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Last updated: May 06, 2020

Coronavirus: Nick Stenson On Leading Your Team Through A Crisis

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How To Lead: Managing Staff Panic & Communicating with Clients 

We know salon owners and hairdressers are struggling to understand and get through the coronavirus crisis. That’s why Mary Rector (@marybehindthechair) went live with Nick Stenson (@nickstenson), the Senior Vice President for Salon Services and Trend for Ulta Beauty. With 10,000 stylists in more than 1,200 locations, Nick and the Ulta team had to come up with solutions and communication FAST. Here’s what Nick had to say about how to lead with strength during times of panic and anxiety—what drives his decision-making, his tips for keeping staff’s spirits up, and how to get clients excited for the future.


Decision Making: Putting People First 

“Right now, the most important thing is: ‘How can I help this person, so they can help the next person.’ At Ulta, we’ve put so much work into strengthening our company and salon culture, that we are able to provide help to our team members right now and also in the future.” 


For Nick and the Ulta Beauty leadership team, the well-being of their staff and guests is ALWAYS top priority. So when he needed to make decisions fast, Nick knew that putting people first was more important than ever. “I never thought I would be a leader at a time like this,” Nick explained. “When you’re making radical decisions, your people need to be at the forefront—that’s the only way to make it through.”  


By putting people first, Ulta Beauty is not only able to pay employee salaries through the end of March, but also continue to hire through video and phone interviews, offering much-needed employment opportunities. 


Ulta Beauty Design Team Auditions Nick Stenson
Nick Stenson is Senior Vice President for Salon Services and Trend for Ulta Beauty. Photo via Instagram @nickstenson



Salon Owners: How To Manage Team Panic

What’s Nick’s top piece of advice for easing staff anxieties? Have honest and open communication.  Nick communicates with Ulta Beauty stylists via private Facebook groups and video chats. For smaller salons, he suggests group chats and video hangouts. “It’s important to stay connected to your staff daily,” Nick explains. Important topics you should discuss are: 


  • Make sure your staff is safe and ask them how they are coping. 



  • Discuss how your staff can stay safe in the future. As beauty professionals, sanitation is always imperative, but discuss salon safety guidelines moving forward.


  • Go for a “lights back on” approach: How do we bounce back stronger? Get them excited about reopening the salon. 


Have informative discussions with other hairdressers, get free resources for your salon and stay updated with news on the NEW BTC Forum! Click here to join the conversation and stay connected! 


Give Clients Hope—With A Makeover

Checking in on clients via text and social media goes a long way. But right now, everyone needs something to look forward to—and what is better than a new look! “Planning a makeover creates an excited sense of renewal,” explains Nick, “and it will energize stylists.” Here’s Nick’s suggestions for a makeover plan: 


  • Think of the last time your client has switched up their look and plan an upgrade.


  • Start a collection of inspo photos on Instagram and share it with the client for feedback. 


  • Create a roadmap for their new look when it’s time to get back behind the chair. A thought out plan tells your client, “I’ve thought of you, I’ve created this customized service and I care about you.” 


  • Get them started on a new post-quarantine routine with products, styles and a maintenance plan. 



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