View all

At Detlev – Aveda Lifestyle Salon in Miami, retail was always on the table. 

Owner Detlev Gessner had long considered retail an important player. Still, year after year, Gessner’s fear kept retail in its traditional role as second banana to services. 

Facing Fear of Change

As at many salons, it took a pandemic for bold risk-taking to finally overshadow fear of change. The temporary shutdown got Gessner to sit down with his team and ask: What can we do better? The answer was retail.

“I’d been afraid to say, ‘Here’s $50,000 for a position that is solely to support everybody, not to make appointments,’” Gessner says. “But I’ve always wanted someone on the team working exclusively to support the clients and the staff and to make sure guests are buying Aveda products.” 

So he set the budget, hired a retail advisor, and enrolled her in the salon’s Ambassador Program. Now the retail advisor closes retail sales for the stylists and, as part of closing, pre-books the guest, typically booking three appointments over the ensuing three to six months. 

“I really trained the new advisor and got her into the culture,” Gessner says. “She can help in the service area if we need, but truly her whole job is to make sure our retail looks like a store within a salon. She’s literally a retail advisor.”

Merchandising + Suggesting

After observing retailing strategies in Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, Gessner concluded that successful retailing involves both presentation and communication. His retail advisor not only takes advantage of all the merchandising materials Aveda supplies, but also trains stylists, backbar staff, and front desk staff in how to inform guests about products. 

“We use the process of open-ended questions and of having the conversation in the chair,” Gessner says. “It doesn’t work if you simply ask the guest what she needs as she’s leaving the chair. I believe you should not sell anyone something they don’t want, but it is our job to educate guests on what they need. If they say they have enough at home, fine! Maybe they’ll need something next time.”

Cross-marketing is key, Gessner notes. One great way to build retail tickets is to inform guests about products they haven’t used before. Why not introduce Aveda’s body care line to clients who regularly purchase hair products? And cross-marketing goes both ways—not only marketing products to service clients, but converting product-purchase walk-ins to become regular service clients, too. 

Intensive Product Knowledge Training 

“The hardest part is knowing about all of the products,” Gessner continues. “You don’t have to know every ingredient, but you have to know the benefits of every product and the hair that it’s good for. That’s why I love Aveda—it’s all on AvedaPro. And the front desk staff can look into the guest’s file to see what they’ve purchased in the past.”

With product knowledge so important, every other month Gessner pays educators to fly into Miami and conduct in-salon education. The focus on retail has paid for itself and then some. While service sales have been increasing as well, retail numbers have climbed even more dramatically. Comparing the 2021 against 2018, Gessner calculates that the salon added about $76,000 in retail sales, representing 39.5% growth. The average retail ticket was $47 in 2019, $53 in 2020, and $65 in 2021.

“This is no longer a salon that sells retail,” Gessner says. “We’re a store that sells a specific brand, and we’re a salon that uses a specific brand. They work together but each have their own goal.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about