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Hair Today, Salon Tomorrow


By Paul Feinberg '85

Published Apr 1, 2008 8:00 AM

Running a hair salon means a lot more than setting up chairs, cutting hair and polishing nails. Actually, many successful salons derive up to half their profits through the sale of high-end beauty products not available in your local CVS. But that doesn't prepare people like Michael Hawkins and Susan Hughes, husband and wife co-owners of Savvy Salon & Spa in Westlake Village, Calif., for the complexities of running a good business.

That's why both are graduates of UCLA Anderson's Executive Salon Management Program. The advanced management series that attracts owners from across the U.S. and abroad, about half of whom started off "behind the chair."

And it takes more than a pair of scissors and a dream to get into this Salon. The program won't accept candidates who are not currently managing a salon that generates at least $250,000 per year or the equivalent in a different currency. But for those who qualify, it's a chance to learn the skills necessary to take their business to a new level.

In the Anderson chair, entrepreneurs are groomed for greatness through courses taught by Anderson faculty that include growth strategies, financial accounting, marketing and improving effectiveness. But "the cornerstone of the program," says Elaine Hagan M.B.A. '91, executive director of Anderson's Price Center, "is the Salon Improvement Project, a personalized project immediately applicable after the course is over."

"Other salon industry education programs are all about getting more people in the chairs, but not necessarily how to generate more revenue," Savvy's Hughes says. "[UCLA's program] emphasized running your business as a brand, not just as a salon."

The program was born out of the Global Salon Business Awards, administered by UCLA Anderson's Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and created by Paula Kent Meehan, founder of Redken Laboratories and the Business Education for Salons Today (B.E.S.T.) Foundation and benefactor of UCLA Anderson. The awards festivities, which bring together salon owners from around the world, included some associated business education classes that proved so popular that the Salon Management Program was formed.

The end result, of course, is not only a good-looking salon but a well-run business. "We want salon owners to offer the greatest possible value to their clients," says Meehan. "By running their business better, they are able to offer services at better prices."