Steve Gomez: Interdependent Leadership To Improve Team Culture & Profits

interdependent leadership

Steve Gomez is recognised as one of the top business systems experts in the beauty and wellness industry. With over 24 years of business coaching experience combined with a background in marketing, communication and operations, he has personally supported hundreds of salons and spa businesses throughout his career. In his 2019 #salonsummit workshop, Steve tried to distil all his years of expertise on interdependent leadership down to 30 minutes – no easy feat! Here’s what we learned.

A Bit Of Background

Steve got his start in the beauty industry through working in the family business – from sweeping floors as a kid right up to taking the reins of the salon as a young adult. As many salon owners will relate to, creativity and service were Steve’s strong points, but the financials were somewhat of a foreign beast to him. His salon was busy, cash was coming in, but without the right processes in place to record receipts and taxes, the IRS (aka ‘the tax man’) swooped in and levied Steven with an $80,000 tax debt that put him out of business.

Learning the hard way from his mistakes, Steven picked himself up and started again. He rebuilt his business from scratch and within a short time sold it for profit. He went on to write books on his learnings from these lows and highs, and now specialises in helping salons increase sales, implement systems to enhance their financial and operational functionality and strengthen the culture of the business through interdependent leadership and development.

interdependent leadership
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Your Most Valuable Commodity: Time

As a salon owner, your most valuable commodity is your time. Your time is spread out thinly across finance, marketing, sales, operations and service, which often means you deal with issues that crop up reactively instead of proactively. This leaves you feeling like you’re always chasing your tail and firefighting, instead of having the time and space to make plans and grow your business. This is a symptom of having no system in place for your time.

Stephen recommends instead that you begin by creating blocks of time in your day, instead of trying to do many different tasks at once.

  • From 9am-12pm, look after weekly tasks like pay and inventory
  • From 1pm-4pm, break up this time into blocks of time for sales & marketing, finance and operations
  • From 4pm-6pm, work the floor or spend time on education and training

Related | Time Management Is A Killer: How To Make It Work In The Salon

The Exact Formula To Get An Extra Day In Your Week

Stephen also shared the secret as to how exactly you can go about leaning on your staff, gifting them some of your client base to reclaim some time that you can invest back into them and into the business by improving processes, training and marketing. He shared the link to his genius spreadsheet, which allows you to input some data and works out exactly how many clients/client hours you need to hand off to your staff to claim back that day.

The Exact Formula To Meet Business Targets

Stephen also shared another spreadsheet that will help you to identify how much additional retail or how many rebookings you need to achieve per week to meet your business targets. Often this type of information isn’t shared with staff, only telling them they need to sell more.

Instead, Stephen is all about interdependent leadership, where ‘managing is telling; leading is asking.’ He recommends sharing the exact details in this spreadsheet with your team, so they understand where and why sales need to increase and calling a team meeting to ask them for their input as to how you are going to make that happen together.

Ask them what they’re seeing on the ground that can be causing underperformance in retail or how specific problems can be fixed. Give them the information and allow them some time to think before grouping back together to brainstorm next steps. If some of the team don’t come back with any ideas, you’ll need to figure out if it’s because they lack confidence, in which case they need some coaching from you; or if it’s because they’re refusing to help, in which case you’ll have weeded out the team member(s) having a negative impact on the culture at the salon, and you can take some disciplinary action.

Related | How Salon Meetings Can Truly Help Motivate Your Team

Creating ‘Cultural Capital’ With Interdependent Leadership

The second most important commodity you have within your salon, after your own time, is your ‘cultural capital’: your staff.

Engaged staff are better performing staff. If they feel part of the bigger picture, not just a cog in your machine, they will be more involved and willing to push with you to meet your business goals.

Listen to Saad Aslam’s interview on Phorest FM and subscribe to the weekly podcast here:

Steve Gomez’s Top Ideas To Improve Team Engagement

  • Goal Setting: Work with your team, not just to set goals for the business, but for their own lives too. If you can reach this next business milestone together, what is the next purchase they’re working towards in their personal life with the money you’ll earn together – are they saving for an outfit, a holiday, a car, a house? Work towards your goals together.
  • Plan & Review: Set aside some uninterrupted time each month with each member of staff for a one-on-one review of the previous month, and what they want to achieve for the month ahead. Steve gave some great ideas for questions to ask within these reviews; including:
    • What did they think about their performance last month – what are three things they did well and one thing they need to work on?
    • What are three things you love about working here and one thing we can work on improving?
    • How exactly should we go about improving that one thing, what action needs to be taken?
    • Show them their KPIs in the hard data – often they might feel they’re trying hard and you might feel otherwise, but if you can both take the emotion out of it and look at whether they are meeting fair and specific booking, revenue and retail sales targets you set for them, then there will be less room for bad feeling or resentment – the numbers don’t lie.
  • Huddles & Meetings: Involve all staff in wider team meetings and daily huddles and get ask for their constructive input and feedback as much as possible.
  • Education & Training Calendar: Plan out a schedule of training for each team member, covering personal, technical, business skills and professional development, to create well-rounded team members.
  • Marketing: Get all staff involved in brainstorming sessions for new marketing campaigns.
  • Promote From Within: This gives them the belief that they have a career with you, not just a job. Support them in their growth into new roles – they may not be completely ready in all aspects to make a move up, but let them know you see their potential and support them in their wins and failures as they learn their way up.

What Do You Do With All This Free Time?

So once you have a team that is ready and willing to support you and pick up the slack, how should you spend this time wisely? Take time to think about these three questions:

  • Skills: What skill should you be learning, versus what skills you have been relying upon until now?
  • Time: What should you be spending your time on, versus what you feel comfortable doing (e.g. working the floor or marketing might be your comfort zone, but to grow your business it might be more urgent for you to put better inventory or financial processes in place)?
  • Values: What should you be valuing in your new position, versus what you have been valuing?

So there you have it: go forth with interdependent leadership to empower and lean on your staff so you can focus on growing your profits! You can download Steven’s spreadsheets including his formulas to claim back a day and set business goals here! Got feedback? Drop us a line in the comments below or tweet us @ThePhorestWord! (Pssst! We’re on Instagram too!)


Featured imaged shot on location of the Salon Owners Summit 2019, in Dublin. Photo by Alan Rowlette. © 2019 Phorest Salon Software.