Before Dominique DiBenedetto opened Aura Hair Co. in Boynton Beach, Florida, she was a suite renter. Before that, she was a booth renter. And before that, she was a stylist at a commission-based salon. 

At every job, DiBenedetto learned important lessons about the beauty industry and about herself. As a suite renter, she was financially successful, but eventually found her demand was so high, that even with an assistant, she couldn’t grow without expanding her business.

“My social media presence was heavy, and my referrals were exploding,” she says. “Even with raising prices, my assistant and I couldn’t handle the volume, and my clients were getting frustrated when they couldn’t get in with me.” 

The Reluctant Salon Owner

DiBenedetto realized the only way to accommodate her growing clientele was to move into a bigger space. 

“I wanted to find a cheap space and have about six chairs,” she says. “I thought I could hire three more assistants and whip around those chairs all day—but that wasn’t sustainable.” 

DiBenedetto’s experience as a stylist in a commission salon was negative, so she was reluctant to go that route. “I thought about hiring booth renters to help pay the overhead. My goal was just to accommodate my own clients.”

She found a space with a good deal on rent, and renovated it on a shoestring budget. As word spread that she was opening a space, stylists who followed her on social media began to express an interest in working for her, and suddenly, she found herself contemplating opening a traditional commission-based salon. 

With two employees (an assistant and a stylist), she opened Aura, promising her new team total transparency. 

“I knew as long as my book paid the overhead, we’d be ok,” she says. 


Evolving and Improving

DiBenedetto marketed her new business on social channels, sharing her renovation journey, picking up new clients and more stylists along the way. 

“I morphed into a salon owner, learning how to run my own payroll, partnering with Vagaro and having access to support from American Express, and investing in my personal development as a leader with business coaches in and out of the industry,” she says. 

DiBenedetto also firmly believes you have to spend money to make money, especially when you want to attract high-spending clients.

“As a kid, my parents were American Express® Card Members, and it was a significant thing in my mind,” she says. I’ve always associated American Express with high spending Card Members.”

And those were the people DiBenedetto wanted to attract to her business. 

“I’ve accepted American Express since day one,” she says. “I know that accepting my clients’ payment method of choice is part of having a good customer experience at my salon.” Whether it’s accepting her clients’ payment method of choice or carrying luxury products in the salon, DiBenedetto says the tailored experience is how she attracts high-spending guests. 

“The fixed cost of those benefits to the client is less than not having those clients,” she says. 


Technology Time Savers

Now five years old, Aura has 15 employees (12 stylists) and DiBenedetto is behind the chair and running her business, with the help of technology. 

“I’m an ambassador for Vagaro, and they have made administrative duties easy,” she says. “I use it for everything from online booking to intake forms and waivers, to text and marketing communications,” she says. “I also use AI to take photos and write captions for the salon and help generate contracts. Time is our currency, and Vagaro helps reduce the time I spend on admin responsibilities.” 

DiBenedetto’s advice to other owners starting their businesses is to use technology that helps save time and produce more revenue. 

“Those two things will change the trajectory of your business,” she says. 

A prime example happens at the front desk. Thanks to Vagaro’s automated text reminders, team members can focus on guests in the salon rather than spend hours on the phone, resulting in a better salon experience and more loyal customers.

People First

Above all, DiBenedetto says her success is due to putting her employees first. “I teach my staff life skills and ask them to set goals I can help them achieve,” she says. “You people before you profit. I know when I treat my employees  well, it increases results and improves performance.”

With her systems in place, DiBenedetto has created a leader/mentee relationship with her team members rather than a boss/employee situation. “Take care of your people, and they will take care of you,” she says.

Want to learn more about the value you receive when you accept American Express at your salon? Click here to learn more.



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