Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 92. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, Phorest FM is a weekly show that puts forth a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, salon/spa marketing tips, company insights and information on attending Phorest Academy webinars. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 92

The Space hosts regular soulful events like yoga workshops, art classes, poetry reading, movie nights and all things good for the soul. With their wealth of experience from the industry, Nadine Quinn & Carla McQuillan have been leveraging their salon culture to elevate their staff and create a positive work environment. Building a strong company culture isn’t an easy feat though. So the question is, should we be investing more time into developing a ‘salon culture’? What impacts can it have on a salon or spa?



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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast episode 92. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer. This week we’re talking about salon culture, something we often hear about, but what exactly does it mean? Should we be investing more time into developing a salon culture? What impacts does it have or can it have on a business? Stay tuned for this week’s conversation, and as always, we’ll top off the show with our latest announcements and upcoming Phorest Academy webinars.

Killian Vigna: So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and join us weekly for all your salon’s business and marketing needs. Good morning, Zoe!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, Killian!

Killian Vigna: So just before we get into this show, we’d like to get some context just how this episode came about, so as some of our clients may already know, members of Phorest, so when you become a new staff member here, we do what’s called onsite days, especially the product team, so anyone that works mostly on kinda new features and how we can upgrade Phorest and stuff, so it’s vital for us to do these onsite days, so we can learn how Phorest actually works in a salon environment rather than just kinda coming up with assumptions sittin’ here in the office. A few months back, our CEO, Ronan, and Head of Product, Paddy, spent the day working in the Space Salon, here in Dublin owned by Nadine Quinn and Carla McQuillan. Welcome to the show, guys.

Nadine Quinn: Hi!

Carla McQuillan: Hi!

Killian Vigna: So, excited to be on the show, yeah?

Nadine Quinn: Yes!

Carla McQuillan: Really excited-

Nadine Quinn: A little bit nervous.

Killian Vigna: Nervous? Why would you be nervous? The first thing I wanted to start it of was would you like to share with us how the day actually went? I know you guys were saying that you weren’t actually there on the day but you did get some feedback. How did Paddy and Ronan perform? Would you let them back in? Would you even hire them?

Zoe Belisle-Springer, Nadine Quinn, Carla McQuillan: (laughs)

Killian Vigna: (laughs)

Nadine Quinn: The way I hear it is… both Selena and Keith, Selena is our manager and Keith is our head coordinator. How I hear it is that they had to teach them all about their own system.

Killian Vigna: (laughs) And this is what we mean by having to spend a day in the salon. It’s great to build a product here in the office and come up with all these great ideas, but unless you actually see how it works in the environment, it’s just a great idea and an assumption, isn’t it?

Nadine Quinn: Yeah. I think it was really important for the guys to be there and be on the front line and getting their hands dirty, because they can really see the efficiency of the system from that perspective and see what tools they can improve on and what tools… and get ideas from people who are doing it on a daily basis. They had great fun and it was lovely to have their presence there. The Space is kind of outnumbered; we only have one male in there at the minute, so to have two men in there for the day answering our phones and greeting our clients at the desk was nice for a change. But I think Selena and Keith did school them a little bit, if I’m being honest.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I remember seeing, I think it was an Instagram post saying, “When you have to teach the CEO of your software how to use his own software.”

Killian Vigna: It was on Instagram. It was on Slack which is our work version of Whatsapp and stuff like that. Oh yeah, they got a bit of a grilling that day.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: (laughs)

Nadine Quinn: At one stage I heard Ronan say to Paddy kind of embarrassed, “I designed it, she could work it better than I did.” (laughs)

Zoe Belisle-Springer: (laughs)

Killian Vigna: They’re going to love hearing this episode.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: In fairness, though, Paddy came back to me and he was like, “Guys, Killian, Zoe, you need to get these guys on the show; they have such a great culture.” He obviously didn’t mention anything about what happened for his part of the day, but he was just like the guys are amazing; you need to start chatting to them and seeing how we can work out a podcast episode, so we’re really excited to hear about what you guys have going on. I hear you do a lot of yoga workshops, events and stuff. Am I completely wrong in saying that?

Nadine Quinn: No you’re not! What happened was when we first, initially opened the Space, both myself and Carla had been in the business industry for so long and we’ve walked in every area. We’ve been busy stylists, we’ve competed, we’ve worked from the fashion side of things, we’ve been teachers, and I suppose we got to see every angle of hairdressing. We wanted to take all the good and also anything we felt could be better from loads of different points of view, better for the staff environment, better for education to help elevate the industry, even environmentally better, the best products we could use and how ethically friendly and ecologically friendly we could be, also bring both our personalities into it.

