On any given day, Sheila Gentry, the concierge at Salons by JC in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, might be polishing windows, updating a spreadsheet for the location’s new day suite, finding business partners for a client appreciation party, connecting with a hair color rep, conducting a confidential tour or attending a Chamber of Commerce event. As part of the new offshoot of hotel concierges (which includes personal, retail and hospital concierges) Gentry is forging an innovative path created by Salons by JC: the salon suite concierge.
Much like their hotel-based counterparts, salon suite concierges stand for over-the-top service and the ability to make things happen. They also uniquely blend business and art with right- and left-brained activities, making them highly organized “people persons.”
What it Takes
As Salons by JC’s foremost point of difference, on-site concierges are flexible “experienced managers” who can turn any problem into a positive. This demands a multi-faceted background, which just happens to make women who worked while juggling a family ideal for the job. Gentry owned a gymnastics academy, acted as a travel and event planner, earned a cosmetology license and worked in a salon. Her counterpart at the Salons by JC Greensboro, North Carolina location, Shane MacLeod, holds a degree in business, has worked in advertising, sales and real-estate leasing, and is also a professional horse trainer. (She and her daughter recently won their first World Championship.) Both agree that their strongest earned skill is the ability to listen.
Which challenges demand that skill the most? “It can be hard to go out and market the location when I’m simultaneously being pulled back in to tend to tenant’s needs, but juggling it all is part of the versatility I love,” says Gentry. “It takes a strong ability to listen and communicate.”
MacLeod, whose first challenge was to help fill suites, says that in getting them full and keeping them that way (the Greensboro location recently won the Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Business of the Year Award), she focused on Facebook, flyers and local functions. Whether networking at a “Wind Down Wednesdays” event or with local SalonCentric stores, her greatest strength, she says, was taking time to listen.
“I know some don’t agree, but I have my phone on 24/7 so that I’m available when needed,” says MacLeod, who has kept the suites full ever since her outreach.
Business Builders for All
Listening with purpose also gives the duo great creative ideas, like MacLeod’s tenant/client parties and “Walk-ins Welcome” displays, as well as Gentry’s open-suite events for product reps who offer education and Client Appreciation days. To share what works both locally and within the Salons by JC network, the two frequently collaborate on ideas and talk to their peers through a special area on the company’s website.
All this communicating keeps the concierges wise to the very latest business disruption—multi-level marketers who feel free to walk into salon suites and interrupt haircuts, much to the annoyance of the many renters of other suites who posted on Facebook. At Salons by JC, that won’t happen, says Gentry: “We know who is seeing whom. Reps visit by invitation only and if I see a new one, I politely let him or her know our policy.”
Salons by JC’s concierges also ease both the large and small stuff for busy franchisees. They conduct tours, collect rent and explain leases, conduct fire drills, coordinate work orders and perform their own maintenance checks. “There’s a lot of hair in those central vacuum systems,” says MacLeod of the suites’ convenient wall-inlet system. “That’s ok because what I love most is seeing clients come out with a new cut or a makeover. We even have a place to photograph their before and afters.”
Adds Gentry, whose background gave her tons of connections for business partners, caterers, tenants’ birthday cakes (which she always gets) and local publicity, “I love being able to serve and listen. Our Grand Opening Party was a huge success and our location has even expanded to another floor since we’ve opened. Our recently opened Day Suite, where rents start at $50 a day, is helping newer stylists build a business before they fully commit and allowing stylists with young children work when they want. Next, I want to host a fashion show using our pros and local department stores. I just love working with hairdressers. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re organized and take it one step at a time, it’s the best job in the world.”
Salons by JC corporate office salutes Sheila Gentry and Shane MacLeod for their superior customer service, dedication and innovation in the role of concierge. Congratulations on setting the standard for a Salons by JC superstar concierge!