers. We create a custom plan for each owner depending on where they are; it will be different for each individual.”

Many times, owners are not aware of their financial standing or how their business is actually doing. With a coach’s help, owners identify challenges as well as growth areas and then work to create a plan. Cash flow is always analyzed first, as well as the compensation plan. “We look at building a performance-based compensation plan,” reiterated Hanson.

“It may or may not be a salaried plan, but we analyze each individual operation and set them up with a plan that works for them.” Coaches look at whether an owner needs to recruit new team members, or restructure existing ones. Owners are often surprised to learn which employees are costing them money and which are creating business.

“We look at whether the salon and spa technicians are recruiting clients, holding retention, or actively retailing. Does the technician have the capacity to grow behind the chair as a service provider?” The front desk is also reviewed; this part of a business can be a large turnover area, so those personnel are actively made a part of the team to add to the growth.

Often this type of individual coaching will include some confidence building for owners who are feeling overwhelmed. “We help our clients to create a work and life balance for themselves,” Hanson went on. “They are wearing many hats, that of an owner, manager and often still a service provider. We help empower them and support them so they can better manage themselves.”

Hanson relays she often finds that owners make decisions based on emotion rather than facts. They may have employees who are also friends and need to consider the long term health and growth of their business first. “We help owners become good decision makers. We help them become effective, put systems in place to grow their business, become good leaders and take on the ownership of their operation, rather than looking to their team for this.” It’s important to put a plan in place to make sure that the owner can take home a paycheck each month.

Finally, one of the most valuable benefits of coaching is accountability. Participants are held responsible for their actions and are expected to work toward their designated goals. Tracking sheets with financial reports are regularly updated and action plans are thoroughly reviewed. There is feedback and discussion of the challenges faced since the last call, as well as victories celebrated. “We support and empower others to walk through the challenging areas that they couldn’t walk through on their own,” concluded Hanson. “We take people through baby steps to move forward. We have a commitment to the industry and we have a passion for uplifting our clients and allowing them to see what is truly possible.”

Inspiring Champions is a business and coaching company offering live training camps, coaching and mentoring services, webinars, audio tapes and educational resources. For more information call 800-496-9305 or visit

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