The Early Adapter: Rhonda Cavner

The Early Adapter: Rhonda CavnerOwner, stylist, colorist and hair extension expert, Roca Salon and Spa in Kansas City, Missouri.

If you want to know what’s coming down the technological pipeline, just ask Rhonda Cavner, co-owner of Roca Salon and Spa, because chances are she’s already experimenting with it. Cavner was one of the first to launch a salon website, and today she not only uses social media to market her salon, she’s using it to advertise.

ST:, has the option for a user to view it via a computer or phone/tablet. Tell us about the decision to structure your site this way.

RC: I want everyone to have access, no matter what device they are viewing it from. I created the second site that looks like an app so it can be viewed on any type of phone/tablet (some phones/tablets do not have Flash). The second site has basic information about the salon.

ST: Did you create it yourself?

RC: Yes. I lived in Hawaii for a while and didn’t have any tech person to turn to so I taught myself how to do some web design and basic html. By doing our website myself, I can constantly change it and put up information about services clients may want to research online rather than on the phone. For example, a client can read about a Brazilian wax without having to call. I also put specials up. Now I’m trying to move the site into an HTML5 site so there is no split decision (HTML5 is universal so anyone with a phone or tablet can see it).

ST: Tell us about your salon blog.

RC: Our blog is information on beauty rather than on the salon, and it is updated about once a week. We talk about things like how to get a look or what you need to do before a spray tan to ensure maximum results. It’s general information about beauty for our guests. But we can track who views our blog, and we’ve found we have people reading it from all over the world. We try to maximize our SEO [search engine optimization: using key words to make your site more visible] so when people type in “best hair color” or “salon in Kansas City” they always find us. Everyone in the salon writes for the blog, but we do have one person in-house who is our social media expert. I give him a bump in commission, just like I do with our in-house educators.

ST: How do you leverage social media sites?

RC: I run specials on Facebook and we constantly update it, which automatically rolls into our Tweets. Contests, special events, stylists moving away—Facebook is a constant form of communication outside of our newsletter, which is a monthly opt-in for clients who choose to receive it. Facebook also promotes our blog.

ST: Sounds like social media is keeping you busy. How are you using it for advertising?

RC: We have a lot of Facebook advertising targeted to specific audiences that are not already associated with Roca. We do ads on Facebook and Google and we reach out to a 100-mile radius of Kansas City. I also target two military bases within 150 miles, where I offer a discount to military wives who want to go to a nice spa in the city.

Since I do see results from the targeted ads, I can adjust them accordingly. When I get the analysis of my ads from Google or Facebook—we do pay-per-click ads—I look to see if an ad is successful. If it is, I can up the visibility of that ad. And if an ad isn’t doing well, I might change the wording, title or photo to see how I can get better results. Google came to Kansas City recently to talk to businesses about advertising, so I went to meet them, and when they pulled up my analytics they said,“What are you doing?” They were astounded by my success. I told them I follow every idea they send about how to get more people to click on ads!

ST: What’s the feedback from clients about your social media presence?

The Early Adapter: Rhonda CavnerRC: They love it. We give away something if they “check in” with Facebook or Foursquare and I can change those offers on the drop of a dime. We’re also involved in Frontflip (, a new customer engagement platform that’s just launching. We were one of the first 10 companies to jump on board with this brand-new technology. Basically, it’s an app that reaches out to the community. When customers visit a business, they scan a code with their phone to learn what deal they will receive. I use it to cater to existing clients.

We moved into our new facility in August and expanded our spa. To promote that, we wanted to market to salon clients. So when salon clients come in, they can scan this Frontflipcode for an offering. You can even determine what percentage of your customers will “win” the offer, so right now, I keep it at 95 percent. I have it set so the clients win an add-on service. For example, if they purchase a one-hour massage, they get an upgrade to a hot stone; or if they buy a basic manicure, they get upgraded to a no-chip manicure.

ST: How has your involvement in social media impacted your business?

RC: Ninety-five percent of our new business is from social media/internet. The only print ad we have is in a high-end local magazine with beautiful photos. Every other bit of advertising is internet-based. We started with our website in 2004 when not many salons had websites. We had people come in and say, “We saw you on the internet.” We couldn’t believe it. Now, everyone who comes in says,“I did a search.” We’re well versed in SEO and we’ve stayed in an economic boom when other salons were struggling.

ST: How did your technology know-how influence the design of your salon?

RC: When I remodeled the salon, I put a lot of thought into the physical technology of the building as well. We have separate WiFi from our server so clients can use it, we have a lot of touchscreen computers, and we use an iPad for check in. We also have a separate call center. A lot of planning went into the physical technology so the salon and spa experience would be improved for the guest.

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