Thursday, December 22, 2011

Year End Bonuses

Year end bonuses are so common in business.  But frankly, they are so worthless.  OK, I know I sound like Scrooge.  But I am talking about productivity...

Your employees might like... and even expect a year end bonus if that is what you have traditionally done for them.  But I would suggest something different.

At the beginning of the year, have a meeting with all of your key people.  Before the meeting, consider what it is that you would like them to accomplish in that year.  What are 3-5 key items that you would like to judge them on?  I like 3-5 because it is a reasonable number of things to hold your people accountable to. 

Items could include:
  • Reduce Inventory by $50,000
  • Grow sales by $100,000
  • Keep your costs under budget (I will save budgeting for another post... it is key though)
  • Reduce turnover by 2 people
  • Add 5,000 new Facebook fans for the company
If people establish bonus criteria, it is usually more like this:
  • Improve customer service
  • Be a team player
  • Do your job (OK I am just joking about this, but sometimes that is what we give bonuses for!)
These goals don't have any measurement to them.  At the end of the year, it is impossible to sit with your people and say, yes you are a team player.  Make the goals SMART.

T-time frame

So you develop your goals, then you need to determine how important it is that they accomplish these goals.  If it is VERY important to the company, then give them more money.  If it is NOT that important to the overall company goals, give them less money (or perhaps reestablish NEW goals!).

For example, you might believe the criteria are mission critical to the company.  If you hit these goals, you will be a better business next year.  Therefore, I would give my employee 25% of their base pay in this bonus package.

Or conversely, it is good to establish the goals for this particular employee, but frankly, if they accomplish the goals, your business is only going to be marginally better, I might only have a bonus pool of 2-5% of base pay.

Then you can weight each category.  So for explanation sake, let's use the items I included on top.  Which of those is MOST important to the company next year?  I would always say that SALES is the MOST important thing, so I might give that a 50% weighting.  Second might be reducing inventory, so I give that a 20% weighting.  And the other 3 are equally important so I give them a 10% weighting.

The year happens.  Your employee hits the sales goal and misses the other goals.  So of the bonus pool you established, they are only eligible for 50% of the pool of money.  This employee makes $50,000.  I gave them a bonus pool of 20% of base pay or $10,000.  Because they ONLY hit the sales number, they are eligible for a $5,000 bonus.

I love having bonus criteria like this.  Because I HATE to talk about money with my employees.  There is NEVER a good answer to how much they get paid.  The employee always thinks they should make MORE money.  And the boss always thinks the employee should make LESS money.  And each of them is right!  There is no way to make everyone happy.  So, I like to establish a pay amount and bonus that changes based upon their value to the company.  We "value" their value on the bonus criteria.

If they didn't get a bonus, do they deserve a raise?

If they did get a bonus, they are making the business better.  They are definitely worth paying more money to.

A caveat that I might establish with the employee is that all bonuses are based upon the profitability of the company.  If the company doesn't make money, no one is eligible for bonuses.

This is a tough one as many small businesses do not want to share the financial data with the employees.  I personally disagree as I like to share everything with the employees.  Generally they think the company profits what they sell.  They never factor in all the expenses of actually running a business.  It usually makes them better employees if they know the whole financial story.

So that caveat is really only reasonable if the employees know the financial picture.  At the end of the year, you decide your company is not profitable enough to pay bonuses.  You had better have a REALLY good reason, or you have just lost the faith and trust of your people.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why don't you succeed? One word...

I honestly believe that most people don't succeed because they are not competent.  I believe they engage in the wrong activities on a regular basis.

What do you spend your time on during the day at work?  If you are like most people, you spend your time answering the phone, handling the next client or crisis.  These activities are in quadrant 1 above.  They are urgent and important.  But most people spend their lives here.

The successful people take the time on a regular basis to do the important activities... that are NOT urgent.  Writing a blog is important for some people.  But for me the biggest missed opportunity for most is the lack of planning.  I am too busy to plan!

As we enter the next year, take time prior to each week.  Maybe it is Friday before you go home or Monday morning when you get back to work, but take 30 minutes with a blank piece of paper.  Write something you would LOVE to accomplish on top.

Then write down the steps necessary to actually make that goal happen.  Then, START. 

Or maybe planning for you is about the quarter.  You travel throughout an area, how often are you going to be away.  What would you like to accomplish when you are there.  Begin planning for your best trip ever! 

Perhaps you are a person who has a more creative job, like a stylist.  You just do what is in front of you each day.  Take 5 minutes before the first appointment, look over your clients, what could you do to make that a better interaction?  How could you prepare better for a great visit?

This is just as important for your personal life!  What are you doing to make an impact?  Plan to do GREAT things for your community, your friends and your family.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Phone etiquette continued...

Have you ever met someone in the mall and their first question to you is, "I know you, do you remember me?"  One of the most awkward questions... if I knew your name, I would have used it!

Whenever you meet someone, give your name.  Before you leave them, repeat your name and make sure that you have their name correct.  There is nothing worse than seeing the same person and having to call them pal, buddy, etc.  Let's just learn their name.

Let's say you are with someone else, introduce them to your new acquaintance.  This usually spurs someone on to give their name, therefore reminding you of their name!

We all want to be known!  One of the most important words is your own name.  It is so sweet, just rolls off of peoples tongues!

So what about the phone?  Do the same thing on the phone.  When someone greets you on the phone and gives their name, write it down.  Then refer to that name throughout the phone call.  When you end the call, say goodbye to them by name.

OK, today's pet peeve!  I get a phone call from someone that is asking questions about something related to Mirabella.  I answered the phone, "Thanks for call Mirabella this is John Maly."

