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TD Magazine Article

Learning Creates a Competitive Advantage

Fostering education and career development is a distinguishing factor for European Wax Center.


Fri Jun 14 2024

Learning Creates a Competitive Advantage

European Wax Center: 2024 BEST Award Winner, #17

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Fostering education and career development is a distinguishing factor for European Wax Center.


European Wax Center (EWC) believes that guest value means surpassing guests' expectations. The company recognizes that it must not only compete within its own niche of the beauty and health industry but across all business sectors for a share of consumer spending.

"What keeps guests coming back is the exceptional experience provided by our dedicated associates," says Julie A. Hauser-Blanner, former chief franchise officer. "Their competence, bolstered by comprehensive training, has enabled us to sustain growth, even during economically challenging periods."

Custodian of culture

Beginning as a family-owned business, EWC is now the largest provider of waxing services in the US, boasting more than 1,100 locations across 45 states. With such a widely dispersed workforce, core values guide how individual centers treat guests and how leadership grows the business. The core values include:

  • We Do the Right Thing

  • We Delight Our Guests

  • We Care About Each Other

  • We Have Fun While Being Awesome

According to Nicole Sandoval, senior director of L&D and field training, the L&D team goes to great lengths to ensure associates in the field understand and embrace the company's values and culture. In addition to covering culture during onboarding, the team designs programs with learning objectives that reinforce core values.

For instance, the L&D team is currently developing an initiative on best practices for serving guests with disabilities. Sandoval notes that the program and other training that supports EWC's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are a direct reflection of two values: "We Do the Right Thing" and "We Delight Our Guests."


"Talent development serves as a custodian to our organization's culture and values," Sandoval explains. "It ensures that these elements are not just lofty statements on our website or a decoration on a poster board but are lived by our associates at every level."

Smooth flow of talent

A challenge for any company is maintaining a pipeline of knowledgeable workers. To channel prepared candidates into open roles, the company takes a proactive approach and engages students and professionals at the start of their careers.

Through the EWC's school partner programs, the company offers free e-learning modules to educational institutions that supplement classroom learning. More than 1,200 students have taken those courses, with 97 percent expressing their readiness to recommend them to fellow students.

"What sets us apart is our commitment to supporting all students studying in our field, not exclusively those intending to work with our brand," says Sandoval.

Finding new associates to fill open positions is not the organization's only strategy. Internal succession planning guarantees all locations have the right people in the right roles and safeguards smooth leadership transitions.


Twice yearly, department leaders identify pivotal roles within the company. Next, a talent pool assessment evaluates the strengths and growth areas for each associate. The idea is to understand their personal career aspirations, outline development requirements and opportunities, and pinpoint potential successors. Together, the information helps the TD function align its strategy with business objectives and future direction.

"Our commitment to nurturing and retaining our internal talent serves as a testament to our dedication to organizational growth, stability, and long-term success," says Sandoval. "It ensures that personal and professional development remains at the forefront of our growth trajectory."

Technology boosts skills proficiencies

Recognizing the innovative nature of the waxing industry, the L&D team is leveraging technology and digital platforms to enhance the accessibility, scalability, and engagement of its training.

Raisa Babilonia, a senior instructional designer with EWC, shares that the company's Tech at the Helm initiative, which had associates transition from using desktops to iPads, created opportunities for the L&D team to leverage technology to deliver on-the-go training modules and interactive learning experiences for associates. "By adopting mobile technology, the L&D team could tailor training experiences to match the dynamic needs of modern learners, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability," says Babilonia.

To further take advantage of the technological spectrum, the L&D team has developed virtual diagrams and 3D tools that enable learners to see and interact with the human body. Associates also have access to simulations and digital guides that detail everything from the waxing process to navigating the company's scheduling platform.

"Technology has significantly enhanced our practice improvements by offering accessibility, scalability, and engagement," Babilonia points out. "By integrating interactive online modules, virtual simulations, and social learning platforms through a best-in-class learning management system, we enable associates to learn at their own pace, access resources conveniently, and collaborate with peers."

Persistency pays off

Gina Petak, senior manager of L&D, explains that by crafting tailored content for learners, aligning learning paths with specific roles, and taking advantage of technology options, the L&D function has had a profound impact on business profitability. For example, Petak hosts live webinars called Manager Mingles that bring together hundreds of center managers to discuss potential solutions to common challenges.

Such role-specific programs have enabled associates to realize skills proficiencies within a shorter period. Scaled programs achieved a 13 percent reduction in individual associates' need for training hours, decreasing from 390 hours in 2021 to 340 hours in 2022.

"Reducing time to competence gives us a competitive edge in a rapidly changing environment. Our associates can adapt to market shifts and guest demands more swiftly," says Petak.

That decrease in time to proficiency translates to cost savings, reducing the financial burden associated with extended training periods and enabling the L&D team to allocate resources to developing new programs, adopting new technology, and upgrading learning platforms.

"Our learning and development team's work significantly impacted the business's profits by getting the right content to the right user at the right time through strategic planning of content creation, engaging deliverables, and practical execution," states Sandoval. She adds that the team's persistent efforts and expertise have boosted productivity nationwide, resulting in company performance records and leadership advancement opportunities.

View the entire list of 2024 BEST Award winners.

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