Home Grown Stylists With a Long-Term Focus
The Door Salon: Keego Harbor, Michigan
Profile by Sara Altizer


Culture is critical in the professional beauty industry—it can make your salon company, or break it. In fact, maintaining a strong culture within a salon is the secret to keeping up with competition and staying on the cutting edge of the industry. Cindy Penrod, the owner of The Door Salon in Keego Harbor, Michigan, learned the hard way that having the wrong people only serves as a roadblock to success. Summit Salon Business Center (SSBC) and Summit Salon Consultant Britta Larson were able to provide the salon business strategy that Cindy needed to become a good leader and develop a nurturing environment in which her team could grow. Read on to discover how losing all of her stylists set her up to gain the career-minded stylists who would make The Door Salon the company Cindy had always dreamed of.


Cindy Penrod entered the professional beauty industry on a whim, but when she became a salon owner it was with a definite purpose. “I watched as our industry was continuously labeled as a joke by the masses,” Cindy explains. “And I watched as stylists’ behavior confirmed that label as well as the owners. I wanted to help young stylists see the potential and professionalism that this career offered and offer a place where it was safe to work without judgment and bullying (drama free). To me, being an owner means being a leader, and I was never a follower.”


Salon Owner: Cindy Penrod

Cindy was quickly confronted with the challenges of opening a salon company and building the right team and atmosphere. “Culture was a major issue and my leadership skills were not developed enough to handle the staff at all. The environment was downright depressing,” Cindy explains. “Nobody cared about the salon as a team. No one participated in the working of the salon (inventory, cleaning, building their own business). I could not understand why they felt it was my responsibility to grow their business.”

“I felt completely hopeless that my business would ever succeed,” Cindy says. “I felt deflated, and frustrated, like I was a complete failure. I watched other salons grow and prosper and I could not understand what I was doing wrong. I was very passive/aggressive and totally afraid of confrontation. I did not know how to set boundaries or follow through with consequences because I was more concerned that the team liked and approved of me.”

On top of these issues, The Door Salon was not located in a central area with good visibility. This was a challenge because there was very little walk-in business, which made it even more vital to have stylists who were motivated to get out there and bring business into the salon company.

“Honestly, I was tired!” Cindy explains. “I was either going to close down shop or I was going to change. I decided that I was ready to be a leader and stand up for myself and my beliefs of how a salon should run and how staff should act in this business. I had a Michael Cole book that had an advertisement for The Summit and I called that day!”


While attending The Summit, a business bootcamp and introduction to the Summit Salon Systems, Cindy realized that she was not alone in her misery. Her instincts had always been to have strong systems in place as a foundation for her salon, and she was amazed at the in-depth and thoughtful systems that were offered through SSBC. And, when Cindy realized that she had the opportunity to have a hands-on Summit Salon Consultant help her not only implement the systems, but navigate them as her company grew, she began to have hope again. But she realized pretty quickly that making changes would be difficult.

“Implementing the systems was not an easy process for me,” Cindy explains. “I lost everyone. That said, I know now that the team I had was not chosen with growth in mind. The stylists were not team players—they were lazy and tired hairdressers with a ‘job’ mentality. So, essentially, I started from scratch. I held the salon together with only my income. My coach, Britta Larson, explained to me that the best way to build a culture and a team is from the bottom up. She came and we went to beauty schools to look for associates. I was so scared. I went through multiple associates, putting my heart and soul into educating them, before I found one that was the right fit.”

“The process was emotionally exhausting, and one year into using the Summit Salon Systems, I thought about quitting again.” Cindy recalls. “Right at this time is when I met Peter Mahoney. I had a conversation with him about my troubles and woes. Peter said to me, ‘Are you doing this because of your ego and need to succeed or because this is your passion and you want to see people grow?’ This statement really humbled me and made me realize that it was my passion. That was when I really dug in and started working on me. My leadership skills, my follow through, and paying attention to what the Summit Salon Systems say to do.”