This person went off telling me about the situation.  I tried to break in to get their name.  But it wasn't until the end of the call did I finally secure the name.  As I said earlier, I always have a pen and paper by the phone.  I begin writing notes immediately on every call.  Ideally, I write down the caller's name, salon name, phone # at the least.  Then while they are explaining their issue, you can be looking up their account and hopefully have a little more information about this person. 

In fact, if you call any large service provider now, they will get your name and number right away.  They say that it is so they can call you back if they get cut off.  I am sure that is correct, but it is just as important so they know who they are talking to.

And how about voicemail?  My worst voicemail is from someone who goes on and on for 5 minutes about what they want to talk to me about.  Then just before they leave their name and number, they get cut off!

So when leaving a voicemail, state your name (spell it if you have a confusing name) and phone number... s-l-o-w-l-y.  Think of how long it takes you to write out a phone number and pace yourself at that speed.  Nothing is worse than to have to rewind messages 10 times to properly write down the information. 

Then leave your message.  At the end of the message, again leave your name and number... s-l-o-w-l-y!

As a business person, these types of things are small things that make you that much more effective!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Answering your phone... with passion!

OK todays pet peeve... answering your phone!

We are interviewing candidates for a position at Mirabella.  We called one of them on their cell.  They answered, but were obviously asleep or completely distracted.

When you answer your phone, put a smile on your face, and say "Hello."  Personally, I say "Hello this is John Maly."  I think it sounds more professional.  (And I know that I have called people in the past and forgotten who I was calling!?  Sounds lame, but I know I am not alone.)

You are making an impression when you answer your phone.  Do you really want to have the impression that you are in a bad mood or angry?  I swear, that is how half the people I call sound.  And these are my friends!  Hmm, let's see... they see my number and answer like that... maybe the problem is me ;)

If you cannot answer your phone with a smile, let it go to voicemail.  That is so much better than answering your phone with no excitement.

You will accomplish more with people if you start off positive!

OK, I am going to call you now... humor me... answer with PASSION!

Hello this is John Maly

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amazing thing I learned today!

We have an opening in the Southeast.  So I am in the process of interviewing with a candidate today. 

This person has been in the salon business their whole life.  As a stylist, she said, "I am not the best stylist in my salon.  I am not the best make up artist.  But I am the busiest."  The difference for her is that she does all the little things that most stylists don't do.

When she started, she made cards offering $20 off a salon service.  Everywhere she went she would develop a conversation with people she thought would be ideal clients for herself.  Quickly, she built a clientele.

When she joined Mirabella as an educator, she was taught to do a Mirabella Minute makeover on every client.  Yesterday, she had 15 clients in the salon.  Fifteen clients got the makeover! 

If the Doctor told you, Apple a Day keeps the Doctor away, would you eat it? 

That is what I mean.  Are you willing to do the things each day that you know will get you where you want to go?

Most of us know what to do.  The problem is... we don't do it. 

Perhaps it is attitude, we know we should keep a smile on our face, treat others like we want to be treated.  But some of us are inconsistent. 

Perhaps it is administrative, like planning.  We know that we will do better if we spend the time in advance to work out the details of our upcoming week, month or year.  But we end up spending time on our urgent activities of the day like email, voicemail, meetings; but those things are not going to get us where we want to go!

My friend John Paul DeJoria (owner of Paul Mitchell) always say "Successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don't want to do."  He is so right!

Thinking about having more wins in 2012?  Be consistent!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Building a brand... the beginning

Mirabella Beauty is 10 years old.  We have a lot of people who love our brand; hair stylists, make up artists, and consumers.  How did that happen?

First, Christy, our founder, set the foundation (no pun intended) by creating incredible formulas.  And she put it in a high end package.  She had spent years at other brands, so everything she attempted to do, including sales meetings for her small team were thought thru to the minutest detail.  Everything had to be perfect.  And she infected Amber, our Creative Director with that same intensity.

But is that it?

Well that is a great start!  But now a days, brands make impressions in so many ways.  Sure it is on shelf at a retailer still.  But the customers interact with the brand in so many other ways prior to actually making a purchase.  They call these interactions the Zero Moment of Truth.

Traditional marketing would tell you that you stimulate the consumer somehow; advertising, samples, etc.  Then the client buys the product, which marketers call the First Moment of Truth.  Then the person brings the product home and tries it, the Second Moment of Truth.

Obviously, all those are still important.  The big difference today is that we all do a lot more information gathering before we actually make that purchase.  This is crazy, but on average we use 5 sources prior to making a decision last year.  And this year, we check 10 sources! 

Sure, word of mouth is still important.  You see a sign for a new restaurant opening.  You then ask a friend if they have heard about it.  They say, "Yes, my neighbor went there and said it was great."

Now multiply that by 1,000,000!  I hear that from my neighbor, then I go on Yelp and see what others are saying.  Then I look at the restaurants website, what do they serve, what are the prices, are there any specials.  Perhaps I type in reviews after the restaurants name on google.  What do these people say?

The Zero Moment of Truth.  Building a brand today includes thinking about all of those things.

So for Mirabella, I did that.  There is a website called Total Beauty that does all the beauty reviews.  We don't have but 3 products that are even on the site?!  We have to get to work!  Those are Zero Moments of Truth I am missing.

How about Facebook?  At the beginning of the year, Mirabella had 700 fans.  I was talking to a perspective salon who commented to me, my salon have 1,100 fans.  It was obvious that because we didn't have very many fans, we were not that important in her eyes.  Today we have 16,000 fans.  Not great, but becoming legitimate for a small brand.
How about YouTube?  Same thing, if you have a channel and 10 people have watched your video, not very impressive.  We went to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in NYC with Kandee Johnson.  We were doing the make up for Anne Bowen and Ivana Helsinki.  Kandee, a YouTube celebrity already agreed to come see what happens behind the scenes.  We put it up on YouTube and within a week 50,000 people watch our video! 
We went to NYC again to meet with all the beauty editors from the big beauty magazines like Allure, Marie Claire, Real Simple, and Lucky.  We presented Mirabella Beauty to them for the first time.  It was so exciting, they loved us!

