Editorial Coordinator Joyce Alverio was the first one struck in our offices as it was her responsibility to open each package and validate each entry.

When the entire country became mired in a recession last fall, a competition, which historically focused solely on growth, just didn't make sense anymore. Determined to make it bigger, better and even more engaging, we decided to focus this year's ST200 on a variety of best practices. We established eleven different competition categories and encouraged salons and spas to enter in as many categories as they wanted, allowing each to design their own ST200 experience. Several industry manufacturers, distributors and associations jumped on board, helping us communicate about the new competition and encourage owners to apply. As a result, a near-record number of applicants together submitted 1,440 best practice category entries! 

Most importantly, the data compiled by this competition allows us to continue sharing valuable benchmarking information through our special 13th annual ST200 issue. While we'll still profile 200 different salons, their success stories will go beyond growth, to explore new best practice topics, such as compensation strategies, retention, customer service, recruitment and training, advanced education, marketing, environmental sustainability, inventory, retail and technology.

We are grateful to each and every salon owner who took his or her time to tackle the application this year and salute their willingness to share their successful ideas with peers across the country.

Now, it's time for us to roll up our sleeves, dig in and carefully evaluate every one of those 1,440 entries!

Stacey Soble has been involved in the conversation of salon business for 14 years-as a reporter, a consultant and as the editor in chief of SALON TODAY.

Read Stacey Soble's Blogs

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

Read more about