Elayne James Salon: Overcoming Fears, Igniting Passion, Raising Prosperity… for ALL!
by Sara Altizer


Meet Jessica Galoff and her team at Elayne James Salon in Middletown, Delaware. Jessica was operating two locations with combined total sales of $1 million when she began to notice an ebb and flow pattern in sales. Along with this sales rollercoaster, Jessica had another challenge—the team at Elayne James was experiencing limited growth. She knew that if Elayne James Salons were going to achieve her lifelong plan, she needed a roadmap, strategy, and system. Here is the story of how the Summit Salon Business Center united a divided culture, revitalized poor attitudes of entitlement, and brought Elayne James Salon to the next level.

Background and Inspiration

Jessica Galoff had a passionate interest in the hair industry ever since she was a little girl, but with strong encouragement from her parents, she decided to go to school for a bachelors degree in business administration instead. When she turned 27 and found herself working 60-plus hours a week in corporate banking, she realized that she would rather invest all of that time and energy into a business she could feel passionate about—something that she knew could make a difference.

At around this same time, Jessica discovered that the owners of the salon where she was a client were ready to sell. Jessica and her husband saw this as the opportunity they had been waiting for. She felt like it was finally her time to make her dream into a reality, and although she had little “behind the chair,” knowledge they jumped in with both feet.


Quickly, Jessica began to realize the true struggles of salon ownership. “I was personally faced with a loss of life balance, problem employees, low retail sales, high front desk turnover and high customer turnover,” she explains.

Her education and experience in the corporate world had given her confidence as a leader, but not necessarily the know-how to really manage and lead a team. Jessica explains, “Prior to owning a Salon, I worked in corporate America in the banking industry. I would say that I believed I was a good leader, as I had had leadership training and performance management skills from running multiple customer service/sales teams at a large bank. People liked me. However, our company’s performance was saying otherwise and things were not running smoothly. I kept reading about salons with 20 percent growth and retail to service sales percentages more than 15 percent. The fact that I was reading about these amazing salons but I was not experiencing the same success and profitable growth that others were able to experience, I knew I was a limited leader.”

“It got to the point where I was at a crossroads for a drastic change,” Jessica explains. “I was either going to throw in the towel on my dream and accept the fact that it may just not have been meant for me OR I was going to chase and fight for my dream with the right support network around me.”

Jessica had been reading about the The Summit and Michael Cole for years. But it wasn’t until Summit Salon Consultant Kierstin Nemer came to visit Elayne James Salon with Jessica’s DSC that she felt compelled to take action. To her it was the best thing that could have ever happened, and a short two months later she was in Summit Salon Business Center’s May 2010 graduating class.

The Summit

Jessica really enjoyed her experience at The Summit, especially the chance to surrounded by such positivity and passion. “Salon owners can tend to be catty and competitive in a cut-throat kind of way, but I could see that everyone at The Summit was different,” she explains.

“I was listening to other owner’s stories—owners who had been through the same thing or worse than I had been, who had attended The Summit and then turned their lives around and were making their dreams really happen.” Hearing these stories was the defining moment for Jessica, and it opened her eyes to the reality that the same thing could happen for her.


When implementing the system and really breaking down her budget guidelines, one of the most difficult decisions Jessica had to make was to close one of Elayne James Salon locations. Her consultant, Kierstin, showed her how the layout, structure, and upside-down financial situation of that location was creating a nearly impossible mountain to climb. Although it felt like a failure in many ways to Jessica, she soon began to see the great benefit that this decision would have on her business.

Now, at her one location, Jessica wanted to focus on coaching, the Level System and potential income, and the Associate Training Program. Because of her corporate background and experience, once Jessica had the structures in place and knew what she was supposed to be doing, she fell into a groove quickly and found it to be much easier than she had anticipated.

Impact on Salon Culture

Fear accompanies any big change, and the stylists at Elayne James Salon definitely felt apprehensive about all of the new structures at first. “Thankfully, the Summit team handled the roll-out very gently and with a lot of respect for each individual stylist,” Jessica says. “Once they were able to show how the systems in place would be in the stylists’ own best interest, everyone started to become more comfortable and open minded.”

