If you were to pick a theme word for 2011's SALON TODAY 200, it would be VALIDATION. This year's competition measured all areas of salon business in calendar years 2008 and 2009-two of the toughest years for all businesses. For a salon to not only survive, but thrive during these years, strong leadership, solid systems, motivated employees and loyal customers were mandatory.

The 2011 Salon Today 200 Honorees
ABQ Hair Studio GRO, ED
Alluring Designs A Salon R&M
Ambience Salon Spa R&M
Americana ENV, R&T
Animare Aveda Salon & Spa GRO
Appearances Hair Color & Design
Studio GRO
Arrojo Studio R&T
Atelier SalonSpa and Atelier Studio R&M, C&B, TECH
Aura Salon GRO
Aura Salon & Day Spa GRO, R&T, ED, MKT
Avalon Salon and Day Spa R&T, ED, MKT, ENV
Avant Salon Spa ENV, TECH
Avantgarde Salon Spa R&M
Aveda Academy Denver and Pure Talent Salons PH
Aveda Institute Denver ENV
Aveda Institute Tucson ENV
Avery Lane Salon CS
Bei Capelli Hair Salon CS
Bell Tower ENV, CS, PH
Bella Bethesda Salon GRO, ED
Bella Luci Salon ED
Bella Salon and Day Spa R&R
Bellacures GRO
Belle Epoque an Atelier Salon GRO
Berenices TECH, R&R
Beyond Aveda Salon GRO
BJ Grand Salon & Spa MKT
Blue - A Complete Hair Salon CS
Breeze Salon and Day Spa GRO
Brittany's Spa Salon TECH
Brown and DeLine - West ED
Caruh R&T
Centre Salon & Spa Arvada ED
Centre Salon Tiffany Plaza GRO, CS
Changes Hair Studio and Spa ENV
Changes Hairstyling and City Spa MKT
The Charles Penzone Salons ED, CS, R&T, MKT, PH
Chrome: A Salon Experience GRO, MKT
Coiffeteria Salon GRO, ENV
Cutting Loose Salon & Spa GRO
Dawn's Pizzazz Artistic Group &
Day Spa PH
Dennis Bartolomei ENV
Design 1 Salon Spa GRO
Diesel Salon ED
Dimensions Design & Wellness Studio GRO
Domani Salon & Spa GRO, R&M
Douglas Carroll Salon & Spa TECH
Ecco Salon GRO, ENV
Element GRO, R&R
Elle Marie Hair Studio GRO
Em studio salon R&R
Eminently Hair Salon GRO, C&B, R&T
Entourage Salon and Spa CS
Eric Fisher Salon GRO, C&B
Escape Salon & Spa GRO, R&R
Essentials Salon at Valley Square GRO
Estilo Salon and Day Spa GRO
Euphoria Salon, Inc. GRO
Evan Todd Salon and Spa GRO, ENV
Fringe Hair Co. GRO
Fringe Salon GRO, R&T, R&M
Fritz's Salon & Spa TECH
Fusion Salon and Spa R&M, R&R, MKT
Garbo A Salon and Spa GRO
Gary Patrick Salon MKT, PH
Geno Levi Salon GRO
Gila Rut Aveda Salon GRO
Ginger Bay Salon & Spa GRO, C&B, MKT, TECH
Guillotine Salon and Spa R&R
Habitude Salons and Spa C&B, MKT
Hair Benders Salon GRO
The Hair Company GRO, CS, R&T, ED, R&M, TECH
Hair Design Systems TECH
Hair on the Avenue R&R, ENV
Hairy's Salon GRO, R&M
Halo Salon & Color Lab GRO
HC Studio C&B
Headlines For Hair R&M, PH
HQ Salons Spas C&B
Hue, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon and Spa TECH, R&T
Ihloff Salon & Day Spa PH
Illusions Color Spa GRO
Indigo Salon Spa & Boutique GRO, TECH
Indra Salon and City Spa, with Pure
Talent Academy MKT, ENV
Interlocks MKT, C&B, ENV
It's All About You Salon, Inc. PH
Jake's Place Barbering Lounge and Spa GRO, MKT
James Griffith Salon GRO
Jamison Shaw Hairdressers ED
Jenni's Salon and Spa R&R
Joe's Salon GRO, R&R
Jón Alan Salons GRO
Jordan Thomas Salon and Spa R&M
