I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had a career that can follow me wherever I move. I recently relocated from the West Coast to Peoria, Illinois, where my husband started a new position in March.

This past weekend he took me to one of his favorite places, Tannins & Hops, a modern-day speakeasy. The bar is located in a building where the O’Neill brothers used to smuggle whiskey between 1926 and 1932 for Al Capone before being busted by the prohibition agency of the federal government. To pay homage to their history, the bar’s new owner requires all patrons to ring a bell and provide the password to get in. The password, “It Plays in Peoria” refers to the catchphrase “Will it Play in Peoria?” that ad men used to ask when determining whether a product, person or promotional theme will appeal to Main Street, America.

Before I even moved to Peoria, Summit Salon Business Center’s Heather Bagby invited me to a Summit Stylist business class she was teaching here at the beginning of August. I was happy to attend, not only to have the pleasure of witnessing Heather in action again, but in the hopes of meeting some industry locals.

Heather started by talking about Summit being a happiness project – they help stylists identify what they want to achieve in life, then show them what they need to do in the salon to get there. That quickly got their attention.

“Your goal in life should be to lose 10 percent of your guests each year, because the demand on your time is outgrowing them and you have to raise your prices,” she says. “Don’t devalue yourself. If some people can’t afford you, that’s a good thing.”

Heather explained that stylists have a tendency to get addicted to approval, which is why salons hesitate to raise their prices, but it’s also why they shy away from retailing. “But no is a beautiful word. You should hear ‘No, thank you,’ from your guests all day because you’re constantly suggesting they try new services or you’re recommending products.”

To be successful, Heather, stressed that it’s all about the math, and everyone needed to get comfortable with math. She outlined the following steps to help stylist be successful:

  • Plan for profit by writing your service and sales goals down each day.
  • Track the results of your plan every day.
  • Only offer your guests services and products that you believe in.
  • Never discount your services.

While I normally am sitting in classes designed for salon owners, it was fascinating to see these stylists soaking up this business wisdom. I would definitely say Heather and the SSBC education played well in Peoria.

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