Over the past year, Jennifer and I have had a lot of fun sharing our insights and experiences. We hope it has helped other small business owners along the way. We have covered topics such as: maintaining a positive environment in the workplace, employee retention, and client satisfaction. It has been a great ride, but we have come to the conclusion that our time and financial resources should be best spent elsewhere. We have some exciting new programs and events coming up and want to make sure we give them the attention needed to be successful. Sadly, this will be our last blog. However, we will continue to share news about Cristophe Salon Newport Beach happenings in the press, on social media and through our special events.
Because this is our last blog, appropriately, the topic will be knowing where and when to refocus your marketing sources.
We live in a promote-or-parish world. Without marketing, business’ risk losing ground to competitors. Small businesses have many marketing opportunities and promotional tools, and must choose which ones will give them the biggest return on their investment. There are options such as buying advertisements in local papers, ordering direct mailers for the area surrounding your business, investing in a public relations firm, etc.
At Cristophe Salon Newport Beach, we decided public relations was the best marketing route for us because we wanted to position ourselves as the most cutting edge, on-trend salon in Orange County. We hired Bolt Public Relations to help garner media interest and share the happenings in the salon. When working with Bolt PR, we consistently have different opportunities presented to us, like being regular red carpet hairstyle commentators on TV news stations, and being regularly featured in local and national beauty outlets.
As we move forward with our marketing efforts, we will continue to do publicity on the season’s trendiest hairstyles and commentary for red carpet events. Also, we are extremely excited to be putting on our second annual live hair competition called Making the Cut. This hair competition and show finds the best stylists in the local salon industry and has them compete for the grand prize and title. In the process, they are able to educate other hair stylists with tips and techniques and motivate new stylists to work hard and find their niche. Additionally, the hair show is helping position Orange County as a leading market in the beauty industry.
We hope our advice and business experience over the past year has helped our readers in some way or another. To follow future happenings at Cristophe, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cristophenb and on Twitter @cristophenb.
The mark of the first day of Autumn means the transition from summer into winter. We say ‘goodbye’ to sunlit evenings and warm beach days and ‘hello’ to cooler temperatures and the holidays! Anticipating darker evenings and rainy days made Jennifer and me think about how we keep the salon bright, cheerful and motivated. It’s easy to want to stay home when it’s raining or sleep in later with darker mornings, but as small business owners, it’s our job to keep the atmosphere in the salon light and fun. We thought this week would be fun to give our insight on how we have kept and will keep our team and clients happy and motivated throughout the fall and winter months to come.
Give small encouragements: It’s much harder to roll out of bed during dark winter mornings than it was during summer. Keep your team happy and motivated with small encouragements, whether it’s bringing bagels and coffee in or doing a monthly contest for an extra few bonus bucks. If you work in an office setting, plan a small holiday party. If you work in an industry similar to ours, hold a contest for the most products sold. It’s the little things that count with small businesses and keep your team happy.
Sit down with your team: Especially if you haven’t had one-on-ones with your team recently, this is a great time to sit down and talk about their goals and vision for the company. Let each team member bring ideas to the table and remind you of their goals with your company will put a little extra pep in their step. Reigniting the feeling of being a valued employee will do wonders to keep their motivation day in and day out, rain or shine!
Let the creativity roll!: Everyone is already buzzing about the upcoming holidays. Let your team have a little fun by decorating their office space or lighting some holiday-scented candles. Our salon is located in Fashion Island, a place that does an excellent job of decorating for the holidays. We like to play off that by adding a few decorations of our own in the salon and playing cheery holiday music. A few Christmas tunes and a room smelling of spiced cider can go a long way!
What tactics do you use to keep your team motivated and happy through the transition into winter?
We first want to send our prayers out to all of those affected by the floods in Colorado. In hearing this devastating news the last few days, Jennifer and I got thinking about crisis management. Not necessarily from national disasters (although it’s always important to have stored food and water on hand!), but a crisis that could affect our small businesses. Fortunately for Cristophe Salon Newport Beach, we haven’t had to deal with any major crisis, although we’ve always been prepared. This week, we wanted to share our advice on how to deal with business crises.
