Ginger messaged me on Facebook, “I’ve had my first walkout.” I said well, welcome to the club! I was shocked actually but tried to make her not feel alone. Walkouts are a very lonely place. You may remember her from our story last February at https://alaynecurtiss.net/2020/02/23/no-walkouts-in-21-years/. Yes, Ginger is an AMAZING salon and spa owner. She hadn’t had a walkout in 22 years! I interviewed her last year and found out all the things she did in her business to be able to maintain that culture. Ginger has 10,000 square feet with a Spa and Salon Department. The people that walked out were all on her salon side. Oh and the hair department manager that she raved and raved about back in February was the one who started it all. But wait until you hear what Ginger did to take care of her during Covid. Sadly, it’s always the ones we are closest to, help the most, that hurt us the most.
Ginger explained, “Well Covid happened. My hair department manager, who I had just hired, didn’t qualify for unemployment money because she had previously only worked as a booth renter out of state and had only been working with me as an employee for three months before the shutdown. Since I recruited her here from out of state, I felt obligated to pay her during the shutdown rather than leave her out in the cold with no income so, I made the decision to pay her her full salary for the 8 weeks while we were shut down. Immediately after being allowed to reopen our hair department, she made the decision to return to her home state to care for her mother who was ill, and requested a paid leave of absence. While I completely understood and supported her time away from the salon to care for her ill mother, the spa side of my business, which accounts for half of my revenue, still had a mandated shut down so I could not afford to pay her for additional non-income-producing time out of the salon. Not understanding the financial burden this would have created on my company and the ability to take care of my other employees, she abruptly quit. This created a cascading trail of negativity and misinformation about me and my company with the other hairstylists and that’s when things started spiraling downward.”
Over the next few months Spa Mizan lost 10 hairstylists. Three moved out of town or had health concerns after Covid. One stylist’s house burned down and the other six left as a result of the inaccurate misinformation initiated by none other than her trusted manager/in-house educator who was the first to leave in June 2020. The next one left in November of 2020, one in May, three in June, and one in July of 2021. All as a result of the same slanderous misinformation of just one formerly trusted department head. A true indication of just how one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. This left Ginger with just 2 experienced stylists.
I asked Ginger a lot of questions about how she got started in this business. She and her husband owned and operated a successful pharmacy for many years and after selling it, Ginger, who was a nurse and later became a medical aesthetician, started her dream of opening a spa that fulfilled that same passion she had for nurturing as a nurse. After several successful years as a spa-only facility, she was approached by her personal stylist to partner up to add the hair salon to her existing spa. Not being a stylist herself, she completely relied on this stylist to run the salon side of the business since her expertise was on the spa side. Ginger invested thousands to expand and renovate the space only to have her partner back out of the deal six months after opening, leaving Ginger with both the spa and salon to manage on her own. Ginger isn’t a weak or uneducated manager by any means, she’s maybe too trusting like many of us. Besides opening and managing a successful pharmacy with her husband for many years and after entering the salon and spa industry, she has participated in the best of the best salon and spa management training from:
Aveda Business College
and multiple business-focused industry events
Ginger is determined to rebuild. I said to Ginger, “do you mind if I ask how old you are and why you keep going?” She told me she was 74, with two grown children, one an attorney, the other a doctor, and four grandchildren. Ginger loves and truly believes in education and educating her staff. She says her philosophy has always been, “give them every opportunity possible to be as good as they can be so that they can be as successful as possible”. Not only for her children but also with her other children, her staff. Many of us think of our staff as our children, don’t we? We feel responsible for their happiness and success.
I let her talk more. She went on, “it’s okay, the people who left did so without integrity, without transparency, and without living up to what they described as their core values. I have 50 core values that we talk about in our business. Ginger loves to teach and she really loves to teach business. She said, “I have the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesperson”. She shares her salon and spa numbers with her staff in monthly and annual meetings. She explains what money came in and what money went out so that people can understand the business better. She believes in and displays transparency, honesty, and integrity in all aspects of her business and expects it from her people too. I know the hard lesson of realizing when people don’t share those values.
I got to thinking that maybe this was a generational thing. Ginger is 74. I’m 57 in a few months. I asked, “Ginger, why do you want to keep doing this?” She said, “I don’t know, but I’m going to rebuild it again. It was never about the money, it was always about growing a business and educating my people, and offering them opportunities. My purpose in life has always been to share with others the things that have enriched my life so that they too can be enriched.” “I have since hired six new stylists. Four of which are right out of school and two others with advanced behind the chair experience”. Here is the part that I loved about Ginger and what she is doing to pivot and move forward to rebuild and re-educate her new staff.
She has enrolled her new staff in:
Toni & Guy Online Digital Online Education- $280 annually for unlimited use of all online videos
Vidal Sassoon Online Training – $19.00 monthly membership fee for complete access to all training videos,
Vivian Mackinder – $297 annual fee for complete access to all training videos
Mary Brunetti – $197 annual fee for her online training videos.
She has also brought in-house trainers through Neill Corporation, “our Aveda distributor, who is also offering continuing education to our new Aveda Institute graduates.” (All much more affordable during a business cash flow crisis than hiring another full-time manager or educator, right? I love this idea.)
The staff also receives homework and weekly check-ins. She is also going to employ the help of Stephanie Fox from Talentmatch.com to attract new staff. We will learn more about Stephanie in my next blog post. I took the opportunity to interview Stephanie after Ginger told me about her business. Stephanie is super passionate and hyper-focused on helping salons hire and attract “the right staff,” not just any staff, for your culture.
As I welcomed Ginger into our club and talked more, I couldn’t help but continue to think that there is a “Great Divide.” Is it those of us who are a little older, a little wiser, a little more educated who are not connecting with the younger generations entering our businesses? They don’t trust us and they don’t see us as mentors or resources, but why? Ginger said, “The world has changed. When I looked at my team, I realized that many of them were from broken homes, and had parents who they were now parenting. They don’t trust authority, they don’t trust adults. I couldn’t make them happy.” Ginger continued, “the state boards need to take the lead, they need to teach these kids business, (Ginger clearly loves business,) they need to have short-term goals and long-term goals. We need to review these goals on a monthly basis and it’s not just the goals. I like to make them part of the family with monthly staff meetings. It’s a cultural problem.” Ginger then said something that I’ve often said myself, “just a thank you would be nice every once in a while”. Many of us owners don’t really want anything. Ginger said she would have been happy with just a thank you for holding everything together while being shut down during Covid and paying people out of her own pocket. Just a thank you! Instead, she got a walkout.
Here’s something truly interesting, according to Ginger, through it all, her last four months of business have been her most profitable in the past four years. I have to add to that, this past year of business has been my most profitable! It has completely helped me realize that I can rebuild and rebound, quite well, even stronger, in fact! Oh and get this, Spa Mizan was recently voted and awarded BEST Spa in Lafayette, Louisiana!
I said, “Ginger, where did they go and what are they saying? She said well one of the staff who stayed said she overheard one of them saying. “I hope this place sinks and another one was overheard saying, this place will never make it without me”. Now here is Ginger, a 74-year-old woman whose family opened and ran a pharmacy, a woman who raised two sons to become a doctor and an attorney, a woman whose dream was to open a spa, a woman who just wants to help people to be successful, to teach people, to help grow them to their fullest potential, and who has been doing just that successfully for the past 23 years!! And you want to see her business sink? Seriously? My money is on Ginger for sure!!