Small Biz Updates and Small Business

No. 7 Salon & Spa lets stylists go solo

June 29, 2009

No. 7 Salon & Spa

Address: 748 E. Bates St., Suite 101

Phone: 634-9414

E-mail: gina@lagrotteenterprises.com

Web site: www.no7salon.com

Founded: 1986

Founders: Leo LaGrotte and Chuck McGraw

Owners: Gina and Tina LaGrotte Services: hair cutting/styling/coloring, manicures, pedicures, tanning, facials

Employees: seven

Revenue (past 12 months): $250,000

Date of first profile: March 8, 2004

With an interior-design overhaul in 2004 and a business plan restructuring last year, Gina and Tina LaGrotte's No. 7 Salon & Spa just southeast of downtown would be aesthetically and economically unrecognizable to their late father. When Leo passed down the family business to his two girls in 1993, the decor was dated and the stylists lived on commission.

Now, the LaGrotte sisters have revamped No. 7—one of five LaGrotte Enterprises businesses run by the sisters—into a hip, booth-rental salon. Stylists make their own appointments and take their own payments, and all the LaGrottes have to do is collect rent.

"We provide a nice, clean atmosphere for the stylists to bring their clients to, and they do the rest," added Tina, 47.

Before the transition last August, the LaGrottes paid hair designers 60-percent commission, insurance, vacation and 401(k) matching. Now, the stylists are basically self-employed.

"When our father started this business, commission was a big thing," Gina said. "But 22 years later, the younger generation of girls wants to be accountable for their own time."

The LaGrottes also added a tanning bed, and they host monthly Botox parties for salon customers.

The economic downturn has had little effect on the salon, Gina said. While LaGrotte Enterprises' Milano Inn restaurant has taken a hit recently, patrons continue beautifying at No. 7.

Gina said although they are not involved in the daily salon business, they are always accessible at their other nearby businesses, including the Milano Inn and LaGrotte Foods.

"We aren't no-show owners," Gina said. "We are more hands-on."

Balancing the five facets of LaGrotte Enterprises comes naturally, the sisters said, because they grew up in a business-juggling family.

"I remember my first paycheck for $60 for a 40-hour work week," Tina said. "We have always been around this and it's all we know."

The LaGrottes also said they have created an extended family through their business, becoming close enough to employees to call them relatives.

"But when we are that close to employees, and we have to let them go, it's heartwrenching," Tina said. "I have actually cried before when I have let people go."

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