We have all heard the saying “work smarter, not harder,” but how many of us are fully utilizing our resources? This is a prime opportunity within the professional beauty industry for salon owners and managers. We have all been guilty of dealing with the person or issue right in front of us and of failing to take the time to strategically plan and execute business building activities. As you continue juggling the responsibilities of owning and operating a salon, I challenge you to set aside a few minutes to consider the following resources, and take some easy steps to begin fully utilizing them:
SALES CONSULTANTS: I know what you are thinking, “I don’t need more products.” Believe it or not I agree with you, mostly. What you don’t need is more products that aren’t going to sell. What you DO need is to be aware of the changes taking place in the beauty industry and of items that will be in demand in the near future. No one is better equipped to share that knowledge with you than your salon sales consultant. Not only do sales consultants preview what is coming from manufacturers months in advance, but they also visit dozens of salons a week. It is absolutely in your best interest to build a solid relationship with your sales consultant and to offer an eager ear for the inside information they have to share.
Additionally, the most successful salons have knowledgeable stylists, and often your sales consultant can connect your salon to the extensive manufacturer education available. These facts combined make your salon sales consultant a valuable addition to your strategic business team.
1) Have a list ready of questions for your sales consultant concerning industry trends and new items that are launching in the next 3-6 months.
2) Ask your sales consultant what their most successful accounts are doing that you are not (i.e. events, exclusive promotions, and social media).
3) Create a 6-12 month education calendar for your salon, remembering to alternate product lines and focuses to keep your staff engaged and interested.
MENTORS: The concept of mentorship has a great reputation in the business world, but is nearly non-existent in the beauty industry. The idea of asking a successful salon owner, essentially your competitor, to share their tricks and ideas with you seems laughable at first thought. However the value of experience is what makes mentorship relationships worth seeking out and developing. Lets be honest, most peoples’ favorite topic is themselves, and who doesn’t like an ear that is eager to hear about what they are doing right? The ideas and knowledge shared through a mentorship relationship are very valuable, and in most cases, free.
1) Reach out to friends or family members that live out of town and ask about the top salons in their area, eliminating the competition factor.
2) Research their suggestions and find a salon that does the kind of business you aspire to. Contact their ownership/management for a phone appointment.
3) Be honest about your goal (i.e. to increase customer loyalty, to send more clients home with products, to become “the salon” in your area) and let your target mentor know you are looking for help on how to get there.
4) Don’t forget to mention the things you are doing right. Maybe they can learn something too!
MANUFACTURER REWARD PROGRAMS: Most salons are currently accruing points based on their purchases of specific manufacturer product lines. However, many are not reaping the benefits of those points because they are not taking the time to manage their accounts. Nearly every manufacturer has some type of reward or loyalty program because they know what we know- it is much easier to keep a customer you already have then it is to gain a new one. It is up to you to fully utilize the tools and resources these programs offer in a way that will positively impact your business.
Another factor to consider is that many programs are tiered in order to reward their most loyal customers generously. If you are not particularly loyal to any one line, identify the best fit for your salon in order to tap into opportunities to partner and receive additional support.
1) Gather your balances for the different programs you are signed up for.
2) Sign up for programs you are eligible for but not currently participating in. Your sales consultant can be a resource for you.
3) Create a plan for how to utilize those resources in your salon, whether it be back bar, items you can use for salon contests, or advertising dollars you can use to promote your business. Every program is different but most of them have great options.
EMPLOYEE TALENTS: People are different, they just are. That being said, people are also brilliant. Every single person on your team has something magnificent to offer, and it is your responsibility as a manager to identify that potential and put it to work. People are happier when they are doing what they are skilled at, and most people want to do a good job. Who on your team has a talent you haven’t tapped into? Is Rebecca always the first to come to you with hot celebrity gossip? Put her on magazine patrol, looking for celebrity and fashion mentions of the products you carry in your salon for you to utilize. Could Juan have a conversation with a brick wall? Put him in charge of your salon’s referral program. Is Mary obsessed with social media? Empower her to use her skills for the promotion of your salon.
Your team is your MOST valuable resource, and in order to keep them happy and thriving, it is up to you to help them find their place within the salon.
1) Make a list of your employees and jot down the first couple of things that come to mind when you think of each of them and what you know they are good at.
2) Look for a way to fit those skills and preferences into an area where your salon could use a boost.
3) Speak with each of your team members and ask them if they would like to get more involved. Ask for their ideas and then share with them what you have come up with.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: Many salons have jumped on board the social networking bandwagon, and for those that haven’t, the time is now. After you’ve identified who your social media maven (or mister) is, it is time to lay some ground rules. Social media can help, but it can also hinder your business, depending on your execution.
A few things to keep in mind are: Does your post, tweet or comment pass the “newspaper test”? In other words, if it was on the front page of the newspaper would it cause any embarrassment or backlash? Are you accurately portraying the image you want to create for your salon? Are you engaging and interesting your customers, friends and followers? What value are you adding to your business with these actions?
1) Determine who will lead your social media project, but stay involved and aware.
2) Set clear and measurable goals so that you will know when you are succeeding.
3) Create your accounts on the media you have opted to participate in.
4) Be an active user of that media. If you are going to create it, utilize it.
5) Use your social media to improve your business, try running a special via your social media.
Change is never easy, and improving is even more of a challenge. To take our business and our industry to the next level, it is important that salon owners and managers pay attention to all of the people, programs and opportunities available to them. Before you spend another dollar, take the time to utilize the resources you already have access to, and see the positive impact on your business.
Rachel Jud has spent the last eight years helping salon owners, managers and stylists make the most of retailing opportunities. With experience distributing top brands to both independent and national chain salons, she enjoys identifying small changes salons can make in an effort to increase sales. Rachel currently manages a team of salespeople who provide chain salons with retail and service products as well as strategies to increase their revenues.