Gene Juarez CEO, Janet Denyer, gives ‘Relationships-Focused’ Talk to Professionals in Bellevue

November 5, 2011
by Julian Michael for Kreate
Photos courtesy of Matt Brown

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“We are a people business,” proclaimed Janet Denyer, CEO of the very popular Gene Juarez Salons & Spas in Washington State.

Last Thursday, November 2nd, an attendance of 125 to 150 local business professionals got a real treat: they had the opportunity to listen to Denyer being interviewed by Gordon Prouty, Publisher of the Puget Sound Business Journal as part of their monthly Business Journal LIVE on the Eastside event.

Bellevue Business Networking Events Seattle Professional Development

Throughout the 45-minutes or so ‘fireside chat’-style expose with the audience, Denyer focused on sharing their corporate initiatives from the top-down and bottom-up such as relationships, guests, value, and vision. Each of these components are extremely important to how Gene Juarez as a company functions in its daily cycle whereby they perform nearly 750,000 services annually for ‘guests’.

“We create the highest value for (our guests’) dollar,” Denyer said in response to a question about why their brand is so strong and business continues to grow.

Gene Juarez Salons & Spas, which has grown considerably in the past few years, according to Denyer since her arrival, is the premier brand for salons in Washington and has a reputation for having a Nordstrom-like philosophy in terms of personal, customer service. Nordstrom has received countless awards and recognition for excellent in customer service.

“Our stylists really focus on building one-to-one relationships with our guests,” shared Denyer in response to achieving their approximately 80-percent margin of repeat ‘guests’ at their facilities. “Our number one goal is to provide impeccable customer service,” she added.

Denyer comes from a background in building highly successful salons and teams in the greater New York and New England area and cited that she was very hesitant initially when presented with the opportunity to lead the then up-and-coming Gene Juarez brand. Having spent time working, training and/or vacationing in almost every one of the 50 United States she saw an opportunity to explore and indulge in the energy of the Pacific Northwest region, which she admits was very appealing.

When Denyer arrived for her first in-person contact with the Gene Juarez executive team at their headquarters in Bellevue in 2006, she arrived a couple days early. With the intention of seeing the brand first-hand, she set out to visit a couple of the Gene Juarez Salon & Spa locations and rented a car.

“I drove to every Gene Juarez location I could get to,” Denyer shared with a smile. “What I saw was absolutely amazing! The women had that extra ‘bounce’ to their step on their way out. It was then that I knew I had found a good fit!”

On Development and Successes

Denyer went on to share about Gene Juarez’s success with reshaping their training academy program, about expansion into their now 10 select salon & spa locations, and about launching their new line of products developed in-house by their team.

“I came from operations and I like to pick things apart naturally,” said Denyer when discussing her initial analysis of the Gene Juarez Training Academy program.

In talking with her Director of Academy Operations she discovered that their enrollments were very ‘seasonal’ and that there were such high spikes of enrollment during part of the year that they were forced to turn applicants away, and that during the slower months they struggled to keep their program half full.

The Solution: Alter the training program from five days per week finishing in just a few weeks, to a three times per week program whereby those interested in the field could still work while attending school to make for a smoother transition.

“It was insanely successful,” Denyer said.

Recently, the Gene Juarez artists and executive team launched a new line of products exclusive to their salons and spas flying under the Identity1 brand flag. These products were developed 100-percent by the Gene Juarez team and with the feedback they received from their guests they were able to launch even more products that have been extremely successful for their brand, explained Denyer.

“We have a whole team of hair dressers in our locations that are ‘product junkies’,” said Denyer about how the idea came about in the first place. “It’s really not me, it’s the team that has all this energy,” she added when asked how they launched the product line.

Bellevue Business Networking Events Professional Development Chamber Seattle

l to r:  Julian Michael, Founder & Executive Director of Kreate Professionals Network, Gordon Prouty, Publisher of Seattle Puget Sound Business Journal, Janet Denyer, CEO of Gene Juarez, Brooke Catano, Senior Account Executive at BizExchange.

On Vision and Heroes

Denyer’s final comments about the next steps and vision for the company flirted with expanding into other west coast states when the economy can support, about adding more men’s-focused salons and about continuing their success as customer service champions.

When asked about her ‘heroes’ in life, Denyer shared that her two types of heroes are in her personal and professional lives. Personal: her parents and grandparents since they originated from modest beginnings and helped her to achieve so much. Professional: the people that work the front line of operations at Gene Juarez as they are why the brand has become so successful.

In her spare time Denyer enjoys strumming some guitar and the arts, playing tennis for fun and snowboarding, which she called meditative to level out her corporate day.

As a loyal Gene Juarez ‘guest’ I am very delighted to say that the number one reason I return is because my hairdresser – Quinn – at the Bellevue Men’s Salon, does the best hair of anyone I’ve ever hired in six states and when I’m in her chair I feel like we’ve known each other for years. Needless to say, she’s a shining example of the type of corporate culture that Denyer shared…quality, value and a rockstar at building one-to-one relationships!

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Bellevue Business and Professional Development event by the Puget Sound Business Journal at Harbor Club

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