Louise Dickinson has been in the beauty industry for over 26 years. She started her career back in the UK working for the world-renowned beauty salons and overseeing 120 staff. Now she’s the owner of the three highly successful beauty clinics in the Auckland region.
We sat down with Louise to talk about the importance of investing in your team and culture as well as creating extraordinary experiences for your clients.
Tell us about Chrysalis Beauty and how you started in the beauty industry
When I was at college, I ended up with infectious acne and it was one of the most humbling and best ways to start in the industry. I got to look at why my skin was doing what it was doing and that whole emotional journey that somebody has when they have acne. It’s been a real personal journey for me and set me down the pathway of loving skin.
I founded Chrysalis 16 years ago at Whangaparaoa on the coast. Seven years later I opened my second Chrysalis down in Browns Bay and then two and a half years ago we opened our third clinic in Hobsonville. It’s a real privilege for me to continue doing hands-on therapy and also empower and develop other therapists to make a difference in people’s lives.
The beauty industry is all about people, and I love people. To be a great beauty therapist, you have to see the best in people and care about them.
What are the challenges of growing your beauty business and how do you meet them?
After having a clinic in Whangaparaoa for seven years, opening a second location was a big step. We had gotten our business to a point where I was completely working on the business. I had a salon manager, a full-time receptionist and a team of five or six therapists. We were super busy, but I had more time to look at where I wanted to take the company and what my goals and ambitions were. So opening the second location was a natural progression. I brought a few team members from the first location to the new salon, so culture-wise and value-wise, we had that as a really good foundation for our second clinic.
Stepping out of the business as a therapist is really, really hard because we love our clients and have a real emotional bond with them. But the reality for me as a business owner is that I have dreams and I have a vision for our business. The problem is that the day-to-day running of a business takes up so much time and actually creates this thing called urgency within our day, which stops us from moving forward. So for me, being able to put my energy towards the bigger picture and think about where I want to be in five years, that’s what my role is about.
I’m still helping and supporting my managers to be great leaders. I see that as an important part of my job, but also to work on our vision and the bigger picture so that we’re constantly growing and developing as a business.
What makes Chrysalis Beauty unique?
What makes us unique is that at the heart of Chrysalis, we are absolutely about results and valuing what people’s experiences are when they come in. As a skin clinic, we’re very much focused on causes and conditions. What is the cause that’s creating what our client is seeing physically from acne, pigmentation, aging, all of those types of things.
But what we do differently here is how we deliver the experience and being intentional about the small things that impact a client’s visit. It’s the atmosphere when somebody comes in. In a treatment room, it’s the lighting, the noise, the sound, how you come onto the body. Those are important things that we train within Chrysalis, e.g. pausing and stopping, making sure you’re focusing on your breathing. All of those elements take that client’s treatment to the next level.
One of the goals that we train within our treatments is that you’re not to talk throughout your facials. The reality is that the client is not going to have the best treatment she’s ever had if she’s chatted through it. Our goal is to exceed expectations and we’re committed to excellence. It’s something you have to focus on as a therapist to deliver great therapy.
How do you create a positive culture at your beauty salon?
Values and the culture within a business are absolutely critical to the success of any business. I don’t believe that a good culture just happens. It’s very much about being intentional every day and it’s something that at Chrysalis we work hard at. Recently, we started Friday meetings in all our clinics where we sit down for 15 minutes and talk about our values. The values were picked by our team and during these meetings, we talk about how we were able to deliver on these values and then look at our culture as a whole. It’s what feeds that whole purpose of what we’re here to do.
I’m also a big believer in collaboration and learning from each other. Each week, one of our therapists will bring a topic and the whole team will train for 15 to 20 minutes. Then the girls will sit down and brainstorm a topic for next week. It helps us to make sure that we’re seeing the best of each other. It’s important for me as an owner that we’re learning new things and enjoying each other. One of our values is ‘fun’, and it’s enjoying each other and enjoying the environment you are in. Our clients feel that too. The moment they walk in, it’s the atmosphere that clients pick up on and that’s important to the success of Chrysalis.
How do you achieve success in your business?
