Dawn and Niko Longmore
- Trio Salon
- Burlingame, California
- Established: July 21, 1991
- Website: www.trio-salon.com
- Salon setup: 32 chairs including a treatment room
- Square feet: 3,500
- Employees: 36
- Prices: cut $53-$102; single process color $72-$92; full highlights
$92-$142; hair extensions $1,500
- Salon software: Salon Biz
- Equipment/furnishings: Equipto and custom
- Primary hair care lines: Bumble and bumble, Kérastase and Shu Uemura
- Primary color line: Goldwell
A blind date 19 years ago brought together Dawn and Niko Longmore—the dynamic duo behind the très chic Trio salon. Here, they spill the secrets on what keeps their high-end hair studio so haute.
Q. You recently hosted an event for Virgin Airlines flight attendants. Tell me about that.
A. DAWN: These people are transplants—mostly from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Colorado, all over. They have not chosen a regular salon yet, so we introduced ourselves to them through this event. We taught them fun ways of doing their hair for work. We kept the styles professional, but fun. We also gave them free Kérastase treatments and blowouts. It was great—we sold tons of hair powder. We looked at it as giving back, making them feel comfortable. And that got their foot in the door.
Q. Do you regularly use salon events as a marketing tool?
A. DAWN: We’ve had some really great events here—actually four in a row now. They’re complimentary and catered, and we give away goody bags. For one recent event, we sent Evites to clients, offering to teach them how to blow dry their own hair. We usually have events on Tuesday nights because most people are free then. We did so much retail at our first event—just under $5,000 in two to three hours. People were really excited. They were eating and drinking and having a good time. When you do something unexpected like that—one extra step—people remember.
Q. How do you inspire your staff to sell retail?
A. DAWN: We don’t want to hard sell—I’ve been in that situation. I’ve never wanted clients to feel pressured, just enlightened. We take an educational approach. We tell the client about a product and have them try it. You have to be creative. Our staff’s retail numbers are posted and reviewed for a contest every year. The winner this year won an all-expenses-paid trip to Montego Bay. They’ll stay in a two-bedroom suite at the Ritz-Carlton. Everything is paid for—even if they want to bring a guest. It shows them that their hard work pays off.
Q. How do you give employees a sense of ownership?
A. DAWN: We have a Board of Directors composed of former Stylists of the Year. Every quarter, we meet together, we have powwows, we brainstorm ideas and we drive changes in the salon. People don’t typically like change, so our board members help our other employees get behind new programs—they have the passion. They take ownership and understand the big picture and communicate that to other salon members.
Q. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned since you’ve been in business?
A. DAWN: Give up some responsibility on your end. Hire somebody smart and efficient. We have an educational director and a business manager. You can’t do everything yourself.