Josephine's Day Spa & Salon TECH
Juut Salonspa R&T, MKT, PH
Karen Allen Salon and Spa GRO
Keith Kristofer Salon & Spa CS, R&T
Kisma Hair Co. and Spa GRO, ENV
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Salon GRO, R&R
La Tierra Salon & Day Spa GRO, CS, R&M
Lemongrass Salon GRO
Light Salon & Spa GRO, C&B, TECH
Liquid Hair Salon GRO, R&T
The Loft Hair Design PH
The Loft Salon by Michael Albor GRO, R&R, CS, R&T
Lush Salon GRO
Luxe Salon C&B, ED
Mane Attraction Salon R&M, R&T, ED, MKT, PH
Mango Salon GRO, C&B, MKT, TECH
Mark Pardo R&M
Marshall and Company Hair Design Studio GRO, C&B
Matthew Michaels Salon & Spa Experience GRO, ENV, R&M
Mauricio Fregoso Salon CS
Mensroom Salon & Lounge GRO
Metro for Men R&T, ENV
Misbehaven Spa and Salon GRO
Mitchell's Salon & Day Spa, Inc. TECH, R&T, ED, MKT
Modern Salon and Spa ED, CS, ENV, R&M, TECH
Modern Wave Salon and Spa GRO
Myra J. A Salon GRO
N'Style Salon R&R, ENV, R&M
Natural Concepts Salon/Day Spa MKT
Neroli Salon & Spa GRO, CS, ED
New Identities Hair Studios of Tampa GRO
Nuovo Salon Group GRO, R&T
Nurtur the Salon GRO, R&M
Oasis Salon & Day Spa MKT
Omagi Salon/Spa GRO, R&R, CS, ED, R&M
Paris Parker C&B, CS, R&T, ED, PH, TECH
Paris Parker Canal Place GRO
Parlor R&T
Paul Kenneth Salon & Spa GRO, C&B, TECH
Payton Place Salon GRO
Pepper's Salon CS, R&T, R&M
Perry Anthony Salon & Spa Network MKT
Phia Salon GRO, ENV, PH
Planet Hair PH, C&B
Pucci Salon ENV
Pure Aveda Salonspa CS
Pure Natur Salon and Spa GRO, ENV
Pyara Spa & Salon C&B
Randolph's Salon GRO, R&T
Red 7 Salon GRO, R&T
Rejuve Salon Spa TECH
Rejuvenation Spa GRO, C&B
Remedez PH, R&T, MKT
Richard Salon of Smithtown GRO, TECH
Rituals Salon-Spa GRO, ED
The Root Salon GRO
Rumors Salon and Spa MKT
Sagittarius Salon and Spa PH, R&T, R&M
Salon 01 R&T
Salon 124 ED
Salon Estetica GRO
Salon Estique LTD ED
Salon JoVon GRO, R&M
Salon Laurie & Company GRO, C&B, R&T, R&M, TECH
Salon Nouveau PH
Salon Orange Moon GRO, R&R
Salon Roux R&M, MKT
Salon Soca ENV, CS, ED
Salon W GRO
Salon West of Largo GRO, C&B, R&R
Salon Ya Ya GRO, R&R
Samuel Cole Salon GRO, C&B, R&R, R&M
Satori: a salon/spa/shopping experience PH
Savvy Salon and Day Spa C&B
Schardein and Company Salon ED
Serenity Salon and Spa ENV
A Signature Hollywood Salon R&R
Signatures Salon R&R, MKT
Simplicity Salon and Spa GRO
Sky Salon R&R
Solaris GRO
Spa Bleu CS
Spa Ni'Joli & Salon GRO, C&B
Spa-dee-dah, too! GRO, R&T, R&M
Square One Salon and Spa GRO
The Studio for Hair R&T
Studio Gaven R&R
SunDay's Salon & Spa GRO
Tekniques Salon GRO
Tranquility Salon and Spa TECH
Tribeca Color Salon GRO, CS, ENV, PH
Tru salon C&B, R&R
True Blue Salon C&B
Underground Hair Artists R&T
Unruli GRO
Urban Betty GRO, TECH
Vanessen's Hair Design GRO
Vanity Salon R&T
Varuna Aveda Salon Spa GRO, ENV, TECH
VC SalonSpa GRO
Vito Mazza Salon & Day Spa C&B
Wabi Sabi - Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa GRO
Wisteria Salon Spa GRO, R&R, ED
You Salon GRO, R&R, ED, R&M
Zanya Spa Salon CS, C&B 
C&B: Compensation & Benefits
R&R: Retention & Referral Programs
CS: Customer Service
R&T: Recruitment & Training
ED: Advanced Education

