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2021 Team-Based Pay Award Winners — In Their Own Words


The Team-Based Pay Awards were created to celebrate and honor the superior performance and financial successes of salons, spas, and medspas that are currently using Strategies' Team-Based Business Model.

Here are this year’s winners in their own words from their Team-Based Pay Award Applications:

Productivity Award

Identity Atelier | Columbus, OH | @identityateliercolumbus
Owners: Megan Schmidt & Autumn Queen

"As the world was beginning to open up a little more from all of the Covid restrictions, we did all we could to ensure our clients felt we were making responsible decisions for the safety of our team and guests. With smiles behind our masks and shields, standing with a partition separating us from our team, and no more welcome or goodbye hugs, we were back in business.

Our productivity was through the roof, our phones ringing off the hook. It was almost too much to handle. From May through December 2020, our productivity was at a solid 100%. Oh, and did we forget to mention we did ALL of this while Autumn, a key service provider, was pregnant with her second child.

With Autumn’s maternity growing closer we knew the team needed help. With the productivity being dangerously high, we listened to what the business was telling us, we built a larger salon home.

We continue to watch our team grow. We hired an additional team member in 2020. But, in 2021, we added six new team members: three front desk coordinators and three new stylists.

While we are a new and growing team, we are honored to say that we have profited every month this year (actually, since the reopening after the government shutdown). And we consistently put 5% of revenue into cash reserves every month. The only debt we are dealing with at this time is from the construction of our new salon."

Profitability Award

Blush Salon | Fargo, ND | @blushfargo
Owner: Lacey Spaulding

"Along with the rest of the world, our business was shut down for six weeks in 2020. Unfortunately, I know many others were closed down much longer. For all the hardships, sadness, and overall negative impacts Covid had on the world, there had to be a silver lining.

For us, that silver lining was being sought out by some absolutely amazing new team members who either realized they wanted to make a life change or worked at a salon that didn’t reopen from Covid. For a long time, we struggled to find and hire enough of the right people, which resulted in never having enough hours available in any month to be profitable.

Since hiring and putting seven new service providers through Strategies Internal Training Program between May and December last year, we finally had more than enough hours to become more profitable than we have ever been.

In the past 18 months, not only have we paid off $200,000 worth of debt, but also have $100,000 in savings. This is a monumental swing from the days of checking my bank account every single day to make sure we would have enough to make payroll on Friday.

Our 2020 net profit was 10%, and as of today, our 2021 net profit is at 20%. Another milestone we hit this year was our first time ever hitting $1million in revenue. We had never done a million dollars in sales in any full year prior to 2021 — and this year we hit a million by mid-September!

We officially became debt-free in August this year! Woohoo!"

Staff Retention Award

LiveEdge Eco Salon | Gladstone, OR | @liveedge_ecosalon
Owner: Sydnie Bray

"In the last four years of having employees, we have hired 10 people. One person quit before the 90 days, as the program was getting too hard for them, and one person did not come back after the pandemic due to her immunocompromised child at home.

Our team LOVES LiveEdge Eco Salon. I constantly see it shine through them. All our guests feel it too. Clients frequently say, 'Everyone seems to really love working here.'

As a leader, I am completely humbled and moved by my team’s respect, admiration, and gratitude to be part of this team. "This is what I was searching for" is a term we hear frequently from new hires. Every time we have a team meeting and new hires are there, the team just raves about how amazing this place is.

THIS is why I do what I do. Growing people and creating a safe space for inclusivity and stability is what I strive for. I constantly spend time connecting with my team and being a present leader and passing that down to my leadership team.

Before I created LiveEdge, I dreaded work. Today, it is my mission that everyone loves their career with us, and I truly believe I am accomplishing that. Our team connection and friendship is the kind of connection you see in the movies — a team with a purpose you always wanted to be a part of. That is US.

The combination of friendship, purpose, empathy, and FUN has made a truly strong team for the long haul."

Customer Loyalty Award

Libelle Beech Salon | Lebanon, TN | @libellebeechsalon
Owner: Rachel Beechboard

"Where do I even start? We LOVE our clients!

We are holding at 86% repeat client retention and 50% new client retention. For us, it is all about the relationship we build with our clients. I have always said we serve our guests to our best ability with an honest heart and professional skills and the money will come. And it does!

When we were shut down, we literally had clients just send us the same amount of money that their hair would have cost them if we weren't shut down. We had clients who had moved to other states who called and bought products from us and had us ship them their products. We had, and still have, clients that when storms are coming or they drive by and something looks off at the salon, they call or text to check on us.

Almost every single client hugs us and tells us they love us. I know, not covid friendly and maybe “love us” is too much, but in our company, that's who we are. Clients also say that if we suggest a product or service, they know it would benefit them because we wouldn't sell them a product or service that wouldn't be right for them. What else can you ask for?