Then that night we invited beauty bloggers to see Mirabella.  Those ladies have all blogged about us!  Even had something nice to say about us! 

All of these things help!  And we keep dreaming up new and different ways of trying to get consumers excited about our brand!

If this is interesting, read the mini book about the Zero Moment of Truth, it is excellent!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Top 10 Books

My Favorite Books (impossible to put them in order and impossible in that they ebb and flow over the years... except #1!)

10) The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman- felt like it gave me a much broader scope at what was really going on in the world
9) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand- page turner story of an American Hero
8) Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose- started my on my journey of loving history
7) Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe- the most read book during it's time and Abe Lincoln told her that this book started the Civil War!
6) The "E" Myth by Michael Gerber- this book is so important for entrepreneurs!
5) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell- really helps you understand success in terms of sticking-to-it.
4) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey- These are great principles to keep you focused.
3) Good to Great by Jim Collins- it has been a great reminder for me on how to build a great company
2) George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival (Volume 1 & 2) by Arnold A. Dallimore- Amazing man of God!
1) The Holy Bible- Truly my life's guide!

I love to read!

Lou Holtz once said "I can tell you where you will be in 5 years.  It is based upon the books you read, the people you meet, and the places you go!"

Want to be in a better place in 5 years.  Read better books, interact with inspiring people, and go to places that make you better!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Retail to Service- 25%!

During trade show season this year, I had an opportunity to learn from some very successful salon owners.

One of the most surprising learning?  To improve retail in the top 1% of salons from 20% to 25% service to retail ratio, the salon needed to begin selling make up!

Amazing!  I sell make up, and therefore, I am helping the best salons get even better!   I am so proud!

 But seriously, in different parts of the country, I had several salon owners come up to me and tell me that make up was the difference for them!  One of them told me that it was recommended by KRS Consulting.  KRS and Michael Cole work together in the Summit program in conjunction with Redken to help salons dramatically improve their businesses.

Salons make very little from the service portion of their business, generally.  Usually they make a much larger profit on retail.  So they have a lot of incentive to dream up new and interesting ways to provide a shopping environment in their salons.  But for most salons, it has been more and more hair care lines.  That might help.  But it also cannibalizes the sales of over hair care lines.

But taking on color cosmetics is usually non-competitive!  Very few salons already carry make up.

But we think it is simple as 1, 2, 3.

  1. have the staff use the make up
  2. have the staff touch clients with make up on every visit, just a quick 60 seconds of pure press, blush and lips
  3. hold 4 seasonal make up events in the salon per year
Do these 3 steps consistently and you salon will be on to the next level of success!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Lisa Hickerson at Ocean City
You cannot run a brand without having to travel!  I was with salon professionals in Ocean City, Denver, El Paso, Grand Rapids.  I was conducting our first beauty editor event in NYC. 

Site of our 1st Editor Event in NYC
All of that travel plus more was in 6 weeks.  After I was done, I was exhausted.  I truly give it up to all those travel warriors who do this sort of travel on a regular basis. 
RDA store people at El Paso event

The hardest thing about travel is staying up on your work at home.  Important things like email need to get done daily.  That causes return calls.  When you are traveling in different time zones that makes it all even more difficult.  Then there are small tasks you need to get done as well, expense reports.

Again, I know that there are road warriors everywhere who do this all the time! 

I give it up to you!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Keys to successfully selling Color Cosmetics in Salon/Spa

Salons and Spas are the perfect place to sell color cosmetics.  Woman are there to look more beautiful.  As the service is being performed, the client's make up gets washed off/wiped off.

But amazingly, the salon/spa industry represents less than 1% of all color cosmetics sold!  Weird?!

So here are some key tips from the salons that do actually sell color cosmetics.

First, retail is detail!  Someone in the salon must keep up on the tester unit!  That has GOT to be someone's job.  Every day in the morning this person must look at the tester unit. 
  • Are the lipsticks halfway up so they can be seen?
  • Are there any chunks taken out of any of the cosmetics?  If so, reshape it!
  • Are dust/fingerprints to wipe off?  
  • Are there supplies for clients to try products like mascara wands, sponges, Q-tips?  Is there a trash can close by to dispose items?
  • Are the caps clean?
  • We recommend that you clean the brushes at least once a week at the end of the day.  Lay them out so the water doesn't get in the metal part of the brush and damage it.
  • Want to make the lipsticks really pop?  Flame them!  Yes, at the end of the process for making lipstick, a flame if put on the lipstick.  This makes it look brand new, shiny, beautiful.  You can do this in the salon with a lighter or a match!
  • Is the signage current?
  • Wipe the testers with a clean napkin.  This makes them look brand new again.
  • Replace any testers that you can see the pan.  It makes you look fresh.  With Mirabella, all but 4 of our items on the tester unit are items from stock.  Take out a regular item and replace the tester.  Keep track of this and quarterly, you can buy the replacements at 40% off.
Second, you need to look like you are in the business of color cosmetics.  Make sure the tester unit is in the front of the business, accessible to the clients.  Put a chair next to the make up unit.  We actually sell the chair for $200 if they want a branded piece. Though you may not have a make up artist, you look like you do!  And people want to buy from experts.  You are now an expert.  Your tester units looks great.  You have a chair!

Next, do the employees believe in your make up?  If they don't use it, it certainly not going to be recommended!  Here is a quick idea, have everyone in the building wear the same color lipstick!  Make it bright and bold so the guests will notice!  I guarantee clients will ask!

