Tech Pilots: Nick Arrojo Partners in Growth with STX by Testing New Technology
Nick Arrojo, owner of Arrojo Studios, and Jeff Mason, president of STX Software. For more than a decade, Arrojo Studios has served as a test-market salon for STX, most recently piloting STX's online booking and cloud-based software.
For more than a decade, Arrojo Studio, owned by Nick Arrojo in Manhattan, New York, has partnered with STX, a salon management software, to increase revenue and streamline its systems through technology. But it’s not a one-way street. Along the journey, STX also has grown and benefited from the partnership.
Nuala Guildea, salon manager for Arrojo, says using STX in the past decade has been key in customizing systems in order to become a more efficient business. “When we first started with them, there were certain reports Nick wanted to see,” Guildea says. “STX was always open to listening and customizing. And as the business grew, they were willing to grow with him.”
An e-mail and marketing component to the software also set STX apart. “We didn’t have to go get a separate salon marketing software because the e-mail was already integrated,” she says. “They have always been innovative and ahead of the curve.”
But it was the customization of reports that was the game changer for Arrojo salons—one report in particular.
“Our sales analysis overview report is a snapshot of the year to date,” Guildea explains. “It’s the biggest report we use to communicate with staff on what they are doing. We pull it daily, monthly, yearly.”
Customized specifically for owner Nick Arrojo after he requested a simple, at-a-glance report, it includes services by visit type, service dollars, retail dollars, amount of client visits per week and retail dollar per visit.
“From this report we run a priority list,” Guildea says. “Every week, we put stylists on priority based on this report. New salon clients and return salon clients are given to these ‘priority’ stylists.”
She adds, “The person who brought in the most new requests from the week before and the person who has the most retail dollars per client get on the list.”
There’s a top five and top 10 every week and if a stylist is having a good year (based on the year-to-date report), she gets second priority.
“Nick can spend five minutes walking through the sales analysis report and he knows the temperature of his business,” Guildea says.
“The sales analysis overview report is my number-one tool for plotting the success of each salon,” Nick Arrojo says. “It’s also indicative of the strength of the relationship we enjoy with STX.”
Arrojo says he felt a stylist’s dollar retail per client and their new client requests were the fairest, most indicative metrics to check their performance.
“It’s well-known that if you retail to your client, they are more than twice as likely to return; and it’s also well known that, in three years, a salon can lose about half of its existing clientele through natural drop off, so the ability to always attract new business is vital to the lifeblood of any salon,”
When Arrojo took his idea for the report and priority system to STX, they got to work on creating a software that would allow him to track these metrics daily, weekly and yearly in the sales analysis overview report.
“It allows me to see the success of each salon and stylist within the salon at the press of a button, and also promotes a sense of friendly competition among the team, which further helps to encourage growth,” Arrojo says. “The ability to track daily stats in the sales analysis overview report allows me to check on the health of my business in real time.”
Jeff Mason, president of STX, says the system they set up for Arrojo salons doesn’t just benefit Arrojo, it’s also designed for Arrojo employees to get the maximum mileage out of it.
“In our industry, individuals are creative and need a better/easier way to track individual goals,” he says. “If I talk to a hairdresser or colorist and tell them to increase service dollars by x percent, it goes over their heads. They aren’t used to looking at a spreadsheet.”
To combat this, the software is set up to track daily goals on a score board. So if a stylist needs to sell $20 in retail that day, they have a simple bar graph to look at with red, yellow and green. They’re behind if it’s red, ahead if it’s green.
“By using that chart as an indicator for staff to see, you don’t get into that unfriendly environment where people can see each other’s goals,” Mason says. “They might see where they are on the board, but not what the exact number goal is. You just see the bar graph with names. On their own devices, they can see their actual numbers. And the salon has the ability to show on a computer where everyone ranks.”
Putting Programs into Practice
Over the years, Arrojo has piloted a few programs for STX, helping the software company work out kinks while enjoying the benefits of new technology. One of these was a customized rewards program created within STX for Arrojo salons.
“Nick does so much volume and wanted the guests to feel special and rewarded,” Mason says. “He used it on a set number of clients to make sure it worked properly. We originally put it together so they could implement it as a module but it has now grown into more sophisticated tracking the salon can customize. For example, they can offer a free bottle of shampoo if a customer spends x amount of dollars.”
Guildea says the customization of the rewards program is just one of many custom reports used in the business.
“We can customize our payroll down to the nth degree, including setting up individual employees in specific ways,” she says.
“We run a totals sheet every night to make sure we’re on point with cash/credit cards—it’s very simple for accountants to work from,” she adds.
Reports for new clients, purchase ordering and inventory and client retention are also customizable and easy to use.
“We can pick through the reports and decide what we want to run and when,” Guildea says.
With multiple locations, Nick Arrojo says the ability to view reports from anywhere at any time is invaluable. “Each Arrojo Studio location has its own STX to track the numbers of that salon,” he says. “So in a snapshot I can see the underlying statistics of each location, and of each stylist in each location. Having and using these numbers is an incredibly powerful tool, allowing me to see the macro and micro picture in a heartbeat.”
In the Clouds
More recently, Arrojo Studios have piloted online booking and cloud-based software for STX. Again, the online booking was customized to how Arrojo does business.
“The salons are departmentalized, and Nick’s cutters book at 45-minute intervals,” Mason explains. “So if a stylist starts at 9 a.m., a client can book at 9 a.m., 9:45 a.m, 10:30 a.m., etc. The salon doesn’t allow people to make appointments at 9:15 am because they don’t want 15 minute gaps during the day that add up and disrupt productivity.”
When STX wrote the software, they made it so clients can only book on that algorithm, avoiding human error.
“Customizing those intervals was a collaboration between us and Nick, but plenty of owners want clients to be able to book anytime—and we can do that in our software, too,” Mason says. “You can be very specific with your preferences or be wide open.”
Last year, STX launched a cloud-based version of their software that’s useable on any device. But before they could launch it, they needed to test it. Arrojo had recently opened a new location in Brooklyn, so STX ran the new cloud-based software at that salon in the background behind the regular system.
“We worked closely with their IT person and salon manager to see what we needed to do,” Mason says. “Having it run at that location helped us see what we needed to do and what needed to change. It needs to be fast, and when you’re utilizing a cloud platform, it’s only as fast as your internet.”
So Arrojo had lightning-fast internet installed, which allowed STX to enhance speed and performance.
“We were able to do that because Arrojo wasn’t utilizing the cloud-based software as their only system,” Mason says. “It provided phenomenal feedback for us. Now we’re going to put the whole system on the cloud because it has surpassed the desktop version.
“They helped us get to the next generation of bigger, better, faster,” he adds. “Nick understood the importance of real-world application. In a live environment, different things can happen. They were gracious enough to go back and forth between systems and provide feedback for us, which helped optimize our cloud version.”
Arrojo and his team were more than happy to help their partner in technology because they know it’s a two-way street.
“From appointment scheduling to inventory management, payroll and client tracking, goal setting and more, it is really the breadth and depth of a management software that stands out for me,” Arrojo says. “They allow my management team to present key stats and trends quickly and efficiently, so I can dive into the heart of what’s going on in my business with a minimum of fuss.”