Profile

The Business: TeRiFiCs Salon; 795-5007 ext. 128; 4001 N. Country Club Road.

Founded: December 1996. The owner: Lynda Walker. The services: Haircuts, styling, nail and skin care, massage.

The Challenge: Maximize revenue and profits from available space and hours.

The Story

Lynda Walker is a native Tucsonan who graduated from Catalina High School in 1980, and then attended Pima Community College, Scottsdale Community College and Arizona State University.

Her main collegiate interest was volleyball. Scottsdale's Fighting Artichokes were national champs in 1981-82. "I was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player," Walker says. She tried out for the U.S. Olympic team but fell short.

Kidney disease ended collegiate and Olympic volleyball aspirations. Walker had two kidney transplants, in 1990 and 1996. Between surgeries, she patented a design for a toilet seat lifting device, gave birth to a son and worked at Tucson Athletic Club's cosmetology salon.

In 1995, the salon owner died and club management asked her to take over. She agreed and invested $1,500 to improve the shop. Six months later, the owners closed the club. She approached Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club for a similar arrangement. The owners agreed to rent shop space, and TeRiFiCs opened December 1996.

The shop has three stylist chairs, a nail care station and a skin care room shared by four cosmetologists, two nail technicians and two skin care specialists. Walker is a cosmetologist. Other staff members are independent contractors with their own hours and clientele. They rent workstations.

The club is open 24 hours every day. TeRiFiCs is generally open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. but often remains open in the evening.

Sales have increased every year, Walker says. TeRiFiCs is open to the public, but club members are the best source of customers, comprising half the clientele.

Cash flow is derived from her personal cosmetology services, station rental and product sales. Further sales growth is possible with expanded shop hours and emphasis on product sales.

The Advice

"Walker's management challenge is providing a full-service mix in limited space for varied clientele," says Coach Dale Bruder.

The salon balances the casual atmosphere of the fitness club with ambiance created by master stylists. Walker sees clients and potential clients throughout club facilities.

Business relationships are built in such a manner, but formal agreements are necessary when independent contractors perform continuous services. Now, verbal agreements define roles of stylists and other staff. As a result, gaps exist between Walker's expectations for operation of the salon and what contractors are willing to do.

"Problems arise because each party remembers a discussion or decision differently," Coach Bruder says.

Walker can't expect to have the degree of control she might have over employees, but a professional relationship with contractors, starting with written service and performance agreements, will eliminate expectation gaps and set standards for work hours and product sales. If contractors are required to rent space for a minimum number of evening hours, the revenue potential of the shop can be maximized.

Service businesses live and die on the ability to satisfy customers. Stylists have their own clientele and signature cuts, but new customers become regular clients through attention to their needs. Contracts with service providers should include standards for maintaining a repertoire of contemporary haircuts and treatments.

Potentially, this is a classic conflict between professionals who take pride in their work and interests of the business enterprise. The professional manager channels skills of contractors toward service of each customer and gives contractors the attention they deserve based on performance. The goal is a full- service salon where professionals excel and clients are indulged, Coach Bruder says.

At TeRiFiCs, space limitations pose a substantial challenge. Every square foot of floor and walls should be analyzed for functionality and revenue potential. Evaluation, and possible redesign, should be done by a professional commercial interior designer with experience in hair salon design.

The top priority for shelf space is marketing of products for hair, skin and nail care that complement the salon's services. Product sales add profits and give clients a tangible connection with their salon between appointments.

The flow of activities in and around workstations needs to be monitored. Stylists should attend to the comfort of customers rather than jockey for elbow room. Because space is tight, all equipment and workstations must contribute to the bottom line or be candidates for removal from the shop.

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Dale Bruder gets a makeover from owner Lynda Walker, left, Amy Wagner, Phil Ponce, Maudi Gourdin, Carrie Hasley and Tia Hightower.Photo by Chris Richards

 

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