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Andrew Finkelstein  
Andrew Finkelstein

 

 

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Case Studies & Testimonials

Judith Koritas of Celadon Salon & Spa in Washington, D.C. had the good fortune of experiencing rapid growth in her business, but as the business grew she found it more difficult to keep up with the pace. She was exhausted from trying to do it all. She knew she needed more structure for her business and her time.

Challenges: In addition to being an Esthetician, Judith was feeling overwhelmed with the day-to-day process of running a business. She found herself wearing too many hats. She knew her business needed more structure and better systems in place to accommodate the rapid growth.

Judith also faced various staffing challenges. Having no prior experience managing people, Judith thought if she hired nice people they would be responsible and pleasant to each other and that would be enough. She soon found that not to be the case. This became even more challenging as she became personally involved with her staff and found it difficult to remain objective. In addition, Judith knew she needed to hire another key staff person, but had concerns as to whether that person would be a good fit for her organization and what responsibilities they should have.

Process: I worked with Judith to put systems into place that brought more structure to her business. She spent time learning how to analyze data so she could be more involved with the numbers side of her business. We worked on time management and goal setting and put a system in place that helped with better hiring practices, focusing on the system and not the person. This also assisted her with hiring the right person for the right job and made the hiring process easier and more effective.

Working with me requires a great deal of trust, so I also spent some time getting to know Judith on a personal level. We discussed what she wanted from her business and what a successful business could mean for her personal life.

Results: “My life is different in that I am not tearing my hair out every day,” laughs Judith. “Andrew taught me how to manage the business better and how to managing my time. He helped me sort through what I needed to do in order to remain involved but not be overwhelmed. He started putting systems in place and has encouraged me to do that with everything.

I’m looking at things differently. I am more objective. I have depersonalized relationships that were too personal and made it difficult when I had to discipline somebody. He has helped me analyze and understand the numbers and data and understand them in a way that I can put them into systems, which helped me feel more secure and helped me see why we were where we were. Now we have goals and a plan of action. We know where we’re going.

My partners and managers all think Andrew’s great too. Whenever we have a challenge they’ll say, ‘Let’s call Andrew.’ I’m glad they feel that way. They trust my competence in him.

Andrew also focused not only on the business but about what I wanted in life. It was a very different sort of approach than just working on your business. He really cares about me as a person and not just as a business woman. I admit I was a little skeptical at first. But over the years I’ve come to know that that is just Andrew. He really does care and goes above and beyond what I’ve paid for. He’s very different. I don’t know what I would do with out him.”

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Pamela Wood, PT, LLCC and Diane Stroud, PT of Hand-N-Hand Therapy were two sole practitioners who joined forces in 1990 to create one of the longest standing woman owned, holistic physical therapy clinics in Virginia. As they slowly grew and added employees, they found that although they were hiring more therapists, they were spending more and more time at the office and had little free time. They discovered that running their businesses as sole practitioners just wasn’t working any longer. With no systems in place to prepare them for the growth they had experienced and no clear delineation of duties, their business and personal lives began to suffer.

This is Pamela and Diane’s Story:

The challenge: We had been talking a lot about the fact that we had little or no infrastructure. We provided a great service but we simply didn’t have enough systems in place. We had no clear delineation of what each of our roles should be, more or less flying by the seat of our pants. We knew we were in trouble and needed help. Things were falling through the cracks and the stress of the office was no longer tolerable. We either had to go back to being sole practitioners working side-by-side or we needed help to take it to the next level. We knew we had to do something. That’s when we contacted Andrew.

The process: Andrew started working with us, taking it from the beginning, just as if we were starting over. We developed everything together as we had done when we first started our practice and re-thought it all through. We got ‘systems thinking’ out of working with Andrew. We’ve known people that have used coaches but they simply gave them a “plug and play” framework to run their businesses. With Andrew, he gave us the concepts and then had us work through the process together for the answers. This gave us a platform to discuss important and complicated issues, enabling us to effectively communicate with each other. We were able to talk about really difficult subjects with greater understanding, and with discussions from a logical standpoint of what to do next. It unbelievably opened the lines of communication between us.

