At Bliss Hair Studio Everything IS Awesome!
by Sara Altizer

Bliss Hair Studio in Shorewood, Illinois is a salon that had a strong foundation. Within the salon’s first three years of business, owners Mary Smith and Stefanie Gruber were able to create a positive and energetic culture among staff who were excited to see the salon succeed. Yet Mary and Stefanie were disappointed with the financial results. They knew that they needed help from people who were knowledgeable about the unique business challenges in the professional beauty industry. That is when they found Summit Salon Business Center, and with the help of their Summit Salon Consultant, Britta Larson, they were able to able to achieve the results they’d hoped for.


Stefanie Gruber

Stefanie Gruber

Bliss owners Mary Smith and Stefanie Gruber came from two different worlds: Stefanie is a talented, accomplished hair stylist and educator, while Mary is a business school graduate with an MBA. This blend of backgrounds was the perfect foundation for opening a salon, with Stefanie focusing on the stylists, hiring, and training and Mary handling the management, inventory, and finances.

After opening in 2011, Bliss Hair Studio had something rare. They had been able to build and grow a positive and thriving culture with stylists who were invested in making Bliss a successful and upbeat place to work. This is what they got right, right from the start.

“When we opened Bliss, we hired stylists on a referral basis only and we were extremely selective,” explains Mary. “Our culture was really great because we were all so excited to be a part of something new and have this blank slate to create something great.”

After being open for three years, however, Mary recognized that it was taking too long to reach a level of sales that supported payroll, rent, debt repayment, etc.

Mary Smith

Mary Smith

“We were not challenging our staff to meet critical metrics, such as retail, pre-book and referrals.” Mary says, “At the time, I was an okay leader. I had the respect of my team but wasn’t doing my part to motivate each staff member and hold them accountable for their role and responsibilities. We definitely lacked the business know how, including mentoring skills, to see the growth that we wanted to see.”

Mary and Stefanie turned to Summit Salon Business Center. Their Summit Salon Consultant, Britta Larson, suggested they attend The Summit, a business boot camp for salon owners. At The Summit, Mary recognized one of her biggest tendencies.

“I was setting boundaries for what we could achieve,” Mary explained. “I had set a standard of ‘status quo’ and had realized at The Summit that the sky is the limit if you allow yourself to grow and achieve using the system.”

By working regularly with their consultant, Mary and Stefanie were able to make the necessary adjustments to begin reaching their financial goals.

They credit the comprehensive pricing strategy of the Summit Salon Level System, Retail Focused Marketing Plans, and Referral Programs for their greatest successes.

The Summit Salon Level System

Summit Salon Business Center has created an innovative and mathematical level system that focuses on stylists’ demand of time. This simple platform sets the foundation for owners to become strong mentors and for stylists to take charge of their careers.

“Using the Summit Salon Systems to develop and grow staff has made a difference,” Mary says. “Having specific, unbiased goals for each stylist to work towards has improved the growth and development of individuals. It gives me, as an owner, a set of guidelines to coach to as well.”

“I feel much more empowered and I am proud of the achievements of my team and where we are headed. Without much difficulty, we were able to improve the detail of our pricing strategy, effectively put in a price increase plan, and accurately charge clients for the services received. This resulted in additional service sales. The proof is in the numbers. Our stylists saw a 27 percent increase in income in the first year after implementing the Summit Salon Systems.”

Service sales were not the only part of the business to see an increase. Bliss was able to increase retail sales by 44 percent in the first year with SSBC thanks to the different promotional and marketing brainstorm sessions that frequently happen between Summit Salon Consultants and salon owners.

“One of the most successful retail campaigns we did was when we gave each client an entry for a gift basket of products for each retail purchase and each pre-booked appointment.” Mary explains. “The client won the retail basket and their stylist won a ticket to the SalonCentric Lake Geneva show. It was successful because both the client and stylist won and the incentive was motivating to stylists. We reached our highest RTS percentage as a team that month.”

As the Bliss team executed a more targeted approach to bringing in referrals, clients reaped the benefits. “Our clients are highly satisfied based on the feedback and our ongoing survey system.” Mary says. “It’s the best feeling to have a new client call and tell us what a wonderful experience they had at our salon and that they can see that the stylists truly enjoy their work.

Jen Arias

Jen Janovyak

Jen Janovyak, a Level 4 stylist at Bliss, had been in the industry for ten years and had established a great clientele. She was a top-level stylist and for all intents and purposes thought that she had made it. But she realized she could do more.

“The Summit Salon Systems made me more aware of my performance.” Jen explains. “Now that I am aware of my numbers, and what my goals are, I have taken action to reach them. I had an established clientele before The Summit, but since then have been able to grow my guest count, services, retail and rebook percentage with the level system. I had a 14 percent increase in service sales and a 22 percent increase in retail sales in the first year since using the system.”

This type of growth is now a new standard and the whole team is excited about seeing what the future holds for Bliss Hair Studio.

Is The Summit for You? Yes!

“Use the systems and you will see results!” encourages Mary. “Even if you are hesitant, give everything a true effort as a team and you will quickly see the results from your hard work and changes! Making changes was hard from a personal and professional perspective, but has helped us improve our business and our employee’s performance. Working with our consultant, Britta Larson, has been absolutely critical in this process. Without her leadership and accountability, we would not have been able to achieve success.”

One Year after Summit Launch

  • 22% increase in service sales
  • 44% increase in retail sales
  • Average ticket went from $66.73 to $73.42

Bliss Hair Studio’s Summit Salon Consultant is Britta Larson.