One of the keys to the success of running a business is walking the talk and truly loving what you do. You can’t fake – that the girls know it. I’m very intentional in coming in with a positive attitude, being super passionate and excited about the results that the girls are achieving. Part of our culture is to share our experiences. So when we’re seeing that the treatment is working or if we’re having challenges with skins, we are showing each other the photos so that we can discuss it as a team and work out where we need to go. The biggest thing is no one’s skin is the same. So we need to constantly as leaders, be developing ourselves, learning ourselves and then emulating that to our therapists.
For me, training is essential to a successful business. If a new therapist comes into our business, regardless of their experience, they’ll do a three-week training program with us. Every single treatment we do in Chrysalis is what we call crystallized even right down to your eyelash tints.
How do you train and develop your team?
Growth and development are super important to empower our staff. So when girls start with us, they actually can see a two-year growth plan, but they can move a lot quicker depending on their speed of learning, their development, conversion to treatments, revenue, and retail sales.
I often find that when a new therapist comes in, there is so much information to learn. You’ll train them something in-depth and then you’ll come back in a month and they still cannot explain it in client terms. That’s a really important thing. Understanding it as a therapist is one thing, but actually being able to communicate that to your client and educate your client is a huge part of the relationship that we build within Chrysalis.
So we have looked at different ways of being able to get therapists to absorb it quicker, because as a business, the quicker, more productive a therapist becomes, the better it is. It’s kind of a win-win.
One of the things that we do within the training is we film our treatments and our training. We film us doing things on Kitomba to teach the girls how to use the software efficiently. In videos about treatments, we might film us talking about pigmentation. We also do Zoom training and in-clinic training. It’s all about repetition.
What Kitomba features couldn’t you live without?
We love Kitomba and partnering with Kitomba. I have a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old, so I’m still a full-time mum outside school hours. When I’m working, I need to take the business with me and that’s something I love about Kitomba. I can work on my business at the swimming pool waiting for my daughter to finish the class. I can have a look at how the day is going or move things around, look at my staff’s KPIs, and provide instant feedback. That’s critical to me.
I love it for how easy it is and how accessible it is for me regarding what’s happening on the floor and in the shops. It’s a really easy salon management software for new staff members to learn as well. It’s intuitive and the running of our day is simplified through Kitomba.
The other great thing about Kitomba is that all girls within Chrysalis have Kitomba on their phones. Client confidentiality is really important to us so Kitomba is great because the girls can see their schedule for the day or week ahead, but they can’t go any further than that at home.
We made a big change in our business a couple of years ago when we got off the paper system. Even when we started using Kitomba, we were still filling out consultation forms on paper. Then Kitomba launched its Digital Forms, so now we do everything off iPads. A client comes in, they can update their information on an iPad, and if they haven’t been to us before, we send the digital form to them before the appointment which makes life really easy for us. The girls will bring in their iPads when they’re doing a consultation and they’ll upload photos of their clients onto Kitomba so that we’ve got that history and it’s stored there in a confidential manner. Our staff can go into a client’s history, see what products they purchased, what treatments they had, and any notes from other therapists. All of those things make our employees’ lives a lot easier. It also makes it efficient for the clients because it streamlines their appointment and their therapist knows their needs.
My favourite Kitomba feature is the Business Summary report. I always check the Business Summary report at the end of the day to see how the day has gone in the salon figure wise. I look at retail sales, treatments, gift vouchers, and skin programs. Kitomba allows me to see my success in real-time. I can also go into the performance of every individual therapist. If they’ve had a phenomenal day, I’m able to see it straight away and let them know that they did great. I think it’s really important that we appreciate the hard work that our team members are doing.
With Kitomba 1, I can get into those deeper reports from home and it’s massive for me. I don’t have to come into the salon regularly to get reports out. Having both Kitomba and Kitomba 1 seem to really suit my lifestyle and also my managers’.
One of the reasons why we chose Kitomba over the alternatives is the reputation that Kitomba has for supporting its customers. That’s really important when you’re running a business to be able to get answers quickly and efficiently.
We looked at Kitomba and the type of support that they offer, and something that I have found phenomenal in Kitomba is their webchat where you can type a question and someone will respond. I use webchat all the time because it’s instant. I don’t always need to email or pick up the phone. I just find it much, much easier to use.
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