Lisa Garcia and her husband Rodger opened Bang Salon in Denver, CO, in 1999. Rodger was a hairdresser; Lisa worked in public relations. According to her, it was a marriage made in heaven, both literally and figuratively. “It seems to me that the most successful salons are owned by a husband and wife or two partners where one does hair and the other manages the business,” says Lisa, who should know. She worked as a business coach for years.
Over the years, there have been a number of successful partnerships in our industry based on the same formula. Think Gene Juarez and Michael Coe, who built an empire in Seattle based on Gene’s creative genius behind the chair and Coe’s business acumen. At Bang Salon, Lisa, who has since earned her cosmetology degree, is continuously looking for ways to improve the business so it’s not just a better place to work but also a better place to visit. Case in point: Depending upon availability with select stylists, the salon offers complimentary haircuts to breast cancer survivors.
The couple is also committed to a sustainable future and to fostering positive relationships to improve the community in which they live and work. Their goal? To use personalized service to gain trust and respect from their clientele, so they’re able to consistently enhance their inner and outer natural beauty.
“We never rest on our laurels,” says Lisa, “so whether it’s the design of the salon or the products we carry or the people we hire, we’re just always trying to be innovative. If you’ve been in business for a long time, you have to be on top of things and know what’s hot, what’s attractive to the consumer.”
Rodger was working at a tony salon in the Cherry Creek area of Denver when he and Lisa decided to go into business for themselves. “All the upscale salons were in Cherry Creek,” says Lisa, who wondered if they could compete if their salon happened to be in another area. Ultimately, they decided to take a chance and open a high-end salon about five minutes away in the Washington Park area of Denver. “The rents were lower and we had more parking,” says Lisa. “It was a risk, but it paid off.”
Early on, Lisa decided not to hire stylists who worked at other salons in the area because she didn’t want the same thing to happen to her. Instead, she hired hairdressers right out of beauty school and put them through a rigorous training program. Her no-poaching policy has paid off. “We train these new grads the way we want, and that’s been huge for us,” she says.Here’s something else that Lisa and Rodger do differently than a lot of salon owners: They opened their second salon, Bang Park Hill (Lil B’s for kids is next door), with the express purpose of selling it to the first employee they hired, and seven years later, they did. “We still make money on it, but she’s a majority owner,” says Lisa, who consults. “It gives hope to longtime employees when you can help them realize their dream of salon ownership. We tell our staff, before you leave and open your own salon, talk to us first. We might be able to help.” Now they’ve made it possible for another longtime employee to own Moji, the newest member of the Bang Salon family. Located across from Swedish and Craig Hospitals, Moji provides a convenient location and an upscale experience.
Here’s something else that Lisa and Rodger do differently than a lot of salon owners: They opened their second salon, Bang Park Hill (Lil B’s for kids is next door), with the express purpose of selling it to the first employee they hired, and seven years later, they did. “We still make money on it, but she’s a majority owner,” says Lisa, who consults. “It gives hope to longtime employees when you can help them realize their dream of salon ownership. We tell our staff, before you leave and open your own salon, talk to us first. We might be able to help.” Now they’ve made it possible for another longtime employee to own Moji, the newest member of the Bang Salon family. Located across from Swedish and Craig Hospitals, Moji provides a convenient location and an upscale experience.
It was while working for Summit Salon Systems as a business coach that Lisa met Frank Gambuzza, President of Intercoiffure America/Canada, who introduced her to SureTint Technologies. “He was using it at his salons in Knoxville, and I knew that I had to have it,” she says. “It was just the coolest thing.” What she liked best about the system was that it kept an accurate record of each client’s formula and provided inventory reports so she knew who was over-pouring. “Before everyone had a box with their name on it and their client cards inside,” says Lisa. “Everyone had a different way of recording their formulas and a different way of measuring color, and you couldn’t always read their handwriting, so it was a nightmare if someone was out sick and someone else had to fill in for them. SureTint gave me more control as a salon owner.” Another plus? If a stylist leaves the salon, they can’t just take that box of client cards with them and leave you high and dry because the software stores each client’s history.
Recently Bang Salon began using LaRu, SureTint’s newest, most advanced hair color management software. “We love it,” says Lisa. “It’s a little more detailed in the way it records information. You can get very specific on hair type and texture. I also find that it’s a lot more accurate when it comes to the amount of color being poured. It’s also way more user-friendly—just the way everything is laid out, and the text is bigger. It’s so easy to use that even if a stylist is unfamiliar with this kind of technology, we only have to show them how it works once or twice, and they have it down cold.”
So, what was the biggest issue she saw salon owners struggle with when she was a business coach? “Trying to do everything by themselves,” she says without hesitation. “They’d own the salon, manage it, handle their own book, often to save money, but it kept them from having the time to concentrate on their management duties. I had to convince a lot of them just to hire a bookkeeper or a CPA to avoid mistakes, and some of them had no idea what a P&L was.” For the record, it’s a profit and loss statement.
Her parting advice for salon owners who want to stay in business for the long haul? “Don’t be afraid to spend money and effort on your employees. That means offering benefits, like health care or paid vacation. Make them happy, and they’ll stay with you. Believe me, it pays off in the end.”