At Hand-in-Hand Therapy we do physical therapy differently than most people around the country. We both wanted to take what we did – our trade mark – and teach it to other therapists, but we needed an infrastructure that would allow us to step away from the business and mentor others. Our work with Andrew made that possible. We now have people coming to us for insight and wisdom.

We also learned how to hire the right people that were a good fit for us. In our business clients get used to professional relationships with certain practitioners. It’s a very personal business, so it’s important to make sure that there isn’t any chaos. Andrew helped us in refining our selection criteria for getting the right employees that allowed us to be extremely selective.

Andrew also knew how to work with both of us individually. Although we each had different learning styles, he was able to talk to us in ways that we could both relate to him. It was really quite remarkable.

The results: Since working with Andrew our business has stabilized and we’ve experienced a 10-12% growth in profits over the past year. We have a great staff that works well together. We have more free time and when we do spend extra time in the office, it’s because we’re having fun.

We also have a better division of labor so we rarely infringe on each other’s tasks. If we do, we are able to identify it more quickly. And whenever there is a frustration we know that can put a system in place to help us.

Working with Andrew truly gave us an organizing platform and a communication style that is still helping us today. We’re now able to talk about things more effectively and with less emotional baggage. We recently had an off-site work retreat and hardly had anything to discuss! So we just had fun.

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In 1979, Gary Walker and his partner, Terry Bell opened Ilo Salon & Day Spa in Washington, D.C. 21 years later and highly successful, they prepared themselves for expansion. Just as they were ready to move forward five of their top hairdressers left to start another company. They found themselves going from preparing for expansion to losing nearly $1.5 million in yearly revenue with no plan in place.

Challenges: Gary and Terry had built a great business and had been quite successful for many years. However, they had minimal structure and systems. So it was only a matter of time that this business would feel the affects of a shaky system based foundation. They were highly people dependent. The loss of their top five hairdressers thrust them into unknown territory. They were having a difficult time recovering. They felt the strain on their cash flow and their partnership.

Gary and Terry wanted to be in a position where they could anticipate challenges, both from a business perspective and an employee perspective. They wanted more control over the business rather than being controlled by the business. They had a strong desire to bring the company back to a healthy state while at the same time improving internal communication and strengthening their partnership.

Process: Like many salon owners Gary and Terry were technicians first and businessmen second. We spent a great deal of time together learning the business of salon ownership. We began by reviewing Ilo’s current business systems and structures. With an understanding of where the gaps were in their business and systems, we then put together a plan for change and growth.

We “crawled behind the figures” and evaluated the numbers and data behind the business and helped Gary and Terry develop a strategy for long term financial stability. As with most businesses, cash flow is always a challenge. We developed systems to help them leverage their retail business as well as other areas of their business to make it more profitable.

I also spent time working with Gary and Terry on the staff side of the equation, covering such topics as leadership styles, employee relations, staff policies and communications. Together we helped Ilo build a positive, supportive organizational culture and took them through the process of developing effective, productive, satisfied teams.

I was pleased to assist Gary and Terry with the process of opening Ilo Academy. The Academy gave them a standing in the industry as well as opportunity that goes with that. I have continued working with them on their negotiation skills, as well as helping them develop the knowledge necessary to prepare them for working with manufacturers and industry leaders.

Of course Ilo would not be successful without a great partnership between Gary and Terry. We spent time developing their communication skills and helped them get on the same page with one another. With an ability to understand each other’s needs and communication styles, they were able to rebuild a foundation for their business which is now stronger than ever.

Results: “Andrew has given us the ability to look at our business as businessmen and not just as technicians”, says co-owner Gary Walker. “That was always our mistake before. We were always thinking like hairdressers. Andrew has given us the ability to step back and look at our business not just through the eyes of a technician, but through the staff’s eyes and the client’s eyes. He worked with us in bite-sized pieces. He helped us structure our business around the needs of our clients.

Andrew has shown us ways of providing systems to reward people for good work. In the old days you would have to give them a pay raise. Now we actually track it and see whose growing and why they are growing and reward them for doing good work. If people are having trouble we are able to catch it quickly.

