Top Workplaces 2022: Kenneth's Hair Salons and Day Spas training gives staff confidence

Virginia Brown
For Columbus CEO
Amber Keller (left), Taylor (Brittany) Kirkwood, Tony Anders, Kourtney Cofield and Erin Patterson photographed at the Kenneth's Hair Salon academy.

Some companies draw talent with perks like free beer and Ping-Pong tables. At Kenneth’s Hair Salons and Day Spas, it’s all about the training.

For the eighth year straight, Kenneth’s ranked among Columbus CEO’s Top Workplaces awards, this year also winning a special award for its extensive investment in its people.

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“Our training is our biggest recruiting tool, and it’s what sets us apart,” says President Jody Achatz.

Founded by Kenneth Anders in 1977, today the salon has 10 locations, including a training academy, in central Ohio. Kenneth’s training includes multiple phases and can take anywhere from seven months to a year to complete, according to Achatz.

Understanding the pace of a salon and developing the skills necessary to work with a wide array of personalities and expectations takes time. “A lot of times in this industry, when you’re getting training, you work alongside another hairdresser, and they teach you as you go,” Achatz says. “We don’t do it that way.”

At Kenneth’s, new hires spend seven weeks working full days at Kenneth’s Academy on Reed Road, northwest of Columbus. There, stylists learn how to apply color, drape clients and sharpen other foundational skills.

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In the second phase, trainees assist top-level stylists to understand the pace of the salon environment. “Timing is important here,” says Marie Flanagan, who has worked at Kenneth’s since August 2021. “[We learn] how to juggle clients and make sure that we are staying on time—and how to please the customer.”

After that, employees return to the academy full-time for advanced training in cutting and coloring techniques, among others, this time with live models. By the final level, stylists have spent about two months working with real clients at the academy budget salon.

“A lot of times, when you’re going through training, you bring your mom, your sister, your best friend …” Achatz says. “At the platinum level, you don’t know who’s coming in. Your consultation has to be fantastic, and you have to educate throughout the appointment.”

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“There are certain key performance indicators that need to happen before you’re then promoted out to one of the locations,” Achatz adds.

And that’s just for hair. The process is similar for Kenneth’s nail technicians, estheticians and others, according to Achatz. They also provide training on financial wellness, marketing, social media and more.

Even more notable than the extensive time Kenneth’s puts into preparing its people: the training is paid.

After graduating from the Aveda Institute Columbus in April 2021, Flanagan applied to work at Kenneth’s because of its reputation.

“Hair school really just sets you up for the minimum,” says Flanagan. “They give you enough to get started, but there’s so much to learn in the industry.”

At Kenneth’s, Flanagan says she has found a support network of people she can go to with any question. “They prepare you for any situation that you might run into and for a successful future.”

Virginia Brown is a freelance writer.

Kenneth’s Hair Salons and Day Spas

10 Columbus-area locations

Business: Hair salon and day spa offering hair services, nails, massages and more

President: Jody Achatz

Employees: 375

Revenue: Would not disclose.