I’ve been meditating, doing yoga, and educating myself on mindfulness and wellbeing for about ten years and Carla is super passionate about education and about, kind of, how often… correct me if I’m wrong, Carla, but there is an idea that hairdressers can be in the service industry and be blue collar and-

Carla McQuillan: Stigmatised.

Nadine Quinn: Stigmatised. So we really wanted to one, make the environment all about wellbeing so that we felt like our girls are working from a place of clarity and that they had the opportunity to drop anything overwhelming, frustrating, or anything that would take their focus off their task at hand, and, obviously, make them really empathetic, intuitive, compassionate, make them be really relatable with clients, and to be equipped. It’s such a busy paced, fast, demanding environment, to be equipped emotionally that if any challenges come up through the day that they won’t have a knee jerk reaction. They’d be more solution-focused. I think mindfulness, meditation, yoga, things like that really helps us with that.

It also means we have a message, we have a culture, and we have a belief system that we all very much embody and believe in. Not everybody who comes to the Space initially feels that way, but usually the people who are most cynical about it usually end up being the most curious. It does really jell us together and it does create an atmosphere in the Space that can’t be explained; it has to be felt, which is probably what I think Paddy was talking about when he said “You kind of have to get on to the girls.”

The other unique part about our culture is probably Carla’s side of things and the belief in the CPD initiative and highly educating our staff, and constantly updating our skills so that we can be the best of the best and we’re not caught off guard. Do you want to say more about that?

Carla McQuillan: Yeah, absolutely. For us, as well, we had nearly thirteen years in the industry before we went into the Space. It’s such a physically demanding job that actually, we really felt that we needed to look after the employees, or our team. They’re not even our employees in our eyes, but our team force. If we look after and mind them, everything else just flows from there. We just really felt like that was the way we needed to work forward because we had come up against these problems all through the years and they were the reasons that, maybe, we left employers or, maybe, we were unsatisfied. We just tried to come up with every reason we were unsatisfied throughout the years and to come up with a solution for that.

Nadine Quinn: For me, as well, and this is maybe less prevalent now, but in our time of training and working, it just seemed that often you were working under men, which is not a bad thing at all. We love men, but I could see a lot of injustice and you kind of felt like women weren’t being prioritised or weren’t being upheld, glorified, or even getting the opportunity to step into their full potential from businesswomen to creativity, and just often not getting the benefits, whether that’s financially or, I suppose, in loads of different ways.

We wanted to make sure there was a support network in there, not just for women, but for men. But, it is a female dominated industry, so a real understanding and a real support network. And, we wanted to create as much balance as we could for our team as well. And, just as much support, balance, and encouragement and trying to make sure that they’re fulfilled in more elements than just feeling that they come into work and they’re just in the service industry and the only reason we want them there is to generate profits. For us that just wasn’t enough. When we were growing up in the industry ourselves, that just wasn’t enough of a why, of a cause, of a purpose. We wanted to make sure everybody who is in the Space really had the opportunity to live fully in their purpose and fully in their creativity, or in whatever side to their personality they wanted to really excel in, that the opportunity was going to be there for them to do that.

Killian Vigna: Absolutely, I mean, any jobs going? Shhh, Ronan…

Carla McQuillan: I think another thing is a note for any business owners who are thinking, how can we implement this into our businesses. It can be a scary prospect, but hairdressing is what is regarded as a hamster wheel business. You have to keep producing the services to make what we would call a profit, but in relation to other industries it’s not a hugely profitable industry. Most hairdressers have maybe one business. For us, if it was going to be a hamster wheel business, we were going to make it the best hamster wheel business it could be. It was going to be enjoyable to be there, enjoyable to spend your hours there, a fun place to be and it was going to be a place that you walked out and felt great from.

I just wanted to… and Nadine, wanted to put the power back in the hairdressers’ hands and let them know that they are the ultimate experts. These girls are doing so much more than hairdressing. They’re therapists, they’re everything. They’re not just doing fantastic hair. There’s so much science in hairdressing. They have to be a business within a business. There’s a million sides to it. For us it’s about elevating them and giving them the knowledge and the power to create this space for themselves.

