Kristi Valenzuela (on desk), head of Summit Salon Business Center's Front Desk Division, with...
Kristi Valenzuela (on desk), head of Summit Salon Business Center's Front Desk Division, with clients Amy and Chris Naoum, co-owners of Salon Naman in Rock Hill, South Carolina. (photo credit: Rhiannon Mack)Rhiannon Mack

Hiring Crystal Focus four years ago was a way for Amy and Chris Naoum, co-owners of Salon Naman in Rock Hill, South Carolina, to take their business to the next level.

“We were doing some amazing things,” says Amy. “We had consistent retail of 16 to 17 percent, but I felt like there was a missing link. We had so much training for our service providers, and wanted to get that energy from the front desk, too.”

“With as much education as we do for service providers, we knew the front desk had not yet been tapped,” adds Chris. “We asked ourselves what we could do to make our salon bigger and better, and cover all aspects of our business?”

Knowing she couldn’t hover over the front desk all the time, Amy turned to Crystal Focus (now known as the Front Desk Division of the Summit Salon Business Center) for help.

From Front Desk to Profit Center

The Naoums gave themselves and their staff over to Coach Kristi Valenzuela’s training and immediately began to see results.

“We had a new focus in turning our front desk into a profit center,” says Amy. “Training systems helped us implement and train in a consistent way.”

That 16 to 17 percent retail Salon Naman prided itself on is now at 25 percent retail consistently. With systems at place at the front desk, there is a synergy with the service providers allowing them to wrap up sales efficiently. And that’s just retail. The front desk is also offering clients additional services.

“We are averaging an additional $2,800 per month from the front desk adding to our service providers books,” says Amy. “Service providers love it because it helps them hit their goals and takes some pressure off.”

Amy maintains it also takes some of the pressure off the owners. “We’re always targeting service providers and cramming stuff at them,” she says. “Going to the front desk gives some relief—you have a new avenue for revenue instead of just the service providers.”

Since implementing the front desk systems four years ago, the salon has seen more than $100,000 in extra revue come in from extra services alone.

Once they began working together as a team, the sometimes-strained relationship between the front desk and service providers also improved.

Referrals and prebooking aren’t just for the stylists anymore, either. “The goal in our salon is that each front desk person brings in five referrals per month,” says Amy. “If we have five referrals coming in per month and the average ticket is $65, that’s $325 per month from one front desk person.”

Prebooking is another area the salon has excelled in since setting up the front desk systems. The front desk and service providers both have been trained to educate their clients with specific scripts. Prebooking is now at 85 percent.

“We goal people at 60-percent minimum prebook,” says Amy. “And we use the term prebook as an in-house word.”

Chris adds, “When we speak to a guest, we say ‘reservation.’ The dentist is an appointment, fine dining is a reservation. Again, this is just one area that’s been bypassed by the salon industry as whole. The Front Desk Division has honed in and created a language,” he says.

Employee Feedback

A major upheaval in systems often results in fear and resistance from salon staff. However, Chris and Amy have found their employees thrive on having a clear path to follow with attainable goals.

“Goals and how to obtain them are abundantly clear,” says Chris. “Everything is tracked—having that has been a gift for them. You may see pushback from time to time, but that person will either get on board or the company will evolve without them.”

The best benefit? “The service providers LOVE the front desk,” says Amy. “We share numbers at team meetings every month. We share how many additional services and dollar amount, and what prebooks are. They know what our goals are as a team and individual. Then they know what the front desk is doing to help them out with that. We keep them in the loop so they can be a part of it and grow together.”

The service providers also are very aware of how the front desk can help them with prebooking. “They can go to the front desk and say, ‘Hey I’m really trying to drive up my prebooking numbers.’ The hairdresser creates a sense of urgency and then the front desk helps,” says Chris. “It’s the same with retail. The front desk can reemphasize and attempt to approach the guest to buy product.”

Keeping their front desk honest about their upselling and tracking has been fairly simple for the Naoums. “We stay actively involved,” says Amy. “On a daily basis I feel it’s just as important for me to look at tracking as it is to look at money. The sheets get turned in every day and I can ask questions right away if something looks off. They know I’m in tune with it.”

By signing off every day, Amy avoids bigger issues that may arise if she only pulled reports weekly or monthly.

“We monitor systems, but they are on autopilot,” says Chris.

Becoming a Coach

Amy was so inspired by her staff’s success that she recently became a SSBC Front Desk Division coach herself.

“It’s amazing,” she says. “When you have people who don’t know if they can do this, and then you leave and find out later how successful they are is a great feeling.”

She recalls one salon she visited that had a front desk person who was very reluctant to do the training. By the time class was over, within 30 minutes the salon had added $83 in services to the books and the front desk staffer was on board and excited.  

Amy coaches owners right through their doubts and fears, knowing they will be successful if they follow the systems.

“If the owner doesn’t believe it, nobody else will,” she says. “If you break it down, for the front desk staff, they are usually fine,” she adds. “They have a fear of looking silly or dumb. You have to explain upselling is done everywhere in retail—it’s just what you do. You offer opportunities a guest may enjoy.”

When the training is over, the Front Desk Division won’t leave a salon hanging.

“We have follow-up phone packages to give monthly support,” says Amy. “We strategically focus on one area per month in a six-month package.”

Both Chris and Amy know from experience that continued care after a one-day training can be a challenge.

“Learning a system is one thing, implementing is another,” says Chris. “Having a liaison is the missing element—it offers relief to the owner.”

For owners who want to make their front desk a profit center, Amy emphasizes it will take their customer service to the next level as well.

“It offers the synergy for the whole salon to come together,” she says. “You need service providers to listen to front desk people and vice versa to grow the business.”

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