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Salon Management

Riding the Airwaves

by Stacey Soble | September 1, 2017

It’s not hard for residents in the greater Sarasota, Florida, region to keep abreast of beauty trends—all they need to do is tune into their local ABC affiliate. That’s because the team from Cutting Loose Salons, with four locations in the area, is frequently live on-air for viewer makeovers, hair-style demonstrations and product reports.

For Owner Coral Pleas and her Cutting Loose team, it’s a valuable partnership that is entering its third year. Every other Friday the salon is featured on Suncoast View, a one-hour, locally produced daily talk show whose format is inspired by ABC Network’s long-running daily talk show The View. The afternoon chat-fest features four co-hosts (all of whom have other broadcasting responsibilities with the local affiliate) discussing topics in the news and engaging in lively conversation on everyday issues, such as parenting, relationships, cooking, entertainment, politics and, of course, beauty.

Once a month, the show features the Cutting Loose team for a makeover session—hair, makeup and fashion transformations for one to three viewers. Alternatively, one Friday a month, the show hosts Pleas to provide a trend report on hot new products or performs a simple hair demonstration.

Suncoast View is shot at 10 a.m., airs at 4 p.m., and each episode re-airs the following Monday at 9 a.m. As a result, each Cutting Loose appearance earns two media hits and reaches two distinct viewer audiences.

While the exposure is significant for the salon, it doesn’t come free. To earn the right of being “The Official Salon of ABC 7,” Pleas commits to purchasing $10,000 worth of advertising from the station per year, as well as provides all the cutting and coloring services for the channel’s on-air talent throughout the year. In addition, Cutting Loose stylist Vicky Collins goes to the station every morning to do hair and makeup for the morning news anchors and the Suncoast View anchors—some of whom are on both shows.

“Through this arrangement, I estimate we supply $3,000 worth of cutting and coloring services per month, and that doesn’t count what I pay Vicky for doing hair and makeup at the station each day or the commissions for the stylists who do the makeover,” Pleas says. “Plus, it requires a great deal of planning each month.”

Nevertheless, the current arrangement is much easier on the salon than their original contract with the local news station.

“Before the Suncoast View launched, we were doing a makeover every Wednesday as part of the morning news show,” Pleas says. “It was really challenging to come up with models each week, find outfits and do the makeovers for what amounted to a 90-second spot. Appearing every other week and only doing one makeover a month has made it much easier on us.”

For Pleas though, the effort is all worth it. In addition to the valuable television appearances, Cutting Loose’s 15-second commercial plays on the station about 40 times a month, and a banner mentioning “Hair and Makeup by Cutting Loose Salons” flashes in the credits at the end of the news at 5 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., as well as at the end of Suncoast View.

Stylist Niki Pleas leads the efforts on many of the makeovers, which have included women wearing wigs for Breast Cancer Awareness month, a 70-year-old woman embracing her power to wear pink hair, a busy mom of three preparing to adopt a fourth, several mother/daughter duos, and a bride seeking healthy hair for her big day.

Most of the models are recruited through the salon’s Facebook page, some are referred by the station and others are suggestions from the salons clientele.

After the reveal on the show, each model is brought backstage for a quick photo session with photographer Jolanta Bremer. Bremer donates her services because most of the models buy the finished images from her, but she also provides a shot to the salon to help them create a powerful before-and-after story for social media.

“It’s like night and day,” Pleas says. “It’s taken our before-and-after pictures to a whole new level of wow.”

The relationship with the station has given Cutting Loose content to amp up the salon’s social media pages, which further feeds the salon’s marketing machine.

“Before the Friday show, we’ll do a teaser on Wednesday encouraging our followers to tune in and, after the show, the station sends us a clip of the appearance that we also post,” Pleas says.

The ability to supplement the makeover segments with product and style trends not only alleviates some of the pressure of finding and prepping models, but it gives viewers a more direct reason to walk into a Cutting Loose location. In these segments, Pleas has shown viewers how to achieve the perfect ponytail, demonstrated braid techniques, offered tips for buying the perfect hairbrush, shown viewers how to love their curls and protect their hair from summer heat, showcased men’s products and schooled the audience in skin-care tips.

Cutting Loose was only four years old when the station first courted them about the partnership. At the time, the station’s relationship wasn’t working with their current partner salon, and a chef who frequently appeared on one of the programs was a Cutting Loose client and recommended it. At first, Pleas turned it down, but over time she decided it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

Now, she’s glad she did. Participating in the segments offers a new creative outlet for her team members, as well as teaches them new skills.

“Being on air can be a little scary and uncomfortable,” Pleas says. “But the team is learning how to be prepared, well-spoken and confident—and they now know what happens on set. The experience has taken us to a whole new level.”

Pleas credits the exposure for helping her grow a young business successfully.

“Our clients love talking about the show and our appearances help build their loyalty while driving new clients into the salon. We carry three retail lines and when we talk about products on the shows it strengthens our relationships with our manufacturers,” she says.

Most importantly, Pleas credits the partnership with fueling the marketing effort that has helped the young salon grow so quickly. And, she believes it’s an opportunity any salon in a market big enough for a local television station could explore.

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