Never Looking Back
Profile by Sara Altizer
Marilyn Lipsey founded Salon Ya Ya Inc. in 1996. When she opened the doors, Ya Ya had only two chairs and Marilyn didn’t aspire to anything greater. But rapid growth lead to an opportunity to purchase a stand-alone building with plenty of space, which David Lipsey gutted and renovated. With limited salon business knowledge, Marilyn took on the challenge of running general salon operations from behind the chair with David eventually taking on a more active role, working behind the front desk.
In spite of having a salon business plan, Ya Ya Inc. bled money. In order to keep the doors open, Marilyn and David had to funnel some of the revenue that Marilyn made behind the chair back into the business. There was no retirement plan, and despite efforts to implement a salon business program, they were never able to catch up. As a result, they sold the building and downsized to a 640 square foot salon with four chairs in the basement of an office building. They also decided to shut down the salon’s aesthetics and nail services departments.
At this point, Marilyn and David had lost their life savings and gone into debt. As health issues began to arise, it was clear that Marilyn was nearing the end of her career as a stylist. Luckily, in 2007, Wanda Williams Woods and her husband Chip told David and Marilyn about Summit Salon Business Center. David and Marilyn attended The Summit in Tampa, Florida in April that year, launched the program in the salon in May, and never looked back.
Summit Salon Business Center
Summit Salon Business Center offers comprehensive salon business plans to salon companies, including coaching on everything from budgeting and financial strategy to extensive training for front desk staff and scheduling tips. SSBC believes in “growing people for a living” using the Level System as a foundation. The Level System provides performance-based compensation and a structure for complete accountability.
“The Level System provides a career path for stylists,” David explains. “All employees have the ability to earn up to $160,000 per year based on client count in relation to their service and retail sales. Promotions are earned by meeting customer service objectives and completing advanced technical education. This ensures that each service provider earns promotions through guest retention, hence strategically aligning our service provider’s goals with the company’s goals.”
“An added benefit to the level system is that it creates a multi-level pricing strategy in the salon company,” David says. “This allows multiple socioeconomic groups to enjoy salon services. We refer to the demographics of our community to set pricing, and as such, remain relevant to all facets. Our employees (service providers) are placed in levels based on the demand of their time.”
Redken 5th Ave NYC
The Level System has paid off. Today, Salon Ya Ya Inc. is affiliated with some of the industry’s greatest leaders, including Summit Salon Business Center and Redken 5th Avenue NYC. Salon Ya Ya is also certified as an Elite salon in all of its locations.
The distinction of Elite salon is only offered to 300 salon companies in America and is awarded by the largest beauty company in the United States, L’Oréal USA. Salon Ya Ya is a member of the Redken 5th Avenue NYC Elite Advisory Panel. The Elite Advisory Panel is comprised of twenty U.S. Redken Elite salon companies, and is charged with providing invaluable input on consultative strategies that contribute to salon growth.
Salon Ya Ya’s creative national team is comprised of colorists and designers who have been certified by Redken 5th Avenue NYC. Redken Certification recognizes and rewards salon professionals who possess exceptional skill and true passion for their craft. They are known and respected as the highest authority in their field. Certified specialists include Courtney Krampf, Kristin Idzikowski, Danielle Evans, and Reyna Waller. In addition, Courtney Krampf is a level 4a stylist and is a national Redken Artist, teaching classes throughout the United States.
Results and Statistics
Not only do these accolades have a positive impact on the salon company’s bottom line, but they filter down to the individual employees as well. The average annual revenue per employee nationwide is about $60,000 and the average new client retention rate is 28 percent. At Salon Ya Ya, the average annual revenue per employee is $98,481 or 64 percent above the national average. Its new client retention rate is 48 percent or 27 percent above the national average.
Salon Ya Ya’s business model creates a powerful market share. Its ability to recognize core-competencies in the industry and infuse career opportunities with proven business factors sets it a part from other salon companies. The following is an outline of the differentials:
- Aligned with a professional manufacturer
- Sound financial business practices
- Performance-based compensation
The growth Salon Ya Ya experienced allowed them to open two more locations in the Nashville area. “The power of the synergy between SSBC and Redken allowed us to open our second location in 2010,” David explains. “It is 1200 square feet with 8 stations. In February 2012 Marilyn was able to retire from behind the chair and we transitioned to the salary the company was able to pay me. In February 2015 we opened salon number three, which has 1480 square feet and 12 stations. We are approximately 24 months away from opening salon number four, and we are certain that as we continue to grow leaders, stockholders, and mentors with Associates, we will be opening a salon a year in the not-too-distant future.
Growing People for a Living
But what’s most important to David and Marilyn is providing opportunities for growth to their employees. Over the past four years, David and Marilyn are proud to say that fourteen of their staff members have been able to purchase homes and elevate their lifestyle. The Lipseys attribute this to the power of the combination of SSBC and Redken.
“Kristin Idzikowski is a stockholder, manager, and hair stylist,” David explains. “The first year of her career she worked in a salon that did not have Redken products or the Summit Salon Systems. She was not getting where she wanted to be in her career, and as a mother of three wonderful children, she and her husband were not growing the way they wanted to financially. After three years at Salon Ya Ya Inc. she was able to move out of a small rental and into a large, nice house in a very nice neighborhood. Her children now attend a great school, her husband is a stay-at-home father and artist, and she has a six figure income that continues to grow.”
David is the co-owner of Salon Ya Ya Inc. and is the Chief Operations Officer. David also serves as a mentor, conducting monthly professional development sessions with all employees.
Prior to joining Salon Ya Ya, David was a Property Master and Art Director in the motion picture industry and is listed on IMDB (Internet Movie Database). David is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University, holds a bachelor’s degree, and is a Summit Salon Business Center graduate.
Marilyn is the co-owner and founder of Salon Ya Ya Inc. and serves as the Philanthropy Director. She champions “Freedom Fridays,” a monthly donation in support of RaphaHouse’s Freedom Stylist program, which prevents young women from being sex trafficked.
Marilyn served as Salon Ya Ya’s technical and artistic director for eighteen years. In 2012, she transitioned to full-time management. She continues to coach and mentor the employees and oversee the technical training.
Marilyn earned her Master Barber License in Nashville, is a member of the Nashville Women’s Breakfast Club, and is a Summit Salon Business Center graduate.
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