And retailour goal years ago was to get our retail to pay the rent. Today our retail is off the charts. It can easily pay the rent, all the insurance . . . In the past we looked at retail as a nuisance, now suddenly it has become a part of our business and another stream of income.

One of the biggest things we learned from Andrew was how to track first-time clients. That was big breakthrough. Another thing we learned, was why would you market to new people when you could market to people that you haven’t seen in the last one or two years? We are now starting to market to our clients that had used us before and they are coming back. All my guys are trained and scripted. Everyone is a marketer for the company.

You would think that after seven years we wouldn’t need Andrew but to tell the truth we need Andrew at a different level. Because we are evolving we still need coaching. My partner and I are completely different. His needs and wants from Andrew are completely different from mine, but both of us get exactly what we want and what is good for the company.

When you have a third-party, like Andrew, who is completely neutral and just thinks of the business, there is the opportunity to share an idea and get feedback. Andrew takes a business approach to the same idea, and by the time you’re done you are actually clear on why you want to do it and whether or not it’s a good idea.

Andrew helped us figure out where we would like to be and have a plan for our business so at the end of the day if we chose to sell it, it would have great value. We could have spent the last 27 years working with nothing to sell.

And in working with studios like L’Oreal they can tell that you understand what you’re doing. You’re not just a hairdresser. You are actually a business person. And that’s why people at the head of these companies will take our phone calls.

I am happy to say we are back up greater than we have ever, ever been before. Andrew has given us new interest in the business. We are just about ready to update and modernize the salon and take it to the next level. Andrew is helping us to build an image where we will separate ourselves from all the other salons and will differentiate ourselves in many ways. Terry and I are very proud of our business and here we are after all these years later ready for another change. When you know what’s happening in the industry, you are no longer just a bystander. You are part of it. You understand your value. You can see yourself on another level. You can contribute to the industry.

It’s been a pleasure working with Andrew and a great learning experience. You get ideas – he always has good suggestions and exposes you to new things and products. I look forward to our sessions every single week. He makes it exciting. He makes our industry something to be proud of and still excited about after all these years. He takes away all your fear. To tell you the truth, that’s a great place to be.”

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Kimberly Acworth, owner of Indulge Salon in York, Pennsylvania, opened her first salon in 1992 as Kimberly’s Image & Day Spa. With a vision for creating a cutting edge salon, she traveled throughout the United States and Europe, studying, learning and entering competitions—always with her eye the future.

Challenges: Kimberly had a big dream to expand and grow her company but no structure or systems in place to get there. As with many salon owners, she approached her business as a technician. It is difficult to run or lead a business with a technician’s mindset and in many ways she was getting in her own way. Kimberly also knew that to be successful she needed to be a better leader and owner. She also faced many of the challenges that are common in the salon business—finding and keeping good people, finding and keeping good clients, differentiating your salon from other salons and doing all these things within the framework of a positive cash flow.

Process: It was important for Kimberly to develop a solid, executable plan. To start, she needed to construct a powerful vision for her company and from there a strategy of how to build that vision.

As a technician, Kimberly needed to increase her financial wherewithal and begin to look at her business through different eyes. I worked with Kimberly to help her leverage financial tools and financial resources that were available to give her a stronger command over the financial piece of her business.

To assist with the challenge of staff turnover, we put together systems for hiring staff that would fit within the culture of her organization and developed systems, which produced stronger internal communication. I worked with Kimberly to develop her leadership skills and create strong and effective teams. She was better equipped to identify the needs of her staff and develop systems for rewarding a job well done.

External communication is critical to the success of any salon. We developed a system for providing world-class customer service and delivering a “wow” experience for their clients. We also developed a system for producing a steady flow of new clients while encouraging current clients to purchase more by using low-cost marking techniques.

A critical piece of our work together was to help Kimberly view her salon as a vehicle to bring her the kind of life that most people only talked about and to be able to maintain a balance between work, rest, and play. Like many other salon owners, Kimberly not only wanted to make more money but also wanted more freedom and more time to do the things she liked to do, but found out very quickly that she had become a slave to the business. We used tried and true planning techniques to create the space she needed to build a large and sustainable business while still maintaining a sense of balance.

