Editor's Note: Each month, Inver Grove Heights Patch asks the owners of a well-established local business what makes them successful. We publish their answers in our regular feature, "Secrets to Success."
The secret to success is simple at : Continuity among staff means continuity with clients.
Adherence to that principle has kept clients at The Times—Inver Grove Heights longest-running hair salon—coming back for more, the owners say.
Located between H&R Block and Domino's Pizza on Cahill Avenue, the business was originally named Cuts Express when it opened in 1991. But owner Melinda Arneson, a lifelong Inver Grove Heights resident, changed it to The Times when she bought the business in 2004.
Arneson, who graduated from Roffler Beauty College in 1991, worked at the salon for 13 years before becoming owner. She now has a staff of four full-time employees and one part-time employee. The group of stylists has been together for between six and 13 years, and that keeps Arneson's customers coming back, she said.
"Our staff has been together for a long time and we really have become a close-knit family," said Arneson. "We all have families and we know that in this business there are sometimes long hours or the need to work evenings and weekends. We all seem to be willing to help each other out when needed. In turn, that consistency in our staff has helped us maintain a loyal client base. I've had many of the same clients since I first started here and so have the other girls who work here."
Amy Johnson, who has worked at The Times Hair Designs for 11 years, agrees.
"I think a lot of our success is based on the people who work here and the people who come here," said Johnson. "We all like each other and get along well. I think our clients see that and it makes it a friendly, welcoming place people want to be."
Unlike some salons, employees at The Times Hair Design are offered health insurance. The full-service salon offers hair cuts, coloring, perms, textures and waves, facial waxing, styling and other services for women, men and children. They also offer tanning, have hair care products for sale for customers and various discounts for seniors, high school and college students.
As the owner, Arneson enjoys the flexibility the job provides. She's in charge of employees, scheduling, advertising, marketing, sales, promotions and finances. But she's also responsible for keeping up with the competition.
As in many cities, the market for customers in Inver Grove Heights is competitive. The city plays host to plenty of other salons or hair-styling businesses, and that is what keeps Arneson up at night.
"You're always trying to come up with ways to do things better," she said. "You're always worried about business, about what's going to go on from day-to-day."
"We're not as cheap as some places and we're not as expensive as others," she said. "We're right in that middle area, but our customers know we are going to provide them with the services they want and need. That's important in this business."
Arneson describes herself as a shy person, but knows that in order to succeed in this business, being personable is a must. That personal attention and welcoming atmosphere is what keeps Inver Grove Heights resident Bernadette Hulse coming back.
"It's convenient, it's nice and clean and they have a good atmosphere," said Hulse, who has been going to the salon for about six years. "You can get in and get what you need done and know they are going to do a good job. I always feel comfortable and welcome."