Determine who your spokesperson will be: If a crisis situation arises, you should have a designated team member in the company to be the spokesperson. If you are unavailable, it’s extremely important to have a backup ready to handle incoming calls and emails from concerned friends, family or media. If you work with a marketing or public relations team, make sure all employees know to provide their information to anyone requesting details.
Establish a chain of command: Beyond a spokesperson, determine who is responsible for making decisions during a crisis. If you’re not available, who is next in command? Make sure the chain of command knows to call the local police, 911 and/or building security and report the crisis, if necessary. You will also want to have your insurance company’s information handy for any severe damage or stolen goods. If you work with a PR team, make sure they are aware of what’s going on. At Cristophe Salon Newport Beach, we work with a public relations team and know to inform them as soon as possible with any information. This way, if media members or the public become aware of the situation, they are ready to go with appropriate prepared statements.
Put strategic policies in place: It’s important to think through potential crisis situations and put policies in place for your business so everyone is as prepared as possible. Many businesses do this and keep this ‘crisis communication plan’ on file. You can then inform your current team as well as put the policy and procedures in your new hire documents so everyone is prepared. Thinking through potential situations and creating policies will help eliminate panic if/when these situations arise and help your team deal with the situation appropriately.
Step back and assess the situation: As long as you are not in danger, take a moment to assess the situation and determine your next actions. If you have the aforementioned policies in place, follow what you previously brainstormed to deal with the situation effectively. If not, take a moment to determine whether you need to close the business for the day. Do you need to inform absent team members what happened? Do you need to let clients or customers know? If the crisis is minor, it’s probably good to inform your team but keep the alarm rate down. However, if the crisis is major or can put anyone in danger, make sure no one else puts themselves at risk.
Have you ever had a business crisis? How did you handle it?
A few weeks ago, Jennifer and I blogged about how living a healthier lifestyle correlates into being better business owners. We discussed things like a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, etc. This week, we were inspired by an article we read which had a similar theme- personal habits that allow business owners and CEO’s to be ahead of the game, successful and a great leader. We wanted to share our thoughts on these habits, discussed in the article by Marc Barros on Inc.com.
Barros touches on the importance of regular exercise and enough sleep. There is a reason these are repeated over and over again in articles on how to be your best self- they are extremely important. Exercising takes 30 minutes out of your day! Don’t let ‘I don’t have time’ be an excuse.
Take a break: Plan a weekend staycation! Your work may pile up and your email inbox might overflow, but your team needs to know how to function when you’re not there. If you need to get away, plan a mini vacation and book a hotel an hour away for the weekend with your significant other or family. Jennifer and I like to go up to Los Angeles for a weekend and just hang out without thinking about business. Everything will be fine (we promise!) when you get back and you will have a refreshed energy to bring into the workplace.
Listen: Listen to your team and really hear what they have to say. While you may be the business owner, you have hand-picked your team members and should trust their opinion. As Barros states, ‘being a great listener takes patience and commitment to being open.’ Stress levels may diminish as you realize you don’t need to come up with all the answers on your own; just listen to your team.
Prioritize people: Friend and family relationships are the most important in your life. At the end of the day, when your business is no longer there, your relationships will be the only thing left. Don’t let your relationships suffer while you’re focusing on growing your business. Take time to call or schedule a meal with your mother or father, your best friend from college, your sickly aunt or someone you used to work with. Put your phone down during meals and don’t skip your kid’s soccer games for a meeting you can reschedule. Jennifer and I always make sure our kids are a top priority and we constantly make plans with family and friends to keep a balance. It’s all about prioritization!
What are some good habits you follow as a successful business owner?
