2010 Vision: Engage New Business

By Alison Alhamed | 04/15/2010 2:28:00 PM


In 1999 the best-selling business book, The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage taught us that goods and services are no longer enough. The authors Joseph Pine and James Gilmore advised business owners, “to be successful in today’s increasingly competitive environment, companies must learn to stage experiences for each one of their individual customers.”

“We have entered the ‘Experience Economy,’” they declared. “A new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers that engage each one of them in an inherently personal way.” While that was sage advice at the turn of the 21st century, it’s become a mandate in Decade 2010 when recession-stressed consumers have become extraordinarily selective about the businesses they patronize. While the professional beauty industry has long built successful businesses around the experiences of creating beauty or rejuvenating the body, it’s no longer enough that the service providers engage their clients. To succeed in 2010 and beyond, owners and their brands need to personally engage each and every one of their clients through communication, education and entertainment. In fact, SALON TODAY argues that successful salon and spa owners will engage not only their client audiences, but also their staff members, their recruits, their community neighbors, and even the future professionals of our industry.

We pedaled the concept of engagement in the new 2010 decade to some of our favorite salon consultants, leaders and businesses—as well as a few outside visionaries—to develop this collection of mini-features which address each of your critical audiences.

When most salon and spa owners launch a new salon business, they bring with them a base of clients they’ve been servicing for many years. In addition, they typically hire established service providers who also bring a percentage of their own client bases. Starting a salon from scratch, without a single client, is a bit unique. But that’s exactly what Sonya and Christopher Dove did when they opened The Doves Studio (thedovesstudio.com) in Santa Monica, California. As creative directors for Wella, the Doves maintain a high profile within the professional beauty community; but with busy education schedules, they’d never established a client following in their own backyard. In addition, the staffers they carefully hired were either from out of state, or new graduates who didn’t have any clients either.

Christopher and Sonya Dove
“It was really, really scary to not have any clients, especially since we were paying salary,” Sonya says. “We realized very quickly that we couldn’t just open up a nice, beautiful salon and expect people to come in—we had to do something about it.” What the Doves did is a great lesson in neighborhood engagement for any salon owner or stylist who is interested in drumming up new business.

With an abundance of upscale hotels located near the salon which boast a number of frequent-visit guests, the Doves saw a potential partnership opportunity to help boost their own business. They approached the concierge at each hotel and offered to do his or her own hair without charge, in exchange for personal recommendations to the hotel’s guests. The results were so effective, the salon continues to offer free services to these key connectors in exchange for their continuing recommendations.

The salon also offers 40-percent off to anyone who works on the same busy Santa Monica street where the salon is located. “When people stop in to different shops and compliment the employees on their hair, they then recommend those shoppers to us,” Sonya says. “Our growth has been slow, but it’s been continuous.”

Out of all the marketing efforts, Sonya says, the most successful was when the salon advertised a 50-percent off coupon in the local newspaper. “If the client brought in the coupon, when they left and paid we would hand them a 40-percent off coupon for next time as a thank you.” When they came in the second time, they would get a 30-percent off coupon for the next visit. “We found that having a client come back three times retains them as a client in the salon, compared to offering a one-time percentage off.” When the promotion ended, the salon found they retained 92 percent of the clients gained through the advertisement.

Rather than try to constantly earn new clients, we build on the clients we already have established,” Sonya says. “We treat each client like they are a piece of gold.”

More articles in this series, 2010 Vision: The New Rules of Engagement:
2010 Vision: Engage New Business
Engage Your Employees
Engage Your Conscience
Engage Through Marketing
Engage Your Social Media Networks
Engage Your Budget
Engage Through Accountability
Engage Without Compromise
Engage Our Future





ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alison Alhamed

Alison Alhamed, Editor in Chief of Modern Salon Magazine | Editor of First Chair

Since July 2008, Alison has worked across all brands under the MODERN SALON Media umbrella, including MODERN SALON, SALON TODAY, FIRST CHAIR and MODERN SALON TV. Alison’s passion for the beauty industry grew even deeper after she enrolled in beauty school, working as an editor by day and a student by night. Alison earned her cosmetology degree from Pivot Point International in Bloomingdale, Illinois, in May 2011.

You can find Alison on Google+ or e-mail her at aalhamed@vancepublishing.com.


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