How a Jennifer Aniston Neuron Can Help Your Salon Business Grow

In marketing “God lives in the details”.

The same holds true in running a successful salon.

And top-tier salon owners know it.

They realize that the journey is more than their stylists’ giving a great cut or color – it’s each and every “moment of truth” where the client is impacted (from the greeting to the check-out and follow-up) that makes up a client’s experience of the salon.

And it’s the client’s “memory” of the salon (the good as well as the bad) that determines whether or not she comes back again – and what story she tells – to herself and to others.
Your salon story is in your client’s brain.

In the recesses of our brain there’s a region called the medial temporal lobe – an area crucial for our memory formation.

And in that region, our brain’s neurons (brain cells specialized to transmit information throughout the body) think microchips of a computer –  process information.

It’s been assumed that our five senses (taste, sight, smell, sound and touch) were responsible for creating our picture of the world – for creating our memory.

However recently, when Caltech scientists, conducted an experiment using very precise electrodes to record the firing patterns of individual neurons that assumption has been turned on its head.

Why? Because in that experiment, where participants were shown hundreds of pictures of people, animals and buildings – certain neurons were consistently fired in response to a certain person.

Certain neurons were fired in response to pictures of
Bill Clinton, Michael Jordon and Jennifer Aniston.  aniston-hair

 You could hear only crickets from pictures of Julia Roberts

The so-call Jennifer Aniston neuron fired in response to lots of different photographs of her – yet were silent in response to shots of other personalities like Julia Roberts.

So we now know that our brains neurons not only acquire information through the five senses but also can find patterns, make judgments and contemplate decisions.

Recently researchers conducted a similar experiment with other celebrities.

In one trial, volunteers were exposed to the concept of “Luke Skywalker” – using completely different representations (pictures of Mark Hamill, the written words “Luke Skywalker” and even the character’s spoken name) – representations that are dependent on separate brain pathways.

The result? The same set of neurons was exclusively activated by all three representations – yet Leonardo DeCaprio and other celebrities couldn’t activate the “Luke Skywalker” Neuron.

Not surprisingly Yoda’s picture fired the “Luke Skywalker” Neuron too!

And those memories had people rushing to see Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens – to the tune of $2 billion+ in worldwide box-office sales.

How our Brains are Wired

While our brains compile an immeasurable amount of information (they’re wired to analyze five simultaneous sensory streams – each with a different circuit) – at the end of the day, as scientists have discovered – there’s a system to construct concepts and build meaning from all that onslaught of information.

Leave the right salon story in your clients’ minds

You can positively impact your salon’s story – the one you want your client to have in her mind.

How do you do that?

First by mapping out her journey as it presently exists, (warts and all) and then mapping out the journey, as you’d want it to be.

The difference between the two journeys is called “the gap”. And once you see the gap you can start to fill it step by step – so you can fire off your salon’s neuron in your client’s brain.

To help you do this download this FREE Customer Journey Template  – make two copies and “get to work”!

(This article was inspired by a New York Post article, written by Eliezer Sternberg author of “Neurologic: The Brain’s Hidden Rationale Behind our Irrational Behavior” to read more click here


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How “Toxic” Workers Can Strangle Your Salon

It’s no secret – toxic people in your salon not only toxic
destroy morale and cause good employees to leave, they eventually even kill your business.

So exactly what is a “toxic worker”?

“It’s someone who engages in behavior that is harmful to an organization.” — Harvard Business School

And toxic workers are a particular threat to small business (like salons).

“The more intimate the workplace, the faster the negative interpersonal issues can spread. Workplace conflicts and decreased morale can disrupt productivity, alienate workers and have catastrophic effects on your employee retention efforts” according to blog postings by Accountemps.

Toxic workers can cost your salon its reputation as well as putting a drag on your profits.

Pinpointing Toxic Workers

So how can you identify a toxic worker?

Just like Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who blew the Watergate Scandal wide open by “following the money”; you just “follow the behavior”

By following the behavior you can pinpoint the “5 types of Toxic Workers”

  1.  Gossip-mongers: They spread fear-spouting hearsay
  2.  Big Bullies: These employees repeatedly put others down by humiliating them
  3.  Saboteurs Extraordinaire: These are people trying to gain advantage by hurting fellow workers.
  4.  Spotlight Stealers: They take credit for others’ work and hoard the limelight in team projects.
  5.  Chronic Complainers: These are people who are continually complaining about co-workers, clients or working conditions.

