click image to zoom Studio Wish Salon in Twinsburg, Ohio, is among a growing number of salons that have changed their operating hours to accommodate the needs of working clients who prefer appointments in the early evenings or on Saturdays. The owner, Rowena Yeager, learned of the model from Steve and Terri Cowan, founders of Professional Salon Concepts (PSC), who coined the concept “prime time hours.” A wholesale product distributor, PSC provides technical and business education to salons in the Midwest to help them stay pro table. One of their key strategies is teaching salons how to shift their business hours to prime time–those hours that represent the busiest time of the day, or what would be the most pro table for a salon. With 72 million (or 52 percent of) women over age 16 in the workforce, it’s no surprise that during the work week these hours tend to fall in the late afternoon and early evening, from roughly 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Too many salons open at 9 a.m., but then still try to cover prime time, late-night hours. By extending their operating hours to a 12-hour day every day, they increase labor costs and create other undesirable consequences, says Terri Cowan. When she asks these owners when they have time to develop their staff, she often hears, “I don’t. I can’t finnd time to even gather them for a meeting.” Tracey Stokes, owner of Navii Salon & Spa, a full-service day spa in northwest Indiana, used a two-day remodeling closure as an opportunity to make the switch to new prime time hours. She had tried many schedules over the years, but staff turnover, the recession and staffing expenses led her to make a change. “We sat down with our software program and started to run some reports to map the times that were the most pro table,” Stokes says. Already closed on Sunday, “I chose to close on Mondays because that wasn’t a very productive day for us, and extend the hours on Wednesday and Thursday from 10 to 10. We split shifts on those days, so nobody works a whole day.” Part of the decision stemmed from the fact that Navii has about 3,000 square feet of hair salon space. “If it’s not busy, it doesn’t look fun. It can throw off kind of a bad message,” notes Stokes. The change did not come without compromise from her staff. “You get caught up with trying to make every employee happy. Someone will say, ‘I want to come in for this client, or I want to stay late for this, or I don’t want to work this hour.’ But it was a group decision, it was a business decision, and it’s worked really well for us.”