Want to know what your salon’s 50th anniversary will look like? We’ve rounded up the best advice featured in past issues from beauty industry pros, top hairdressers and salon owners, for their recipe for success.
1. Gain a loyal customer following.
What’s the secret to having loyal clients? Service quality matters, but more than anything, it’s about superb customer service.
A common industry figure states that 20 per cent of a hairdresser’s success is attributed to his or her technical skills, and the other 80 per cent is from interpersonal skills, says Scott Moon, business development associate at Green Circle Salons. “The typical client won’t see the difference between a good haircut and a great haircut…[but] what the consumer will notice is the level of service and the experience he or she had at the salon,” says Moon.
Consumer surveys state that perceived employee indifference—not incompetence, or product or service issues—as the number one reason why customers take their business elsewhere. Make sure you’re monitoring your customer return rate and what people are saying about your salon—including online.
2. Continually seek education for the whole team.
Co-owners Eve Arsenault and Loris Diquinzio of Carlo’s Barber Shop in Bedford, N.S., one of the longest-standing original businesses in their area, says that men’s hair has gone from short to long—and everything in between since they opened over 50 years ago. Arsenault takes pride in her staff, who go to shows and classes to scout out the latest trends and techniques, and then teach their team back in the shop. “It’s not just the senior staff who go out and train our team, but everyone. Young people today learn so quickly, and if they have the passion, they’re just as good at training someone who’s been in the business for 30 or 40 years,” Arsenault says. This culture of in-house learning strengthens the dynamics of team-building and leadership for all staff.
3. Decide on your brand and keep it consistent—everywhere.
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and other consumer-oriented websites have created a sea of change in the way we do business. The Internet has amplified “word-of-mouth” phenomenon. Being online is the smart way to go, but how do you manage your Internet presence so that it’s on par with your expertise at creating great haircuts or pedis? Tami Chu, co-owner of Tami Beauté des ongles in Montreal, says, “It’s about communicating the right image online. You have to be coherent in the way you are presenting yourself both on the Internet and in your bricks and mortar shop. I like to link both my Twitter and Facebook accounts to reflect the salon’s innovative services, special promotions and new colour collections.”
Every once in a while, it’s crucial to ask yourself ‘What does your salon excel at?’ Before Carlo’s became a full-service barbershop, there was a time when Arsenault thought about jumping into the unisex model. “We expanded from four to 10 chairs and contemplated cornering the male and female market,” she says. “But we did our research and quickly realized that old-school barbering was making a comeback. So, we renovated into a modern-day barbershop and kept the old-school techniques.” In 2011, Carlo’s added a men’s esthetic room, offering waxing and nail care services to cater to a burgeoning demand for men’s grooming. By focusing on their barbering strengths and gradually adopting the men’s esthetics market, Carlo’s is still going strong and serving 25,000 clients annually.
4. Be competitive.
Earning awards and accolades from hair competitions does more than garner respect from your hairdressing peers. Aside from honing your creative and technical skills and helping boost team spirit in your salon, you can use your win to garner more business. Tim Kuo, two-time Canadian Style Master International Contest winner, says “In terms of business, clients love the fact that I treat hair as more than just a 9-5 job. It’s my passion. They brag to their friends about me competing internationally and winning awards, so it has helped me build my clientele, as well as other media coverage. The exposure also allowed me to network and meet people that have been influential to my career.”
5. Don’t ignore retail.
Fully serving your client’s needs means sending them home with the right professional products to maintain their look. “For some unknown reason, most stylists have no problem charging $150 for a color service but cannot ask their client if they need any product for at home,” says Sara Stancu, the manager of a salon and retail shop, with over 20 years of experience in customer service and sales. Letting them go to a drug store half a block away to buy shampoo is not only a financial loss for your bottom line, but it’s also a disservice to clients. To increase sales, make sure your shelves are fully stocked, the products are easy to access (think shelves at customer eye-level) and educate your salon team on how to make product suggestions.
6. Plan for succession.
When thinking about who should take the reigns after retirement, choose someone who has experience working in all aspects of the salon, not just someone who is an adept stylist. Anthony Avola, founder of Toronto’s Avola College and Capelli Salon, and John Columbo of HairAfter Salon & Spa in Toronto, passed the torch to their children.
When Avola officially succeded to his son, he knew Mark’s business and marketing degree—as well as 20 years involvement with the family operation, and a hairstylist background—would make him an invaluable successor. “In the end, regardless of your training, to be a leader in the beauty world you have to know how to bend hair,” says the elder Avola.
Columbo plans to install his son, Gianpaolo (an award-winning hairstylist), as owner of HairAfter Salon & Spa upon retirement. “His first position was at the front desk when he was 12; that’s the most challenging job, dealing with the phones and clients. He knows this inside and out.”
Excerpts from this story are taken from previously published issues of Salon Magazine.