And what happens when a toxic worker happens to be a “superstar” stylist?

When a toxic worker happens to be a “superstar” stylist you have a tough problem on your hands.  Ultimately it comes down to the owner having to “bite the bullet” by getting rid of them.

Yes, it’s easier said than done. Especially when that person is holding you hostage with their “big book”.

But the Harvard Study shows that over time your company is better off without them.

One of my mentors, hairstylist/entrepreneur Jean Louis David once said to me when we were talking about this topic.

“Andrew, I’d rather cut off my arm, than lose my life”

And while that may cause collateral damage to your salon in the short run, keeping them on-board (as the numbers in the Harvard Study indicate) only allows the gangrene to spread – and never allows your company to become healthy.

Most salons keep the person on – hoping that things will change

Keep your Salon Toxic-Free

Here are three ways to keep your salon toxic-free.

  1.  Don’t hire the toxic workers in the first place. 
  2.  Have periodic “career conversations” with your team members – to get a pulse on the workplace
  3.  Hold regular performance reviews (the more frequent the better)

By keeping your salon toxic – free you’ll be able to keep morale high, keep good employees longer and build a more profitable salon.

Go to “Andrew’s Personal Reflection”



The Owner’s Antidote to Salon Marketing Stagnation

Every time I hear the phrase “hairdresser’s can’t sell retail” I have the same reaction.

No matter if those words come out of the mouth of a manufacturer, a distributor, a salon owner or a hairstylist.  I want to say the same thing.


Ever meet a salon owner (at least one who’s not out of her mind) who doesn’t want to get more new clients in her salon? In my over 30 years in the business – I haven’t.  Have you?

All Clients are Not the Same

And it’s not just any old client she wants, she wants long-term, high quality clients.  An “ideal client “ who’ll spend money on her hair, comes in frequently, takes you up on your recommendations and sends her friends too!

And to get them she has to market her business – otherwise instead of the buzz of blow dryers, you’ll hear the sound of crickets.

But to market your salon your salon successfully your first job is to embrace the idea that you’ve got to wear the “hat” of a “marketer” as well as a hairdresser and business owner.

Here’s the rub – as a salon owner your “to do” list is a mile long.

And on top of your to do list is probably working “behind the chair”…with a busy book. 

So naturally if you’re slammed with clients you probably have little time to work on marketing your business  – because after-all there’s supplies to order, client and staff issues, bills to pay … the list goes on and on.

It’s only natural to conclude “I don’t have time for marketing”

With so much to do, it’s only natural that you’d come to the conclusion “I don’t have time to market my salon”.

And since the actions we take are a result of our “point of view” (or mindset) – believing “I don’t have time to market my salon” now becomes your big obstacle from actually marketing – so that you can fill your chairs.
The question then becomes one of busting the beliefs that are holding you (and your salon) back.

So how do you do you break on through to the other side?

You’ll want to use this “Salon Marketing Belief Buster” by first asking:

The BIG Question to Ask Yourself: Is it Really True??

The big question to ask about all these beliefs, thoughts and assumptions is:  Are they really true?  Or are they just ideas you’ve bought into and taken on as an inflexible marketing mindset?

What if they weren’t true but you were operating as if they were?  Wouldn’t that be operating as if there was a big snake on the floor of your salon, when it was really only a coil of thick rope?

The way to change your marketing mindset is to first tell the truth about your current mindset.

In my experience, the following four questions and turnarounds, developed by Byron Katie ( are the most effective way to do this.

Working on Your Negative Thoughts or Intentions

First choose a thought or belief that is opposing your intention to be a successful marketer of your services.

This might be:  “I don’t have the time to market my business.”

Now ask yourself this first question:

  1. Is this thought true? – Answer with yes or no. Then answer the second question if you answered “Yes”.
  2. Can you absolutely know it’s true? – Answer with yes or no. Then answer the third question.
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought? – List all of the things that you do (or not do), other thoughts and feelings you have when you think the thought you are working on. Then answer the fourth question:
  4. Who would you be without that thought? – If that thought was impossible for you to think, how would things be different?
  5. Now turn the thought around to its opposite. – A turnaround to this thought would be: “I do have time to market myself.”  And then ask if the turnaround is as true or more true than the original thought.  (C) Copyright 2008 Byron Katie –

That’s it. Now you are looking at your original thought in a whole new way. You will find you are less attached or identified with this thought and have new options. This thought lessens its grip. The thought is no longer “thinking you.”

