Last week we placed our weekly order with a retail vendor and the amount came to $999.00 after the order was processed.
Our sales representative called back and left a message that we’d qualify for free shipping if we spent just one more dollar. By the time we got the message and responded it was after 5 p.m. and the vendor’s office was closed.
We lost out … or did we?
How many times have we come across great products, only to discover that promises made when we took on the line amounted to little or nothing in the end?
How often have we been offered exclusivity for our territory – and soon after found the line on our competitors’ shelves?
How many times have we experienced a rep who doesn’t listen to our needs and simply tries to fit us into the company’s sales model?
Buyouts, mergers and management restructuring have created disconnects between big suppliers and entrepreneurs who run their businesses week by week.
At the same time, many in the industry complain about flat sales of professional salon products. Maybe it's time for suppliers to listen more carefully to our needs and concerns.
Here are some tips that can create change with our suppliers as well as boost sales:
Go to the top. Make sure you have access to your supplier's chain of command; don’t be scared to voice your concerns and needs all the way to the top.
Use the leverage of placement. Promote lines that partner with you through better placement on retail shelves, promotions and better access to your team. Create new promotions with lines you're excited to introduce and play down lines that have left you frustrated.
Recognize the power of the back bar. Ask your new lines to provide free back-bar products to replace existing back bar, samples and extra education.
Don't underestimate education. Remember the most important rule – customers trust the service provider’s advice more than any other promotion; behind-the-chair education is priceless.
Celebrate success. Educate and reward your team for promoting and understanding the value of strong vendor relationships. Celebrate with monthly bonuses and education points. Acknowledge the team's success in shifting loyalties to new brands.
Look for new lines. Don’t be afraid to help out new hairdressers or stylists with upcoming lines – we all started small.
We all work hard to exceed expectations and know that our return business is only as good as our last service.
We also understand the value of loyalty – just because our customers return doesn’t mean we should take them for granted. The same applies to some vendors.
Allan Labos has more than 30 years of beauty and style experience across the country and in Europe. He began his career under the tutelage of Vidal Sassoon in London and opened and managed Sassoon salons and schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. For the past 25 years he has owned and operated Akari, a 20,000-square-foot business in Portland, Maine. Akari offers hair, nail and spa services and also includes a boutique, fitness center and medical spa.