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Business processes: The systematic way to grow

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Jereme Bokitch’s ability to translate his vision into repeatable and teachable business processes has played a big part in the success of his Hedkandi hair salons in Calgary.

Bokitch has documented his procedures in a manual and puts them into practice through an education program for his staff. Equipped with that, Bokitch says his business could run without him.

“Nine times out of 10, when one of our leadership team makes a decision, it’s the exact decision I would make,” Bokitch says.

One measure of a business’s value is whether it could flourish and grow without the presence of the entrepreneur who founded it.

Hard to grow without business processes

It becomes increasingly difficult to manage a company that’s run with informal and unwritten processes that are kept in the head of the owner and employees. A lack of processes and automated systems can also make it harder to sell your business when the time comes.

In Hedkandi’s case, much of Bokitch’s methodology revolves around the stylists who are the company’s main assets.

Becoming a stylist at one of Bokitch’s three hair salons means becoming part of a well-established culture that Bokitch started building when he opened his first salon 15 years ago. Bokitch’s systematic approach to running his business starts the day an employee joins Hedkandi.

Training is key to system

Hair stylist school graduates are hired into the position of associate. They work for up to two years, one-on-one, with a stylist who has been trained to teach the Hedkandi way of doing business. It is only after this period that the new hires move into the position of stylist.

“We work on hair styling skills, but we also teach business skills—the importance of rebooking clients, providing retail products and getting referrals,” Bokitch says.

Before Bokitch hires a new employee, he asks candidates to work in the salon and then gets feedback from staff. “I’ve learned to hire slowly,” he says. “One wrong person can undermine the whole culture of an organization.”

Stylists earn more

Bokitch, who now employs 75, takes a lower percentage of profit than many salon owners so stylists can earn more and he can invest more in his people. Three times a year he brings in business consultants who specialize in the salon business to help train staff.

The education program and higher compensation play an important role in fostering employee loyalty. In an industry where staff turnover is all-too-frequent, Bokitch says he hasn’t lost a stylist in more than five years to another salon. “Many have been with us for over 10 years now.”

“I believe that if I take good care of my staff, they will take good care of our customers. If they are all growing, I’m growing at the same time.”

More growth ahead

When he opened his third salon, Bokitch had no hesitation in taking on one of his stylists as a partner.

“Our goal is to grow our people to where they are doing really well, then offer them the opportunity to go into partnership and carry on the values.”

With 15 new stylists learning the business, Bokitch should be able to open a fourth Hedkandi salon in a year and a half.

However, his goal is not to have the most salons, but the best ones. He recently opened Butter Beauty Parlour, a unique concept for Calgary that he describes as “a cross between a hair salon and a spa”.

“We want the growth to be happening because of how well our education program is working and because our culture is strong and nobody’s leaving.”

Jereme Bokitch’s lessons learned

  • Document and entrench your processes so they become second nature to staff.
  • Hire slowly and make sure the people you select are a good fit with your business.
  • Invest in your people. When they grow, your business grows.
  • Aim to be the best—not the biggest.

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