Being a salon owner means managing the education of stylists, retention of staff, progress of profits and more. Inevitably, there are land mines in all of these areas and the path to success is not always clear. We've explored the Aveda Means Business blog and found stories of several salon owners who think outside the box to find solutions to common small-business struggles. Read about the areas where their businesses struggled and what they did to implement systems that work.
1. There's more than one way to retail. Estheticians have a harder time selling retail than stylists because they typically don't chat with their clients during services. Instead, they are creating a quiet and serene environment in the treatment room. Tricia Ramsey, an esthetician at Elixir Salon and Day Maker, schedules out time at the end of her services to talk products and encourage clients to take some home and enhance their routine. An extra 15 minutes for every service may mean seeing fewer clients, but it is worth it to sell more retail, a major profit-builder that is not to be underestimated. Read more on her retailing strategy and how she weaves small comments into her service to prepare for end-of-appointment product education in the Aveda Means Business article, "Retailing in the Treatment Room: The Secret Ingredient."
2. Be the change you wish to see in legislation. Holly Vaught, corporate education director for K. Charles & Co. salons in the San Antonio, Texas area, found that the people who are writing and passing legislation are often not educated in the beauty industry, and she decided to be the voice that the industry needed in her area. She got involved by joining an association and she was nominated to be on the Professional Beauty Association's advisory board, where she is able to relay what's happening in state legislation that affects cosmetology schools and salon owners. Vaught has fought both for bills to be passed and more recently against deregulation of beauty schools. Becoming involved in the legislative process has made her aware of issues, and has allowed her to speak out on the topics that she feels passionate about. Read more of her advice on getting involved in the Aveda Means Business article, "Beauty and the Political Beast: How to Get Involved in Salon Legislation."
3. Strengthen in-salon education. In-house salon education programs create talented stylists that improve the salon as a whole. It also takes a huge amount of time and effort for salon owners to coordinate and execute such a program. Keri Davis-Duffy, the owner of Gila Rut salons in the San Diego area, figured out that she couldn't do it alone, but needed to delegate the job to others that could build a a structured program that would operate smoothly. This meant training the trainers. With her team, including salon partner and educator Karla Lopez-Martinez, and lead educator Jonatan Rizo, Davis-Duffy developed Train U a system to keep every educator in the salon consistent in everything from class preparation, to teaching methods, to specific lesson plans. Learn more about the smart education program in the Aveda Means Business article, "Educator Turnover: Breaking the Cycle."
4. Create an engaging work environment to retain stylists—and maximize the investment you've made in them. It is never easy for a salon to lose an employee who decides to give notice (or worse, walks out), but even more difficult is the high cost that comes with hiring a new employee. Heath Smith, co-owner of Ruiz Salons in Austin, Texas, points out that the costs associated with losing a stylist is often intangible, such as the lost training investment, loss of productivity, or increased re-dos when a junior employee takes over for a seasoned stylist. He advocated creating a culture that makes stylists feel invested in the salon and more likely to stay. He has done this by speeding up training and promotions so that stylists grow more quickly and are rewarded for their efforts more regularly. He also sits down with them at least once a year for "stay" interviews to go over what's working well and where they would like to see improvements in their day-to-day. Read more on Smith's strategies for prioritizing retention in the Aveda Means Business article, "Minimize Stylist Turnover to Maximize Salon Profit."
5. Motivate stylists and build profits by setting benchmarks for referrals in addition to retail. Many salon owners tie retail sales to whether or not a stylist can be promoted a level in the salon. Sandy Gallardo, owner of Free Spirit Salon in Alpharetta, Georgia, has taken this practice one step further by focusing on referrals as a profit-builder and step to getting promoted. Free Spirit stylists must have a minimum amount of referral cards come back to the salon in order to be eligible to move to the next level. Some senior stylists initially felt uncomfortable about the new criteria, but Gallardo had already implemented this type of system with retail years before, so she knew she could hold her stylists accountable and see profit growth if she provided them with the right tools to get clients to share referral cards. For more on how Sandy Gallardo implemented this system and set her stylists up for success, read the Aveda Means Business article, "Creating Accountability With Your Referral Program."