by Mark T. Palermo

What is one of the most dreaded activities in a salon?  What is it that brings moans and groans and excuses from every direction?  Two words: STAFF MEETINGS – ugh, right?

I am not going to spend much time on why salon staff meetings receive such a bad rap other than to state the negative connotation associated with salon staff meetings is NOT a reflection of lazy, apathetic employees, or poor leadership on behalf the salon owner.  Hairdressers are by nature fun-loving people who love to help people look and feel good about themselves.  The challenge with hosting staff meetings is more a reflection of inadequate design, the system.  I can help you with that!  Read on and get ready to add some zip and zing to your team via the Vanguard Salon Pow Wow.

“A Team that Play’s Together, STAYS TOGETHER”

Team meetings are an integral part of any successful business.  There are countless internet articles and blogs supporting what experts in human resources have been touting for years:  There is a direct correlation between “employee engagement and team gatherings”, when said gatherings are truly meaningful.   With more than 90-million Millennial entering the workforce over the next decade, those interested in sustaining a quality workforce had better get with the program, i.e. host team gatherings regularly and in a meaningful manner.


 START HERE!  Let’s start with a new and improved vocabulary.  These are just a few “nasty words” you want to completely delete from your dialog:

Out With:                                                         In With:

Meetings                                                          Pow Wow

Staff/Employee                                               Team Member, Teammate

Agenda                                                             Game Plan

Homework                                                       Homeplay

Owner/Boss                                                     Leader or Chief Energy Officer

Facilitator                                                         Creative Master

Trainer                                                              Learning Leader


Vocabulary tip:  Anytime you use a ‘traditional’ word that yields a not so positive non-verbal reaction from a team member, CHANGE IT!  You are an artist, get creative and develop your own salon lingo.  We haven’t even broached format and you are already making it FUN!  BTW – you will observe I only used the ‘nasty words’ prior to introducing  the new vocabulary. 

Ok, let’s “Get Jiggy With It!”


The term “Pow Wow” originated with Native American Indian Tribes, who always sat in a circle.   The circle represents unity, wholeness, and infinity.  Without beginning or end, without sides or corners, the circle is also associated with the number one, as in “our team is number one”.  The circles is the protective symbol, keeping that which is inside from been released, as in “you are safe here”.  Unity, wholeness, infinity, winning, and feeling a sense of security are all VERY powerful messages.  Always gather as a team in a geometric (symmetrical) circle.  Any variation therefore that is not an exact circle will be disruptive.  So will mobile phones, landlines, clients walking in, etc.  Set yourself and your team up to win by hosting team pow wows before business hours and with no distractions.     


While the content in each Team Pow Wow will vary from session to session, the format should remain constant.  People like to have a sense of structure in their lives.  The lack thereof provokes chaos.  Budget time frames for each segment  and stay on time.  Below is the basic format for daily Team Pow Wows:

OPEN: Victories and Celebrations – Recognize accomplishments and have team members share victories since the last meeting. This serves as a great energizer while setting the pace for a  positive session.  You will find victories and celebrations to be an effective means of enhancing team relationships, which manifests stronger teamwork.  Provide guidelines on timeframe and subject matter, otherwise you won’t have time for anything else.  For example: “Ok guys, yesterday we focused our victories and celebrations on a personal level.  Today it’s all about the Biz.  Let’s go around the circle and share one Biz victory or celebration.”  

BODY: Keep Score and Do More – Cover essential Key Performance Indicators and keep your team informed as to how the salon is performing relative to current goals.  Once done, proceed with the PREV-U (spin on preview) segment: this is the time when each stylist receives their schedule for the day.  This allows proactive planning with special product needs, creative problem solving with inadvertent booking issues, etc., or unforeseen circumstances.  A vast majority of service challenges are an outcome of poor planning.

Other topics may include:

✔ Changes in policy or procedures

✔ New product or service launches

✔ "Minute to Spin it” – A fun and highly interactive training exercise to refine dialogue for rebooking clients, up selling services, product knowledge, etc.

✔ Upgrading your menu with new services

✔ Looking for ways to improve or give superior customer service

✔ Developing a six month educational calendar.

CLOSE: Recap and Inspire – Ok, I can imagine the look of dismay and/or fear by my use of the word, “Inspire”.  No need to fret it.  Remember this: A Close is nothing more than a brief recap of the key topics, roles and responsibilities.  Since the goal is to mobilize the team in a forward focus manner, it is ideal to close with a brief inspirational message.  This can be as easy as reading a brief passage from a book, reciting a quote, or ending the session with an inspirational or fun song.  Better yet, why not pass the baton and spread the inspirational part to each team member on a rotation basis.  

Speaking of “close”, here is mine:  In business, you either pay for training or pay for not training.  Vanguard’s approach - Team Pow Wows, are vital training sessions, NOT meetings.  We have a flourishing culture at Vanguard.  We sustain our culture by starting each day (or week, depending on the operating unit) with Team Pow Wows.  We dance, sing, laugh, and sometimes we laugh until we cry – and we do it all together – all the while getting very important business done.  Our work teams are informed of where we are and what needs to happen to get where want to be.  Everyone continually stretches to unprecedented levels of performance, innovation, and growth.  The level of unity and pride among our teams is astounding.  Ever wonder how we can sustain such high quality rates, courtesy phone relations, unsurpassed education capabilities, and sustainable growth.  Team Pow Wows?  Not completely, but maybe so.  Until you try, you will never know.


Peace, Love, and Hair Gel,

Mark P. J



Team Pow Wows help to establish open and effective communication within your salon.  Moreover, they provide focus and direction for your business.  It is an opportunity to solve problems, improve processes, or reinforce an ongoing plan. This will create unity, keeping everyone on the same page and working together for a common goal.  Below are ancillary points to consider when engaging Team Pow Wows:

Dos and Don'ts:

•   30-minutes is long enough: Sessions do not have to be marathons in order to be effective.  IN fact, the longer they go, the harder it will be for you
    to sustain them. 

•   Be concise: Stay on track and on time. It is important to stay focused.  Any items not addressed during the current session can easily carry-over to the
    next session.

•   Team Participation: It is paramount to ask for ideas and input from your team. People support what they help to create.

•   Foster Best Practices: Allow team members to present something that they excel in: For example, let your top sales person share tips on what works
    for them.

•   Praise in public, criticize in private. 

•   Challenges Rule of Two: If someone poses a challenge, expect two possible solutions. This is the time for challenges to be addressed that face the group
    as-a-whole. Personal or individual challenges should be addressed at another time in a one-on-one setting. 

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