Nadine Quinn: We really reinvest in education at a practical level. We try and find the best people in the world who are doing the best things in the best way and we hunt them down. We get as many people on our team. Whether we get educators here or whether we travel abroad to see educators, we really make sure that we try to be ahead of the cusp from an education standpoint so that our skills are really up there. Then, obviously, we use meditation so we can utilise wellbeing and, obviously, increase emotional intelligence. That makes them really good conversationalists. It makes them really good communicators and really good team members because they have each other’s best interests at heart. That way it is trying to avoid that typical underestimating of the hairdresser. They are the experts, they can communicate really well, they are worthy, open minded, cultured human beings and they deserve to be paid that way and viewed that way.

Carla McQuillan: And credited.

Nadine Quinn: And credited that way.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Nadine Quinn: I think so far we’ve nailed it and I think that’s what is so special about the Space. That’s why the Space, in such a short time, just two years, has such a strong reputation. Hopefully we will continue to grow that and maintain and make it even stronger and even better and continue to do what we can, I suppose.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: I have to say, just watching the two of you on this webcam, you’re both not only quite clearly passionate about the hairdressing industry and your business, but it’s great to see… like you’re both jumping around in your chair, how passionate you are for having a proper work balance or a good workplace for your staff. That’s just amazing to see, not only to listen to you but just watching how passionate you are about your staff, your employees, and giving them that quality of life.

Nadine Quinn: I think it works both ways. It’s easier for us because we’ve built that into the culture and that’s now the culture of the Space. They are solution-focused. They come to us with more solutions than dramas. They solve their own problems. If issues or challenges arise they are more equipped, what to do with them. I think our turnover of staff is going to be really minimised because nobody wants…why would they leave, where would they go? Would they get all those lovely elements anywhere else? They believe and embody our message so much that it feels like a family more so than a place of work. We get great return on it. It’s not necessarily a return we can measure, but it’s most certainly there.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I wonder for you guys, what does it mean, concretely, to have a salon culture? Is it something that is static or is it something that is fluid, that changes over time, depending on who takes part of your team, who leaves and stuff? How do you see that?

Carla McQuillan: Well, I don’t think anything is static. Nothing is static; everything is fluid, because if you’re static and you stand still, you’re gonna drown.

Nadine Quinn: Yeah.

Carla McQuillan: But, I think that it definitely is always going to develop, isn’t it? But, it’s something that we absolutely see as essential from the word go. Am I answering that question?

Nadine Quinn: Yeah, I think so and I think it is a challenge sometimes. Obviously, getting new staff members who maybe haven’t been there from the very start and who have to adapt, learn, try and now start to embody this culture that maybe is completely alien to them, that can start to shake the leaves of the tree a bit, but it always works in our favour because I think the intentions of it are so pure and good that, who doesn’t want to be a part of that? Actually, because we don’t just say it and not live it, when new people come in and see us embody it and live it and act it and see how true it is for us, that makes them compelled to just want to be a part of it.

Killian Vigna: I just wanted to come back to something you said earlier. You said about how with your team there’s no dramas, only solutions. Does that culture come back from your recruitment process where rather than having to tell your staff or your team what to do, they are almost coming to you and going, “I’m going to do this,” or, “We should do this,” or… they’re coming up with solutions before there’s even a problem that you’ve identified?

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Nadine Quinn: I don’t think it’s in the recruitment phase because I think in the recruitment phase, obviously, you tell a future possible employer what they want to hear. Like in first interview phases, you get a feel for someone but you don’t really get to know someone, necessarily. I think the whole behavioural compassion, empathy, they are often things that are not natural skills to people and have to be practiced. People have to be around that to kind of learn the environment, learn the culture, and learn your ways. Often people don’t have it initially-

Carla McQuillan: No they don’t. Yeah.

Nadine Quinn: But then the more they come to us with dramas… like a couple months in they’ll start to come to you with the dramas plus the solution. A couple months later they’ll come with only the solutions. You can see it kind of just creeps into everybody because-

Carla McQuillan: Yeah, you coach them. You coach them into your culture.

Nadine Quinn: And there’s just no room because nobody else in the salon is practicing drama. They don’t know where to put it. There’s no room for it so it just starts to kind of dwindle out.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah, yeah.

Nadine Quinn: So I think the other unique quality about The Space that was really important to both me and Carla, right from the initial stages, was that in this current cultural climate or social scenario, beauty can be seen as almost a vain or a materialistic thing and actually, as well, the influence of social media can be very dependent on likes and looking externally for your sense of value, and we really wanted to get back to the core message of beauty and how beauty was not just a visual thing, that it was very much skin deep.