You have the choice of what thought would serve you better to achieve your goal.

For the best results download my Salon Marketing Belief Buster Work Sheet

Quotation: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare

Go to “Andrew’s Personal Reflection”

How to Prevent Your Salon from Losing Money in 2016

Poised for a bloody battle against an army of barbarians, Roman Legion General Maximus Decimus Meridus looked over his shoulder and sees both his beloved Emperor, Marcus Aurelius and his legion’s Roman Eagle Standard – emblazoned with the initials SPQR.

Those initials, SPQR freely translated as “The Senate and The People of Rome”, captured in a nutshell Maximus’ belief as to what he, and his well-trained and disciplined troops were fighting (and dying) for.

While you and your salon’s stylists certainly aren’t battling barbarians, you still need your own flag to rally around, a well-trained team and action plan as to how to win the game of business.

And that’s where your salon’s business growth plan comes in.

Most salon owners would rather smash themselves in the face rather than sit down and create a growth plan for their business.

To them planning their salon business’ growth is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Yet, especially at this time of year, they “know” every business (including their salon) should have a growth plan.

Unless, of course, that business is going to shut its doors.

Tragically most owners don’t spend the time doing what they know is the right thing to do for their salon – and themselves as an owner.

So Where’s the Rub?

Why aren’t they making time to map out where they’re going?

There are a number reasons why they don’t…

They believe it’s too hard is too much trouble or takes too much time
They’ve tried doing it and it hasn’t worked
They believe that even if they do it – it won’t work for them
They don’t know how to do it
They don’t know how to use a plan

Look, we all know that planning for your salon’s growth, in and of itself, won’t put one more dollar in a salon’s bank account.

Why? It’s the actions you take that ring the register (or not).

It’s Critical for Salon Growth

The act of planning, is simply getting your ideas and thoughts down on paper and organizing them so they can be communicated to your team is critically important.

A salon growth plan helps you take  “right” actions – while avoiding taking the “wrong” wasteful” ones.

Here’s The Good News!

And for those of us who hate to write there’s good news.

Believe it or not it you can do it on a single page of paper.

You don’t need a long – complicated – never to be seen again once it’s finished plan.

What salon owners need is something simple, direct and clear.

No $10 words.

You need a plan that can help move your salon ahead of where it’s at – and move you way ahead of your competition.  

Most Salon’s Are Like Ships without a Rudder – Sailing in Stormy Seas!

I’d say that over 90% of salons are operating
without a plan and, although you may not know it,
are hanging on to dear life by the skin of their teeth.storny

So you may be asking yourself “ if a business growth plan can do so much for an owner and their salon why aren’t they creating one – and using it ?

Well either they’re not reading this article because if they were they’d definitely want to create a plan.

Or maybe, unlike you, they’re just too lazy!

We both know you definitely didn’t go to beauty school to learn how to write a salon business growth plan.

Far from it.

You got into the hair business because you enjoyed being with people and wanted to make them look and feel great.

Frankly you’re a people person up on the “front line” every day – and not some “bean counter” with green eye-shades sitting in a back room somewhere – staring at numbers.

So you may be thinking that…..

Salon Owners Need This Like a  Hole in the Head!

Truth may be told, without a plan a salon owner, whether they want to admit it to themselves or not, is really lost in the brambles of business.

And as much as she feels she can do without it – and as hard as she tries to get by without one – she’s smart enough to know she needs one – especially if she wants to get out from behind the chair some day – or at least not have here salon’s bottom line depend upon her personal production.

While planning your business may look and sound scary – especially to an salon owner who’s working behind the chair – who barely has enough time in her busy day to breathe – let alone take the time to plan – in reality it’s not.

It’s Easier Than You’d Think

OK there are salon owners who, one time or another may have created a plan.

And they’ll swear up and down that  it didn’t work for them.

Odds are the plan they created was one of those “business” plans that a bank or the SBA (small business authority) insist upon before they’d consider loaning you money.

Look, those plans are simply for window dressing – filled with projections and promises that will never be looked at again once the loan has been made.

But My Salon’s Different!

And then there’s always the “but my business is different” crowd – so this as well as most solid business practices won’t work for them.

