As the founders of Red Chocolate, David Adams and Virginia Meyer built an advanced color education company that focuses on the business of hair color in addition to color technique. In January, Adams will share some of their color wisdom with the attendees of Serious Business in New Orleans, but first they spoke with Editor Stacey Soble about the changing landscape for color and how salons can stay competitive.

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast recording of this interview.

The Changing Color LandscapeST: How do you perceive the environment of hair color changing?

Adams: The hair color service is changing not only inside the salon, but outside. Big name hairdressers are putting their names on home color that’s available at drugstores, websites are advising guests how to color their hair at home, and in Minneapolis, we have a new store where consumers can go in and be advised by professional hairdressers on what product to use which is package up for them to use at home.  While budget dictates some of this, I think a lot of people are coloring their hair at home simply because they’ve been disappointed with the salon service. We’ve dumbed down the color service. We recently polled a lot of high-end salons in a major city and pulled their menus. They all offered the same thing—highlights and all-over color, maybe a color correction.

ST: What do you think salons should be doing to compete?

Adams: There’s a huge opportunity for us to rethink the color service, to truly customize the service for each client. To look at the cut, the face shape, the skin tone, and the eye color and create something truly fantastic for each client. We need to get away from the menu. We don’t say to a client, ‘Do you want a bob or a long layer today?’ We need to give our guests color options, and we need to make sure they have all the knowledge upfront, such as how long it’s going to take and how much it’s going to cost.

Meyer: The business side of custom color is really about helping salons move away from color services placed on a menu and really moving into this idea of pricing the service based on the time taken and the product used…we find that to be quite liberating for the hairdresser and the customer.

ST: What does a custom color appointment look like?

Adams: We work off a service wheel we think really give the guest the most perfect color service, from how we great and welcome the guest, how we and our salons look, how to conduct a perfect consultation, how to formulate, how to pick from a variety of techniques, pricing and how to talk about money, and how to talk about home maintenance, how to style and finish, and how to say goodbye.

ST: When you have a salon look at color from a customized approach, what kind of impact does that have on the bottom line?

Meyer: With the kind of education we do, we measure everything. We look at on average prior to adopting custom color, what are clients spending on average on their hair color and we see huge increases. For example, we just met with a salon who when they started with us had an average $54 color ticket, now they’re at $140.. And, that’s not about increasing the price, that is about legitimately adding more value to the color service.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Serious Business 2012 or purchase tickets.