Piandré turns silverBy Marge C. Enriquez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
At 3 P.M., the whir of the hair blowers comes to a halt; the manicurists stop polishing nails and the makeup artists drop their brushes as they hear the recording of a prayer. Silence befalls on the entire Piandré salon. Even the customers set aside their magazines to join the short reflection with the staffers.
Ask the manicurist or the junior stylist if the daily 3 o’clock prayer has been helpful, they all say it gives them time to recharge their spirit.
For 25 years, Rosalinda Francisco, founder and CEO of the Piandré group of salons, has emphasized a values-based culture where employees are given opportunities for spiritual and professional growth.
As much as they hold retreats and Masses, they are also sent on exposure trips to key cities abroad and to pilgrimages to Lourdes and Rome. They are also taught to treat the customers with utmost care, to conduct themselves in the highest professional standards, not to borrow money from loan sharks and put in some of their earnings in business.
Francisco believes that ethical and well-trained employees are the key drivers to a good business. The result is that Piandré customers are extremely loyal.
“To make sure that our clients will keep coming back, the management takes care of the well-being of the customer at all costs,” she says. “Likewise, it’s our principle that if you take care of the staff, they will take care of the customer.”
Francisco ventured into the salon business in 1983 with her sister upon the suggestion of her mother. They acquired Eve’s Salon in Magallanes. Since it was close to their home, it enabled them to have time with their families.
Meanwhile, Francisco would patronize the high-end salons in Makati. She challenged herself to set-up a premium salon with high standards that she sent staffers to Hong Kong for training.
In 1987, she opened Piandré, an acronym for her three daughters Peachy (Maria Paz Zulueta-Maxwald), Aina (Anna Katrina Zulueta-Valencia) and Andrea Claudia Zulueta, who are involved the salon.
A single parent, Francisco exposed her children, including the youngest, Antonio Jr. or Jaton, to the business and to community service. Hence their outlook towards Piandré is a business with a soul.
Piandré became known for its sculpted blow-dry and up style setting. It popularized the shoulder massage while the customer was having a hair treatment.
“I have focused on what the customer wants and what would make them come back. They want skilled service, comfort and safety. We sanitize the tools before using them on the client; one brush per head. You can’t repeat the brush. There’s a new towel for every customer. The hairstylists analyze the hair and scalp to make sure the supplies are safe for them . Precautions have been taken to protect the clothes, jewelry and other possessions of the client. Those add up to the costs but the customer deserves it,” maintains Francisco.
Through the years Francisco invested on continuous education of her staff. However, because of their expertise, other salons easily lured the stylists.
“Mom was paying so much for these stylists yet they got pirated. I wanted to stop the dependence on them,” says Andrea, Piandré creative director.
In 2002, Andrea went to Vidal Sassoon in London. She has since been training stylists, the Vidal Sassoon way, in hair science and proper hair cutting techniques. Even the staffers who do waxing and manicure undergo training by foreign experts.
Today, Piandré has 11 branches and over 200 employees. The flagship at Greenbelt 1 is 430 s.qm. With a staff of 75, it produces an average of 2,500 haircuts, 2,200 nail services, 950 hair coloring services, 1050 waxing services and 120 hair smoothing services in one month.
At 7 a.m., there are high-powered executives who undergo their daily make-up or blow-dry services.
The siblings formed Zulusibs Inc., Distribution Company that offers premium brands such as Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, Macadamia Naturals.
This year, it launched Lakme, a professional hair color line from Spain. Francisco and Andrea visited the headquarters and were impressed at the exacting standards of the company. The brand not only strengthens the hair while coloring it but it also matches the hair and skin tones of the Filipinos.
Ironically, its clientele are also Piandré’s “competitors.” The youngest and only son, Antonio Jr. or Jaton, who is not involved with the salon, has convinced other salons of its brands on the basis of Piandré’s experience of testing the products on its clients.
He adds, “Everyone knows us especially my mom. They see our values.”
Says Francisco, “People don’t know that we have a lot of spiritual development in the company. The service providers should inculcate the right values. They need sincerity, honesty and care. To infuse that needs spiritual development.”
The employees have been exposed to a lot of wealth, not only from their affluent customers but also from their own tips and commissions. Francisco was concerned that the money went where their minds went. She formed a program where they went on three-day retreats, values formation sessions and daily gospel reflections.
“My mom ran it like a mission to serve the people,” says Aina. The family has been even counseled employees and in most difficult cases even provided therapists.
In a move to prevent borrowing from users or even from the management, Francisco established the Salon Multi-Purpose Cooperative.
“It is the bank of the staff where they can save and borrow depending on their capacity to pay. They own the Del Monte branch and Kerastase retail in all the salons. They manage and get the profits,” says Francisco. One of the perks is getting their dividends every April from the profits earned by the Del Monte branch.
Francisco offered them to own a branch in Loyola Grand Villas, to which the coop declined, thinking the location as remote. Piandré then opened the said branch under its management, which has been thriving because it served an affluent community in the north.
Asked if Piandré was competing with the coop, Francisco replied that she wasn’t complaining. The coop makes the employees feel like owners and this brings their loyalty. “Many have acquired low-cost homes through the company and the cooperative’s assistance.”
In the past three years, business has been growing by 23 percent. Andrea attributes it to the introduction of new brands such as Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, which is a safe way to get stick straight hair and the gentle French wax Perron Rigot.
For its silver anniversary, the salon is building its flagship branch, a 600 sqm four story building on Timog Avenue, Quezon City, designed by architect Carmelo Casas. It will include a hair academy and an events place on the top floor. Plans are afoot for the New York-trained artist, Aina, to hold a painting exhibit. Aside from store operations, she has been responsible for the salons’ interiors.
Ultimately, Francisco maintains that it’s not just the hardware that Piandré has been famous for. “The inner life is important. We tell employees that everything they do has a connection with spirituality.”
“Clients say our staff is happy and warm. It’s not always about the money,” says Andrea.
Francisco rejoins, “The staff knows how much we value them. They touch the customer from head to foot so we are doing everything to make sure that the well being of our staff is no. 1. In turn, they give it back to the customer.”
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