MKT: Marketing
ENV: Environmental Sustainability
PH: Philanthropy
R&M: Retail & Merchandising
TECH: Technology
GRO: Growth

The 14th Annual Salon Today 200: Honoring Salon Growth and Best Business Practices
Download the 2011 Salon Today 200 (PDF)

While many industry competitions honor creativity and technical skill, few reward business acumen. For many salon owners, receiving their ST200 congratulations letter was a moment when the industry recognized their business efforts. It was their moment of validation, and we were lucky to gather a few of their reactions:

"We felt elated, affirmed, excited and proud! We have all worked hard to prevent a slumping economy from affecting our business culture, which in turn would affect our client experience. We feel good about our accomplishments to that end, and it is so wonderful to receive recognition from an industry leader like SALON TODAY."
-Paula Coll, general manager, Zanya Spa Salon in Lambertville, New Jersey

"I had a vision for a salon, and over the past five and a half years I have felt like the little train that said, ‘I think I can, I think I can.' This recognition validates my dream and rewards the warriors who have joined my team."
-Barri Allen, owner, A Signature Hollywood Salon in O'Fallon, Illinois

"While I really wanted to run through the salon in Paul Revere fashion shouting, ‘We won, we won!' instead I closed my eyes for a moment and went on a journey into the past. As the movies played back in my mind, I felt all the people who had touched my life and how happy I am to be in the best industry in the world."
-Jacque Leonard, Salon Roux in Paso Robles, California

Honoring Best Practices

For many years, the SALON TODAY 200 measured growth, honoring the fastest-growing salons in North America. Growth is a positive reflection on the overall health of a business, and as such, continues as a big force within the ST200. As a result, 100 of the 200 salons profile fast-growing salons. But, last year, we expanded our mission, to more closely examine the best salon management practices that contribute to a strong business. In addition to growth, the 2011 competition profiles 10 salons each in 10 different best practice areas including:

• Compensation & Benefits
• Retention & Referral Programs
• Customer Service
• Recruitment & Training
• Advanced Education
• Marketing
• Environmental Sustainability
• Philanthropy (New for 2011)
• Retail & Merchandising
• Technology

A Recession's Impact

While as a whole, the ST200 salons continued to exhibit growth throughout 2009, the rate by which gross revenues have grown dramatically slowed as a result of a sluggish economy. From 2008 to 2009, gross revenue grew 10% (to an average of $1.95 million) compared to growth rates of 21%, 20%, 25%, 29% and 30% in the five preceding competitions.