Jennifer and I recently hired five new employees to start at the same time at Cristophe Salon Newport Beach- something we don’t generally do. This time, however, we were in a position to either take the risk to hire them all and find temporary workplace solutions or we would lose the opportunity. We knew that each new hire would add to our business value and bring new perspectives & creativity to our salon. This got us thinking about how hiring quality people is one of the most difficult yet important elements to running a small business. This week, we wanted to share some advice on hiring.
Always be on the lookout for new talent. Know the skills that your business will need now and in the future. Look for signs of talent in recruits that match with the goals for your company. They should have the kind of qualities that your current super star employees possess. Be on the lookout for these people constantly, even when you don’t necessarily have current openings as you never know when a spot will open up.
Interview many candidates. Don’t just settle for the first person to come through your door when interviewing, even if the position needs to be filled ASAP. Waiting a bit longer for a good fit is better than high turnover in a business and can save you time, energy and money. Although the interview process can be tedious, you can learn something from every interview you conduct, even if you aren’t interested in the candidate.
Ask a ton of questions. Asking a wide variety of questions will let you get a sense of that individual’s character, personality, and work ethic. This will allow you to assess whether they have a positive outlook, if they will fit in with your other employees, and how they deal with challenges. There is no need to ask trick questions. Ask questions that apply to the current work environment of your company. At Cristophe Salon Newport Beach, our employees are all very friendly and enjoy working with each other. We take this seriously and like to hire new team members who will be as outgoing, nice and charismatic as our current team.
Check those references! Finding out how a potential employee worked with others and their responsibilities in their previous job is extremely valuable information to a small business owner. No two companies are the same, but having that background information on a candidate can really make a difference when it comes down to making a final decision.
Clearly explain expectations. Tell every candidate what is expected of the position you are hiring for, how their success will be measured, and which current employees they will be working or interacting with the most. You want to make this as clear as possible from the first day you meet them so there is no confusion on the first day on the job. You want to make sure that the future employee really wants the job you are offering and understands the responsibility involved.
What feedback do you have on hiring? What tips have you found to be most successful?
A few years ago, a friend of ours gave Jennifer and me a movie that sat on our shelf until a recent weekend. After watching this movie, titled “Peaceful Warrior,” the lessons I drew from the movie got me thinking about how they apply to my life. The two lessons that stuck out to me the most were: 1) One must live entirely in the present moment and 2) At no time is ‘nothing’ going on.
The movie focuses on a young college student and gymnast who dreams of winning a National Championship. However, the philosophical lessons he learns throughout his journey can apply to everyone, especially busy small business owners with families and other hobbies.
If you are anything like us, you have a million things going on at one time. Besides running the salon, Jennifer and I have four beautiful kids, live near extended family, participate in charitable events, etc. Every day is a balancing act to run the business, spend time with the kids, run every day errands and make time for ourselves. It is so easy to get caught up in the tornado of to-do lists without really stopping to live and appreciate what you have. The lesson to live in the present moment is one that is often repeated but not very often practiced.
Don’t get me wrong, planning for the future and fondly remembering things of the past are two activities that are necessary for a properly functioning business and personal life. When it comes to how you conduct yourself day-to-day, however, you have to remember to focus on what is going on at the present moment. Nothing is worse than worrying to much about future events or potential stressful situations that you forget about the small joys of each passing day.
The second lesson goes hand-in-hand with this philosophy. There is no moment where absolutely nothing is going on. If you wait for a time when nothing is going on, you will wait forever. Don’t overbook your time or stress about fitting things in your schedule, but also realize that there is no time like the present. Enjoy all the things that are happening in your crazy life!
Live in the present moment and fully savor all the opportunities that can be gleaned from that day. Whether that means taking a break from obsessing about your calendar or simply spending more time with the important people in your life, do something that will make your life more memorable and enjoyable. You won’t remember late nights at the office, but you will remember memories made with your family.
What are ways that you live in the present moment?
