Nina Tulio is a former stylist and salon owner who has since launched her career into becoming an international business coach, a motivational speaker, a business ambassador, and a regular columnist for international style magazines.
As a columnist, Nina Tulio writes regularly for Schedulicity and SalonEVO, a style magazine based in the United Kingdom. She also sits at the Editorial Advisory Board for Beauty Launchpad Magazine.
In 1996, Nina Tulio began her career in the beauty industry. After a few years of working as a stylist, she quickly climbed up the ranks to become the district manager of eight salons. She managed 55 employees and received eight direct reports, while pulling up the chain’s profits by 20% in her first year.
During her time as district manager, Nina Tulio learned the ropes of creating and maintaining a “successful brand, strong profit margins, and motivated team members.” Because of her success, she was invited to become part owner and manager of a salon chain in West Palm Beach, Florida.
After 11 years in business, where she found her own salon called Anthony and Ashley, Nina Tulio decided to sell her business and become a business coach for other salon owners and stylists everywhere. So, the Nina Tulio brand and consulting business was born.
I think my business stands out because I am not afraid to be vulnerable. Nina Tulio
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Nina Tulio: I think my business stands out because I am not afraid to be vulnerable. Yes, I feel like I know my stuff and have credibility when it comes to business and the beauty industry in general, but, I can relate deeply to other people. As an owner and leader it can get very lonely. But the life and business experience I share is very relatable. I made many mistakes in my business and I am not afraid to share them with other people. My transparency and authenticity is what, I believe, makes me stand out. People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust, and it’s important to show others you are a real person. That’s the ticket to building a successful brand and business.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Nina Tulio: To be honest, I am still a work in progress when it comes to this area. But what I do know is this. You have to take time to check out, unplug, and recharge. Shutting down and having a complete day off is key. It is important to fill yourself and take the time for self care daily. I suggest carving out a designated time each day just for you. Preferably in the morning before the day gets started. I also know that we typically become burned out when we become disconnected from our why. The day to day routine of any business can turn you into a robot. Just showing up and doing the same thing every day. We can very easily lose sight of why we even started in the first place. Take a step back. Remember why you started your business. Think of what motivates you to get out of bed every day? What is the drive behind why you show up everyday? Work from that place. You will start to notice a shift. It’s almost like a kick start for yourself and your business.
Jerome Knyszewski: 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?
Nina Tulio: I have been so blessed to have 2 of the most kind, smart, and giving mentors. I met them both when I was 19 years and I was very impressionable. They truly changed the course of my life. Robin was the owner of the small chain of salons I worked at. And Ray was the owner of over 200 salons back in the day. I spent almost everyday with them for 7–8 years and I can confidently say. I am who I am in business because they believed in me. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. They coached me and encouraged me to be the best I could be. And when I would fall, they would always be there to lift me up.
A “good company” will only do what they have to do just to get by. A “great company” will never look for the quick route.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Nina Tulio: A “good company” will only do what they have to do just to get by. They are the company that may cut corners. They may look for the “quick route” to get to the top. A “good company” may be ok with not standing out. They are just coasting alongside their competition. A good company will be ok with winging it and might stray from their mission and vision for their company. When I was a salon owner I said to one of my team members, “ I don’t want my company to be ‘good’, I want it to be ‘great’. I want great for you too! And If you want ‘good’ we may not be a fit and that’s ok. But if you want to live a life of greatness, I am your person and this is your salon.”
A “great company” will never look for the quick route. They will be strategic and create a plan of action that is aligned with their brand and vision. They will not compromise their brand mission and long term vision just to fit in. Great companies will always go the extra mile on all levels. For their customers and their team. They strand strong in their core values and never waiver no matter how hard things become. Great companies have strong leaders that want to create other leaders. A great company will always show up with intention, passion, and purpose and work from that space every step of the way.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Nina Tulio: First off, this is totally normal. Even the biggest and best companies go through a standstill in their business. My biggest piece of advice is to sit down and evaluate what’s working in your business and what areas of struggle you are having in your business. With the things that are working, I suggest ramping them up a bit. Maybe it’s an area of advertising and marketing that went really well. Keep up with that and maybe even upgrade it slightly.