The hardest thing is the next tip.  Touch each client with the line on every visit.  The salons like Studio 404 sell a lot of color cosmetics because that is part of the service they offer to the clients, a mini touch up.  Grab a Pure Press powder, a Blush! Duo, and a Colour Shine lip gloss.  Apply and watch your client fall in love with your service even more!  Take the time!!!

And finally, be involved with your community.  There are bridal events.  There are womens events.  Join those events or hold your own events each season.

If you do these things, you WILL be amazed at the business you will create.  KRS consulting, which is part of Michael Cole and Summit Salon program, have found that salons that sell 20% or more of their total revenue sell color cosmetics.  They don't carry cosmetics!  They SELL them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pay--Wholesale or retail

I have kids in school- high school and college.  They are good students, they get good grades.  But I am not a big one on grades, formal education.  Don't get me wrong, I believe that today you need to be able to check off that box that says you got a college degree.  It is important.

But what degree you got, the GPA are almost meaningless after your first job for most people.  There are certainly exceptions to that with people who have a more specific major like nursing for example.

But employers are probably only going to care about your degree and GPA on the first job.  On the first job you need to be great!  You need to be the employee who is hungry to learn more.  You want to be inquisitive about the job.  How many new skills can you learn so that you can be more valuable to the company?  You want to be inquisitive about the company.  What industry is it in?  How is that industry doing?  What are the major threats to the company?  Who are the competitors?  Check out the competitors website.  Do they do the same thing your company does?  Or do they have a unique spin that sets them apart? 

But the most important thing you can do is be good at your job.  Get through your tasks every day quickly and efficiently.  If you have down time, ask your boss how they would like you to fill that downtime.  Most bosses would die to hear that from an employee!

Be a team player.  Help others out whenever you can, especially your boss.  Are there tasks they are doing that you could do for them?  If a project comes around, be the first to volunteer.  Your work will get done.  Be the employee that is always seeking to improve the company.

So you are the best employee within the company, what do you think that means to you regarding compensation?  I had an employee that worked for me, doing most of what I just wrote.  After about 2 months she came to us asking for more money.  We told her reviews happen at year end.  She quit. 


The deal is your employer buys you for wholesale and sells you for retail.  The difference between the two prices are the profit to the company. 

The wholesale price is what you are paid today.  The retail price is the value you create for the company.  If you are great, making the company more efficient, coming up with good ideas for the company-- your value is rising! 

The more profit you can make for the company, the more the company will be willing to pay you.  You might think that is only for sales people.  Not true.  It is truly for every employee at every level. 

You will be fired if the value you create, the retail price is lower than your pay.  If the company perceives that you are making too much money, that is not a good situation.  How many professional athletes come out with HUGE contracts and never live up to their paycheck?  That is exactly what I am talking about.  

You might think I am crazy, but that athlete is better off telling the organization to pay him his REAL value and take a pay cut.  Everyone in the organization will be thrilled.  Then when the player is making the "right" amount of money, everyone will be happy.

And that is exactly what employees need to consider when they ask for that next pay raise... am I more valuable to my company? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Show Season!

Fly into Salisbury, MD at midnight, take a cab to the hotel, meet the team at 8 AM.  OK, show season is upon us.

Kelly Kirby and her team were starting the show season in Birmingham, AL with the Premier Show.   They had a great show as well, introducing us for the first time to so many make up artists, stylists, and estheticians.

But this show season really started for me 18 months ago at Premier Orlando.  We had 3 booths.  Somehow our full tester unit didn't make it.  We had no signage and black draped tables.  We sold a few deals that we secured with a rubber band.  I walked around that show and saw 12 other color cosmetics lines that were far more beautiful than ours.

So we have come a long way!

Shows are designed to make a statement.  Our best statement is made when our team of Regional Managers and Make Up Artists invite woman to have do a quick touch up.  With 7 make up artists at the show, each of our 5 chairs were always filled educating woman on how to apply.  And each woman that tries our product buys our product!

So you can see we did a back wall, one that simply says "Mirabella" that we keep around permanently, then another wall that changes fall and spring related to our focus for the trade show.  So as you can see, we were all about red lip pencils and a red lip gloss.  All three are long wear beautiful formulas.

But besides the walls we made up the product feature boxes.  We put an acrylic top on them and highlight the special under the glass!

Or we just stock it with our specials.  Either way, it ties together with our branding.  We are very proud at how it highlights our products.

And finally, we knew that cosmetics need to be tried.  The trade show before included our full tester unit.  The client would see the unit and say, I like this product.  We would tell them, great, but we don't have that one.  We only have these products.

We turned away a lot of business and opportunities for people to try our products.  And we are big believers that if they try they will love the line!

So the big deal is our open sale unit.  It holds every product in our line.  It is lovely!  And it allows clients to shop!  Exactly what we want in the busy environments of the distributor stores.  The open sale concept is for the stores.  But we needed to test it.  What better way than a busy trade show, where thousands of people touch the unit all the time.

It has been a huge hit.  Many salons are excited to have us roll this out to them as well.  Perfect!

It is well lit, eye catching... and expensive!  But if we are going to help our salons compete with Sephora and Ulta, they need to retail as effectively as those amazing chains do.

So why do I write about this?  As you build a brand you need to look at everything that helps clients make decisions.  And for us, trade shows are an important way our clients interact with the brand. 

As the Ocean City show was going on, many of our existing clients walked into our booth.  They saw that it was the busiest booth at the show.  Therefore, they know what we have is in demand.  They saw the branding we are doing.  So much so, they wanted to buy that stuff from us!

The result for the existing salons was more loyalty to the brand.  Many told me that they were going to do a better job of marketing the product.  We suggested that the tester unit needs to be up front and clean!  But also, if you are in the cosmetics business, you need to have a make up chair next to the tester unit.  You may never have a make up artist in the salon, but it give the impression that you are in the business of color cosmetics.  Therefore, they will try our brand.

