Developing the MIGHT and earning the RIGHT!
by Sara Altizer
Between this mother and son duo, Judith Atang and Joe Atang had a business marketing degree and twenty years of behind-the-chair experience. They felt confident in operating their salon, Innovative Looks, until they realized all of the unique challenges of the professional beauty industry.
With statistics showing that 50 percent of small businesses close within five years, they knew after their first year that they needed help. This is how Summit Salon Business Center and Summit Salon Consultant Macayla Baskerville created a customized business strategy to address the strengths and weaknesses of Innovative Looks Hair Salon, providing the road map to the success they all knew was possible.
A Strong Foundation
Joe Atang is a graduate from Houston Baptist University with a degree in business marketing. He never knew that through pursuing this route he would end up co-owning Innovative Looks Hair Salon with his mother, Judith Atang.
“My love for people, business, and marketing fuels me daily to lead the salon to optimal growth,” Joe explains. “My natural ability to lead, organize, and build meaningful relationships surprisingly led me to take on the responsibilities of running a hair salon company. I NEVER knew I would find myself in a leadership position at a hair salon, leading groups of stylists and helping them achieve their personal goals. Subconsciously, I’ve always wanted to run a business, and I realized immediately that this was a great opportunity to get my feet wet in learning about business.”
“Our salon company had been in business for about a year, and our salon business strategy was basically incorporating what was learned from the previous salon experience at Visible Changes (big salon chain in Houston), where owner Judith had worked for nineteen years before deciding to start her own salon company.”
“As a new company, there was a lot of excitement about being a part of something starting from scratch,” Joe explains. “We had the desire to be great, but there was definite uncertainty of HOW to get there. That uncertainty seemed to take over in the long run, because people seemed unsure of what direction the company was taking them. On the outside/surface level, everything seemed okay, but deep down there was a lot of confusion and unclear vision.”
The Blind Leading the Blind
“It wasn’t until I came in full-time that I realized the amount of time, energy, and stress that comes with salon ownership,” Joe says. “I had no credible experience working in the beauty industry, and I knew the business could not continue in the direction it was going. I literally felt as if I were walking in the dark, with no direction to lead. We needed help. I felt overwhelmed because there were so many questions/situations being brought up for me to handle that I really didn’t know how to deal with. My approach the majority of the time caused more confusion or resistance from the staff. It was both frustrating and challenging at the same time.”
“It was like the blind leading the blind,” Joe explains. “I was always good at working with people, in this case our service providers, but I wasn’t very knowledgeable when it came to the details of this industry. And I lacked leadership knowledge. My main challenges came with knowing how to motivate service providers, find customers to stay busy for forty hours a week, and deal with employee issues/complaints.”
Inspired by Summit Salon Systems
“Our DSC, Clinton Cunningham, called me up and said he was going to be visiting salons with a salon consultant, and that if I could block out an hour or so of my time he thought I’d get some value out of our conversation,” Joe explains. “I was skeptical that it might be a slick pitch, but I also knew that I needed some kind of help.”
“Fortunate enough for me, I had my DSC recommend and schedule a meeting with an SSBC Consultant, Macayla Baskerville,” Joe says. “Macayla gave us an hour of her time, breaking down the necessary components (that we’ve lacked) for building a successful salon business, and immediately after Macayla’s presentation, I was sold on the entire concept. Everything clicked for me and I understood the logic behind The Budget Guidelines, The Compensation Structure, The Personal Development & One-on-One coaching… etc.”
Overcoming the Fear
“I attended The Summit, and right from the get go—when the facilitators gave us the ‘WHY’ we were sitting in the room that day and what we should expect to leave with after the seminar—I knew I was in the right place. This was a defining moment,” Joe says. “Everything I was hoping I would get help on was not only promised to me in the first thirty minutes, but delivered beyond my expectations throughout the event. Specifically, I would say the whole concept around the budget guidelines and the level chart blew my mind. Consistent implementation and complete understanding of those two pieces is what I felt would take our salon company to the next level.”
“Unfortunately, it took my mother and I awhile to get on the same page with how we would implement the information we received,” Joe explains. “Simply put, fear got in the way. Fear of change. Once we realized that no matter how much it would hurt if people refused to stay with us, that it was the absolute best thing for us as a company to do; we finally jumped on board as owners and quickly began taking action.”
In the beginning of 2013 Joe and Judith decided to go all in with SSBC and officially launch the Summit Salon Systems. It definitely wasn’t easy, and they soon discovered that not everyone was in for the long haul.
“Four stylists decided to walk out, leaving us to start from scratch,” explains Joe. “But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The best way to describe the relationship with our employees now is that the focus is more depth versus width, making it more personal. It’s not just about us as owners hiring as many people as we can. It’s about building strong relationships with the people we have and helping them get where they need to go while we build. I feel like the stylists we have are starting to recognize that this is our new focus, and everyone seems more open.”
This focus and renewed sense of commitment to quality service is evident to Innovative Looks clients. Joe explains, “Based on the reviews we’ve been receiving from our guests, they seem to be extremely satisfied with the level of professionalism and service we give. People enjoy our knowledge and the consistency they receive during every visit. Our pre-booking percentage has increased and been consistent, which is a good indicator on its own.”
As the salon has gained confidence in this new sense of direction, Joe has learned a few things along the way. “My leadership skills have greatly improved through this experience. The phrase ‘earning the right’ comes to mind. I’m learning more and more that I have to earn the right for my employees to trust me. The relationships are deeper and personalized to each individual. I want all my employees to not only know but feel my genuine desire to help them succeed. And I think that’s happening the more I show up, listen, and make the path clearer for them to create.”
“While we will always be evolving as a company,” Joe explains, “I can confidently say that there’s definitely a clear purpose behind what we are doing and WHY we are doing it. There are systems being launched on a regular basis to keep everything clear and consistent. Our overall language internally and externally has improved dramatically. The leadership from everyone is getting stronger the more we as owners understand what we are doing.”
Joe acknowledges that he couldn’t have done it without the help of Macayla and SSBC. “I am extremely grateful for our consultant Macayla, and her patience,” Joe says. “She’s done (and continues to do) an awesome job of leading us to water, and we’re finally starting to take huge gulps. My passion for the Summit Salon Systems, and the admiration I have for the values inside the company have inspired me to want to become a bigger part of the movement.”
If you are interested in taking your salon to the next level through proven business strategies, Joe has some advice for you: “If you know what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working, or you have a strong desire to take your company to an elite level, then The Summit is definitely the route to consider. Taking in the information is half of the battle, having the willingness to implement it completely is the other half. It is all a win in my opinion.”
- Total Annual Sales: $295,978
- Average Retail/month: $4,468
- Average Services/month: $20,197
Two years after Summit Launch… Total Sales Growth +53%!
Innovative Looks Hair Salon’s Summit Salon Consultant is Macayla Baskerville.