It’s an all-too-common immigrant entrepreneur story. In 1972, trained hairdresser Suki Tagaki arrived in Vancouver with a vision to help people look good and feel great. So she bought a small salon in South Granville.
On her very first day, the four men working at the salon walked out, saying they wouldn’t work for a Japanese woman.
Tagaki didn’t give up. She built her salon one client and hairdresser at a time, growing it into a bustling business that today has 150 employees at six locations in and around the Greater Vancouver area. Three years ago, son Ken Tagaki took over the chain, named Suki’s for its founder. As the company’s president, he oversees the six salons, and is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to expand further.
Managing across multiple locations is hard work. Here are four things Suki’s does to make it easier.
1. Hire right
Keeping your brand alive and consistent is all about bringing the right people, according to Ken Tagaki. Suki’s hires candidates with values and beliefs that align with its mission of creating an exciting salon. The company looks for hairdressers who can light up the room and make the experience fun and memorable for customers.
“If we don’t have the right people, it doesn’t matter what systems we have in place at the end of the day,” says Tagaki.
2. Provide ongoing education
Suki’s pays its hairdressers to get trained. The company takes education seriously, requiring all new hires to enrol in its academy, where they’re taught about precision cutting and colouring Suki’s style. “A big part of our branding is the the education,” explains Takagi. “We provide our staff with more than just a technical education—we also focus on business concepts, customer building, and their personal branding.”
When it comes to training staff, Takagi is more than just a businessman—he’s an invested teacher as well. He believes in ongoing education, and visits each of the six locations after a class is finished to field employees’ questions. “For us, we have to meet the individual needs of our salons,” says Tagaki. “So we have to reach out to people, much like a teacher matching their teaching style to the student’s learning style.”
At Suki’s, you won’t ever be out of the loop. Employees communicate through emails, Facebook, or the bulletin board in each salon’s staff room. “We try to over-communicate through every channel possible, and have the team communicate back to us what they understand to make sure we’re on the same page” says Tagaki.
The company schedules regular meetings at all levels, from salon to department to district. Every few weeks, the general manager and director of education visit each location to meet with salon managers; salon staff can use the time to bring up any concerns they have as well. Salon managers also gather together each month in a four-hour meeting to share ideas and challenges. “Being in the people business, we have to make sure we’re constantly communicating with each other,” explains Tagaki.
4. Promote from within
One of Tagaki’s busiest hairdressers was looking to grow, and wanted to create her own team at a new Suki’s location. “It’s a scary decision because she’s a very successful hairdresser, and we didn’t know what was going to happen if we moved her to another location in a different role,” he reveals.
Tagaki eventually did decide to move the employee. He came away from the experience with a new perspective: “When the team wins, we all win as well.”
MORE ON MANAGING MULTIPLE LOCATIONS:
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- The Secret to Making a Virtual Business Work »
- 5 Ways to Tame Timezone Insanity »
Does your company have multiple retail, service or office locations? How do you ensure a consistent level of work, quality and performance across all of them? Let us know by commenting below.