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Where do you get your BIG IDEAS?

In the final hours of this year’s conference in Bonita Springs, a new concept was launched. Delegates streamed into the auditorium to be bombarded by BIG IDEAS – innovative concepts that had worked and had measurable impact for other members. It was like speed-dating but rather than cozying up on a dinner date, delegates got to cherry-pick ideas and find out how they could be applied to their business model.

It began with quick-fire three-minute presentations where ten ISBN members detailed their BIG IDEA – the single most effective innovation introduced in their company in the previous 18 months. Some were major initiatives, but others were small, simple ideas that had a positive and long-lasting impact – all were inspirational in design.

This was then followed by two 30-minute round table sessions where members could choose which presenter to team with and then grill them for further detail. A film of the presentations is available to members on the ISBN Vimeo Channel, along with other archived presentations from the conference speakers, however it was at the round tables that the real sharing and brainstorming happened. Only those at conference got to hear the detail, but we can run through the ideas for you.

A number of the presenters had attempted to crack the intractable problem every salon in the country is facing – finding and keeping talent. So several of the ideas were focused on recruitment and retention.

Newly elected president Scott Missad kicked off the three-minute presentations, detailing how his company, Gene Juarez Salons and Spas in Seattle, had begun tracking employee performance, publicly recognizing and rewarding those who had their best quarter ever in a bid to drive loyalty and staff retention.

V’s Barbershops, a franchise organization, explained who it is rewarding their barbers regularly with small gifts direct from corporate to show they are valued. COO Emily Brown calls it swag, explaining how she sources and sends out treats such as branded hats or compressions socks – little items liked by barbers.

JCPenny’s vice-president of salon, Rachel Jud, introduced the brand’s ibelong campaign, run in partnership with Modern Salon and on JCPenny’s various channels, featuring stories about their service-providers. The aim was to drive a sense of belonging and value.

Ulta, where Nick Stenson is vice-president, is building various levels of creative teams that will educate, excite and inspire their people. While the Ulta Pro-Team is a collection of big names across the industry, the following three tiers of Design, Education and Business Leader team are aspirational; everyone at Ulta salons can audition for spots on them.

Rhoda Olsen, vice-chair of the board at Great Clips, revealed a new strategy in recruiting designed to drive up retention. Managers must now approach the appointment of every new staff member with the attitude that they are not allowed to fire them. The idea is to make people more considered when hiring people.

Key is valuing people so they want to stay. Ratners is doing this by partnering with Beauty Changes Lives, an organization aimed at showing the importance of the industry in persuading people to consider it as a rewarding career. Phil Horvath, president of Ratners, has been an advocate of BCL for a long time, and he showed members how celebrating his people not only helped attract potential new recruits but also made his team feel valued.

But not all the presenters were grappling with recruitment and retention issues. Debbie Penzone, CEO of PENZONE Salon and Spas, described the recent rebranding of the company to make it attractive to a younger audience and ensure it did not age with its clientele. This meant more than just a logo change, but involved a fundamental shift in attitudes within the group, backed up by a redesign of their salons.

Graham Walt of Design 1, talked about how stagnating ticket sales combined with longer and more elaborate services had led to the Michigan group introducing competition into the staffroom. It began by reviewing and revamping consultation procedure bolstered with re-education program. But they then introduced display boards in the staffing areas listing (and rewarding) each month those who did the best in three separate metrics: rebooking, average ticket and product sold per service. Average ticket and retail are up around a respectably 7 percent while rebooking is up 15 percent.

Two presenters focused on how they had altered the way they work to drive efficiencies. Michael Portman, co-owner of Birds Barbershops in Texas, demonstrated Facebook Workplace and how this program had opened up communications between Birds’ 10 barbershops. Using the example of a leak at one salon, Michael was able to show how comms had been streamlined and improved. Edward Logan, COO of Sports Clips, shared a change of approach introduced within the barber group. Rather than juggle a million things at once, he has spearheaded a new culture where focus and alignment are valued and promoted. It’s all about the discipline of directing attention on one area until the achievable goals can be met and only then moving on.

The impact has been positive for Sports Clips, as have all the BIG IDEAS on each of the companies that conceived them. The 30-minutes round-table discussions that followed the session gave delegates an opportunity to meet with the presenters and to consider how their ideas could be transferred to other business models. Some fascinating conversations revealed interesting similarities and differences between the companies. The plan is to run a similar session at ISBN 2020, which takes place on Coronado Island, off San Diego,CA on May 3-5, 2020.

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