Ursula Sienko: “Don’t get fooled into thinking that when business is great you can just hire anyone to try and keep up with growing demand”
Hire the right people and manage them well. Don’t get fooled into thinking that when business is great you can just hire anyone to try and keep up with growing demand. Training employees the right way always requires a tremendous amount of valuable time — your time. Wasting time (and money) by hiring and training the wrong employees will not only set your business back years, it may also put you out of business. Make sure to provide your employees clear measurable objectives to keep your business growing and your customers happy.
I had the pleasure to interview Ursula Sienko. Ursula is a Master Extensionist and owner of Hair Fusion Bar.
Thank you for joining us Ursula. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up, I always wanted long hair, but no matter how long I waited in between trims, it never grew past my shoulders. It has always been very fine and delicate and never had any volume. That is, until I got my first set of Great Lengths Fusion Hair Extensions, which was almost 20 years ago. I will never forget how amazing I felt when I saw my hair long and full of volume for the first time! I experienced the world in a different light, I was so happy and full of confidence; I felt like I was floating on air. In fact, my new aura of confidence actually caused the people around me to treat me with more respect. It was clear to me back then that pursuing a career in hair extensions would allow me to share that aura of confidence that only extensions can bring you.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
We recently started offering 100% medical, vision, dental and life insurance for all full-time employees. Not long afterwards, one of my employees told me “now we know that you really do care about us.” It opened my eyes. I always thought extensive training and highly competitive compensation were enough, but the important lesson I learned that day was that even though your services and customers are important, your most important priority are your employees. When you invest and treat your employees well in return they will treat your business well.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In hindsight this story is funny, but at the time this was one of my bigger “almost” mistakes. Around ten years ago, when I was still starting out in the business, a reality TV show star reached out to see if I would work with her in her home. She even suggested that we start a line of hair extensions with her name on it. I was curious, so I went to her house and gave her the full treatment. But when I finished, she didn’t pay me and even tried to get me to come back for another free service, all while dangling her hair extension venture in front of me like a carrot. Thankfully, I came to my senses and realized that this was not something I wanted to pursue. There are no shortcuts to success. It must be earned through hard work and perseverance.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our hair extension artists are the most highly trained in the industry and are more like cosmetic hair surgeons than stylists. Every Hair Fusion Bar extension artist undergoes over $20,000 of advanced hair-extension training (free of charge for them), which includes a minimum of 1,000 hours under my supervision. Their training also includes learning advanced techniques in Great Lengths, cold, thermal, tape and extension correction services that I have developed and are only available at my salons.
What advice would you give to other Business Owners/Entrepreneurs to help their employees to thrive?
Lead by example. Educate and demonstrate the importance of providing the best possible service to your customers.
How do you define “Leadership”?
Providing a clear direction and work environment that allows your employees to succeed personally and financially while driving your business to great success.
What advice would you give to other Business Owners/Entrepreneurs about the best way to manage a large team?
Hire very carefully. Teams always need clear focused goals that include customer feedback so that they know how well they are doing their job. When managing a large team, especially one that has people working in different locations, all team members must have the skills to work autonomously, with a clear understanding of the company culture and vision. That way, you know that even when you’re not there, they are properly representing you and the brand. Additionally, it’s very important to listen and get feedback from your team, as they are the ones on the front lines and interacting with your customers constantly. Finally, not all team members have to tools for success and you need to be okay with making the hard, but necessary, team adjustments.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am very grateful for my husband Gerard. Like myself, he is an entrepreneur and started all his technology companies with just an idea and took his first company public. Throughout this entire process, I have looked to him for advice and support as I grew Hair Fusion Bar from one salon to three locations in two states.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe that I have created a unique business by women and for women, one which empowers them to be and feel the best they can be. My employees have a career that they can truly be proud of and — within just a few years — enjoy the financial stability that usually comes from 20+ years of experience in this business. And most importantly, my clients always leave my salons feeling like a brand-new person with the confidence and self-esteem that helps propel them to achieve their best possible self.
We also provide specially discounted services up to 75% off for those clients suffering from traumatic hair loss as a result of a medical condition.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Business Owner/Entrepreneur” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Hire the right people and manage them well. Don’t get fooled into thinking that when business is great you can just hire anyone to try and keep up with growing demand. Training employees the right way always requires a tremendous amount of valuable time — your time. Wasting time (and money) by hiring and training the wrong employees will not only set your business back years, it may also put you out of business. Make sure to provide your employees clear measurable objectives to keep your business growing and your customers happy.
- No good deed goes unpunished. Keep your business and employee relationships professional. Unfortunately, there are many people that will take advantage of you if you are not careful. Keep employees motivated by treating them with respect, providing them with a great work environment and paying them well for their work.
- Don’t get stressed out. Have patience when dealing with difficult employees and clients. Getting stressed out will only lead to failure. Address your problems carefully and methodically, with well thought-out solutions.
- Time really does fly. Running a successful business requires constant attention and dedication. It is very easy to lose track of time while trying to manage everything. Set important business goals for yourself and execute them on time, and don’t forget to make time for you and your family, as well. Before you know it,10 years will be here and gone. Make sure you enjoy the journey.
- Excellence is a Science not an Art. It is easy to believe that excellence in business can be achieved through great artistry, genius, superstars or 10,000 hours of practice. In reality, you can only consistently achieve business excellence through a rigorous process alongside a team of highly creative and disciplined people.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Ladies, we all know that as women in this day and age we are mothers, wives & breadwinners. We tend to forget about ourselves by putting those around us 1st. I would like to start a movement to bring your sexy back, take time for yourself it’s that simple. Getting some hair extensions for length or just a bit of volume, will make you feel better instantly and give you a boost of confidence and energy to make you feel your best throughout all of those long hard days.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.” ― John Adams
In every business you always run into problems whether it is with customers or employees. No matter how trivial or irrational the situation may seem to be, I always ask myself “why did this happen and what could I change about the business to avoid this next time?” I always find that a thoughtful remedy and approach to a problem often creates a new business process that makes future customers and employees happier and avoids a repeat of the problem.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We recently introduced “single hair” strand Micropoint services into our fusion hair extension applications. This new hybrid extension service allows us to provide non-surgical hair replacement in areas where traditional hair extensions simply will not work. We can now provide services to clients that have progressive hair loss in their crown or bang area without the use of surgery. This is an especially welcome service for women that experience postpartum hairloss and traumatic hair loss as a result of recent unexpected medical conditions.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I would love to have a private meal with both Marcus Lemonis and Gordon Ramsey. I feel a bit of a kinship with Marcus. He has a deep understanding of business process and product marketing and I would love to pick his brain on what I could be doing to improve my business. Like Gordon, I’m very detailed oriented. Also, since he runs multiple restaurants, I’d love to talk to him about managing multiple businesses and maintaining a high quality of service from salon to salon.
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