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Keeping it in the Family – How Gould’s Handled the Growth of Suites

The gulf between the commission-based model and booth rental is wide, deep and difficult to bridge, but over the past two years we have engineered a hybrid at our Germantown Collection location that does exactly that. It goes beyond rental, yet sits alongside our commission model without cannibalizing that side of the business.

Like many salon groups, we were coming under increasing pressure to give our longstanding, experienced cosmetologists a way to move forward in their careers. Some we risked losing to other businesses that offered booth rental. Others were flirting with opening their own salons. Either way, they represented a loss to us and increased competition.

But Gould’s has a legacy that we need to guard assiduously. Elvis’s favorite salon group and still frequented by Priscilla when she’s in town, Gould’s Day Spa and Salons is upscale with a heritage dating back to 1932. Booth rental was a risk. But we needed to accommodate demands for greater autonomy. So when we opened Germantown, my brother David and I included 12 ‘suites’. These are individual rooms – mini salons within the salon – each around 12-14 feet with its own backwash, very stylishly decorated with heavy glass doors and a contemporary feel. Everything about them oozes they quality that is synonymous with Gould’s.

They are private and discreet, yet the clientele must walk through our salon, witnessing the buzz of the rest of the business and our large, tempting retail section. We’ve been 100% full since opening, with almost every room taken by former employees. Experienced and motivated, they have a connection and loyalty to the Gould’s name. They are also well trained and as part of their lease they continue to have access our training. It’s not mandatory, but almost every one of them attends our regular in-salon training sessions every time.

There are no plans to extend this model as yet across the other Gould’s spas and salons. I want to bed this down first. Our newest location, in Cordova, has no suites. I like the commission-based approach, but I’m watching carefully to see how the suites function, to see if this hybrid can bridge that gap and keep our employees part of the Gould’s family.

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