EXPANDING THE FOCUS of the SALON TODAY 200 beyond growth to reflect best business practices necessitated changing the way the competition was judged. In years past, we simply entered in the total sales revenue figures (which were backed up with tax return forms) from one year to the next into a computer—which calculated the growth percentages and spit out a list of the 200 fastest-growing salons. But when you start exploring areas such as customer service, environmental sustainability or advanced education, there simply isn’t one clear-cut number that points to success. Although we asked for as many statistics as possible, when it came down to judging the Best Practice sections, we had to take your written word for it—meaning that the quality of the essay responses became far more important.

We divided the 1,440 Best Practice entries among the editors of SALON TODAY and MODERN SALON (Alison Shipley, Laurel Nelson, Rosanne Ullman, Melissa Hill, Debbie Ogilvie, Jan Hillenmeyer and myself) and asked them to judge each application within its category and provide a ranking from the strongest salon on down. For weeks, we read, scrutinized and evaluated each entry, developing a ranking for each of the best practice categories.

With the shift in this year’s competition, we also allowed salons to compete in as many categories as they wished—this meant they also were eligible to win in multiple categories. But we still wanted to select, honor and profile 200 individual salons in this issue.

To determine our 200 different honorees, we first selected the top 100 in growth using our statistician and her trusty computer. Then, simultaneously, we worked down each Best Practice ranking selecting the top salons in each category. When we came across a salon that had already been selected as a winner in growth or another best practice section, they still captured a “win in the category,” but they would be listed at the end of the section in the additional honorees box. We kept working down the rankings until we named and profiled 200 different salons. In this issue, 200 salons are profiled only once—either in Growth or in the Best Practice category where they had the highest ranking. But when you factor in their multiple wins, we actually have 346 winners.

Sound confusing? Well, it is a bit, but I think it will become clear as you work your way through all the Best Practice sections of this issue and absorb all their successful ideas.

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