Implementing the changes has made all the difference at Elayne James. “Our Salon culture is much more lively. It’s fun!” Jessica explains. “Employees understand what we as a company and collective group of leaders stand for. I think the most exciting thing in our culture today is that at the end of the year, we celebrate the fact that our team’s average earnings increase year after year well exceeds the average person’s salary increase. We all can have financial success by working smarter, not harder. The financial dreams of our company have come to fruition and through that, so many talented stylists’ financial dreams are coming true, and we are helping to make it happen! They in the Summit and our team is much more unified than before.”

As Erin Hurtt, a level three stylist who has been at EJS for three years, explains, “The system has given me achievable goals and motivation throughout my career. As a higher-level stylist, I have the pleasure of being an educator myself! I have been even more successful in my career with the business training obtained during my level growth than I ever was in my fourteen years in the industry prior to this.” In any given month Erin is achieving $8,900 in service sales, $1,100 in retail sales and has a 79 percent rebook rate.

Erin is not alone! Spa director, educator, master nail technician and master esthetician Valerie Rutt has been at EJS for six years and is a level four. In working only twenty hours per week, in one month she has been able to achieve $5,100 in service sales and $2,250 in retail sales. “The Summit Systems forced me to look ahead instead of one day at a time. It made it easier for me to manage time with clients and made the time more effective,” Valerie says.

Jessica has been able to grow a full salon and spa of career-minded employees like Erin and Valerie. “People who don’t belong in our culture leave naturally and don’t poison it,” Jessica explains. “It doesn’t affect us and they actually refer others to our company for careers.”

This new and improved culture has fostered a great environment for growth and client satisfaction. Jessica explains, “We have doubled in three years and tripled the number of new guest referrals! I think that says a lot!”

Impact on Leadership

Looking back, Jessica can’t imagine making such great strides without the help of Summit Systems. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a support network of people who want to truly help you achieve your goals,” Jessica says. “I didn’t have that before Summit. I can see now how I made very costly mistakes by not having the right information. If I only had started Summit earlier in my career!”

And, the Summit experience has completely changed Jessica’s outlook on her role as a leader of the salon. “As an owner, I have a new found passion. I am no longer just a salon owner. I am a coach, mentor, leader, inspirer, advisor, and owner.” With the help of the Summit Salon Systems, she has been able to grow a team into leaders who embrace, teach, and grow fellow stylists into leaders. This approach has translated into more free time for Jessica. With a strong team in place, Jessica has been able to delegate tasks, knowing that her salon is in good hands when she is taking some much needed time off.

Where Are They Now?

The growth at Elayne James Salon is undeniable.

The average income for each employee is $45,000. The Level 1 service providers are now earning $35,000 which is an $8,000 overall income increase from before Summit.

Additionally, Elayne James Salon’s ONE location is making even more ($1,100,000 total) than when there were two.

Jessica also explains, “My income is not reliant on the remaining profits of the company anymore and the company continues to profit with net cash.”

Her main goals for the future are taking her company from a 1 million dollar company to a 5 million dollar company. She is planning on growing and adding shareholders and is looking into the possibility of opening a second location. “Summit Salon Systems has given me the confidence to make mistakes and really learn from my previous experiences,” says Jessica. She now knows what business structures, demographics, and locations could make opening a second location successful, and is not afraid to try again.

Jessica Galoff and the Summit Salon Systems are truly doing their part to conquer stereotypes about the beauty industry, proving that stylists and salon owners are some of the smartest businesspeople in the world.

Final Words

For those considering taking the leap into the Summit Salon Systems, Jessica offers these thoughts: “My journey before The Summit was filled with lots of bumps and bruises (and even stubbornness) and it was the act of actually committing wholeheartedly to Summit and having clarity that changed my life.”


1 year after launch of the Summit Salon Systems:
+26% increase in total sales

2 years after launch of the Summit Salon Systems:
+47% in total sales!

Elayne James Salon’s Summit Salon Consultant is Kierstin Nemer-Hall.