Dominic Michael Salon: Bettering Their Best!

by Sara Altizerdominicmichael.headerart2Meet Dominic Bertani, owner of Dominic Michael Salon in St. Louis. Dominic’s original location in the St. Louis suburb of Ladue was producing a profit, but he struggled to manage an extremely challenging and unbalanced staff. Most of the predominantly level four stylists were resistant to the business strategies Dominic tried to introduce. Yet the salon was successful. It wasn’t until he opened a second location in Chesterfield, that everything turned completely upside down, Dominic realized he needed a plan. Enter Summit Salon Business Center, which helped him establish the foundation and structure needed to reorganize his business plan, balance the staff, and grow a team that he knew would be successful.

Inspiration and Challenges

Dominic Bertani had owned Dominic Michael Salon in Ladue for thirty-three years, and had grown it into a very successful salon. This success inspired Dominic to open his second location. He spent countless hours researching demographics and looking for the perfect location with great visibility, but Dominic could not have predicted that the economy would take a significant down turn, just over a year after he had opened his new salon.

Even though his Ladue location was very successful, Dominic felt like he was constantly reacting instead of planning. Ladue was working without a net or a script, but he readily admits to feeling like a hostage at times. His leadership style was a combination of employer and friend, and the salon lacked a clear policy, budget guidelines, and strategic planning.

The less-than-stellar launch of the second location was a wake-up call for Dominic. He simply could not afford to just wing it any longer. He needed a plan, and he needed it fast.

As fate would have it, his fellow salon owner and friend, Mark Branca, told him about Summit Salon Business Center (SSBC), and Dominic realized the program was exactly what he was looking for. When he attended The Summit and Randy Kunkel talked about not allowing yourself to be held hostage by the staff, Dominic realized just how much power he was allowing his stylists to have over him.


On his way home from The Summit, Dominic felt very excited and nervous about introducing the Summit Salon Systems to his staff. He remembers thinking about the three initiatives he was most eager to implement: scheduling regular one-on-ones, staying connected to the staff members, and thinking in terms “on purpose” staff development. He also looked forward to using the pyramid approach to staffing to prevent the team from growing too top heavy, which had been an issue at his first location.

Dominic made the decision to fully commit to the program rather than cherry pick the initiatives he wanted to implement. With this level of commitment, he soon realized that not every stylist would be able to stay at Dominic Michael salon. “Some staff members were unable to meet the minimum expectations for a staff member, and this meant there were some discharges,” Dominic said, “but now, I believe that there is a difference in that the benefits and staff promotions are clearly defined. They are no longer subjective in nature. And because of this, there seems to be more respect for management.”

These initiatives have made a huge impact in the career path of stylists at Dominic Michael Salon. Bethany Laska, who started at the salon as an associate in the DMS associate program, has grown through the Summit Salon Systems, and is now a level 4A. As such, Bethany has had the opportunity to mentor several associates, and she is currently helping to train another successful entry-level associate for the salon. In eight years, Bethany has watched her career skyrocket.

Dominic believes the guests directly benefit from the success of his staff.  “Our guests can feel the authentic approach that we have towards our craft.” And, as a leader, Dominic himself feels more relaxed, confident, and much less of a hostage.

Utilizing Resources

Hands down, one of the greatest benefits of being a part of the Summit Salon Business Center is all of the resources and strategies that they provide to ensure success. Dominic is a firm believer in the Summit Salon Planner, and he requires all of his staff to actively track their numbers to reach their goals.

Dominic also appreciates SSBC’s financial planners. “The service provider ‘financial guide’ is perhaps one of the best templates for my staff,” he explains. “They see the opportunity to plan their day, week, or month, and use it in their approach to serving their guests. This provides maximum benefit to them and their guests.”

Last but not least, Dominic values SSBC’s retail initiatives. “Recently we held a staff retail competition, and the staff member who sold the most retail units within their level won a trip to the L’Oreal Professional SOHO Academy.  We awarded four trips, one for each level. We sold more than 2,969 units during the promotion, grossing over $74,000.”

Dominic Michael Salon Today

After two years on Summit Salon Systems, Dominic Michael’s Chesterfield location is profitable and running smoothly. In fact his salons have won numerous awards in the past few years, including Coolest Beauty Salon in 2012, Alive magazine’s Best of St. Louis award in 2013, and they were chosen as the Alive Hotlist Best Salon in 2013.

Dominic is always on the lookout for what’s next, whether it’s starting a blow-dry bar, owning a school, or opening a third location. Regardless of what the next move is, it’s clear that Dominic Michael will continue to expand and be successful.

Dominic offers this advice for those thinking about bringing the Summit Salon Business Center into their salon: “The Summit can be a life-changing event for a salon owner, especially if you don’t have a comprehensive business plan in place that includes budget guidelines and performance goals for staff. An option that I strongly recommend is investing in a Summit Salon Consultant. Having a relationship with someone who gets to know your business and coaches you and your staff in salon best practices is a very worthwhile investment.”

Dominic Michael Salon’s Summit Salon Consultant is Michael Nikolas.