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Last updated: September 01, 2017

12 Ways to Run a Better Business

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By Janet Bardin-Gordon


There are the business basics—treating customers well, ensuring that the salon is always spotless, educating your team, keeping your books in order. Then there’s the whipped cream on top—the smart, above-and-beyond business-building strategies that put a new spin on success. From making the most of salon-friendly technologies to innovative approaches to training and operations, here are 12 tried and-true tips that can light a fire under your bottom line.




“Creating a culture of retailing is truly one of the best innovations for salons because retailing is the most profitable part of the business,” says Eric. “To create a culture of retailing, I recommend dividing your salon into two parts: the front of the house and the back of the house. The front of the house should look and feel like a retail store. Retail should be the main focus. At the Eric Fisher Salon, we created the Cosmetic Café—it includes lotions, makeup, perfume, skin care and hair care products. When our clients enter the salon, they are greeted with the latest ‘editor’s choice’ products from around the world. The back of the house is where you talk about the products and show guests how products can solve their hair concerns. The conversation about products should start at the consultation and continue all the way through to the end of the service. We incorporate the Prosper U Business Training Program system. We cover the what, where, when, why and how on a product, and then tell the client what we love about it.”


mobile technology
“The use of mobile devices and tablets nearly doubled in 2013,” Eric reveals. “To stay relevant, creating a mobile friendly website and developing an app for your salon is a must. We recently employed Sabal Apps to create an Eric Fisher Salon app. With the free app, clients can schedule their appointments online, utilize our client reward program and see the latest events and promotions. We can also send push notifications to clients to keep them up-to-date on the latest products, trends, events and promotions at our salons.”


social media practices
Word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of advertising to grow your business and with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever. Utilizing social media to grow your business is essential. Here are some ways EFS uses social media to create buzz:


1. Create contests and giveaways on Facebook and Instagram. A recent Mystery Product Giveaway on Facebook, for example, promoted an Aquage Fab Five promotion. Each Tuesday during the month of December, the salon posted clues throughout the day until a fan guessed (and won) the product. The person with the winning guess needed to like the page, like the post and leave a comment on the post with their guess.


2. Offer a discount to clients for checking-in at your salon and/or posting a selfie on their Facebook page. The Eric Fisher Academy offers 10 percent off the guest’s entire purchase (service and products) if they check in, and 15 percent off if they check in and take a selfie.


3. Share before and after pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.








client retention
“To increase guest retention, our staff must be able to consistently perform a service and create the ‘WOW’ factor every time,” says Robin. “So we’ve developed a strong certification program on all tasks, including how to answer the phone, greet and consult with a guest and ‘set up’ the retailing process. This is done by asking permission to share knowledge with them about what is being used on their hair, from blow dryers to shampoo. We created systems for how to ‘flow’ the guest through the salon; provide scalp massages and add-on eyebrow arching and pre-book next appointments. The key to developing systems is to get the team involved. Find out what you do now and what can be improved upon. Agree on it as a team and hold each other accountable for making it stick!”


“If you see the future, you can plan for the future on very important things like when to hire, training for staff or when you can afford benefits like paid vacations, healthcare and retirement plans,” believes Robin. “Pre-booking also increases Frequency of Visit (FOV), which equals more visits per year by each guest— which means tens of thousands of dollars for the salon and staff. To have a high pre-booking rate, you need to build strong systems. Consistently ask guests what day and time is convenient for them. If they require Saturdays and evenings, let them know that these are less available. Thus, pre-booking ensures they get the time and day they need. Remember, the higher the pre-booking rate, the busier the staff, and this communicates a sense of urgency to the client.”




“The Happiness System is a program I learned coaching under Neil Ducoff at Strategies,” says Kim. “It teaches accountability from the service provider to guest services. The focus is on a completed service ticket. Verbal and written recommendations are made for home product use, pre-booking the next appointment, what service was completed, what service will be done in the future, and formulas to be recorded. The service ticket and written product recommendation reach the front desk, the next appointment is scheduled and products are purchased. The front desk rings up the sale and records “Happiness” as one of the service line items—with no assigned charge. It shows up on the guest receipt as $0.00. When questioned, you can simply state, ‘There is no charge for Happiness here!’ The first day we implemented ‘The Happiness System’, we secured 60 percent retail to total sales. By the end of the first month, our retail to total sales was 31.7 percent compared to the previous year, which was 19.2 percent—a significant increase. Our pre-book percentage went from 65 percent to 75 percent for that month. Make it fun for your team and create a scoreboard that tracks progress, and update it daily.”