The results for new salons was just as great.  Many salons took on the line at the show.  And that was do to seeing in action how to sell cosmetics.  They saw how popular we are.  They felt the make up themselves.  And they got to see the branding we are doing.

Overall, if you invest the money, trade shows can have a return on your investment.  The return is long term!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I grew up in Michigan.  I love Michigan!  Though I have lived in Los Angeles for the past 22 years, every time I talk about Michigan I call it home.  So every year, our vacation is to... Michigan!

Grand Haven Pier
Our favorite memories each year are the food (Pronto Pup, Clover Bar, Fricano's, The Front Porch, and Sherman Dairy), the sights (on top of the sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan, the peacefulness of Spring Lake in the morning, the pier), but the real reason it is home is family!  We love seeing my mom, brothers and sisters, cousins and nephews and nieces.

The Maly family
What an incredible time to be with my kids and wife, just being together.  What lifelong memories those create for each of us.

I read a book a while ago that really hit me, Copy This by the founder of Kinko's.  He built an incredible business.  But he did things really differently than I was taught.  You should read it, there are a ton of good lessons.  But one that hit me back then was about vacations.  He talked about the fact that when you take vacation... take a vacation.

So often we tell the office, call me if anything comes up.  We jump on "important" conference calls.  We check our email as if we were still at the office.  And that was me!

But vacation is supposed to recharge our batteries.  Vacation is supposed to be uninterrupted time with our families.

Stop doing that!  Take a vacation!  Actually go away and don't check in at work.  Be completely away from all that stuff.

Your family will thank you!  Work will NOT explode without you!  And just maybe, you will go back to work excited, engaged, re energized!

PS Confession... I check my email 2 times during the 9 days.  I told my wife that was the plan.  I did it at night.  But still, it was stupid.  It all could wait!!!  Your family will not!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Our wonderful make up artists!!!

To our wonderful make up artist educators, thanks for being on our conference call this week!  We love you guys and are thrilled to see your success at helping salons and spas see how they can be successful with color cosmetics.

We want to make sure you all get Rose Gold, so when you have followed both Amber and myself, email us at!

The best to you!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Think of retail as uncooked chicken on the counter!

The top retailers always keep their inventory interesting.  How?
  • Always bringing in something new
  • Keep an area to blow out stuff that doesn't sell
  • Realize that though I may have bought it for $20, it is worth nothing sitting on my shelf!
I like Banana Republic.  They always have something interesting to look at in the stores.  They are constantly moving things around.  In fact, in the last year, I think they have switched the men's side from the left to the right and now back to the left again!

But you are not a big chain of stores.  You are primarily a service provider and frankly don't have time to think that much about retail.

You need to find someone who does have the time.  Retail is detail!  Each product has to be priced professionally, displayed at the edge of your shelf right next to another product, and kept clean. 

Mirabella product Shot
The salon and spa industry is very promotionally driven.  Every line has new items all the time.  Every line has promotions that come out regularly.

You are NOT going to sell every new thing or every new promo.  So you have two choices; you can either decide NOT to buy new items and promotions OR learn how to make them your friend!

I said earlier, if you bought it, the money is spent.  If you sell it, great.  If you don't, you need to quickly (within 90 days) make a decision.  Am I going to blow this out or let it linger?  With the salon cycle as it is, your clients come in every 1-3 months.  So you buy something, and your clients have all had a chance to see it.  If you have a large enough clientele and merchandise your products so they are inviting for the client to touch and feel, it will either sell or it won't. 

Most won't!  But you have to understand that is a part of retailing.  Your clients try things and love them and continue to come back to your salon hoping to repurchase them.  This will be your staple of your retail business, your products that you have sold for a year or for 10 years.

But as a retailer, you have to be constantly looking for the next thing (as are your product manufacturers like Mirabella Beauty!).  Try them.

OK, so what do I do if it doesn't sell.

  • Use new products as gift with purchase for your existing products.  They love buying this particular product.  Give them another product that you brought in that didn't sell.  Tell the client, if you buy $40, you get this for just $5!  Clients will go to great lengths to get a deal.  And for you, it is a chance to have them sample.
  • Have an area that is NOT front and center, that you put all your old product on.  Then... have the courage to sell them CHEAP!  If you bought it for $10 and it retails for $20, mark it down to $10.  Your clients will respond to this.  Mark a product they didn't want to $18 and it won't have an impact.  But put it in half and they will jump on it!  
  • Move it around!  Perhaps you had it at the cash register, move it to another prominent area.  Take your best line, switch it with a line that you are testing!  Your clients are use to going to that location, suddenly they are exposed to something new.  This makes them feel like you are staying fresh, interesting.
One of the best retailers!
Great retailers realize they take dollars to the bank, not percentages.  Increase your sales by taking that which is not selling and creatively market it in a different way.  Your clients LOVE to SHOP!  Be like every other great retailer, reward your clients by offering deals for the new items that don't sell.  Your clients will THANK you for it!

Tell me a story of how you have turned your merchandising around!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Retailing in salons and spas made easy...

Salons and spas spend a lot of time making sure their guest experience is perfect. They want to make sure the facility is clean, attractive, and pleasant for the guest.

The amazing mistake that almost EVERY salon or spa makes is retail. The owners have a view of how retailing should be done in this industry. It is based upon the experiences they have had at other top places they have visited or read about. They are also helped in the retail area by the furniture manufacturers from this industry. And because of all this... Retailing is horrible in salons and spas!!!
Who is the biggest retailer?
World's largest retailer

Walmart. They sell roughly 1 of every 3 products we buy, period. They do not share their receipts tapes with the industry, but it is known that they do 1/3 of every manufacturers business. We should pay attention. And for that matter, where do you buy most of products you use personally. Grocery stores and drug stores. I know you HATE to compare yourself to these types of retailers. You would rather compare yourself to more upscale retailers.