That’s another reason why we have our soul sessions at least once a month and they’re opened up to clients. Our clients can be a part of our wellness message, as well. We really prioritise the condition of the hair and the natural beauty of the hair and focus on trying to enhance what people have naturally, rather than completely change people. We work with their symmetry and their natural tones as much as possible. Even just having that ability to converse really well and have empathy, understanding, and compassion for people, that we preach a message of a rounded beauty story rather than just a materialistic, want to make you look better story.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: So, one thing, for people listening to this you say you do soul sessions, you do yoga workshops, a range of different things. You can even see it on your website: art classes, poetry, movie nights. It all sounds amazing, but for a salon owner listening out there or even their team, they’re probably thinking, that’s great, but I don’t have time to do it. Where do you fit this in to your day to day?

Carla McQuillan: Our soul sessions is an open invitation to the team, so nobody has to go. We all take turns on who wants to do what, what we want to get in, and I think the latest thing is that we want to get in self-defense classes. Sometimes it’s on Sundays. Sometimes on the evenings.

Nadine Quinn: It’s dominantly on Sundays. I’d say we average about once a month. We’ve built up this network of clients who are maybe yoga teachers, or reiki teachers, or meditation teachers, various different… broad spectrum of things that are, I suppose, for personal growth. We try to host a session, generally on a Sunday. We give our staff preference over the spots available in each class, then as soon as our staff let us know who wants to be there we open it up to the clients as well.

From a mediation point of view, we schedule every staff member in, paid fifteen minutes earlier every morning. Some mornings we start at ten, some mornings we start at nine so they get paid fifteen minutes ahead of start time, ahead of their first client, and we all meditate for fifteen minutes. That, I think, is the fundamental of our culture because that’s for everybody and it doesn’t matter who’s been dropping kids, who has financial problems, who has relationship problems, who has a family member sick, who’s children are not well. It gets everybody in. Everyone gets the opportunity to declutter, to lower their heart rate, to refocus, to feel safe, feel secure, to feel supported. And then everyone is triggering those lovely areas of their brains that are responsible for stress management and are responsible for their emotional intelligence.

They know that they are equipped, now, that when challenges arise during the day, they know that they can deal with them as best as possible. They’re all more intuitive, all more empathic, all more compassionate. We start every day from that place, which is really unusual, probably, to most other work places where people just come in from whatever turbulence they might have and are expected just to get straight into this demanding kind of workplace.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, I mean like an extra fifteen minutes, at the end of the day, doesn’t really cost you a whole lot, but it means so much to the team because, like you said, you’re coming in from a mental trip to drop the kids at the school or you’re on a bus, fighting everyone, trying to get through this rush hour, and the last thing you want to do is just turn up to work and then get straight into being, “Hi, how are you? How are you getting on,” you know, being real nice as if there’s nothing wrong when right up here in your head you are stressed like I don’t know what. It’s great to have that.

Nadine Quinn: And which is more lucrative to a business: a highly stressed, overwhelmed workforce, or a workforce that you’re happy to donate fifteen minutes to getting them to work from the right place, in the right way for the day?

Killian Vigna: And I’m sure if it took off you could probably introduce it as… I suppose, do it where you don’t have to pay them the first fifteen minutes and if it took off then, okay that would be the incentive. But, I’m pretty sure any company I’d go to, if you’d say, “Listen you’re going to get fifteen minutes and we’ll do a mindfulness session before you start work,” yeah, my hand is straight up.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, same here.

Nadine Quinn: As soon as you ask people, “Are you stressed,” they’re going to say, “Yeah.” As soon as you say, “Are you curious or at leas open to mindfulness, wellbeing, meditation,” they’re gonna say, “Yeah.” As soon as you say, “Well, why don’t you do it,” the first answer you get is, “I just don’t got the time, I’m up first thing, I have all these things to do, I have to race into work.”

Carla McQuillan: Time, yeah.

Nadine Quinn: So it’s dominantly time, why people are not giving themselves that space to live into their full potential. Actually, work, you spend seventy percent of your life in and it’s actually the biggest contributor to stress in people’s lives. If that’s the environment that’s giving you the time to prioritise yourself, your wellness, your wellbeing, then the relationship you’re gonna build with your work is totally different than a possible relationship that can kind of be resentful of who you work for because you might feel like I’m only lining their pockets, I’m only a number, I’ve no relationship. You don’t feel prioritised.