On this exact day last year, Jennifer and I blogged about living by choice: how we decide to approach each day, turning our obstacles into inspiration, surrounding ourselves with positive people, etc. With some recent life changes, including our diets, our children growing up and the launch of our Hair Show, among others, we wanted to take this week to look back at how we have overcome some of the obstacles we discussed last year and share our advice on how you can do the same.
Surround yourself with positive people and thinkers: Life is too short not to surround yourself with the best people. Over the last year, we have worked hard to create and build a great staff and team at Cristophe Salon Newport Beach- one that we look forward to seeing every day. We believe this is a key aspect to your business and the more time you put in to building a successful and positive team, the more successful you can be.
Keep the momentum flowing: We definitely feel we have accomplished this! With the renovations to the salon and launch of the Cristophe Salon Newport Beach Hair Show, the past year has been a nonstop learning experience. Keeping the momentum flowing for your business will only prove how strong and successful you can be. Feeling like your business is in a lull? Brainstorm ideas with your team on how you can initiate positive changes that will refresh and recharge your business.
Turn obstacles into inspiration: To quote ourselves from last year, ‘Many small business owners see obstacles as set-backs and personal affronts; however, obstacles are learning experiences to identify what you may need to adjust within your company.’ This rings very true at the salon, and we take each difficult situation or obstacle and try our best to turn it into a positive. Not allowing obstacles to get in your way will prove to be one of the best things you can teach your team and ultimately do for your business.
Say goodbye to fear: The less you listen to fear, the more chances you have to be successful! Putting on the hair show was a big fear of ours. We didn’t know whether it would be successful or if people would be interested in it. Moving past our fear and putting the show on was one of the most accomplishing feelings we’ve had. We encourage business owners to squash their fears and take a leap of faith, too!
What have you done in the past year that you are proud of? Do you live your life by choice? How has that correlated to your business? Let us know!
In the salon world, developing friendly relationships with clients is one of the most important things a stylist can do. It can lead to referrals, positive reviews, and is imperative to building a client base. However, in order to sustain positive client relationships, there must be clear professional boundaries. While not always easy to establish at first, professional boundaries are necessary for any company or business to grow and thrive.
What are professional boundaries? Professional boundaries are clearly established limits that allow for safe connections and communication between service providers and clients. For example, you can be friendly with your client without being friends. Asking about their family is fine, but joining in on the family vacation shouldn’t happen. It’s important to remember that no matter how relaxed the atmosphere, your job is to provide a service and ensure that your client leaves happy with the service. Here are a few more recommendations regarding boundaries in the workplace:
Why are boundaries important? Boundaries help you to avoid the “rescuer” role and keep you focused on your responsibility to your client. You don’t want to become burnt out by talking with your client about very personal issues, which could negatively affect the service you give them. Or worse, you provide advice that does not work for them and they harbor negative feelings toward you.
What are some risks of poor or loose boundaries? If you work in a team environment, a personal relationship with the client may cause issues and splitting. Knowing personal information about someone requires confidentiality. The client may feel abandoned or betrayed if you accidentally leak their personal information. Remember that one employee’s actions can affect the whole business.
What are some signs that boundary issues may be present in your workplace?
- Referring to the client as a friend when talking to others.
- Receiving or sending personal gifts to the client or vice versa.
- Communicating in a more relaxed, casual manner.
- Providing home phone numbers or other personal information not related to work.
- Inappropriate behavior at client social functions (e.g., don’t get drunk and pass out)
- Revealing excessive personal information.
- Offering assistance outside the normal scope of work (e.g., housesitting and carpooling)
What are some techniques to create healthy client relationships? When first meeting the client, establish some clear agreements about your role as a service provider. Make sure that they know your availability, the best way to contact you and what you can do for them professionally. Know the warning signs of boundary issues and address them with your client, while still being sensitive to their feelings. Remember not to become the client’s therapist, which is a big part of hair styling, – i.e.: listen but don’t give advice. When having a personal conversation that makes you uncomfortable, transition out of the conversation by acknowledging that this must be a difficult time and steer to a conversation you’re more comfortable discussing. The only advice a hair stylist should provide is in their expert field of beauty and hair - not family and relationships.