Ok, how about Sephora? They are in the industry and they are upscale and they do a LOT of business. What do all those retailers have in common?
Retailing on "real" shelving
Gondola shelving. Lozier shelving. It might look ugly to you, but all these retailers use it. They use it because it is the most efficient use of space. It allows vendors/manufacturers to merchandise in a way that your guest is familiar. They can use strips to put pricing on shelf. Many manufacturers create merchandising that is designed to fit on top of this type of shelving.

Mirabella Open Sale Unit
You can see it for yourself in any of the distributor stores, Saloncentric or CosmoProf. I am selfish in this information. Yeah, I want you to be better retailers, sure. But at our Spring trade show season we launched our open sale unit. It is a unit like you would find in Ulta and Sephora.

Completely revolutionized Cosmetics retailing
It allows your guest to chose cosmetics on their own. Sephora taught the cosmetics industry that woman are knowledgable. They want to chose their own lipstick, eye shadow, and foundation.

In the fall we are going to begin rolling these out to our distributor stores. It will dramatically increase our sales. But then what? Salons and spa shelving is beautiful, but not functional for "real" retailing concepts like this. Please salons and spas, consider gondola shelving. It will dramatically transform your retailing potential. And it will give me somewhere to out these amazing units that will allow salons and spas to take a chunk out of this $7 billion color cosmetics industry!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Interviewing and Hiring

Creating a great organization is all about people!  As it says in Jim Collins book, Good to Great, get the right people on the bus and make sure they are in the right seat.

So as we have grown, it was important for me to make sure that we had the right people.  This past year we added Stephanie Johnson as our International Sales Manager and Bryan Biggers as our Social Media Manager.  We expanded into RDA/State so we added Ashlee Erickson in Texas.  So with 3 more direct reports, it was obvious to me that I needed help.

At Maly's I did the same thing.  I was the sales manager at first, but I didn't really know how to sell to salons.  So I promoted 3 amazing people into these positions that had proven themselves as great sales people, but also as people that the team looked to as leaders also.  We all have heard stories about promoting your top sales person to sales manager and you kill your company.  Not only do you lose their sales, but if they are the wrong people, they will scare away all your other great sales people.

So at year end reviews, I approached our most successful Regional Manager, Jennifer Rider to take a larger role in the company.  I was not sure where she was in terms of wanting to take the next step.  Thankfully, she wanted additional challenges and was not afraid of the national travel that would be required of this position.

But I rarely promote someone directly into this role.  So first, we promoted her to Senior Regional Manager.  I gave her the additional responsibility of training our most recent new Regional Manager and keeping up with them on a weekly basis.  I did not want her actually traveling into the other markets as she was very successful with Peel's and I did not want to derail that success.

In the first 4 months of the year Jennifer was able to maintain the success she was enjoying at Peel's plus add the responsibility of the training and weekly calls to her list.  The newer Regional Managers felt more supported and were frankly getting better answers to their questions because Jen was actually doing the job!

So now it is time to hire for Jennifer's position as we promote her to the National role.  We put ads in Linked In and Career Builder.  Linked In has been very successful for me.  We tried Career Builder, but it was not worth the ad based upon our results.  The nice thing is that Linked In lets you share your post on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.  So not only do you get people who are looking for a job in a particular area, you get your network working for you as well.  You just never know who might know someone in Omaha that is looking to sell make up!

We end up getting 35 applications from Linked In and probably another 15 or so from various other places.  Jen and I did about 12 phone interviews that lasted 30 minutes.  We break those calls into 3 phases.  First, we have them give us their career in their own words.  I will usually jump in and ask questions about why they left this place and went to this other company (was their good reasons or were they just jumping around for the greener grass), what they thought of their bosses (generally if they think all of their bosses were horrible... they will think the same of me).

Second, they need to tell us what they know about Mirabella.  Amazingly enough, some people have not even read the story on our website!  But then there are people like Genea Stark who we just recently hired that knew all of our people before the interview started!  Genea had gone onto Linked In, search under Mirabella Beauty, and found all our employees and educators.  She then looked at each person to understand them.   Boy was that impressive!

After we got done with all of our phone interviews we flew to Denver for formal interviews with 4 of the best phone appointments.  Jennifer had each candidate make a presentation to us about how they would open 50 new salons in the area.  This allows for great conversation.  At the end of these 4 interviews, we pick the top 1 or 2 candidates to fly to Valencia, CA to meet the team.

At this half day session, the candidate gets to meet everyone at the company.  They get to spend a couple of hours with Amber Bowen so they can understand how we make the product and where the brand is going.  This is always very exciting for candidates.

Then at the end of all that, we chose the best candidate for Mirabella!  And so far, it has been a very successful formula!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PR Firms

I have been at Mirabella for 14 months.  It has been quite the journey.  At first we needed to simply ship our orders to our distributors accurately and completely.  Within 90 days the team was on it!  We have had only a couple of backorders at a time since this past summer.  Great!  But that doesn't grow sales, it just maintains sales.

We were losing money, lots of it!  So quickly we found all the things we could reduce or stop while still building a high end prestige color cosmetic brand.  So now a year later, we are profitable!

But the most important thing in any organization is people.  Passionate, hard working, intelligent people who have a desire to grow.  We now have that group of people.  I have promoted a part time educator who has been with us for 3 years to a Regional Manager position (Rodyan Quinonez).  We have promoted a Regional Manager to National Sales Manager (Jennifer Rider).  We promoted our customer service person to Operations Manager (Sarah Terpstra).

To me that is a sign of a healthy organization, promoting from within.  That is not always possible, but thankfully we were able to do it here!

We hired Bryan Biggers as our Social Media Manager.  He has helped us get up and running on You Tube, Facebook, Twitter and our ecommerce efforts.

