A Detroit Entrepreneur Applies Lean Auto Manufacturing Principles To Build A Beauty Salon by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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paraleeDana White

Drybars and DreamDrys may have swept every bachelorette-friendly city across the country, but Dana White says launching and growing Paralee Boyd, a Detroit-based salon business along the same lines, required extra care and treatment. She bootstrapped it with $30,000 in personal capital and set out to create a beauty business catering to African-American women, a demographic that, according to White, has been overlooked by the major blowout chains.

“Our hairstyles can take hours to achieve a certain look, so our goal is to get clients in and out the door as quickly as possible,” says White.

The former international labor specialist made an unusual move when thinking about the design of her space. Even before hiring an architect, she brought in engineers from GM and Ford with the  goal of ensuring that the salon operate as speedily and efficiently as an auto assembly line. “Living in Detroit made this possible,” says White. “The engineers told me, ‘We can show you where to place salon seats, towels and hairstyling tools to speed up the services.’ ” 

Portraits of Detroit women and customers decorate the wall of Paralee BoydParalee Boyd

From the overall floor layout to the efficiency of the shampoo bottle pumps, the engineers analyzed the hairstyling process strand by strand to figure out where White could save time and resources. “The way we wash your hair to the design of the location is all ‘leaned out,’ meaning it eliminates waste,” she explains. These methods also enable Paralee Boyd to operate as a walk-in only salon.

White expects to pull in close to half a million dollars in revenue this year, up from $285,000 in 2017 – and notes that she was able to achieve this growth without advertising.

The “lean salon” operations not only benefit White’s clients but also boost employees’ earning power, giving them the opportunity to earn more tips per shift. (White adds that her tipped employees are paid above minimum wage.) 

Inside the “lean” salonParalee Boyd

A critical came in 2015, when an investor offered White the opportunity to open a second location in downtown Detroit. But instead of jumping eagerly at the expansion plan, White, who felt she needed to strengthen company culture, turned to local business consultancy Stanley Lean Solutions, which suggested she launch quarterly “culture circles.” These full-day, off-site meetings consist of team-building, personality tests and goal-setting for all employees.

“I needed to have these culture aspects in place before expanding because I realized what a paradigm shift working for Paralee Boyd could be for staff from this industry,” says White. “We run exercises that teach staff about the importance of leaving personal issues outside of work, and they learn the difference between standard salons and Paralee Boyd.”

The culture circles helped White feel confident about scaling employee training and customer service. In 2017, she opened her second shop in Detroit. Before doing so, she received a $30,000 grant from Motor City Match, an organization that backs local entrepreneurs seeking to expand into brick-and-mortar.

When she opened her second spot, she hired a photographer to shoot powerful portraits of her staff and clientele, and these canvases hang in both salon locations. “I wanted to make sure that my team didn’t feel abandoned with me taking on a new location,” says White, “and that my salons were made to be their home away from home.”

December 14, 2018 at 01:59PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs