T Gordon Salon Talks
Episode 19

A Conversation with Neil Ducoff

Tony Gordon published on

My first experience with Neil Ducoff was at a dinner on the corner of Clark and Fullerton in Chicago. My father says, "you gotta meet this guy." The three of us go to this tapas place, half a block from my father's salon, slightly elevated above the street, so you can see all the surrounding businesses. We are eating, drinking, and Neil is talking. Neil is always talking. He was talking about the philosophy of Team Based Pay and how screwed up the salon businesses are. It was in 1989, I was a new stylist, young, opinionated, know-it-all and there was only one way to run a salon, and that was the way I knew it-commission. 

Across the street from the restaurant was a Super Cuts and a Hair Cuttery. The two businesses were practically side by side with one non related business in-between them. When I think of the stupidity of that landlord, it makes me want to scream. Who would put two of the same businesses in the same small building. I saw a movie trailer where two guys had guns pointed at each others heads in a moment of extreme intensity! It was kind of like that. 

Over lots of food and drink, and as Neil is explaining Team Based Pay, he leans over with his big waggy finger, points at the two chain salons, clearly visible from our table, and says, you know who is paying properly, they are. With added emphasis the pointing lingered. At the time those places were all hourly, not sure if they did bonuses. 

I said, "No way!" And I told Neil, this old guy with loads more experience than I, that he was crazy, he was wrong and one thousand other thoughts that were going thru my head. After the dinner, I was talking to my father, an award winning salon owner and visionary in the salon world, that stylists would never go for a pay scheme like Team Based Pay. 10 Years later I found myself in Connecticut at one of Neil's seminars and my wife Pam and I now have 4 salons all on Neil's pay system that are Top 200 for 15 years!  And I read the other day, the Hair Cuttery opened it's 900th location. Go figure!

In this podcast you can hear for yourself if Neil is worth listening to. 

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