10 Big Ideas for Salon Success from Serious Business 2017

Source: Serious Business Facebook
Source: Serious Business Facebook

The theme of Serious Business 2017 was “Will You?” Mainstage speakers and break-out presenters explored the topic of “will” in many forms: the will to succeed, how will changes over time, the will to practice, and how passion affects will, to name a few.

“Why do some thrive and others struggle?” Debra Neill asked a Serious Business audience full of salon owners and stylists. “We all have the same information—it’s all about will and execution.”

She added, “Will is the ability to do what you need to do, no matter how you feel. We hope this event lights a fire under your butt!”

These 10 speakers did just that with their presentations. Read on for big ideas and salon solutions you can implement in your own business.

1. Where There’s Will, There’s a Way

The “Will You?” theme was explored on a panel of power owners including David Wagner of Juut Salons; Eveline Charles of Eveline Charles Salons and Spas; Debra Penzone, of The Charles Penzone Salons; and Van Council of Van Michael Salons, and was moderated by Scott Buchanan of Scott J. Aveda Salons.

One of the most compelling questions the owners discussed was how their will changed as their careers evolved. Here’s how the four answered:

Wagner: “I used to be more tolerant of staff issues. Now, I’m not willing to put up with people who have quit working, but stayed in the salon. If I think about you for more than two weekends in a row, you’re gone.”

Charles: “I continue to reinvent my business ever year. You get to the $1 million mark and all hell breaks loose. Then you get to the next milestone. That’s why you must be ahead of the curve, and always be reinventing.”

Penzone: “We are at a trying time right now, but remain committed to the industry. When you own a salon, you have to take yourself out and look at team members, their families, and the community. It changes the dynamics—we feel the weight of our students and professionals.”

Council: “When you quit being willing, you better get out. Things are never going to be perfect, but you have to be willing to keep trying for perfect.”

2. Tap Into Your Passion

“Go massive or go passive,” 15-year-old Caleb Maddix told the Serious Business audience.

This remarkable young entrepreneur has been reading self-help books since age seven and has a mission in life to take action and lift up others. He was discovered through Periscope videos he created to provide value to other kids who want to become successful, and now, he helps them get their books published.

I am just a 15 year old kid with a goal to impact millions of people and I am trying to make millions of dollars in the process. Thanks for following me. I appreciate your attention!

Posted by Caleb Maddix on Saturday, December 24, 2016

Maddix attributes his success to five beliefs. He feels anyone can adopt these to boost their own personal success:

  • “I am anti-gonna.” Instead of saying he is going to or “gonna” do something, Maddix just does it.
  • “I refuse to be average.” In a world of kids who do anything to fit in and blend in with the crowd, Maddix embraces his uniqueness, seeks mentors and friends who he can learn from, and always aspires to be the best.
  • “I became obsessed.” Once Maddix knew he wanted to be a salesperson, he pursued it with laser focus, practicing his trade whenever possible.
  • “Provide value.” Through videos, emails, seminars and texts, Maddix is always coming up with new content for his audience.
  • “I gave my face off.” Maddix has a philanthropic streak that runs deep. His dad brought him up to give back, and it’s a way of life now. He has been on 53 mission trips and says anytime he gives back, he is always inspired in return. “When nothing is going good for you, do something good for someone else,” he says.

3. Maximize Productivity

Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author of “Smarter, Faster, Better” and “The Power of Habit,” is fascinated by productivity.

Duhigg has researched why the most productive people are so accomplished and found they turn thinking into habit. They envision their day in detail, and as a result, they know how to react.

“Executives who are successful verbalize what’s in their heads,” he says.

This consistent communication gives them the ability to motivate employees.

“You can’t just lecture employees,” he says. “You have to give them control and teach them to feel motivated, focused and in charge of their own lives.”

Read more about Duhigg’s research in “The Power of Habit.”

4. Find Purpose in Your Practice

Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State University, says it’s not just practice that makes perfect—you have to do better than that.

To improve your performance, work with a person who can help you achieve change.

“Find a teacher and start deliberate practice,” Ericsson says. “There should be training tasks designed for individual students with goals attainable in weeks.

“If you work with a good teacher, you will avoid bad habits. Good fundamentals help you go farther.”

