How to Craft Your Culture and Ultimately Shape Salon Operations


Culture is the spirit that lives in your salon. Your salon’s culture is what ignites your employees. It drives the decision making within your business, and ultimately, your culture dictates how your salon operates—so, if you want to have some control over your operations, you have to first understand how to craft your culture. 

The queens of culture keeping, Keri Davis and Karla Lopez-Martinez from Beauty Backbone, are here to share their secrets for crafting a positive culture in order to shape your salon operations. 

We introduced you to Keri and Karla on the Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed their previous interviews, we’ll give you a quick recap: Keri is the owner and founder of the reputeGila Rut Salon group in Southern California where Karla actually began her journey as an assistant. Karla quickly moved up the ranks at Gila Rut to eventually become the co-owner of their second location. 

With the help of Gila Rut’s educational director, Jonatan Rizo, Keri and Karla founded Beauty Backbone, a digital education platform for owners by owners. Beauty Backbone teaches salon owners the secrets to educating, directing operations, managing finances, and instilling leadership skills in your team. Keri and Karla have had years of experience in crafting their own salon culture, and now they’re here to help you do the same. 


Communicating Your Business Mission is a Must

The most important step in crafting your culture is creating that one common goal. If you want your team to come to work feeling motivated each and every day, they need to have a tangible mission to work towards. 

Keri believes the best way to decide on your salon’s business mission, is to ask yourself one question, “What are my three core values?”. Of course, very few of us can recite our top three right here on the spot, so—let’s break it down even further.

Who Are You?

Now is the time to dig deep in order to determine who you are at your core and ultimately what matters the most to you as a business owner, both personally and professionally. 

What Do You Believe In?

After you’re able to pinpoint exactly who you are at your roots, it’s time to dig into your most basic and fundamental beliefs in order to determine what kind of culture you’re going to build within your salon. 

What Are Your Non-Negotiables?

Everyone has them, and as a business owner you need to clearly communicate your non-negotiables with your team from the get-go. Honesty is key in crafting your ideal culture. You have to set those ground rules and clearly lay down your expectations before you can watch your team soar. 


The Formula for Guiding Operations

Keri and Karla approach their salon operations as a formula of behaviors and actions that produce results. So, if you want to master this formula, you have to first differentiate between your individual operations and determine which ones might require your attention.  

If you want to have more control over, let’s say, your salon’s customer service, you have to clearly communicate the kind of attitudes and behaviors you expect of your team in order to see those results. This boils down to the specific verbiage your front desk team is using over the phone or when checking in your guests to the exact route you expect your stylists to use when taking new clients on a tour of your salon. 

The more specific you are in your instructions, the more precise your results will be. Your team is your vehicle for maintaining your culture and really seeing your salon operations through. If your team knows what’s expected of them, they’ll quickly fall into their groove, and your culture will surely follow suit.


The Cultural Commandments

Many of you, as salon owners, likely already have a mission statement in place, but now it’s time to figure out where that mission exists. To be clear, we’re not referring to where it’s written out on the “About Us” page on your website, or how it’s buried deep in the paperwork you use for hiring. We’re referring to where this mission exists within your salon. 

Someone somewhere along the way told us that we needed to have a mission statement in order to build a business, but no one told us how that mission statement becomes this living, breathing thing within our business—and that is where your salon culture comes in. 

Culture is this buzzword now and suddenly everyone is scrambling to figure out what their culture is or if they even have any sort of culture in place at all, but if you really think about it—

this is nothing new. Every salon has established its own “vibe.” It’s an inevitable component of running a business and building a team. Keri and Karla both emphasize that it’s really not about finding your culture, but that instead, it’s about nurturing that energy and keeping your culture alive. 

If you’d like to learn more about this beauty business phenomenon, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 157, and don’t forget to check out Keri and Karla’s digital platform, Beauty Backbone, for the ultimate in-depth guide to crafting your salon culture.  

Emily Kelly