When stating something personal, make sure the information is related to the client’s goals. Also, if you’ve had a personal relationship with the client before becoming their service provider, use judgment when interacting with the client outside of the workplace.
While you don’t want to come off as cold, robotic or someone who is only interested in business details, you also want to maintain a professional standard for both yourself and your company. Finding the balance can do wonders for your small business’ reputation and for the relationship with your client.
How do you maintain professional boundaries with your clients?
Last week, I wrote about how living a healthier lifestyle correlates to being a better business owner. This week, I wanted to expand on a specific healthy lifestyle choice that Jennifer and I have adapted to and the differences I have seen from it. A few weeks back, I began following a raw food diet. Following this diet means I eat fresh fruit, vegetables, sprouts, seeds and nuts, grains, etc. – all foods that are in their whole, natural state. By not altering the food I consume in any way, more vitamins and immune boosting nutrients are preserved and absorbed. Additionally, I am consuming less empty calories than I would on a normal diet.
Following this diet has definitely had its challenges, for example, preparing meals is no longer as simple as grabbing something out of the freezer to heat up. However, the benefits have far outweighed the challenges for many reasons. Overall, I feel incredible, which correlates to being happier at work. Most people are intimidated by the time commitment and mental commitment it takes to follow a diet like this, but the way it makes you feel and look, are more than worth it.
The raw food diet has helped me sleep better, which makes my days much more productive and manageable. This healthier version of me gets more work done, generates more creative ideas and allows me to manage my employees much more efficiently. As the business owner, walking into work every day in a positive mood has translated to a great work environment for everyone in the salon. This helps me lead by example and create a better, energetic mood for my team in the salon. At Cristophe Salon Newport Beach, we work in an extremely social environment, and being social is part of our business. Better moods and a better environment correlates into satisfied customers who will continue to return, not just because we do fabulous hair but also because they have a good time. Taking care of yourself ultimately means taking care of your business.
Another great benefit from this diet is the weight loss and improved complexion. As a business owner in the beauty industry and someone who stares into mirrors all day, it’s a confidence booster to look and feel my best every day. Clients want to come into the salon and be inspired by what they see; inspiration is boosted when everyone is looking and feeling their best.
A healthier, happier you means a healthier business because you have the energy to productively focus on work. Have you ever tried a raw diet? What do you do to promote a healthier you and business?
When you’re a small business owner, work tends to comes first. The perseverance it takes to workout, eat well and get enough sleep may seem too difficult to fit in your daily activities. However, living a healthier lifestyle is extremely important to bringing your best self to work every day and running your business successfully. With a few small changes and a little extra effort, you can live a healthier lifestyle and see the correlation of a more successful business, happier team and overall more positive morale in the workplace.
Diet: Your diet is one of the most important things, yet can be the first thing to go when
Exercise: Exercise is the easiest lifestyle choice to cut when long work hours take over your day. However, exercise is pertinent to your health, both mental and physical, and can kick start your day better than any cup of coffee. It only takes 20 minutes a few times a week to make a big difference. You can also learn a few different tricks to utilize at the office, like taking 10 minute walking breaks, sitting on a medicine ball instead of your chair or doing a set of pushups and sit-ups during a break. Other options are to park farther away when you go to lunch, take the stairs instead of the elevator or ride your bike to work. The more consistently you add exercise into your life, the quicker it will become a lifestyle choice rather than a chore. Your employees will thank you when you come to work in a better mood!
Sleep: It is all too common to get used to 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night when you’re a business owner. Not only is tiredness and drowsiness a leading cause of car accidents, but it can affect the workplace by halting productivity. Coming into work tired day after day can also cause the office morale to be lower, warrant unwanted negativity or just make it tough to get work done. Even with kids, a dog and running a salon, we make it a priority to get a full night’s sleep so we come in to the salon with feeling good and ready to take on the day.
What good habits do you follow to live a healthier lifestyle?