“The Associate Program took the pressure off of me and put it where it belonged,” Cindy explains. “Every stylist in my salon has been ‘home grown’ and has finished the Summit Salon Associate Program. My staff knows everything about the business, from how to find the budget for re-order, to our overall sales plan for the service and retail, to managing inventory control. The team even goes to the beauty schools to do the recruiting, helping to teach and educate each other. I see every one of them inspired to take on a leadership role, and I trust each and every one in my salon.”

“The Level System gave us purpose and direction,” Cindy says. “Service Providers use average service ticket goals to plan their day and set themselves up for success. And they take pride in earning promotions and watching each other advance and grow within the salon company.”

Cindy Penrod now feels like a leader. Her team knows what is expected of them and the Summit Salon Systems have created an environment of mutual respect and growth. The team now handles any issues together and with love and understanding.


The team at The Door Salon is just as passionate about the direction of the company and their careers as Cindy. Nicole Johnson, Audrey Zaremba, Ashley King, and Rochelle Duval share their experiences and growth.

nicole.100pxNICOLE JOHNSON: “I have been working at The Door Salon for 2 ½ years. Before The Door I was working at another salon as an assistant and at the front desk. The salon was just a job at an emotionally draining place. After I started at The Door, the Associate Program and Summit Salon Systems changed everything for me. I now have room to grow, and I learned more in my first week than I learned after months at my previous job. The Summit gives me purpose and goals, which is very motivating. If I want to grow, all I have to do is meet my goals and I will get a promotion. In the short time at The Door I have already jumped to level 2 designer with the next to be concurred before the end of 2015!”

audrey100pxAUDREY ZAREMBA: “In January of 2016 I will have been at The Door for two years. I started as an Associate and am currently a Level 1 Stylist. I feel the Summit Salon Systems have totally reshaped my career and pointed me in the right direction toward success. This program has given me the tools to take what I know and move at warp speed. I feel myself growing rapidly, not only in the salon, but in my personal life as well!”

ashely100pxASHLEY KING: “I have been part of The Door Salon since 2011. I started as an Associate and I am currently a Level 2 Stylist. I believe the Summit Salon Systems are so strong because they not only teach you how to have a successful career, but they also give you great life tools as well. You are able to reach your goals and build your career the way you want it in a more strategic way. The system allows you to see your growth pattern in a way that makes you feel proud of your achievements. I have worked hard over the years and I’m looking forward to moving ahead in my career, having my own Associate, and using my natural teaching skills to help teach these systems to others!”

rochelle100pxROCHELLE DUVAL: “I worked at two other salons before coming into a Summit Salon. I appreciate the structure that Summit Salon Systems provide. It is a great way to set daily goals and remain more on track. I have noticed in the weeks I am not following the systems to their fullest, that my numbers reflect this choice. When the suit is followed, your numbers will soon begin to rise!”


“I am 100 percent more confident and sure of things,” Cindy explains. “Passive/aggressive tendency is a thing of the past. I am a fair leader, but have a concrete idea of how my business is to be run as well as providing an environment free of drama. Each member of my team learns how to do every aspect of running the business, including budgets, inventory, front desk, and teaching new hires. As a leader, I now have no problem expressing myself in a crucial conversation moment. I always try to understand where each individual is in his or her growth process, and state what is unacceptable without putting them down or making them feel bad.”

Britta Larson has become a very dear friend,” Cindy says.“With Britta, it was less scary and she is the reason I have become a real live business woman. She taught me how to be a leader, and my leadership skills have soared. She is so compassionate, understanding, and nonjudgmental. Having her in my corner to teach me, encourage me, and hug me when I needed it the most, has made it easier for me to get to my end game.”

With a strong team in place accompanied with the right salon business strategies, The Door Salon has a very bright future ahead.

  • Increase in Total Sales/Month Since Attending The Summit: +$68%!
  • Average Ticket before The Summit: $44
  • Average Ticket AFTER The Summit: $93!

Favorite SSBC Products: Summit Salon Associate Program, Summit Salon Planner, Get S-M-A-R-T, Power to Lead, Intelligent Verbiage, Over The Top.

Are you interested in implementing proven salon business strategies into your salon company? Click to view upcoming Summit Salon Business Center programs.