The difference between a human feeling valued, feeling prioritised by their company and not, is extreme. That’s really the root of disconnect, why are your employees not working for you, for your message, for your values, for your goals? Well, are you working for them?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: You couldn’t have put it any better, to be honest.

Carla McQuillan: She’s a knack with that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: (laughs)

Nadine Quinn: (laughs)

Killian Vigna: (laughs)

Zoe Belisle-Springer: One thing that I was told about but I don’t really know much about, so I’m curious to hear how it works, is the CPD initiative. Can you tell us more about that?

Nadine Quinn: Yeah, so in lots of other fields of work there’ll be this CPD initiative which basically is a monitoring system to ensure that people are constantly being updated and educated in their field, because every field is constantly dynamic and constantly changeable. In our experience, that wasn’t happening in hairdressing. You’d do your four year apprenticeship and you’d just be left on the floor for twenty-five years, doing the same thing you did, which is a different decade, a different generation of style, look, technology, science and all the rest of it.

We really wanted it to be fundamental to the Space that we had some sort of a monitoring system, a minimum standard that everybody had to commit to, to make sure that we were all, as a company, staying on top of our game and remaining the experts, because if we feel like we’re experts, we act like we’re experts. Then in return we’re viewed as experts and treated as experts, and that’s what warrants everything, our price list. We don’t do a tiered system. A lot of salons might do stylist, master stylist, style director. We don’t do that because we have everybody performing and equipped to perform at the highest level.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: So there’s no hierarchy, per se? Everybody is at the level that they’ve trained themselves up to?

Carla McQuillan: There’s no rock stars. No rock stars.

Killian Vigna: No ego. How does this CPD initiative work, then? Is it a case of, you offer courses your staff can go and do, or the team goes out and finds something they want to enroll in?

Carla McQuillan: From a skill perspective, they can come to us with any course they would like to do and we absolutely will consider it if they have an interest in it. But we do, I guess, push that along a little bit and encourage certain skill sets and put on master classes and encourage certain courses that are going on that we feel are worth our salt, as you would say. We do push it a lot, but they are absolutely on board. Right from recruitment that’s part of the minimum standards, is that you commit to this if you’re gonna be involved with The Space’s message, is that we are all going to perform to this level and we’re all gonna commit to doing that.

Of course we have to have flexibility at times, but whenever, say somebody can’t make one, somebody would take them through it. Everybody is always meeting that minimum standard. What has been a huge eye opener for me is that not only is developing them in their skill sets huge, but developing their personal is huge. So getting speakers, not necessarily just on hairdressing, getting them on, as Nadine said, emotional intelligence or getting them on the psychology of the human brain or getting them to that level of understanding. They’re dealing with people on a daily basis that are coming from every walk of life, having gone through every type of situation, and they really have to be a game changer with their communication levels. The communication is as big as the skill set, isn’t it, Nadine?

Nadine Quinn: Yeah. They have to both go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, to be super successful as an individual and as a collective, you need to have inarguable levels of hairdressing skill and you have to have an innate ability to communicate very well. Usually what happens is, Carla will be hunting down who is the best in the whole wide world, who is the best [inaudible 00:26:58], who is the best section stylist, who’s doing the best Balayage, who is doing the best multi-tonal colour techniques, and she’ll see what city they’re in or can they come to us. And…

Carla McQuillan: I’m like, let’s not give too much away, now! (laughs)

Killian Vigna: (laughs)

Nadine Quinn: Then, obviously, we’ll put it to the team and see who wants to go, who is available? Everyone is not always available so any time we do any type of education we make sure that two people who have had the education then do a master class in The Space for anyone who might have missed it, so nobody gets left behind. Everybody is caught up on education [crosstalk 00:27:38]. We made that absolutely important. If you come to us and you say, “This amazing Balayage is going to be in London. I really want to do his course,” we are like, no problem, you go. Michelle’s free, Michelle goes. When the two of you come back you’re going to hold a master class at this date and we’re all going to be there.

Carla McQuillan: And that’s part of the deal.

Nadine Quinn: That’s really part of it, that we’re not just educating some, we’re educating everybody. Everybody is kept on that kind of balanced tier system and there’s not some people shining and some people sinking.

Killian Vigna: That’s a great idea sending two away to come back and teach because now you know, they’re not wasting your time going to a course because they actually have to retain that information and come back and reteach it, which means they’re actually going to obtain those skills even longer.

Carla McQuillan: The reteaching is brilliant, yeah.

