Empowerment is a troublesome word. It is overused and the context is often skewed. But Peter Mahoney, owner of the Salon Resource Group, president of the Summit Salon Business Centre and primary consultant to Redken (international cosmetic giant L’Oreal’s salon product brand) has built a highly successful business on empowering people.
Peter Mahoney got into business as a result of his neurosurgeon’s diagnosis. Enrolled in biochemistry at Dalhousie, Mahoney continuously fell asleep in class. When one day he woke up to find himself rolling down the stairs of a lecture hall in front of a hundred-odd amused classmates, he worried he was narcoleptic. He went to the Sleep Clinic, had tests done, then sat across from his specialist nervously awaiting the results. The neurosurgeon looked at him, laughed and told him the only thing wrong with him was that he was completely bored.
That really woke Mahoney up. He switched to the MBA program and never fell asleep in class again.
In his second year of school he became a partner in Atlantic Business Consultants and met the client that would impact his career path and ultimately, his life. Wayne Drew, founder of the Halifax-based hair salon chain The Head Shoppe, invited Mahoney to be his general manager in 1984. A few months later Mahoney opened the first Head Shoppe franchise. Drew had been using a chair rental business model; Peter Mahoney saw the potential in a different model and brought in commissioned employees. The new approach worked and was the basis for the business model for which he is now recognized across North America. Mahoney describes the 7 years of working side-by side with Drew as an incredible experience. Wayne Drew had learned everything the hard way and was generous in sharing those lessons. Says Mahoney, “I was trained to think like a business owner in school, and Wayne taught me to think about the people behind the business.”
In the 1990’s Mahoney had the opportunity to expand across the country but preferred to keep the company a comfortable size. He likes knowing the people he works with. The challenge then became growing the business within a limited marketplace. The answer was to develop different brands built on the same business model that would service different niches. The Head Shoppe still exists as one of the Salon Resource Group brands along with the Golden Clipper, HS Studio Salon Spa, Vitality Medi Spa and the Hair Design Centre. This last is important. As Mahoney puts it, “We grow our own people.” They hire from within, because they can. The Hair Design Centre is a school of cosmetology; their goal is to teach young stylists not just “how to cut hair but how to live a great life. How to manage their money, build their self-confidence and… see their true value.” And the importance of taking responsibility for your life.
Mahoney is a strong advocate of the latter point. In the early 90’s he had it all- the business, the money, the nice house. But he was out of shape, smoked, his marriage had gone down the tubes and he was miserable. He had an epiphany. He realized that “everything in front of me was created by me.” He made a conscious decision to change and asserts that the minute he changed his mind, he changed his world. This is the conviction that drives his business.
Peter Mahoney explains that they have two types of clients. He defines success as the ability to offer the front line people (internal clients) a better quality of life, sense of confidence and income so that the customers (external clients) feel it reflected in the environment and want to come back- which benefits the company. This is what Mahoney describes as a “win-win-win” situation.
But how do you teach those internal clients how to have a better life, more confidence and a higher income? “Behavioural modification training… teach them that what they believe is what’s determining who they are, and if they don’t like who they are and what they’re getting out of life they’ve got to change what they believe.” Then teach them how to manage their books, time and clients, how to invest and to take responsibility for their lives. After that it is up them. Salon Resource Group spends half of their annual marketing budget internally – incentives, training, support. Coaches meet with employees once a month to ask them 3 questions: “What are your goals, what are you doing to achieve them, how can we help you?” Mahoney emphasizes that they are looking for career-minded- not job-minded- employees.
This concept is what has Peter Mahoney booked for speaking engagements a year out. It is why he is president of the Summit Salon Business Centre in Minneapolis where the workshops, courses and coaching for independent salon owners based on these processes regularly sell out. It has made him L’Oreal’s go-to guy for their salon brands. Salon Resource Group sells more Redken products per capita than anywhere else in North America, possibly the world.
Peter Mahoney is guided by three Ps- Passion, Purpose and Prosperity. “Be insanely passionate about what you do,” he says, “and be purposeful.” “Design the future today” through detailed and organized planning. “Take as much of the risk out of it so you can be passionate about it.” If you do those two things, he says, you will prosper. And when you do, and you have the knowledge and experience to share – pass it on.
The Salon Resource Group can be found at www.salonresourcegroup.com
Submitted by Jacquie Thillaye. Find her at www.shapecommunications.ca