Investing in the future
by Rita Smith
Staff training and development is the organization’s mantra at Valentino’s Grande Salon
Valentino’s Grande Salon is a pre-eminent business in Durham Region and one of the most successful salons in the country, positioned in the top 1 per cent of Canadian salons. Since its inception, Valentino’s has been dedicated to training its staff in the newest, trend-setting techniques and products the industry has to offer.
Founded in 1985 by brothers George and Vasile Tsinokas (both Dale Carnegie graduates), Valentino’s is the largest trainer of apprentice hairstylists and colourists in Ontario.
More than 85 individuals are on staff at Valentino’s Grande Salon, which invests over $100,000 per year solely on staff training. In recent years, this has included sending key personnel on the Dale Carnegie Course®. (Additionally, George has served as an Assistant Business Coach with Dale Carnegie, as has his Senior Colourist Nicole Prentice).
“Every one of my staff who has taken the Dale Carnegie Course® has gone on to be part of our leadership team,” George points out.
Valentino’s has earned numerous awards and accolades, including the highly prestigious Contessa “Salon Team of the Year” award.
In addition, five years ago George and Vasile launched Valentino’s Training Academy. The Academy is adjacent to the Salon, which has expanded to dominate almost an entire block in downtown Whitby.
Every stylist or colourist employed by Valentino’s must take the Academy Training, which means that for the first two years every Monday and Wednesday is completely dedicated to training with Salon specialists or industry experts (this has included bringing in Dale Carnegie coaches to offer Human Relations Workshops).
Because of its commitment to training, Valentino’s has experienced growth for 14 straight years. It even grew during the recession of 2008-09 and continues to grow today.
“Where a lot of people finish training, we are just beginning,” says George. “We invest in our people continuously…we have invested more than $2.5 million in staff training alone since we opened and have an 80 per cent retention rate among our staff.” (His biggest challenge at present is maternity leave, with six of his most experienced staff away having babies – but they all plan to come back.)
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of education, training, development and investment in employees: “Education is our organizational mantra, personally and professionally. Training is the very core of our business,” George emphasizes.
Young people who join the team “are here to concentrate on their careers,” George says. “We support them in every way possible. Do we get burned every now and then? Of course. Some people take our training and then leave for other salons…that is part of business. We still look for people who want to be great human beings, who are people oriented, and who connect to others. One of our core philosophies is ‘Hire attitude, train skill.’
“Our successful employees understand that our #1 job is to make people feel good about themselves.”
Valentino’s intense focus on people skills, caring and consideration begins at the management level and flows throughout the business through consistent policies and is reinforced with regular training.
Staff truly take these policies and attitudes to heart and live them each day: every one of the 85 staff come in every day intent on ensuring their clients leave satisfied, happy and gorgeous.
By Rita Smith, Dale Carnegie Business Coach