Nadine Quinn: One course we did this year in Berlin, was it?

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Nadine Quinn: There was about eight of us who went, but actually on that day, maybe four techniques were shown. It meant two people could take a technique each and do a master class on each technique, so even if it’s not just two people going, we’ll make sure everyone comes back with a responsibility to deliver something, because even just teaching something kind of ingrains it deeper in yourself.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Nadine Quinn: And then also what we do is we take elements that we like and put our own spin on it and incorporate into the salon in our own ways and merge with different techniques that maybe we have developed or we’ve taken from somewhere else.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah, that’s so important.

Nadine Quinn: Yeah, that’s really important because-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh yeah, one hundred percent.

Nadine Quinn: -we definitely want it to look like our brand and our unique type of delivery when it comes to hair. It’s not necessarily taking everything, but everything we do there is something to take or something to expand on or something to capitalise on.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So if a salon owner is coming to you and saying, “I want to instill a better salon culture, but I don’t know where to go. I don’t know what to start with.” What would be your first tips for them?

Nadine Quinn: I would say, whatever way you want to do it, there has to be a message that they are not just working for you, that you are working for them. They’re best intentions have to be prioritised and met. They have to be seen as humans. You have to want them to triumph in every element, personally, professionally, financially, in every way. I think you do that for them they are going to naturally want to do that for you; it’s going to be something they want to be a part of. I also would maybe say, to try and not create segregation, that there are no favourites or unfairness, that everybody is a part and everyone gets to have equal responsibility, but also equal possibility and equal potential to grow and not just that some people are on course…

I just think that often I salons it can be quite segregated so I think if everyone in the salon could be made to feel equal, then they’re not threatened or intimidated or competing with each other. That’s a team. A team is people who are all working together with the same goal. When you segregate people I think you lose that because they start competing with each other.

Carla McQuillan: Actually, something else we do, that we actually forget we do, but we do it now at the moment, we try and approach everything in a co-op sense. We try and involve the team in as many decisions as we can and we put the power back in their hands with lots of decisions that have got to do with the salon. Of course we have final say on the direction it’s gonna go or if that’s gonna be on brand or whatever it may be, but a lot of the time they hit it on the mark, don’t they?

Nadine Quinn: We make sure it’s super transparent, that they know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what our intentions are, what the reasons are, what the goals are, how it’s gonna benefit them, how it’s gonna benefit us, how it’s gonna benefit the collective. That’s true, we’re crazy transparent, sometimes to a fault because we nearly don’t get our own way and they do.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah!

Nadine Quinn: Quite often. The other thing I’d say is education. Education is power. You are just empowering your staff to knock it out of the park if you’ve equipped them with the best of everything. I think it’s just priceless. You can’t really put a price on really good, consistent education.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Absolutely. Some really good points there. So, you’ve got the salon running for two years. You definitely know a thing or two about culture and education. Is there anything you learned along the way that you would have changed?

Carla McQuillan: The recruitment process we changed.

Nadine Quinn: Yeah.

Carla McQuillan: When we opened The Space up, we had obviously worked in the industry for thirteen years before that and we had some really great friends that were really great hairdressers. A lot of them out on their own at that point, who really wanted to come on board and do this together as a collective. But then when you’re growing the business, the recruitment process where it’s been evolving very quickly over the two years of the things we need to put in place to get any new team member that comes on up to the standard and operating in the way that we all do. We’ve realised that we need to put in a [inaudible 00:33:34] process. We’ve realised how important it is to continuously recruit and not just panic recruit. That’s definitely been one thing we’ve learned along the way.

Nadine Quinn: We were very lucky at the start because basically, we got to handpick who we wanted. We’ve worked in the industry for a long time, we’ve been in fashion, we’ve been in teaching, we’ve been on a multitude of different artistic teams, we’ve working in different salons, worked for different brands. We basically knew who were the best of the best out there and actually had great relationships with them. And they knew our message, knew our values, knew our goals, knew the type of salon we were trying to build-

Carla McQuillan: And knew the type of people we were.

Nadine Quinn: Knew the type of people we were and very much wanted to come and work for us. So pretty much, we had the pick of the litter at the beginning. But, then as time developed and we had everyone we wanted to have it got to the point where we were like, right we’re going to actually now have to recruit strangers, people we maybe haven’t worked with, don’t know, haven’t got relationships or friendships with. That was the big transitional period for us because it takes so long to figure out who a human is and if they’re going to fit the dynamic and what their skill level is like. Yes, maybe they can’t do it but have they got the potential to do it and what processes can we put in-

Carla McQuillan: To help them.

