Salon ownership is about innovation; implementing new methods that will grow business and client satisfaction is key. At SALON TODAY, we're always on the lookout for accounts from salon owners on ways that they have made their business more efficient and profitable. Here are a collection of success stories gathered by Aveda Means Business which outline paths to gaining referrals, growing retail sales, implementing online booking and hiring smart.
Sherrie Fernandez-Vila, a senior stylist at Green Apple Salon in Houston, Texas, heard her salon was going to be part of Neill Corporation’s summer referral contest and had one immediate thought: “I’m going to win this.” And she did.
Green Apple Salon offered their guests perforated cards that gave the person doing the referring a $25 credit for product, and the referred guest received $20 off their first service.
Fernandez-Vila made sure she was consistent: every single person who sat in her chair received cards every time they visited.
“The best business you can get is when someone says, ‘I love my hairstylist; you should go see her.’”
A happy client promotes their stylist and does all the advertising for them, but Fernandez-Vila acknowledges it’s sometimes difficult to stay consistent with every client.
“We get busy in our routines and get double-booked, but it’s important to slow down and do the same rituals and routines with every person, every time,” she says. “Build that consistency and turn it into a habit. Before I knew it, those cards were in my client’s hands without fail.”
William Edge, owner of seven William Edge Salons, has created a “Retail Edge” program that integrates salon services and retail.
“Retailing too often happens at the very end of the service, once the cape is off and the client is done,” says Edge. “Asking stylists to throw a sales pitch at clients after a nice conversation during the service is why they struggle with retailing.”
With Edge’s system, stylists are not put in the position of being a salesperson. Rather, stylists educate their clients on the products they use throughout the service. Then, a “retail liason,” who also works the front desk, approaches the stylist post-shampoo and pre-blowdry to fill out the client’s retail prescription card.
“The retail liaison addresses the stylist, not the client,” Edge says. “They ask, ‘When would you like to see Mrs. Jones again?’ ”
The retail liaison books the appointment (Edge finds this easiest with the SalonBiz app), gathers the recommended products in a basket, and puts it on the station shelf while confirming the next appointment with the guest.
“The stylist hasn’t had to recommend or sell anything,” Edge says. “They are simply required to educate.”
Another salon that has a unique position among its staff members is Lavish Salon in Webster, Texas, owned by Kristi Brehm. Brehm employs a “life stylist,” named Bria who is not a licensed cosmetologist, but is considered a part of the front desk team and is paid some commission on products she personally sells.
As a life stylist, Bria’s job is to do value-added services in the salon like hand treatments or quick massages for clients who are getting color processed or waiting.
“We have a portable manicure area she uses,” Brehm says. “And each week she picks the product she wants to feature and uses it in her services.”
Bria chooses products like salts/scrubs, lotions, aromatherapy oils, candles, skin care and more. And while her stylists are also trained to do value-added services, Brehm says having an extra staff member dedicated to it ensures ALL her clients who are getting a color treatment will get the value-added service. The result? Improved retail sales on featured products.
Pat Helmandollar, owner of Savvy Salon and Day Spa in Cornelius, North Carolina, started using online booking about eight months ago and found it to be much more seamless than she originally anticipated.
Aveda Means Business discussed five common online booking concerns with Helmandollar and her responses show that once the system is integrated, the tech upgrade makes salons more efficient and convenient for clients.
One concern discussed was the potential for an online booking system to create gaps in the books.
“If there’s a gap or it’s a new guest who requires registration and a tour, we call and ask them to come in 15 minutes earlier,” Helmandollar says. “Honestly, it hasn’t been a problem for us. I don’t think our business could be as successful without online booking as it has saved us a lot of time in making appointments ourselves.”
When it comes to hiring and retention, Fiona Tolunay, co-owner of Vanity Salon (with mom Glennis and brother Rory) in Houston, Texas, knows just how to make her business irresistible to stylists.
Vanity Salon is a beautifully modern space and Tolunay is always looking for opportunities to remodel and innovate. As attractive as this is to potential stylists, first she has to get them in the door.
“We heavily recruit from the Aveda Institute in our area,” says Tolunay. “I was also a graduate of the Institute, so I have an established relationship with educators who know me and what caliber of stylist I want to hire at Vanity,” she adds.
“They will e-mail me and let me know if they have someone ready to graduate that they want to send my way,” she says.
Also, hiring students right out of school doesn’t always fill all of Tolunay’s available positions. So she has found other ways to lure great staff members to Vanity.
Word-of-mouth has been a great tool that often yields good hires. Vanity boasts a high retention rate, which lets potential new stylists know current staff members are very happy—some have been with the salon since it opened 17 years ago.
“We also go to career fairs and even occasionally hire more seasoned stylists who’ve moved to the Houston area and found us by Googling Aveda salons in the area,” says Tolunay.