At the picturesque Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, the 2012 International Salon/Spa Business Network Conference kicked off with an inspirational moment as members presented its Legend Award to Farouk Shami, founder and chairman of Farouk Systems.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a manufacturer,” said Farouk as he accepted the award. “I am a hairdresser. I was attracted to this profession by the art, the science and yes, the money, and my commitment has remained to bettering education and the environment in the salon.”
Next, keynote speaker and social media guru Peter Shankman taught the audience a lesson about customer service. “Your number one goal should be to get your customers so thrilled with you, they go out and do your PR for you.”
During the State of the Industry Panel, panelists explored challenges and opportunities facing the industry, including economic pressure, demand for natural products, appointment stretching, the information age and the informed client, and product and environmental safety. “The world is changing and sometimes our industry doesn’t like to embrace change,” said panelist Paula Malloy of JCPenney Salons. “We have to be open-minded.”
On the conference’s second day, Economist Alan Beaulieu painted a rosy economic forecast for the next several years. “Now is the time you should borrow cash to grow your business,” he advised. “How much should you borrow? So much you can’t sleep at night.”
A governmental affairs panel updated attendees on legislation that could impact the industry, tackling topics such as gainful employment, school funding, tip tax legislation, deregulation, and streamlining state boards. “We need to demonstrate that this is a profession, and there is a career path—many people go on to sales, development, manufacturing, education and beyond,” said Anthony Fragomeni, director of governmental relations with Empire Education Group.
Next, a trends panel examined emerging forces that will shape the future of salon and spa service and product offerings, including the economy, an aging population, increased technology use, the men’s market, the importance of time, more competition in the beauty channel, and ecommerce. “The consumer continues to seek value and that will never change,” said one of the panelists, Ulta’s Phil Horvath. “But the other issue is time—we’re all time starved. The question is where will the client of the future go for quick services in a convenient setting?”
In breakout sessions, Eurisko’s Leon Alexander led attendees on an intimate exploration of consumer behavior and social media expert Serena Ehrlich showed salons how to manage their online reputations.