Nadine Quinn: -place to bring people up to that level as well and quickly and positively we can.

Carla McQuillan: Yes.

Nadine Quinn: That’s only the last six months that we’re-

Carla McQuillan: That we’re starting to conquer that!

Nadine Quinn: (laughs)

Carla McQuillan: (laughs)

Killian Vigna: I like the proactive recruitment as opposed to the rush recruitment, when you’re saying always having a pool of people ready to take on, as opposed to saying, oh no we need staff, let’s do a recruitment drive now.

Nadine Quinn: That can happen because we have a waiting list there, we can’t get anyone else in, we have three CVs there, just get somebody in, get someone behind a chair.

Carla McQuillan: It’s very tempting.

Nadine Quinn: It’s very tempting, so we’re faced with, we can’t fit them clients in…

Carla McQuillan: Because we haven’t go the right person.

Nadine Quinn: We haven’t go the right person and unfortunately, we’re going to have to accept that deficit until we’ve the right person to put behind that chair because-

Carla McQuillan: The wrong person is detrimental.

Nadine Quinn: -the wrong person can be a hole in the bucket. When you work so hard to built an ethos and a culture and a reputation, you just can’t lightly put that at risk.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah, not in the service industry, anyways.

Killian Vigna: Has that happened to you? Has someone slipped through the cracks where they weren’t a culture fit but they had the skill set?

Carla McQuillan: We’d be lying if we said it didn’t happen. Yeah, it has happened. We’ve definitely learned along the way what’s the best fit, what attributes we’re looking for. You know yourself, when you’re in an interview you see the best side of somebody so it’s really, really, really, hard to tell.

Nadine Quinn: Actually I think we’ve seen both. We’ve seen scenarios where people had the skill set but maybe were never going to really invest in the culture-

Carla McQuillan: Embody the message.

Nadine Quinn: Embody the message and that’s fine. Then we had the opposite issues where we had people who embodied the message and believed in the culture and absolutely wanted to be a part of this movement, but just couldn’t get their skill level there. Actually it’s quite a unique thing to find so when we do find them we try to keep them forever.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah. (laughs)

Nadine Quinn: (laughs) All Paddy and Ronan jokes aside, our experience with Phorest has been really good. You guys are so helpful. We literally only have to log a call and we get guidance and help and understanding. Ronan and Patty have been really crucial to lots of the business development in lots of ways. If there’s anything we can say about Phorest it’s that you guys have been amazing and we’ll endorse you guys all the way.

Carla McQuillan: Yeah, the thing is for me, I’m so passionate about our hairdressing industry and they are representing us out there and listening to our voices, listening to the problems and coming up with solutions for us. That’s really important, that the people behind that have their ears open and are hearing us, because-

Nadine Quinn: It’s value… if the hairdresser is valued and listened to and heard… it’s unusual, as a hairdresser to feel valued and actually, that’s what I think is unique about Phorest, is that they value the hairdresser and they make this work for an industry they know and believe in and embed themselves in.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: In fairness, we couldn’t do it without you. Even in L.A. recently, at that advanced education session, Paddy was mentioning the discussions you had with him and the challenges you were experiencing with Instagram and the ROI and stuff like that. We can only do so much without you guys. You, at the end of the day, are using the product, so it needs to be a relationship. It needs to be an ongoing conversation.

Nadine, Carla, this has been amazing. I think anyone listening to this episode will have a lot to take in and a lot think about because I think you guys are really nailing on the head. Good luck to everyone building a salon culture. It’s not an easy thing, but like in any business it’s not easy. I think it does make a massive difference at the end of the day.

Killian Vigna: You’re doing a phenomenal job, guys.

Carla McQuillan: Thank you!

Nadine Quinn: Thanks, guys. Thanks a mill.

Carla McQuillan: Namaste!

Killian Vigna: Bye bye!

So that was Nadine and Carla from The Space Salon here in Dublin, talking about culture and the importance of that work/life balance for your staff. Two very passionate people there about their, not just their salon, but their actual staff, their team, as well. Hopefully there’s a few things you can take away from that. And now we’re going to move into the second half of the show. We have a couple of announcements. One announcement we have is the Phorest SMS Money Back campaign. What is it? It’s a campaign that we launched in October, and now we’re going to roll it through to the end of 2018. The aim of it is to help you fill up your appointment books for 2018. Why did we come up with this campaign?

