Salon With A Vision: Donna Waite, Owner Suggestions Salon

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staff, utahvalley360.com

SALON WITH A VISION

We recently talked with the owner of Orem’s Suggestions Salon, Donna Waite, and were impressed with the level of dedication and passion she has for an industry that in her own words “has come a long way.” Her interview gives insight on how one salon is helping change an industry and is gaining respect in a community it serves.

Suggestions Salon is very uptown. I walked in and felt as though I was in Beverly Hills or New York. I was greeted with a friendly “hello” and was impressed by the warm, yet professional manner of the entire smartly dressed  staff. Not to mention the abundance of fresh flowers, beautiful work areas, inviting reception area, changing room, retail displays and amazing artwork throughout the salon. After talking with Donna I learned things about the beauty industry that I never knew. Gone are the days of Granny tending to the beauty needs of the community! One visit to this full-service salon and you will be hooked.

­UV:  When I walked into your salon, I was very impressed with the entire atmosphere, where do you get your inspiration?
D:  I love hearing that comment, and I have to say we hear it often.  I travel and associate with hairdressers­­ from around the world and am continually inspired from the best in our industry. We try to think outside the box as much as possible. We are proud of our Salon and our national nomination as “Salon of the Year” in the beauty industry.­­

UV:  What distinguishes you from other salons?
D:  We are professionals in our craft, not hobbyists. Most importantly, we have a continuing education program for our entire staff.  We believe in order to provide great service to our guests we must continue to stress education and training. After owning Salons for 12 years, I realize continuing growth and exceptional service require learning about the latest in techniques, processes and products.

UV:  Can you share a little about these education programs?
D:  I believe my staff is our salon’s greatest asset.  I invest heavily in our education programs.  I empower my staff with continuing training, so they can provide the latest in styles and first class care for our guests.   We hold a two-hour class every Wednesday for all that work in any service department, no matter how long they have been in the business.  We have guest artists visit from all over country conducting classes in all areas of our industry.  We also have an assistant program.  New stylists spend their first year assisting senior stylists before they are allowed on the floor full time.  In addition they attend additional weekly classes to help them hone their craft.  And it’s not just our stylists; we also train and re-train our phone and front desk staff.

UV:  Have you always had these systems?
D:   No, we have come a long way in all departments.  We are constantly analyzing where we can improve our services and systems.

UV:  You mentioned about being a professional and not a hobbyist, could you expand on that?
D:  I have an analogy that best answers your question:  Would you want to go to a doctor that saw a few patients each week and had not updated his medical knowledge for a few years, or a doctor who saw many patients each day in a professional setting and who just returned from a conference in which he received the latest information on new procedures, techniques and medications?  It is that simple … our industry requires constant updating and education on the latest trends and products so a service provider can confidently deliver a great cut, color, perm, facial, manicure etc.  It also helps energize all of us so we can be consistent in all areas of service with a high-energy attitude.

UV:  What will you be focusing on this next year?
D:  I just returned from a convention for salon owners.  My favorite class was presented by the person in charge of customer service training for The Ritz~Carlton.  It was amazing, they have perfected customer service.  I have discussed their methods with my team, and we will be using the Ritz~Carlton as a model for customer service.  We want to become the best salon in Utah and be the standard bearer for other salons to use as a role model in all areas of service.

UV:  Your staff seems so upbeat, what is you secret?
D:  No secret, we have a wonderful, self-motivating staff, and we all work together as a team in taking care of each other.   Our proudest achievement last year was the implementation of a medical insurance and benefits program for our staff.  It is rare for our industry.  The program is just another way to show our team how important they are to the entire concept of being the best and providing our guests with quality service.

UV:  What do you foresee as an upcoming spring trend?
D:  Hairpieces!  Hairpieces!  Hairpieces!  We have some great ones I get from L.A.   Additionally, strong color will be a continuing trend  and cuts that work with the texture of an individual’s hair, minimizing styling time.

Donna Murdoch Waite has been a stylist in the community for 18 years.  She has owned Suggestions Salon for 12 years.  The salon has been at its current location for the past five years, in a facility built to Donna’s specifications.  She is associated with major manufactures of beauty products, doing platform work and in-salon workshops throughout the United States and Europe.  Donna truly exudes a genuine attitude of caring for the hair and personal care industry.   Donna splits her time between her weekday home in Provo and her home in Newport Beach, California.

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