2013 NAHA Salon MBA Winner Neroli Salon & Spa Shares Insights on How Culture Creates a Winning Formula

by Jessi Marshall, PBA Director of Education and Industry Programs

For the 2013 North American Hairstyling Award (NAHA) Salon Masters of Business (Salon MBA) winner, developing a strong culture that exceeds the needs of team members and guests is the unifying force behind their remarkable success. Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Neroli Salon & Spa is headed by Susan Haise. A 20 plus year veteran of the industry, Susan continually works at developing and adapting the culture she and her team have created over the years to meet the ever changing needs of the business.

“Our philosophy on culture is based on mindful interaction and being present, from the relationships we form with our guests and coworkers to the relationships we foster within the community,” said Haise.  “As individuals grow within the company, this philosophy is nurtured, bringing all team members together in awareness of the unselfishness of our craft. Our goal is to continue to create a network of support and kindness by always considering ourselves as part of a larger whole.”

In a practical sense, Neroli Salon & Spa involves their entire team in the culture evaluation and development process. Once a year, the entire company comes together (approximately 230 people) to review the business, discuss best practices and evaluate where they are and where they want to go.  In addition, this past spring everyone came together to define the three cornerstones of their culture – passion, team work and growth. These three cornerstones were the culmination of everyone’s input and are displayed in the business for everyone to see. Furthermore, Haise believes a strong culture helps create the framework of a sustainable business model.  Haise and her management team continually meet with their team members for 10-minute assessments where they can review benchmarks, career development, and how to be more effective in their role.

One of the cornerstones of the Neroli culture in particular, growth, exemplifies the role of continual education. From best business practices to the latest beauty trends, Neroli team members are not only encouraged to seek and participate in educational opportunities, the salon provides incentives for them to do it. “To ensure the continued growth of our team and our business, we keep a close eye on industry trends to stay ahead of the curve and require team members to attend two education events per year,” said Haise. “We offer an extensive list of in-house paid educational opportunities, but for those team members that decide to attend opportunities outside of these, 50% of the cost is covered by the company. In 2011 we spent $55,948 in education for our team and $56,809 in 2012.”

Even with the emphasis on culture at Neroli, there is always work to be done and room for improvement. Haise advises that to motivate others to stay active in following through with the basis of their culture at the salon and spa is by working to stay connected and communicate. Educational events and opportunities, the 10 minutes meetings and other outings are great ways to keep everyone connected.

In terms of improvement, communication is one of the key areas Haise acknowledges they can always improve on. “Communication is constantly evolving with technology. Our most recent effort to improve our internal communication is the creation of a private Facebook page where we can post educational classes, event opportunities, photos of team member’s work and fun factor items like concert tickets,” says Haise.

With the emphasis placed on building a strong culture that lends to great success, it is obvious why Neroli was honored with the 2013 NAHA Salon MBA. The NAHA Salon MBA category allows business-savvy salon owners the opportunity to showcase their hard work. The category is open to salons generating at least $300,000 in annual revenue, have at least three licensed professional staff, are involved in day-to-day operations  and have been open for at least three years. Judging is based on demographics, business strategies, marketing, financials, retail and images of the salon.

In terms of how their culture helped Neroli achieve this honor, Haise notes “The longevity of our general managers (four over 16 years) is the largest contributor as they are the ones driving our daily practice of genuine hospitality for our team and our guests. It has created an environment that people want to work in and visit for their beauty and wellness needs, which has allowed us to grow our team retention and guest loyalty.”

Haise’s best advice on culture and running a successful salon and spa is to, “Constantly have your heart or hand on the pulse of the business, the guest and your team. Be ready to shift immediately when something happens within those segments. You cannot be afraid of making the tough decisions.”

Neroli Salon & Spa has four locations throughout the greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, with a fifth opening in fall 2013. Susan Haise has owned the business for 20 years and remains active working with clients and her team members to ensure a great experience and working environment.  nerolispa.com.

About the Author

Jessi Marshall is the Director of Education and Industry Programs for the Professional Beauty Association (PBA). PBA develops and offers progressive, relevant and quality education for our members. Our live and online education and resources meet the needs of today’s busy professional and cover a range of topics. Along with our Education program, PBA provides our members with Government Advocacy, Signature Events, Charitable Outreach, Research and Business Resources. Visit probeauty.org for more information.