Well, we know with SMS marketing you can reach and retain sixty-eight percent more of your clients. We did a podcast on this a couple of weeks back where we had Luke Doolin and we had Helen Devenney in, and they were talking about, where the sixty-eight percent comes from? It’s… you take mostly clients’ phone numbers as opposed to emails. That sixty-eight percent is you have sixty-eight percent more phone numbers for clients, mobile, cell phones, than you would email addresses. By sending SMS campaigns, you’re going to make, on average, twenty-two times your investment on any SMS campaign. The point of this, as we said, is to help you fill up your appointment books for the rest of 2018.

There is a link in this bio. You can click that link and enter your details. You can use either one of the template SMSs from our Grow team, or you can create your own SMS and we’ll refund you the full amount of money you’ve spent if you don’t make double what you spent on your campaign. That is how confident we are with this campaign. If you’re emailing any foreign staff you’ll see a link to that in their email signatures as well, or just contact <grow@phorest.com> or give us a phone call and we can put you on to the right people.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: One other thing we did announce this week, well first of all, another speaker at the Salon Owners Summit on the main stage, Albie X Cortes, and he’s going to be talking about retail, drawing our awareness to the damaging trends that are happening in the salon retail space, and he’s going to share a case study how one salon owner in the US decided to take it on and combat the problem. His talk is called Retail Carbon Monoxide. I’m really excited for that one! The other thing that we did announce, regarding the Salon Owners Summit still, is the actual agenda of the day and the previous and following day.

As usual, on Sunday we have organised tours of Dublin which require additional registration. Then you have the welcome reception. This year it’s going to be at Sam’s Bar on Dawson Street. Then the day of the summit is a full day registration. There’s welcoming words from Ronan and you have Joe Fairley on the main stage. You’ve got a workshop rotation, networking opportunities, Ryan Holiday then hops onto the main stage, then you’ve got a networking lunch, and in the afternoon you have Christina Kreitel, two other workshop rotations, Albie X Cortes, David Barnett and once again, Ronan closes off the day of the Summit for everyone to then go over to the after party which takes place this year at Opium, in Dublin 2.

And also, for the last two years, we’ve been hosting Inside Phorest, a tour and session at Phorest HQ in Dublin. The spaces are limited, so if you have your Salon Owners Summit tickets already, get onto Aaron Doyle who you’ve probably been chatting to anyways for the tickets to register your spot on that day for inside Phorest. We’re also hosting a Phorest FM live podcast just like last year. Should be really exciting. Details to come on that soon enough.

Killian Vigna: To wrap up the show we want to announce a final feature update which is on Phorest Go. This came from the Salon Digital Summit in L.A., where Ronan and Paddy were talking about thius. What is it, basically it’s service pictures and salon portfolio on Phorest Go. Anyone who uses the Phorest go iOS app, that is now live. It will be coming to Android after the next while. What exactly is a service picture and salon portfolio, it’s just another way for us moving forward to integrating Instagram into Phorest. As we know Instagram, since it’s inception in 2010, it now has a billion users this year. We’re doing a lot more around Phorest and Instagram and this is just one step where you can now store all your salon’s photos and push them through social media from the Phorest Go app. Anyone using Phorest Go on iOS, I recommend checking that out.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. It’s kind of reducing that seventy-eight Whatsapp messages or phoros from your stylists and trying to figure out which one photo you want to post on Instagram. I’ve seen the demo in L.A. and to be honest it’s mind blowing. It’s going to save so much time.

Killian Vigna: It’s funny you say the seventy images on Whatsapp because that came from Nadine in The Space as well. Completely, unrelated but yet somehow related in this episode. She was saying that she had to ask her staff members for any before and after pictures her team took and within a minute they received seventy images in the Whatsapp group and they just get lost. You don’t know what images you’re finding so this is another way of all those images coming into one space where you can assign it to the service as well. If your client has a photo of a blow dry, that will connect to that service. Then you can go through the different services, create collages, and it will indicate which of those images can be shared online. That bit you’ll have to do separately yourself, but it’s just another step forward to bringing everything together for you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Absolutely! Listen, guys, that’s it for us today. Don’t forget to keep tagging us on social media and if you have any feedback, feel free to leave us a review on iTunes or on Stitcher. We’re always looking for suggestions on how to improve the show. We’re also on Spotify so you can catch us there if you prefer. Otherwise, have a wonderful week and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best!

Thanks for reading! #LetsGrow

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