Now onto the areas that are your areas of struggle. If you notice that your overall volume is down and client retention is down from the prior year or two. Now is the time to dive deep into the why. Why are these areas down? And then create a solution to these areas. I suggest doing something different. Create a new referral program if you don’t have one. Create a VIP program for your customers if you haven’t done that before. I am really big on taking calculated risks in business especially in the areas you are struggling in.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Nina Tulio: Don’t ever lose sight of the big picture. That is first and foremost. I also suggest running your budget at least once a year and seeing where you can cut costs. Especially during a difficult economy knowing exactly what is coming in and what is going out is key. Keeping your pulse on your monthly expenses will help you see the big picture. When it comes to drumming up new business. I recommend looking internally first. What I mean by that is it can be very costly to attract new business. I suggest utilizing the clients you already have and creating a loyalty program, referral program, or VIP program so they can help you build your business. Keep in mind. You have so many customers that are already your raving fans. Allow them to help you and be a resource for you.
I am really big on taking calculated risks in business especially in the areas you are struggling in.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Nina Tulio: I think the one area that is underestimated is budgeting. It is very easy to speed money and not keep track of your budget when things are going well. But creating habits that allow you to stay on top of your monthly profit and loss statement is key. In the industry I’m in, we are not taught how to budget money, what fixed expenses and variable expenses are. We have to learn as we go. I would switch up the focus from top lines sales and revenue, to budgeting and expenses and you will see a shift in your profit.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Nina Tulio: I believe what creates a “wow” client experience is how you are willing to go the extra mile for each guest. And not just the first time, but every time. You want to create loyal guests and a great way to do that is to make the customer experience very personal. In a service based business, like the beauty industry, saying the guest’s name upon arrival may seem small but really goes a long way by making the customer feel welcomed. Almost like they are walking into your home for the first time. One of the biggest things that worked when I was a salon owner was to send out hand written thank you cards to all new guests. It made our clients feel incredibly special even after they left. I also believe that creating a solid business culture allows for an exceptional client experience. If you have a team that believes in your brand, brand mission, and vision for the business, they will always go above and beyond for each and every customer.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Nina Tulio: Yes I do. And it weighs heavily on me at times. But on the flip side, we live in a world that is incredibly digital, especially this year. I also think as a brand grows it does come with a price of exposure. Yes, there is great exposure having your brand on a social platform but along with that comes scrutiny. It’s like being under a microscope. You do have to watch every word you say. Every message and image that is put out to ensure that it is totally cohesive and is in alignment with the core values and brand ethics. Although it can be difficult at times, I think consumers are looking to brands and influencers to take a stand and be a voice. I think being a part of that mission and voice is bigger than the risk it comes with.
The biggest mistakes I see is they do not take the time to build and create a solid brand. Nina Tulio
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Nina Tulio: The biggest mistakes I see is they do not take the time to build and create a solid brand. You can’t serve the right people if you do not know who you are and who your target client is. This is something I struggled with myself. I felt a bit lost for the first few years in my business and thought because I had a passion for doing hair that clients would just come and sit in my chair. I would recommend creating an outline of your brand and ask yourself the following:
- Who do I serve? What is their age range? Hobbies? Profession? Where do they hang out?
- What problem do I solve?
- What is my brand voice and vibe?
- How is what I do differently than my competitors?
- How will I stand out?
After that I would come up with a marketing strategy on how to communicate your message and get it in front of the right audience with the right tone and message
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Nina Tulio: My movement would be to lead with love and the rest will follow. A movement where everyone would be accepted, not judged. They would feel so comfortable showing up as themselves and no one else. To create a community where kindness and empathy are at the forefront and giving back would be the result of our efforts.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!