Salon Allure: Exceeding Expectations
by Sara Altizer



Salon Allure owners Michelle McGough (left) and Paula Lecher.


Although Paula and Michelle each took a different route into the salon industry, they both shared a dream of one day owning a salon and a passion for helping others achieve their most beautiful look. Between them, they had education at Auburn University, twelve years of teaching for a color company, and thirty years of experience as master stylists.

One day they fell in love with the perfect salon space and they jokingly told the owner that whenever she was ready to sell it, they would buy it. Before they knew it, that day came and they were the new owners of the salon that time forgot—in every possible way. Not only did the salon’s decor need a major update—stepping through the door was like walking onto the set of Steel Magnolias—but it was full of seasoned stylists who were still doing roller sets on their long-term clientele.

“We came in thinking we were going to give this place a facelift and turn everything around,” explained Paula. “But it was an, ‘every man for himself’ atmosphere—very individualistic. We were not a team and the morale was mediocre.”

Paula and Michelle realized that they were encountering the typical complications and struggles of salon ownership. If they were to truly turn around Salon Allure, they had to step up to the challenge of becoming the kind of leaders who were capable of renovating not only the décor, but also the staff and clientele.

Soon Paula and Michelle began to feel as if they had lost all sense of their place within the salon structure.  “We felt out of control, irresponsible, and very busy,” said Paula. “We were not leaders, we were the ones who paid the bills and cleaned up after everyone. We listened to all of the complaints. Everyone wanted change but nobody wanted to change.”

Salon Allure hit rock bottom when Michelle and Paula experienced a walk out. “The booth renters came to us and told us they were leaving and that we would be happier without them,” remembers Paula. Even though everyone left on good terms, the experience taught Paula and Michelle that they desperately needed change and structure. More than that, they needed a plan to grow reliable new staff and a consistent clientele base as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

It was at this pivotal time that they met consultant Lee Schultz, who would eventually become their partner at TSPA. Lee told Michelle and Paula about The Summit program and what it could do for their business.

The Summit

At The Summit, Paula and Michelle felt very overwhelmed. They quickly realized that even though they had bought a salon with an existing staff, clientele, and reputation, they were still starting from scratch.

The defining moment for Paula and Michelle came when they learned about the Summit Salon Associate Program and Level System, which teaches salon owners how to lead and mentor their staff. Summit also provided them with a very strong budget guideline to help keep their finances on track.

They returned to their salon armed with the knowledge and support to accomplish their greatest goals—and they did just that.

Where are they now?

Summit Salon Business Center, Paula, Michelle, and their partners at TSPA have transformed Salon Allure into a success story.

Under the guidance of the Summit Salon Business Center seminars and services, Paula and Michelle have trained and mentored a staff of thirty, and morale is at an all-time high. “Our employees are enthusiastic about coming to work,” explains Paula. “They take pride in what they do. We do community services and have educational classes for the staff. We also hold monthly staff meetings, coach and mentor our staff, and have one-on-one meetings with each employee. Now, we are respected as leaders, they look up to us. We work the level system right along with our team. We have high expectations and they are glad that we do.”

With the Summit Salon Budget Guidelines establishing a plan of what to spend and where to spend it, Paula and Michelle have been able to keep the finances under control, and are always aware of what is going on with their business.

Best of all, their relationship with guests has improved. “A lot of our guests get multiple services with different service providers. Our biggest compliment is our great customer service. We get great reviews, lots of referrals, and see less turnover among guests and staff,” Paula explained.

As owners, Paula and Michelle have learned to be more patient through The Summit program. “We listen more. We think before we react, and we are not held hostage,” Paula said.

Today, growth, success, and a sense of freedom simply radiates at Salon Allure. In the time since Paula and Michelle attended The Summit, they have partnered to open a TSPA and have had the great honor of being named a Salon Today 200 salon in 2013 and 2014 for Growth and Philanthropy.

Are you ready?

Still feeling on the fence about attending The Summit? Take the advice of Paula and Michelle, who believe that those four days have made the greatest impact on their lives and success. “Without hesitation we would say that you have to go!! It’s an amazing experience that is hard to describe. You will want to go back over and over again. You will grow faster than you ever could alone,” encouraged Paula.

Paula and Michelle explain that the key to their success lies in the support provided by the Summit Salon Business Center seminars and services, including a consultant who coaches and mentors them every step of the way, providing a wealth of new ideas; sensible budget guidelines to follow; and the structure of a level system for their entire team. They also received salon-specific leadership training on how to have effective one-on-ones with staff, have monthly staff meetings, plan for the whole year, and train their front desk staff to become the sales force of their salon.

Pre Summit

  • Total Annual Sales: $301,350.56

One year after Summit launch

  • Total Annual Sales: $373,751.97

Two years after Summit launch

  • Total Annual Sales: $688,948.77

Last Year/2013

  • Total Annual Sales: $1,326,853.75


Salon Allure’s Summit Salon Consultant is Heather Bagby.