We have clients that drive 6-8 hours to come to get their hair done or wait till they fly in to see family and get their hair done while in town.

It’s like we never skipped a beat. We love our clients, and they love us!

Today, I’m a totally different woman and business owner. We have a profitable and thriving business. I absolutely love my beautiful team and love helping them fulfill their dreams every single day.

I will never forget that drowning feeling, but I am thankful for what it taught me. I will never go back. After all, a diamond can't return to coal, we are the toughest out there.

We/I still have growing to do, and my team reminds me daily that we are in this together, and we are."

Best Culture Shift Award

Salon Skanda | Roswell, GA | @salonskanda
Owner: Kristal Kaiser

Describe your company’s culture prior to initiating your Culture Shift.

"The culture before was very “client-focused,” very “the customer is always right.” And even though we've been team-based for a while, a lot of our teammates were still stuck in a commission mindset which was supported by a client-focused culture.

If a client wanted to stick with a specific person, we would make that happen. Everything was catered to the clients vs. the team, so burnout was much more frequent and there was a lack of connection."

Describe the challenges you overcame during the Culture Shift.

"The main challenge was having to lose teammates. When you change something as big as the workplace culture, you will most likely have people who no longer fit, and that is okay.

Every single time another teammate left, the culture and vision for Salon Skanda got stronger. It did not make it any easier, but in the long run, it was better for the company that everyone on the team is on the same page.

We also lost some clients. This can be scary, but at the end of the day we feel very strongly about creating a community where everyone feels safe and welcome, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for disrespectful behavior against other clients and/or teammates.

Improvement in business performance as a result of Culture Shift.

Again, it is crazy to look back and see how much a salon/culture can change in just a year. We have realized how precious this thing we have created and built together is.

Beyond working well together, we all enjoy spending time together. On our most recent trip, we went to the north Georgia mountains for 3 days just to get away and bond. We played games, ate lots of food, and had many dance parties. We also took personality quizzes and talked about our communication styles to see how we could improve on communicating with one another when we are at work.

I would say the biggest shift for us has been recognizing how each of us affects one another. We are more in tune with each other throughout the day; mixing up color for each other, jumping in on services when needed, keeping within time standards.

All these things show that we care and respect each other vs. just worrying about ourselves. Because of these seemingly small things business is thriving. Our productivity is rising, pre-book is higher than it’s ever been, we have virtually no re-dos, and we are having more fun than ever."

Best Turn-Around Award

OlyCurl | Olympia, WA | @olycurl
Owner: Yukiko Taylor

Describe why your company should be considered for the Award. Tell us your turn-around story.

"I love my team, albeit small; we are a fantastic group of professionals with a common goal of seeing OlyCurl grow and thrive. We know “what’s in it for us” because it has been communicated and demonstrated. Future team members will join our culture and strive for the same. We will protect our culture because we know how fragile a strong culture really can be when hit with the right artillery by someone with a chip on their shoulder or a hidden agenda.

As we enter a new era at OlyCurl, we have a strong team, strong productivity, and a strong culture moving forward, thanks to all the things I learned through Strategies. It would be such an honor to be recognized in any of the categories, as I think it is a testament to what Strategies teaches in all areas of business. We have experienced a huge culture shift, had a major turnaround, productivity is at its highest with payroll at its lowest percentage (with a lot of room to grow), our staff is top-notch, I have several stylists very interested in working here, and I feel like the possibilities for this company are endless.

Hiring has not been my best strength! I have successfully hired two amazing team members this year! One in December and one in January. We are such a jelled and cohesive team that we are killing it each month. During huddle time we read a couple of pages of a book and we started with No-Compromise Leadership first. This way the team understands the concepts of business. This laid a fantastic foundation going forward. I plan to go through that book once a year with my team.

After that, we started a book called Dealing with People You Can't Stand. This is a book about communication. We have had so many takeaways that we even talk about it later and how it affects our communication with clients, each other, and our loved ones.

I also took a look at my recruiting. I have begun to set up days at the Beauty School to develop a relationship and share my knowledge with the stylists of tomorrow. I created a kick-ass hiring ad. I created a video with Bob Ross talking about what an awesome place OlyCurl is to work! Here is that video.

I never knew how pleasurable it could be to go to work with such amazing people every day. Job satisfaction is key, and I hope to have amazing staff retention now that we have this fabulous, cohesive culture that I am so proud of."

