Strategic Planning Grows Ihloff Salon

Ted Cundiff, president of the Business Resource Center, worked with Vizalution President and BRC Thought Partner Sean Griffen to organize a “one-stop shop” for Tulsa small businesses. SpiritBank’s Business Resource Center opened at 1811 S. Baltimore St. The self-coined “strategic partner network” launched in January.

The BRC’s claim to recent fame in Tulsa is strategic planning via graphic facilitation. Griffen, who drafted with Cundiff the business plan for the BRC itself, is one of about 60 people in the world who specializes in visual business planning.

Griffen doesn’t employ reports and spreadsheets. Instead, he uses a three-hour, four-step process consisting of interactive meetings with customers

to build “vision murals.” The murals, he says, facilitates unified vision and helps to define the purpose and direction of a business venture.

“It works with the brain’s natural ability to process information,” said Griffen. “This is about creating tangible results rapidly.”

According to its Web site, the BRC houses 28 consultants that specialize in areas from accounting and human resources to advertising and legal advice. What Griffen calls the “referral network” business structure makes services more readily available and easier to market to Tulsa small business owners as parts of customized business strategies.

“We refer customers within the strategic partner network,” said Kristen Bergman, owner of Atmos Strategic Communications. Atmos manages public relations for SpiritBank.

SpiritBank is the banking solution offered in-house at the Business Resource Center.

According to SpiritBank’s 2005 Annual Report, the Business Resource Center is a success.

“The BRC tracks the amount of business they bring to the bank and early results indicate that the venture has been successful,” said the report.

Ihloff Salon and Day Spa, one of the BRC’s first clients, worked with Cundiff, Griffen, Bergman, and others on a marketing and branding program for the salon.

Ihloff Salon and Day Spa opened in 1980. The salon now has two locations, one at 1876 S. Utica Square and the new south Tulsa location at 8343 S. Memorial Drive, which opened in April of 2003. Locations to come include an 1,800-SF salon in Kansas City, Mo., and a new cosmetology school in Tulsa.

Marilyn Ihloff, founder of Ihloff Salon and Day Spa, noted that as the salon grew it became difficult to consider the larger picture.

“In order to grow, we can’t be managing,” said Ihloff.

Ihloff sought strategic planning for the growth of the salon in the fall of 2003. Griffen facilitated meetings between Ihloff, her management team and other BRC consultants. A vision mural, pictorial time line and poster-sized action plan later, Ihloff felt she and her management team agreed on where the salon was headed.

“We at the salon tend to be visual people. The mural really brought our staff into it,” Ihloff said.

Since strategic planning with the BRC, Ihloff Salon and Day Spa has continued to grow. Overall sales increased 19 percent in 2004, 20 percent in 2005, and are slightly over 20 percent year-to-date for 2006. Net profits have increased by 25 percent.

“It’s made us more aware. It has absolutely affected the bottom line,” Ihloff said. ?

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