SKINtuition: Culture or Vulture


I’m often asked by spa owners how to get their teams onboard with the same belief system as their own. I’ll ask about the culture in their salon or spa, and am met with a blank stare. When I ask about the onboarding process, core values or golden rules for the business, I can see the beads of sweat glistening and the collar getting tight. I’m not being judgmental–this is a common dilemma for behind the bed or chair. Owners have found they have grown a small empire but never laid out any company rules to live by.

The lack of culture training tends to creep up on you until you can’t break up another staff squabble or worse, clean up another client catastrophe. Culture may sound like an elusive concept, but it is core to any business. In practical terms, culture is a set of shared attitudes, values and practices, and how those communal beliefs translate into behaviors of the employees and the company as a whole. Company culture–good, bad, quirky, or otherwise–is the magic stuff that attracts (or scares off) employees and customers, and shapes the reputation and future of your business. Your business doesn’t need to be giant to establish a strong culture that sets you up for success. You just need to decide what attitudes, values and actions are important to you, and make sure that everyone on your team is in full support.

Company culture–good, bad or otherwise–is the magic stuff that attracts employees and customers.

Start improving your culture by using the term “guest” instead of client or customer; it shifts the dynamic and helps the focus become one of “hosting.” We should be delighted to see our guests and strive to make every second of their experience memorable. Here are a few “golden rules” from our own skin centers. While it’s best to develop your own with some trusted team players, feel free to copy and paste some of these. Most importantly, make this part of your daily morning huddle and post these “words to work by” in your break space to keep everyone on point.

Warm Welcome

The first priority of every staff member is to serve and engage with guests, creating an authentic, welcoming environment.

Guest Priority

All activities should be dropped to serve the needs of the guest. Nothing is more important.

Exceed Expectations

Ensure each guests experience exceeds their expectations. All guests should receive the same amount of impeccable service every time, and it’s everyone’s responsibility.

Show Respect

Always show respect, it costs nothing to be courteous to each other and our guests.

Anticipate Don't Assume

Anticipate the needs of guests, but assume nothing about their purchasing abilities.

Show Appreciation

Regard each customer with a genuine appreciation no matter how small their purchase may be. A travel size cleanser purchase today can become an entire skin care regimen tomorrow.

Apologize with Action

If a guest is unhappy, show immediate action and solutions, not blame. Sometimes things go wrong but apologies, which matter, mean nothing if they aren't followed by action.

Well done is better than well. There’s a common analogy in leadership circles that compare successful teams to a gaggle of geese. That is, when geese fly together in a V-formation, the whole flock can fly about 70% farther with the same amount of energy than if each goose flew alone. By flying together, they provide additional lift and reduce resistance, helping achieve their goal faster. When people work together and share the same values, they’ll more easily hit their targets and reach their destination–which is a healthy business filled with happy customers.


Annet King  is the director of global education for the The International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica. She is responsible for creating professional classes and training materials for Dermalogica and oversees all IDI curriculum. For more than a decade, Annet has traveled internationally as a speaker and master educator for IDI and Dermalogica, training international educators as well as skin therapists. King is one of the brand’s voices and is a frequent contributor to magazines, websites, TV and radio programs.

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