 But when Amber Bowen, our Creative Director, and I were talking about the future of Mirabella, it became obvious that something was missing.  We had a great story.  We had awesome products.  We had exciting launches.  But no one knew us outside of the salon world.  Consumers are walking into salons and are being introduced to the line.  But it would be even better if they walked in and were already familiar with the line.

So that is exactly what we plan to do.  I called out to some of my friends that own or run brands like Karl-Heinz Pitsh at Sexy Hair, Steve Goddard at Pravana, George Shaeffer at OPI, Colin Walsh at Matrix, and many others.  They generously gave me names of firms they knew and respected like Lane PR, Pierce Mattie, Bratskeir & Co., Shop PR, Creative Media Marketing, Siren PR, and others.

Each firm offered something unique.  The owners of some of the firms were amazing, but would you actually ever see them?  They had done some great work with some brands like ours, but was it the brand or the firm?  They had amazing tools to track your success, but does that translate into sales for us?

So today, we have not yet chosen our partner, but we hope to very soon.  What an exciting journey!

CB Sullivan Trade Show- We rocked!!!

Fly to Boston... go downtown to the North End and have amazing Italian food!  Take a cab to Marlborough, Mass for the CB Sullivan Trade Show.  They had not done a trade show in 3 years, but they did not forget how!  They attracted 6,000 stylists and students to this fun, high energy event.

Andrew Maly passing out beach bags!
I brought my son Andrew to do some of the heavy lifting... we gave out 3,000 beach bags to the attendees to attract interest in our booth.   And boy did it!  We were swamped all weekend.  Though we brought a good sized team of high caliber Make Up Artists, it was not enough.  When clients saw the booth, they came in and wanted to buy!

Our amazing team of Mirabella Make Up Artists

Last year I went to our trade show in New Jersey with Emiliani.  We looked so awful I was embarrassed.  That is why over the past year we have tried to significantly improve our trade show image.  We bought a big back drop wall with our name and interchangeable images to correspond to the seasonal launches.   We made pedestals that we could display product and store it as well.

But the biggest change was our open sale units.  We really believe that we need to help lead the salons and spas.  They are challenged at selling Make Up, though it seems like a natural for salons.  So we are testing at shows, then at distributor stores, and then finally in high volume salons this open sale unit.

I think she will buy it, how about you?
So at the shows we now have every item we sell to try... and buy!  And so far, our clients LOVE it!  We have some things we are going to change from these prototypes, but we definitely think this investment will pay!
Mirabella open sale format

When Sephora came to the US, prestige cosmetics were sold in department stores.  If you wanted to buy, you needed to talk to someone.  The thought was that a woman needed assistance to pick out the right products for herself.

Well, Sephora completely changed the game!  Now stores like Sephora and Ulta represent a large percentage of all prestige color cosmetic sales.  Woman love choosing what they want. 

We are hoping to test this concept in distributor stores starting in the fall.

Back to the show...

Our ladies like to have fun!
So on Sunday night, CB Sullivan held a party for its guests.  Can you guess the theme?

The show was a great success for us.  New England had been launched a few years ago.  And many of these salons did not know all the exciting changes that Mirabella has undergone.  So this was an excellent way to re-excite our current clients plus attract a whole new audience!  Thanks CB Sullivan team for all your support.
Another happy Mirabella client!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Debut with RDA in Austin, TX

 Clients loved our booth!!!
It was so fun passing out Mirabella beach bags at the RDA show in Austin.  The hair stylists, owners, and make up artists loved us.  We were busy at the booth like this all weekend!

Our brand has grown throughout the country over the past 8 years.  So usually when we go to a trade show like this, people already know us and love us!  But in this case, people were so excited to see a mineral make up line that has such fashion forward products!

Ashlee Erickson with fellow Regional Manager Lydie Bullock
Our famous Ashlee Erickson, Make Up Artist extraordinaire and Regional Manager put the whole thing together.  It was so funny, everyone loves that girl.  She says "They all want some Ash-Aid!" 

Many of the RDA stores have yet to try Mirabella, though they can carry it.  They were worried it wouldn't sell.  After the show another few stores decided to take on the line after seeing the excitement we create!

Rodyan Quinonez, Regional Manager and Make Up Artist
The most gratifying part of owning a brand like Mirabella is when you get to see clients actually interact with the product the first time.  So our Make Up artists were doing mini make overs all weekend long.  And when the clients got out of the chair, they were blown away at how beautiful we had made them look!

The clients would immediately go to our full open sale (like you would see at Sephora) and pick out exactly what we had recommended!  And because we were trying to really have them fall in love with us, we gave them lots of free stuff for buying almost everything!  They got a free mini mascara for stopping by.  They got some of our Shimmerati collection from the holidays for lip purchases.  And they got one of our top products, Prime by buying some foundation products!

Yeah, we spoiled them!


Vigo, Spain
Stephanie Johnson, Amber Bowen (Mirabella's Creative Director), and myself went to Vigo, Spain to see our distributor. 

First, Vigo is located in the Northwest corner of Spain, in a province called Galicia.  Did you know that every province teaches their school children it's language.  Every province speaks it's own language!  Plus they speak Spanish! 
Front of Jorge Rubin in Vigo, Spain

Anyhow, Icon picked us up and showed us a couple of their own salons called Jorge Rubin.  They are very high end, well run salons.  They have used their successful salons to teach other salons how to be successful using their model.  They sell their own brand called Icon.  They were the Sebastian distributor until Wella went direct in Europe.

They have 550 salons that run their businesses like they do.  The salons are departmental.  Each client is seen by different people for different services, allowing each service provider to be an expert in their area.
Mirabella Pro Box for doing quick touch ups in the Salon

And they touch every client every visit with Mirabella!  In the center of the salon they have our Pro Box which the stylists grab a couple of products to freshen up their client before sending them home.  And because they do, they sell a ton of cosmetics.

