Small business owners uniquely understand that when it comes to running an operation, size does not translate to simplicity. While many small businesses have perfected the quality over quantity approach, the reality is that fewer resources can make life a bit more difficult. This dilemma can be particularly true for salon owners. With so many moving parts—from managing different types of employees (full-time and booth renters) to attracting and retaining clients—a salon owner may function as a manager, marketer, recruiter and stylist. To keep their business growing and deliver the exceptional experiences clients demand, there are a few steps that salon owners can take to make their workload more manageable.
- Automate communications to clients. Today’s consumers expect immediate, often real-time communication with businesses. Trying to deliver on these demands can prove a major undertaking, especially as a salon’s clientele grows. Automating communications to clients doesn’t make a salon owner lazy or impersonal—it makes them smart. Rather than letting questions go unanswered, salon owners should invest in a business management and scheduling tool. Employees can set an automated response to inbound emails, informing customers they are currently with other clients but will be sure to reach out within one business day. Or, after an appointment, they can automate a thank you note to clients to confirm they were satisfied with their visit. These quick messages will make clients feel heard and will reduce time-consuming work for employees. Additionally, without automated communications, the salon owner and their team are tasked with ensuring that customers show up to appointments. Automated reminders allow employees to schedule appointment notifications to clients ahead of time. By streamlining this necessary process, the salon can save time and focus on more pressing work.
- Consolidate data to see the big picture. Salons have to manage a large volume of client data, from contact information to treatment preferences. Consolidating customer records and purchase history into a single database can make analysis easier and more actionable. With all the insights they need in one place, salon owners can see what products and services are selling and to whom—enabling them to forecast inventory more accurately and target customers for future sales. An enhanced understanding of customer activity can also help inform and personalize the type of communications that salons send out to clients.
- Anticipate needs proactively. Salon owners are not expected to read the minds of their employees, vendors or customers—though there is real value in at least trying. Rather than waiting around for the next request or complaint, owners should be proactive in anticipating and addressing needs. Whether that means asking clients for feedback or doing research on the latest market trends, owners can make sure they are prepared when business opportunities or challenges arise. By better understanding the perspectives of partners and customers, salon owners gain the agility needed to deliver exceptional experiences that make their lives, and the lives of clients, more pleasant and productive.
- Delegate wherever possible. Salon owners need to trust the employees they hire to get the job done. New business owners often make the mistake of trying to take on every duty themselves. Ultimately, while it can be difficult to entrust their business to others, the inability to delegate can impede success and increase stress. Salon owners should embrace a “trust but verify” approach, especially with new hires. Present workers with responsibility around the salon but implement a system to assess quality of work to ensure positive results. While relinquishing a few hats may be difficult at first, it will eventually make owners’ heads feel much lighter, and allow them to pay attention to more facets of their business.
- Articulate a vision. Salon owners should establish the mission and goals of their business from the start. A vision statement provides a destination for the journey that the business is on—and without a destination, how can salon owners plan the route? Articulating a believable and attainable vision is critical to keeping employees motivated and clients engaged. By setting expectations for daily operations, customer communication and the kinds of experiences they aim to deliver, salon owners can create metrics for success to work toward; holding themselves and their team accountable. They can also lay the groundwork for where they want their business to go. Involving the team from the beginning raises the likelihood of successfully realizing the owner’s vision.
Sometimes long-term gains require upfront investment, whether that means finding time for planning or investigating the right tools. While strategizing can feel like a strain, assessing the needs of the salon will help owners choose the most efficient and effective solution that will ultimately save time, make money and avoid future headaches. With the right mindset, applied discipline and a proactive approach, salon owners can make the most of even limited resources to focus on growing their businesses. While life as a small business owner isn’t always easy, these five steps can make it a little easier.
About the Author: Jeff Dickerson, a software executive with more than 25 years of experience, currently leads DaySmart Software, makers of Salon Iris, where dozens of developers, support specialists and software professionals strive to deliver a superior solution for appointment booking, staff management, payment processing, marketing and customer communications to salon owners worldwide.