He also says when training, stretching outside your comfort zone is key.

“But over time, people who are experts can be surpassed by younger, less experienced students,” he says. “Plateaus can be overcome by different training.”

5. Create a Culture that Attracts Top Talent

When he moved his company to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Vishen Lakhiani knew he had to make Mindvalley an irresistible place to work.

“My vision was to build the world’s greatest workplace with people from all over the world applying,” the Mindvalley founder and CEO says.

And that’s just what he did, starting with the hiring process.

“We seek the underlying emotions of why people take jobs—growth, happiness, meaning, abundance. Then we find the right fit.”

And as any savvy salon owner knows, attitude beats skill every time. To get a good read on his candidate’s attitude, Lakhiani requires a video cover letter.

Once an employee is hired, Lakhiani focuses on their happiness.

The SketchNotes for each presenter has been uploaded to the Serious Business app. I'm always amazed at what a great job...

Posted by SERIOUS BUSINESS on Thursday, January 19, 2017

“Optimistic people outsell others,” he says. “People crave happiness at work and social support consistently correlates with happiness.”

Mindvalley promotes friendship, camaraderie and a vibrant social scene at work with team retreats, celebrations of different cultures every two weeks, “love week” during Valentine’s Day, and team meetings featuring the “awesomeness report.”

Lakhiani acknowledges some of these things can be disruptive to work, but it doesn’t matter because, “friendships boost productivity year-round.”

Frequent gestures of appreciation are also a major part of Mindvalley’s culture. Lakhiani likes to give books to his employees based on their interests, and celebrates their victories big and small.

“I send a summary every week and also share positive customer letters we receive,” he says.

“We practice ‘bliss-ipline,’ which ensures every day that people are experiencing bliss.”

6. Heal Your Body, Heal Your Mind

Kimberly Snyder, author and nutritionist, recently co-wrote “Radical Beauty” with Deepak Chopra. Snyder discussed the six pillars of healthy living:

  • Internal nourishment
  • External nourishment
  • Peak beauty sleep
  • Primal beauty (connecting to nature)
  • Movement
  • Spiritual beauty

Eating our way to expanding and growing our business in 2017? It’s usually not our first thought, but this year is all...

Posted by SERIOUS BUSINESS on Sunday, January 15, 2017

When all pillars work together, your energy, mood and physical health are all improved.

Snyder also shared tips, recipes and her own experiences with a holistic approach to health. To learn more, visit

7. Market via Social Media for Targeted Results

At the PowerUp conference held during Serious Business, keynote speaker Gerard Scarpaci, founder of Hairbrained, encouraged salon owners to take advantage of everything social media has to offer.

Facebook Live videos and boosted posts are powerful marketing tools that take little effort for a targeted reach into a specific market.

“If you have a Facebook account, a mobile phone and a little charisma, you can reach huge amounts of people.”

“And you don’t need fancy equipment. A simple light coming from behind the camera and a clean wall behind the client is enough,” he says.

Boosting a video or Facebook post is simple. With a click of a button, you can boost it to an audience in your area, or even within a 50-mile radius of your salon, if you want. You can also put in keywords to capture the audience you want. For example: “hair color,” “Aveda” or “Sephora,” if you’re trying to capture the same audience as another brand.

Elevate Hair New Orleans photo @marieclairebozant

Posted by Hairbrained on Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Then you can invest a minimal amount (around $100) to captivate your market.

“We used to pay thousands for postcards and a mailing list,” Scarpaci says. “And they didn’t give a very good return on investment. Now, I can I put down $100 and reach people in my vicinity who are INTERESTED.”

Not sure how to get started? Facebook offers a how-to here: Click here to read more tips from Scarpaci on social media.

8. How to Minimize Turnover and Retain Staff

Heath Smith, co-owner of Ruiz Salons in Austin, Texas, is no stranger to the hiring process. But that doesn’t mean he wants to spend all his time hiring.

“There’s a high cost of turnover associated with hiring people,” he says. “And some of it is intangible, like your lost training investment, loss of productivity, or increased re-dos when a junior employee takes over for a seasoned stylist.”

Frustrated with the high amount of turnover he was experiencing, Smith polled stylists, researched turnover rates and created a plan to compete in a world of instant gratification.

