Like many salons, Salon Visage, owned by Frank and Belinda Gambuzza, in Knoxville, Tennessee, is always looking for an advantage when it comes to retail sales. According to Monty Howard, general manager of the Visage Group which includes two barbershops, management always had a gut feeling that guests who bought conditioning treatments were more likely to buy retail. Determined to prove it to the Visage team, Howard created a few reports that proved the theory.

“As a result, we changed our strategy and focused on treatments. We re-educated the team on the benefits of the different treatments we offered, we developed scripts for the assistants at the shampoo bowl as well as the stylists, and we have one whole wall along the shampoo area dedicated to treatment products and product information,” Howard says. “We felt if we focused on treatment sales, we would both enhance the experience of the guest in the salon, but the increased sale of treatments would help drive product sales.”

The strategy paid off. In a comparison of 1st Quarter 2017 over the same quarter last year, treatments per client increased from 27% to 32%--an increase of 22% as a result of the emphasis on treatments. Retail sales also rose, although contributing factors kept them from being as strong as Howard hoped. “But the focus certainly bolstered overall sales!” he says.

Our goal always is to improve the performance of the team and the amount of money in our staff’s paychecks. “When you use numbers and data to prove a theory to your team, you’re relying on fact and not just gut instinct, and you are more likely to get their buy in.”

Using data to illustrate a point not only works for the team, according to Howard, it’s effective in one-on-one coaching sessions. A young stylist recently came to Howard unhappy that she wasn’t busy enough, almost implying that the salon wasn’t supporting her growth. When Howard dug into the data, he was able to show the stylist that almost half of her clients were brand requests—clients that were new to her even if they weren’t new to the salon.

“It was quite a shocker,” Howard says. “When we continued to look at her data, we discovered that she was prebooking less than 20 percent of her clientele.” By focusing on prebooking, the stylist was able to grow her request rate and her client count almost overnight.

“The facts always tell a story, and it can take a situation with a disgruntled employee and take the emotion out of it and really turn on a light bulb,” Howard says. “We see it all the time. I recently reviewed a quarter of retail sales with a stylist and she was surprised because she thought her sales were higher than they actually were. Over the next three months she almost doubled her retail sales and it ended up being the key in her getting a promotion.”

Monty Howard will share how he uses data to set salon strategy and motivate both his team and Salon Visage's clients at the Data-Driven Salon event in Atlanta, June 25-26. For more information and to register, visit

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