You may have even met some of those owners. They’re the type who fervently believe that the only thing that will get them over the goal line for the touchdown is by putting their nose to the grindstone and “just doing it”.

Unfortunately they never end up winning – rather they’re the ones on the proverbial hamster wheel – spinning around just “doing it doing it – doing it!”

And finally there are those who aren’t familiar with a one-page salon business growth plan.

So if they’re not familiar with it they couldn’t possibly know how to create one of these simple, clean, clear and communicable plans.

They wouldn’t be aware that these are “working” plans.

Why it Works

Why does it work?

1. Takes a complex process & makes it simple
2. Focuses your people and resources on what’s important
3. Is readily understandable by everyone in the salon
4. Gives you the consistency of getting everyone operating on the same page
5. Is flexible so that it’s easy to update and adjust according to your latest thinking.

The Five Key Components

So what are the components of a One Page Salon Business Growth Blue Print

There are five sections:

1. The Vision
2. The Mission
3. The Objectives
4. The Strategies
5. The Plans

The Answers Lie in Your Questions

In each section there’s a question you’ll want to answer.

Section         Question
Vision What are you building?
Mission Why does this salon exist?
Objectives What will you measure?
Strategies How will this salon be built? What will make this salon successful over time?
Plans What specific projects or actions will we take this year to achieve the objectives?


Probably the best way to understand what I’m writing about is to see what an actual plan looks like.

So check out this year’s plan from one of my coaching clients. Click here to download.

Now go ahead and make your own plan for 2016 now.

Once you’ve finished you’ll have a tool that’s second to none it helping you move your salon forward.

Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming free webinar where I’ll share with you exactly what you need to do to create a powerful One Page Salon Growth Plan for 2016.  Webinar details coming soon!

“Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better.” – John Kotter

Go  to “Andrew’s Personal Reflection”

Some Things are “Non-Negotiable”- How to Stop Employees from Destroying your Salon

One of the biggest challenges business owners face is finding and keeping good people. It’s a challenge that’s magnified our business because those good people are hairstylists – and are required to hold a state cosmetology license.

So what usually happens is we need to hire someone for our business – and while stylists around the world cut hair, color hair and sell professional products – all this activity is being done in a place of business that has it’s own set of standards (core beliefs) – and that place is our salon.

But are core beliefs just a bunch of bunk?

It’s those standards that make our salon unique – its what forms our salon’s DNA – and this DNA cannot be cracked – or broken – otherwise your salon would mutate right in front of your eyes into something that you’d never envisioned.

Enter the Salon “Non-Negotiables” – a written document expressing those standards- standards like: days our people are expected to work, training that they must take, meetings they’re required to attend, etc. And most importantly it needs to be written in a way that reflects the “spirit” of the salon.

For example a “cool and trendy” salon still has a structure and rules & regulations (aka Non-Negotiables) but they have to be written in a way that will express the salon’s free-spiritedness rather than in a very cold “corporate” manner.

And you know how that “corporate” stuff can turn hair stylists off – not on!

Now we know what a Salon’s “Non-Negotiables” is, the next question we have to ask is why does a salon need them in the first place?

Salons need them to help their owners make a successful hiring selection.

Let’s get back to the hiring of that new hairstylist. In the salon world depending upon the type of salon we own/operate and the kind of situation we’re facing e.g. we may have just lost business when they lost some of our people (aka walkout) or we may be looking to expand our salon business). Whatever the situation may be it boils down to this: owners are looking to hire one of three types of people:

  1. The seasoned veteran (someone who already has an established clientele)
  2. The relative newcomer to the salon business (they usually have a small following of clients)
  3. Theas soon it It order cialis soft 10 pills have prompted, for mixing wellbutrin and viagra odor product your suburban numerous hair newbie (a recent graduate of cosmetology school)

While each of these categories of personnel has their own set of problems and opportunities – they all come to the interview with one thing in common: they don’t understanding the exact requirements we have for working in our salon.

And isn’t this the stuff that gets us into the “Gotcha” game later on?

And how could they possibly know – after all they’ve worked in either another salon(s) where the rules of the road are different. Or they’ve never worked in salon before.

So when it comes to looking at “what my job is” the prospective hair stylist goes into default mode. And what is “default” mode? Simply put – it’s an interviewee’s perspective when looking for a job as a hairstylist working in a salon.