One of the biggest challenges we have in this industry is staff retention. Today in Heath Smith's breakout we learned...

Posted by SERIOUS BUSINESS on Sunday, January 15, 2017

He created five engagement activities that have helped him retain:

  • Speed up hiring: Smith has gone from an average of having a resume in his inbox for 14 days to five. “If you can reach out the same day you receive a resume, do it,” he advises.
  • Speed up promotions: This is more about perception, Smith says. “It’s all about how you present it. We used to reward stylists every 12-15 months, but they were starving for attention.” Now, stylists get a certificate of completion after eight weeks, then another, and another. Smith found rewarding along the way kept them engaged.
  • Speed up training: “Nobody is going to sit around for a two-year internship,” Smith says. “We found key parts of training we can double up on in our classes each week.” The goal is to look for opportunities to shrink the timing (adding trainers, classes, etc.).
  • Connect with “stay” interviews: At least once a year, Smith advises sitting down with each stylist and asking if the salon is meeting their expectations. “Ask what they would change if they could, what the next steps in their careers are, how they feel things are going—you will retain 20 percent more employees by doing just this.”
  • Focus on the future: Find ways to keep your employees engaged during their journey. “Show them the career path at your salon and build in milestone moments,” Smith says.

9. Tweak Your Work Week

At K. Charles & Co. Salons in San Antonio, Texas, the typical workweek is no more than 32-36 hours.

CEO Kathy Thalman wanted her staff to have work-life balance, so she set some guidelines to make it happen, while still allowing her business to thrive.

Here’s how she did it:

  • The salon is open five days per week (Tuesday through Saturday).
  • Stylists work no more than four days per week and no more than 32-36 hours. Senior/master stylists work four days.
  • Every fifth week, stylists get a long weekend (Saturday through Tuesday)
  • Stylists are allowed to trade days if necessary and they get their birthdays off


This equates to 175 days of work life and 190 days of home life. In this equation, many of Thalman’s stylists bring home a six-figure salary.

“Implementing a training program and creating a rotation equals a lot of happy people,” she says.

10. Educate Your Educator: A Blueprint

Running a training program to get new stylists technically ready to hit your salon floor is a full-time job. Soon after opening Gila Rut, owner Keri Davis-Duffy realized she couldn’t do it all and her training program needed to be delegated to someone else.

“I promoted stylists to trainers and sent them off to programs so they could learn how to do it,” she says. “I spent a lot of money educating educators over the years.”

And while Gila Rut’s training program was effective, there was room for improvement. The technical aspect was sound, but there weren’t enough guidelines for the educators, which created a lack of consistency.

Davis-Duffy decided it was time to create a plan not just for her new stylists, but also for her educators.

Source: Gila Rut
Source: Gila Rut

Train U was born, and now every new educator receives binders with everything they need to know to successfully teach the Gila Rut way. From class preparation to teaching methods to specific lesson plans—everything is covered.

Educators are now consistent across the board, delivering the curriculum in an efficient, effective manner.

Want to train YOUR stylists to become amazing educators? Train U is available to purchase at Everything Gila Rut uses to run a successful education program is part of the package.


Need to Attract More Guests? Hire a great team? Opening a Salon?

Want to Get
There Faster?

We Can Help. Wherever you are, we will help you get to where you want to go—faster.

Everything we do, we do to help you grow, and our Salon/Spa Development Partners will help guide and support you every step of the way. Our promise is to make sure you have the best support and service in our industry.

This site was created to answer challenges and share inspiration. You’ll find the stories of some of the most successful salons and spa in the world—their struggles, their breakthroughs, their successes. We hope their stories help you in your own business.

Welcome to


    Neill Corp

    for TX, OK, AR, LA, MS, TN, & AL
    303 South Pine Street
    Hammond, LA 70403
    (800) 333-0100

    Facebook Instagram
    The Salon People

    for Florida
    100 2nd Ave S, Suite 1202-S
    St. Petersburg, FL 33701
    (888) 283-3235

    Facebook Instagram

    for remaining US
    4000 Pheasant Ridge Drive
    Minneapolis, MN 55449

    (877) 622-5917

    Facebook Instagram