The other amazing thing the salon does is all focus on one aspect of the face.  So in the first salon, they were all wearing the same bright red lipstick.  It made quite an impact!  The next salon was focused on eye colour.
Amber showing them how to keep the Tester Unit looking brand New

We left Amber at the key salon.  She spent the afternoon teaching the team how to keep the tester unit looking brand new!  She also gave them some hints about some of the products like Prime.  They were having a tough time selling 4 eye colours to a client.  She showed them how to blend them to make an even more beautiful look.  They now understand!

Stephanie and I where shown their warehouse and offices.  They showed us a new prototype station display they are building.  We loved it and are going to replicate it for the US market.  They also showed us their table they sell to salons to display the product.  Again, we are going to replicate that as well.
The Best Sole Ever!!!

They treated us to a traditional Spanish lunch.  It was later in the afternoon and more like dinner, which is how they do it.  Amazing seafood in that they are right on the Atlantic ocean.  Pretty funny, Stephanie had tail!  They have a fish there that is head and tail, no body.  The tail was huge like the size of a medium sized dog!  I had Sole, the whole thing!

That night we went to a late dinner.  Eating outside, the proprietor came out and stirred a trash can.  Then he lifted up his stick, and out a 15 inch octopus on the plate and carried it to the kitchen.  Classic experiences on trips away from home!  Your not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

CosmoProf Bologna 2011

Amber Bowen; Stephanie Johnson, and Myself
Mirabella Beauty decided to exhibit at the CosmoProf Bologna this year after our great success with our Spanish distributor Icon.  So this past summer we hired an International sales manager, Stephanie Johnson.  Our goal for her from the start was to have 20 appointments at this show.

We ended with 46 connections, amazing!  We literally talked to interested distributors from around the world!  Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and all over Europe showed interest in little Mirabella!  Color cosmetics is a huge business, and distributors are looking for ways to grow the sales of salons through this extra retail and service boost.

So of course that was great, but just as exciting was being a part of the worlds largest beauty show!  A vast array of beauty is on display.  From fragrance, skin care, cosmetics, hair care, equipment to manufacturers of products to the manufacturers of the machines that fill the products we love. 
Some companies go all out with their booths
I have never heard of this company!

I have been to a lot of trade shows in my life, but this one had over 30 different buildings of trades shows.  Mirabella was in the US pavilion, which was across from the pavilion from Turkey, down the aisle from the UK and Belgium pavilions.

There were areas I was familiar with like the 3 buildings full of huge hair care booths like Framesi (which was launching a 4 D educational experience like Disneyland), Davines, Cottrill, and a whole host of familiar and unfamiliar brands.  I have spent my whole career in the US.  It sounds stupid to say, but there is another entire world out there of really cool stuff!

The trade show is for every beauty buyer.  There were attendees from beauty school (the show encourages vendors to sell their sample products to these people so we didn't have to ship them home), distributors to salons, perfumeries, department stores, grocery and drug stores. 

We all co-existed quite well. 

There are really inexpensive products and super premium products everywhere.

Probably the most surprising thing about the show was that L'oreal, Proctor & Gamble (Wella), nor Este Lauder (except Aveda) had any brands at the largest beauty show in the world.  I was happy to have the spotlight be on all the other brands, like Mirabella!  If those brands were there, I am not sure if there would be room for all the interesting independent brands that you get to see.  I would assume they are not there because they already have all the customers they need, all the exposure they need.
Stephanie, Amber, John and Judy Maly, and Susan Backer

But for me and Mirabella, it was our coming out party!  We have come of age and are ready to begin developing a business outside the US.  If our experience in Spain is an indication, each new place will make us better because we learn from every one of our partners!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mirabella and John

In 2002, while running my hair care distributorship, I felt like we needed to sell color cosmetics in our stores.  I couldn't find a brand that I felt was of an image and quality that my hair stylist clients would like.  So I decided we were going to start our own brand.  Just before we hired someone to run this new venture, another acquisition came up for more territory.  We put the brand on hold.

A year later, we were approached to sell a new brand color cosmetics.  Yes, that was Mirabella!  I was so impressed by the whole approach.  Not only were the products excellent and the package beautiful, it was run by a lady who was driven!  We said "yes" and within a year we had sold $1,000,000 in cosmetics, amazing!

We were a little too good actually, because of our growth, the company quickly ran out of money.  They asked me to become a partner.  I accepted.  We moved the company into our building and ramped up the inventory for growth.  With our success, we contacted other distributors around the country, repeating the success we had with each of them.

In early 2010, we had an inquiry from a distributor in Spain, Icon.  They have embraced the brand and begun building our brand internationally! 

With excitement we look to the future attempting to help the salon and spa industry present a full beauty experience for their clients which will include color cosmetics!

My Story

Thanks for reading my story!  I was raised in Grand Rapids, Mi in a large family.  My dad owned a hair care distributorship.  We all worked in the business.  In fact, right out of high school my 3 brothers joined the business.  As the youngest, the business was more established, so I went off to college.  After 3 crazy college years, I met 2 amazing friends who were Christians.  I realized you could have more fun their way, so it ended up being my most fun year.

After graduation I too committed my life to Jesus.  It has been an amazing spiritual journey ever since.  Slowly but surely over these past couple of decades, I have learned more about what it actually means to follow Him. 

After college, I met my wife, Judy.  Shortly after, my dad called asking if we wanted to move to California to run a hair care distributorship he bought.  After lots of talks and a visit, we committed.  Over the next 18 years, we built the business from $2 million to $200 million thanks to some great people and God's blessing.

We sold that business to L'oreal in 2007.

Judy and I have 3 amazing boys, are involved with our church, the kids sports, and my business interests.