Skya Jones, MedSpa Education Manager for Boulevard, shares some Musts that salon owners should tackle before taking on additional locations. 
 -

Skya Jones, MedSpa Education Manager for Boulevard, shares some Musts that salon owners should tackle before taking on additional locations.

Your salon is thriving. You’ve hit on a brand concept the local community loves. Your staff utilization rate is high, your client retention is strong. You’re fielding more appointment requests than you have time slots available. Your top and bottom line revenue keeps growing. Better still, you’ve done the market research and all signs indicate robust demand for a second location. Congratulations, you are about to become the owner of a multi-location salon. 

The hard part’s over right? 

Wrong. 

While growth is great, scaling operations across multiple locations can be challenging, especially if you’re intent on maintaining a consistent brand experience. If not managed properly, owning multiple locations can be both chaotic and stressful. What’s so great about this industry though, is that we can learn from those who’ve gone before us. Many of your peers have successfully added new locations and so can you.  

With that in mind, let’s walk through some of the must-dos for anyone entering the exciting but sometimes scary world of multi-location salon ownership. 

Must-do #1: Understand how well the key elements of your brand and client experience transfer to your new location 

Look, I’m not going to lecture you on the importance of defining and leaning into the key elements of your brand and client experience. If you’re not already doing that, chances are you’re not in a place where you can open a second location anyway. You do, however, need to put considerable time and thought into determining which of those elements are realistically transferable to your new location.

Certain aspects of your client experience are location-agnostic (at least they sure as heck should be!), things like getting to know your clients on a personal level, maintaining clear and consistent communication with them before, during, and after their appointments, and doing whatever it takes to send them home looking and feeling their best. It doesn’t matter if you’re in New York, NY, or Anchorage, Alaska; those things should never change. 

But some of the less inherent elements of your client experience may not resonate as well in a new location, even if it’s just a town or two over. For example, maybe the edgy cuts that are incredibly popular in your downtown location won’t resonate quite as well in your new suburban location. Or maybe the decor and ambiance that clients love so much in your first location don’t match the community vibe in your new location. The specifics here aren’t what’s important. What’s important is to make sure you’re thinking about the subtle cultural and behavioral differences between areas and how those differences may or may not impact the experience you seek to create for your clients.  

Must-do #2: Identify the right managers and trainers to build a culture and client experience that spans locations

Ok, I’ll admit it: finding the right managers and getting the staff at your new location trained on how you like to do things is a pretty obvious step. What’s less obvious, though, is that the best manager isn’t always the best trainer. One of the most common mistakes salon owners make wheopening a second location is to simply tap the best/top/most experienced manager from their first location to train staff at their new location. 

Say it with me: managing and training are not the same thing. Frankly, they’re not even all that similar. Spend a day with a CEO (of any company) and a day with a teacher (of literally anything), and then try to tell me those jobs require the same skills and temperament. 

Now, none of this is to say the manager of your first location isn’t the right choice to train the team at your second location. They might be the best choice for all I know. That’s not really the point. The point is they shouldn’t be the automatic choice. Be thoughtful about whose personality, temperament, and skills are best suited to helping the staff at your new location understand and embrace the nuances of your salon’s culture and client experience, and don’t be afraid to tap someone a little lower down on the totem pole if they’re the best choice for the job. 

Must-do #3: Invest in the technology systems necessary to streamline multi-location management 

Again, you probably wouldn’t be on the cusp of opening a second location if you didn’t already understand technology’s role in streamlining your operations and delivering a seamless experience to your clients. So, I won’t belabor the point. But with the opening of a second location, you’re introducing a host of new variables — variables your system needs to be able to handle. 

Does your technology platform enable clients to book appointments at either (or both) of your locations from the same interface? Does it give your service providers every last morsel of information about the client’s previous appointment, even if it wasn’t in their location? Does it enable you to sell, service, and manage duel-location memberships and packages without hiccups? Trust me, your clients expect the answer to be yes. So, make sure the answer is yes.  

Must-do #4: Hold regular, cross-location team meetings 

This is a balancing act, for sure. On the one hand, as we said earlier, each location needs to be given room to breathe, find its rhythms, and adjust and conform to the nuances of the local clientele. Force-fitting what works for one team into a separate team in a completely different location won’t go over well. 

At the same time, though, your brand is your brand, and if you want that brand to remain consistent across your locations, you have to work on it. The connective tissue won’t simply form on its own. Cross-location meetings are a great way to share best practices, communicate about challenges, and grow as a collective unit. (I recommend in-person settings, over food and beverages if possible.)

Grow your business, keep your sanity 

Opening your second location can be an exhilarating experience both personally and for your business. It won’t be without its challenges though. The good news is that you’ve been here before and you know what to do. As was the case with your first location, having the right game plan and strategy in place will make all the difference. 

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