Results: “Andrew has been very helpful,” says Kimberly. “He helped us develop systems and a means for documentation and implementation. Andrew really helped build up the structure of my company—the roles, reporting, expectations, vision, follow-up and goals. We spent the first year on becoming clear about the vision I had for the salon and on how to communicate that vision. If I was not clear on the vision I had for my company, how did I expect my staff to know what was expected?

We talked about where my career was headed and the culture of my business. I realized that I was getting in my own way. I learned that I was the biggest problem, but I was also the biggest solution.

Before I started working with Andrew, I was frustrated. Super achievers think that nothing is good enough. I learned that your business is a reflection of you. I expected a lot from someone else that I didn’t expect from myself. Through Andrew’s program, it helped me realize that if I helped my employees, which is my internal customer, they’re going to grow my company because they are happy and secure. People want to have buy-in. They want to know they are important. They want to know that by working for our company they are going to get what they want out of life.

When I started to learn that it wasn’t just about me but about my internal customer getting what they wanted, my external customer getting what they wanted from my stylist and customer service, then I got what I wanted, which was freedom and time.

Now we are fine-tuning our marketing. Before Andrew, we had been stuck in traditional marketing. We’ve developed new marketing techniques - answering service messages, website changes—all of which are solution oriented.

I have to admit that I hate numbers, but I learned a lot about finances from Andrew. Now I actually have a real balance and asset sheet and a cash flow plan. I am a better businessperson. I can explain what the numbers mean. Your conversations around money change when you have a better understanding of the financial side of your business. You can be on the same page with your bookkeepers and accountants. I can now ask the right questions. Do I make an investment? What category does this expense go under? My accountant is a lot happier with me.

I have two locations now and have plans to open an additional location and an academy. Working with Andrew is an investment, but it’s priceless. He makes me want to be a better person because of my association with him. I know he will give me a straight answer and will never judge me. I’ve learned that we often sabotage ourselves by passing our beliefs on to others. If you want to have a life and harmony, you have to be a better leader. I have choices now and can handle challenges that come along the way differently than before. I have evolved from where I was and I never want to go back, ever!”

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After working for years as a stylist for Bumble and Bumble , Josh Barbieri (JoshB) desired more out of his life and career. He knew there were only three ways to make a living in the beauty business—working behind a chair, being on the set of a fashion show or influencing the industry through manufacturing. With an idea for a technologically advanced straight razor and a boutique style of education to go with it, Josh set off to find a manufacturer. Traveling to Taiwan, Josh was able to secure the production for his first 5,000 razors but not before having maxed out his credit cards to fund the production costs. Josh found himself sitting in his Manhattan apartment with 5,000 razors and no idea how to get rid of them.

Challenges: Josh had developed a unique line of straight razors but did not have a plan in place for marketing. When we began working together, he had sold only 6 razors. Josh needed a structured, systematic approach for building his new business that would put him in front of qualified prospects and generate revenue.

Process: Josh took part in one of my Marketing Action Groups. Based on the “7-Step Fast Track to Marketing” methodology, this program provides solid, proven information necessary to create an effective client attraction strategy. During the course of this program, Josh was able to develop his marketing skills and abilities. He developed a comprehensive marketing plan to reach his target market that fit both his personality and budget.

With enhanced marketing knowledge and skills, Josh was better prepared to make marketing decisions to help him effectively invest only in marketing activities that would produce the highest return and would result in increased revenue.

Results: “Due to his marketing formula, my whole world has changed,” said Josh. “Andrew showed me how to market and how to build the desire in my customers to purchase my product. In just five months I have been able to pay off all of the credit card debt from my initial investment. I am averaging about 12 sales per week now, and am traveling around the country selling my ‘Signature Straight Razors’ and teaching the ‘Barbieri Method’. And just recently, I was given an endorsement from Kerastase-Paris as a Creative Cutting Educator in the United States.

Coming from three generations of doing this business, Andrew walks the talk. He has always been appropriate with me. He can work with a million dollar company or someone like me—someone with a dream that wasn’t going to stop until it was met. Andrew showed me that by opening my mind and working really hard I could be successful.”

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