Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Salon Invests in Workplace Satisfaction

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Salon Invests in Workplace Satisfaction

Article excerpt

Lori Miller doesn't consider herself just "a stylist," but a career woman. Whipping up a batch of color at the Schardein and Co. salon, Miller has everything she considers a true career should have - training, years of experience and a benefits package that rivals most other industries in Oklahoma City.

Miller, along with other stylists at the north Oklahoma City salon, earns a regular paycheck, enjoys a 50/50 health benefits package, paid vacation, continuing education and an opt-in savings account for additional education.

"As an employee, it adds value to me because I know someone is investing in me," said Miller, creative specialist and general manager at Schardein and Co., as she stood in funky black boots and applied color to a client's hair.

"With booth rental salons, everyone is out for their own business, but here, the company isn't just investing in us, but investing in our future," she said.

That's exactly what Steve Schardein, co-owner, wants his workers to feel. He opened the salon four years ago with the plan of running it as a true profession, not just a business. That meant offering quality employees something they couldn't get at other salons.

"I look at myself as a career builder," Schardein said. "I've worked at salons all over Oklahoma, and they weren't able to build a business. I didn't see qualified professional people, and the salon business is just as professional as a doctor's office."

Offering benefits as such is unheard of in salons in Oklahoma, yet other service-oriented businesses nationwide are beginning to offer similar packages with the belief that quality begets quality.

Blowout idea

As a business, Schardein and Co. pays in 50 percent for employee health care. It also offers a one-week paid vacation per year and continuing education.

From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, every Schardein employee is required to attend continuing education classes at the salon, which range from insurance informational sessions to hair design classes to character development.

"I really believe my employees should get away from the salon for a week without having to worry about paying the bills when they return," Schardein said. "By offering these benefits, the stylists I employ place value on my business."

When the salon opened its doors, Schardein took eight employees to Chicago to tour top salons and their practices.

"I told them, 'This is how I want you to act. This is how I want you to look,'" he said. "Now, we send an employee every month to another salon for service so they can see what their competition is doing."

How does it pay off? According to Schardein, employees are likely to stay and become more vested in their chosen careers.

Others are taking notice of Schardein's business practices. The salon was named to the Salon Today 200 by Salon Today magazine, a business publication for salon and spa owners. …

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