“At Dream State, owners don’t hire. Our entire team hires!” say Adam and Katie. “New employees ‘audition’ for 60 to 90 days. At the end of the audition, all current employees must sign a statement that says, ‘I trust this person to represent us and to work with my clients.’ The applicant must win everyone’s trust. We do whatever it takes to win over clients, and winning over staff is great practice! At most salons, a stylist begins not knowing who they can trust. At Dream State, you know everyone is behind you 100 percent, because if everyone doesn’t sign off on your acceptance, we work through the issue or you don’t make the team!”


salon management
“At most salons, the owner and manager rule the roost, and stylists are all equally ranked underneath them, which creates some unfortunate dynamics, such as resentment and lack of leadership by stylists. At Dream State, everyone holds a military rank, completely separate from price level. One third of our stylists now outrank managers! Your willingness to take responsibility and grow as a leader determines your rank within the company. Everyone has someone who tells them what to do, and everyone has to tell someone else what to do! Even if you offer $100 haircuts, you might be a Private, and your Captain might be a 24-year old stylist who has proven he or she knows how to lead! This innovation develops leadership and responsibility, and puts everyone in the role of empathizing with those who have to make tough decisions.”


service training
“We wanted something better than secret shoppers,” reveals Katie, “so we developed Angels (as in, ‘Angels watching over us’), to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes. Angels means that no employee can stay late to get their hair done, no one can do their own hair at home and no one can throw color on their own hair during a break. Instead, every employee books their hair appointments through the desk, sits in the waiting area, receives the full service and even ‘checks out’ just like a client! We make sure that every employee knows what it’s like to experience lateness, a reschedule, an uncomfortable chair, or an amazing service! They even pay 30 percent of the service price as a tip! Angels guarantees everyone takes the value of a client’s service seriously and is constantly discovering ways to improve service!”








recruitment and training
“The nearby Aveda Institute Austin implemented a new schedule for students, allowing them to maintain part-time jobs while completing their cosmetology program,” says Javier. “So we developed an internship program for students to gain real life working experience in an upscale salon. We target students starting their education, which gives them eight to 10 months in
our program. Interns work in our Guest Care Department, learning our salon systems and developing their customer skills. This helps us determine if a student would work well in our culture and move into our technical training. It gives us the ability to better forecast and control staffing needs in our Guest Care Department. Since implementation more than two years ago, we have enjoyed an 80 percent permanent hire success rate.”


project management
“We have three locations,” notes Chris, “so the physical separation between them becomes a challenge for team members working on the same projects. These could be education curriculums, fundraising initiatives, company culture events, and company-wide communications or salon financial goal objectives. To manage multi-location projects, we partnered with Basecamp, creators of web-based, easy-to-use project management software. Team members are encouraged to download the app on their smart phones, so they’re able to manage and work on projects from virtually anywhere. Because our salons don’t have offices with desks and computers, Basecamp gives us the ability to leverage the talent, ideas and brain power of our team members in ways we previously could not achieve. We’ve discovered that given the right tools, team members can do so much more to drive the business and their careers.”




online presence
“A strong company website is vital to keeping current clients engaged and thinking of you when they are not in the salon,” believes Tracey. “It is also a destination for new clients to obtain all the information they can about the services and technicians. We update our website constantly and focus on an interactive strategy by adding content like blogs, videos and media coverage to showcase our staff and new trends. Our staff bio pages allow clients to get to know their stylist/colorist even before stepping into the salon. New clients can pick their stylist and colorist by viewing a short bio, press coverage, blog posts and photos of their work, ensuring the perfect match is made. Website content and strong key words also maximize the efficiency of your online search visibility.”



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