Coaches’ Choice Award

The Curl Boutique | Westbrook, ME | @curlboutiqueme
Owner: Debbi Burns

Submitted by Strategies Coach & Director of Education … Barbara Pierce

"When Debbi started working with Strategies, she was a solo booth rental — and hated it. All she knew was she wanted a team, as well as some control over what was going on around her. Even the nasty break room was a source of irritation for her, and there was nothing she could do. She just wanted a “small team, two or three people, who work well together and can create a happy, comfortable workplace.”

Debbi ate up every system we introduced, including Huddles. Yes, she was alone, and yes, she still Huddled herself every single day, looking over her Scoreboard, celebrating wins, reading inspirational quotes, and setting her intention for the day.

One of the first things she said to me was, “I HATE numbers.” She told me that at the first TBP conference she attended where she signed on as a Strategies member, and she has been to every conference since, bringing every team member with her each time. Recently, she said, “I LOVE numbers!” I wrote that down and remind her often.

By throwing herself into Strategies systems and spreadsheets, she built a profitable, sustainable business and found her foundational team. They are currently ten team members strong … limited only by space … which she is remedying by purchasing a commercial property that will allow plenty of room for growth. And grow she will with a plan and intention.

Each year at the planning retreat, Debbi and her team fill out the yearly planning template, creating a huge increase in retail sales with just the monthly theme and product education alone.

Debbie has an uncanny knack for recognizing the “free brain” talents of her team and empowering them. To say she is inspiring is an understatement. It is rare to meet someone as compassionate, driven, and packed with potential as Debbi. It’s an honor to know her and to have the opportunity to nominate her for the Coaches Choice award."

TBP No-Compromise Leadership Business of the Year

Omagi Salon Spa | Louisville, KY | @omagisalon
Owner: Marian Sang

"We want to be considered for NCL Business of the year award because we’re relentless and keep coming back for more! Let me explain...

Omagi was born in January 2008 as a team-based pay company — without training from Strategies. I tried working with a coach that said she knew how to be a team-based salon. However, it quickly became clear that this coach lacked knowledge of what truly drives a team-based pay salon.

I thought I knew what I was doing because after all, I hired a coach for $2,000 to teach me how to run a team-based pay company. What could go wrong?

I heard about Strategies and attended my first Incubator in 2009. I didn’t realize how ill-equipped I was to run a true team-based business. I was lacking knowledge of what my numbers mean, true team-based pay benchmarks when to give a raise, a Cash-Flow Plan, and how to develop and implement systems. All I was equipped with from my previous “coach” was a pay review spreadsheet and how to convert commission into an hourly rate.

I was overwhelmed with what I didn’t know. I kept coming back and I’m glad I did because the early days were very profitable. I had mostly new people fresh out of school, so payroll was low, productivity was high, and we had a plethora of new guests. Hence the high profit margins.

Fast forward a few years … I was doing fine but profits dropped to 7%. Truly, nothing to write home about.

I decided to attend the second annual TBP Conference where I met Strategies Coach, Kim Delisa. I had waited until the end of the seminar because I didn’t think I needed coaching but something in the last session prompted me to do it.

My biggest revelation there was I was actually paying commission but in the guise of TBP. I would do my performance reviews and give raises on the dollar amount each person did in services and retail and broke it down to be paid per hour as that is how I was taught previously by the first coach I fired.

I had my own performance review spreadsheets at that time which I shared with Kim so I could prove that I could run a TBP company. After speaking with Kim, I realized how severely I was lacking in TBP acumen and needed help. I don’t remember exactly what led me to that revelation but, I do remember crying when I met with Kim, and I signed up for Strategies Coaching at that moment — and will continue because Kim helps keep me accountable.

I took a long, hard look at myself and realized I needed to work on accountability and being no compromise. By accountability, I am referring to not just keeping myself accountable, as I’m pretty good at that. My biggest weakness was keeping others accountable. I continue to work on this today, as I know it’s in the best interest of the company to keep everyone accountable and it’s getting easier.

Pre-Team-Based Pay, our retail was 11% of revenue and by September 2008 Omagi had won the Top New Aveda Salon.

Since then, Omagi has maintained 25-28% retail to total sales — and that’s with NO retail commission!

Pre-book at Omagi has gone up exponentially since taking Incubator the second time and being a coaching client. Pre-book in 2014 was at 36% compared to our current average pre-book of 80%.

The biggest leadership lesson we have learned is that no matter how no compromise we try to be — how much we continue to preach the benefits of team-based pay principles — we must remain consistent in our enforcement of our no-compromise culture around accountability. We must hold every single person accountable for living a no-compromise culture every day. Otherwise, we are creating cracks that compromise our overall success."

Congratulations again to all our winners!

Want to learn more about the Team-Based Business Model?

Register now for the 2022 Team-Based Conference, happening October 9-10 in Chicago, IL. Tickets are currently 50% off...but increasing soon!


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