In addition, the price for an average shampoo, cut and style dropped, from $48.75 to $47.45, for the first time since we began measuring it. Profile of a ST200 Salon Collectively, the information from the ST200 honorees gives a snapshot look at the health of salon business during 2008 and 2009. If you took a composite picture of the typical ST200 owner, you would see a salon and spa that …

• Opened its doors in 2001.
• Occupies 4,967 square feet.
• Earned an average of $1,915,071 in gross revenue in 2009.
• Experienced a 10-percent increase in revenues between 2008 and 2009.
• Received roughly a third of their gross revenues from hair coloring services, and a third from hair cutting services.
• Charged an average of $47.45 for a shampoo, cut and style.
• Charged an average of $63.96 for a single-process color.
• Employed an average of 41 employees.
• Spent 47% of their expenditures on labor costs.

Expansion Plans

The majority of the ST200 salons (76%) maintain only one salon location. Not surprising, salons with gross revenues of $2 million or more are significantly more likely to operate multiple salons, but interestingly, salons located in the midwest or the south also are more likely to have secondary locations. Of salons that do have more than one location, on average they operate three to four sites.

The Age Game
Over a third of the applicants (38%) opened their salons between 2000 and 2005, and 2005 was the year listed most frequently for year opening.

The 14th Annual Salon Today 200: Honoring Salon Growth and Best Business Practices

Size Matters

While a typical ST200 salon occupies an average of almost 5,000 square feet, there are some marked differences per region. Salons in the midwest tend to be larger than those in other regions, with an average of 7,200 square feet, compared to 4,900 in the south, 3,700 in the west and 3,200 in the northeast.

A Look at Gross Revenues
While salons with gross revenues of $2 million or more generate significantly more of their business from skin care, body care services and nail services than other salons, hair color and hair cutting brings in the bulk of the money for all salons.

The 14th Annual Salon Today 200: Honoring Salon Growth and Best Business Practices

Who's the Boss?

In 2008 and 2009, the ST200 pulled their weight in providing jobs to the US economy. In fact, the average number of employees among the ST200 increased from 35 to 41. Salons grossing more than $2 million have almost four times as many employees at those grossing from $1 to $2 million. Salons in the Midwest have an average of 63 employees, significantly more than the average of 29 in the west.

ST200 Behaviors
As a group, the ST200 exhibit some common behaviors that contribute to their success. For example:

• The great majority of the ST200 (84%) consider themselves to be a salon and day spa.
• Two in five ST200 salons or 39% have hired a salon coach or consultant.
• At 69%, most ST200 belong to one or more industry associations.
• Among the ST200, 71% of owners continue to perform client services. Of the salon owners who work behind the chair, they spend an average of 28 hours a week performing services.

A Geography Lesson
The south topped the charts with the largest percentage (35%) of ST200 salons, followed by the midwest at 27%, the west at 20%, and the northeast at 18%. When you look at the number of ST200 honorees geographically, six states reign supreme: California (8%), followed by Florida (7%), Texas (7%), Ohio (6%), Tennessee (5%) and Illinois (5%). Evaluating the ST200 data by region, reveals some interesting geographical differences. For example:

• Salons in the south experienced a much higher growth rate than salons in the northeast or west.
• On average, salons in the midwest charge the least for a shampoo, cut and style compared to salons in other parts of the country.
• Salons in the west charge significantly more for a single-process color than salons in the northeast.
• Hair cutting services represent a significantly higher percentage of gross revenues for salons in the south than those in the midwest and west.
• For salons in the west, rent/mortgage expenses continue to be a higher percentage of total salon expenditures.

Breaking Down the Costs

The 14th Annual Salon Today 200: Honoring Salon Growth and Best Business Practices

ST200 Criteria

To be eligible for consideration in the ST200 for 2011, salons had to meet the following criteria:

  • Establishment: The salon or spa opened on or before January 1, 2008. Professionalism: The salon is primarily a provider of professional salon or spa services including, but not limited to, one or more of the following: hair care, skin care, body care and spa treatments.
  • Volume: The salon/spa generated annual service and product sales revenues of at least $250,000 per year since 2008.
  • Willingness to Share: The owner completed the applicant information portion of the form, providing statistical information about the business, and completed at least one of the Best Practice sections.
  • Verification: If the applicant competed in the growth category, the owner submitted documentation to verify financials for 2008 and 2009.

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