And the conversation running in the candidate’s head is this: “I’m being hired to stand behind a chair to cut and/or color hair.”

But that conversation in the candidate’s head simply isn’t true…

Because from our perspective (we’re the salon owner) things look mighty different. – don’t’ they?

Once again it depends upon the type of business we’re operating and the type of salon the applicant is coming from – the interviewer and applicant could be an ocean apart as to what the job actually is.

Why? Because the candidate is basically starting in default mode while we -the interviewer – are starting in full operating mode – the candidate knows next to nothing about our salon while we know everything.

Both want something but that something isn’t yet clearly defined

So at this point how in the world can either of us make an intelligent decision about the another? Frankly, we can’t.

But you have to start somewhere. And this is why the salon needs to have its “Non-Negotiables”. While the owner needs help in making the hiring selection, the candidate also needs help in making her “where I’m going to work” selection.

Here’s what a salon owner can do to ensure that she spends time on truly “qualified” candidates:

When a candidate comes into the salon and requests and interview she’s given the “Non-Negotiables” (put it in an envelope) and a prepaid card from Starbucks (or your local coffee house). Then she’s told the following:

“Before we’ll interview I’ve just given you a letter we’d like you to read and think about. So go over to Starbucks have a cup of coffee on us and take time to review the letter. And after you’ve done that and you still want the interview, then come back to me and I’ll set up an appointment for you. If by chance you discover that we may not be the salon you want to work for, there’s no hard feelings. You don’t have to come back to tell us and the cup of coffee is

still on us”

As you can see the Salon’s “Non-Negotiable” is designed to help both parties understand at the beginning of the courtship of employment, exactly who’s who and what’s what – and both parties have an interest in getting that understanding up front.

It’s worth it because you’ll save tons of time and trouble later on by doing this now!

For an owner, whose time is limited and therefore precious, she gets to spend her time interviewing only those people who agree to the “Non-Negotiables”. And for the candidate, she gets to end up working for a salon that’s really right for her.

But wouldn’t using the “Non-Negotiables” limit the number of candidates we ‘re seeing? Wouldn’t we lose the opportunity to see good people who could be successful working for the salon – if only one or two little things are changed?

Little things that really don’t matter anyway.

And isn’t it’s always the little things that spoil the good stuff?

Sure the “Non-Negotiables” limits the number of candidates you’d be seeing – and you want that. Why? Because you want to see only the “good” candidates. And a “good” candidate is someone who has the best chance of success in your salon – someone who’ll work with you rather than against you.

As for those “little things” that don’t matter anyway. If that’s truly the case then why put them in your salon’s “Non-Negotiables” in the first place? Frankly they don’t belong there.

So there you have it: The Salon “Non-Negotiables” a tool designed to help you find and keep good people.

Do You Astonish Your Clients with Exceptional Customer Service?

For the past 5 years I’ve visited Los Angeles every 4 to 6 months.

And every morning when I’m in L.A. without fail (rain or shine – though

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in Southern California it’s mostly shine) I go to Champagne French Bakery Cafe for breakfast.

When it comes to food I’m like most people – a creature of habit. So at Champagne I order the same thing (oatmeal made with water) to go. It’s an item that’s not on their regular menu (oatmeal made with milk is), but something they can cook up as a special order – I just have to wait for it (15-20 min).

Because I’m taking

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my order out they ask me for my name. Then rather than hanging out I’ll go next door to Starbucks to get an espresso, before returning to pick my order.

BTW, I won’t order Starbuck’s oatmeal even though it costs 1/2 as much as Champagne’s – I simply like Champagne’s better (plus they give me a fresh fruit cup on the side).

Anyhow last week I returned L.A. and at 7am I went for breakfast.

As soon as I placed my order the young woman at the register – someone whom I had only seen in place before)

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said “Andrew”.

I was astonished. It’s true that the sweetest sound to someone’s ears is the sound of one’s own name. And I’m no different than anyone else.

To hear my name come from her lips (this is a busy place and I hadn’t been there in six months) was nothing short of amazing.

My immediate response was to ask her what her name was.

“Iliana” she told me.

“Well Iliana how did you know my name is Andrew? “

“I know” was her reply.

All I know is the next day I told the General Manager about my experience and how great it felt to be recognized by my name. And now I’m sharing the story with you. Maybe you and your people can astonish your clients the way Iliana astonished me.

To Life!



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