Today’s growing salon industry has opened up new opportunity to achieve real financial independence by owning a successful salon. Indeed, more and more salon professionals are selling their salons and retiring as multi-millionaires which only happened in a few rare cases twenty years ago.
The rules of the road on the journey of salon success have changed considerably as has the definition of success in the salon industry. Yesterday’s salon owner strive to make a good living and be the star in their successful salon. Today’s salon owner strives to build real value and retire financially independent so they can travel the world and enjoy the fruits of their risk and hard work.
The modern salon owner is far more entrepreneurial, creative, savvy, and innovative than their predecessors. There is almost universal agreement amongs t today’s young “salon-trepreneurs” that yesterday’s rules to running a salon will, at best, only lead to providing a good living. But, to achieve the kind of success that is available in today’s thriving and ever-changing salon industry, salon owners have to master this new set of rules.
Rule 1 Carry Exclusive Products
Salon Success Let’s face it, there are 25 salons within a few miles of your salon that offer L’oreal, Redken, Wella, Pureology, Bumble and Bumble, and Paul Mitchell. If you have any doubt of this, just put the name of your town, your state, and then your brand into Google and you will no longer have any doubt. When it comes to hair color, the real truth of consumer sentiment is even worse. In a recent survey of 1,000 non-cosmetologist salon hair color clients, less than 1% thought they knew what brand of hair color their hair colorist used. What’s even worse is that half of them guessed wrong when they identified the brand!
This situation even gets more grim when we introduce the topic of product diversion. Despite the fact that product manufacturers accuse rogue distributors of selling their products to Target, CVS, Wal Mart, and Amazon; you would realize that this is simply not true if you gave it more than a minute of thought. Given the requirements of these mega-retailers (consider their requirement for product liability insurance and certificates of trademark ownership alone), only a product manufacturer can get their products some shelf space in these mega-retailer’s stores and that is only after months of effort. While your sales rep is telling you they are selling you professional-only products, you can do a simple search on the websites for Target, Amazon, or CVS to find that your clients can find the same products for much cheaper at these stores. We’ve all heard before that these are not the same products, but we all know that they are exactly the same.
If you want to offer a truly salon-exclusive line of products that are only available by licensed professionals that have actually recommended the product for a client’s specific needs, then you should consider Organic Salon Systems and their line of hair color, hair care, and salon treatments.
Rule 2 Make Marketing A Central Part of Your Plan
salon marketingTo have a successful salon, you have to have loyal clients who receive real value from your services and feel an affinity to your brand and ethos. To far too many salon owners, marketing means advertising. Avoid this mistake. According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the Marketing is “the set of activities for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for clients”.
Your marketing strategy should include equal parts of advertising, promotion, and communication. Advertising is media that is paid for in efforts of attracting clients to your salon. Examples of advertising initiatives would be placing a print ad in your local paper, renting a billboard, or running an ad campaign on your local radio station. Promotion is efforts that don’t necessarily require paid media, but attract new clients through more creative means. Examples of promotions would be hosting a “Bring a Friend” night, having a referral program in your salon, providing employee discount programs for large local employers, or appearing as a guest speaker on a local radio talk show. Communication are those efforts that merely create a clear presence for your salon. Examples of communication would be ensuring you have visible and attractive signage, issuing press releases about noteworthy events to your local newspapers, and have a easy to find website that is listed in all of the local directories.
Rule 3 Identify Your Niche
niche organic salon market For most salons, traditional advertising is extremely difficult and will have limited returns. The primary reason for this is the competitive landscape that many salons face where too many salons provide almost identical services and a competing for a limited number of clients. To advertise successfully, a salon must develop USP’s (Unique Selling Propositions). In other words, you must have something different that you are offering or no matter how attractive your ad is, your salon is going to look like all of the others. Most salon experts say that unless you have a highly specialized or differentiating offering, you are better off not advertising at all. Unfortunately, we agree.
The good news is that if your are offering organic salon products from a company like Organic Salon Systems, you are offering something different! Advertising how healthy, safe, and nourishing your products are will provide a message that sets your salon apart from your competition. This message will certainly resonate with clients that are specifically concerned about their health and wellbeing. Further, you can actually target these clients and get a much better return on your advertising dollars. Rather than advertise in your local newspaper where you pay a high price for exposure to a broad audience, why not advertise in your local organic newsletter where the rates are much cheaper and all of the readers will be looking for a salon just like yours? By targeting your advertising budget specifically to your niche audience, you will spend less money and get many more clients from your advertising budget!
Rule 4 Develop Long Term Relationships with your clients
Today’s consumers want to feel a connection with the products and services that they use. Great companies like Apple, Disney, and Coca-Cola have mastered this art and your salon can too. Rather than providing your client with a short service that enhances their beauty until their next visit, develop a program of care for their beauty that begins with the service and then is maintained and enhanced by the use of products over time followed up by return visits to your chair. DON’T SELL THEM PRODUCTS, they don’t want or need to be sold anything. However, recommend a path for them to achieve their beauty and wellness goals and offer professional yet personalized guidance down that path. Think more homeopathic and holistic rather than service and cosmetic.
This sort of personalized expert advice and consultation is exactly what the modern salon client is yearning for and providing them that invaluable service will develop a relationship of loyalty with them in a very deep and meaningful way. The system offered by Organic Care Systems products is an ideal way to provide your client with this path. Beginning with the wet-stretch-test, which demonstrably gives physical evidence of their hair’s need for either moisture, protein, or maintenance establishes a verifiable baseline of your client’s hair. Progress derived from both in-salon and at-home products usage can be tested and verified with the client at future service visits. Long term progress will be absolutely noticeable and be a strong reinforcement for their loyalty.
salon cultureWe have all heard it thousands of times before, a salon is all about image. For today’s modern salon, nothing could be further from the truth. Today’s “Starbucks” and “Whole Foods” consumers are loyal to a salon for what it represents rather than what it looks like. Long gone are the days when laser lights, loud pop music, and rhinestone-studded hair brushes are attracting new clients like ants to a picnic. In today’s salon industry, the concept of “building an image” has been replaced by “building client affinity”. Client Affinity is defined as a client having an inherent similarity, feeling of kinship, or natural attraction to a business and in the modern salon industry, client affinity equals loyalty.
The most effective way to build affinity with clients is to develop a strong ethos (a set of salon values, goals, culture, and mission) which your target audience is likely to share. Take some time and assess what your target clientele values and build your salons culture around those in order to ensure client affinity and long lasting loyalty. If you’re an organic salon, your clients probably value their health, well being, and social and environmental stewardship. These values are perfectly consistent with the Organic Salon Systems Ethos and is an ideal way to promote client affinity.
setting salon prices One of the most common misconceptions of the Salon Industry is that is salons raise their prices, they might scare new clients away. While this is normally true in most industries, savvy salon owners have realized that higher prices on their services menu allows them to provide more attractive discounts in their promotional programs.
For example, if you increase the prices on your services menu by 20%, but offer a 20% discount for friends and family of current clients, you have increased the perceived value of your services, increased client loyalty from your referral network, and allow for higher prices from potential new clients whose perception of higher value in your services has been driven by the positive remarks of your loyal clients. While we do not recommend increasing your service prices to some unreasonable amount, we have found that almost all salons would benefit from adopting this approach to some extent so long as the service price increases are reasonable.
salon exit strategyStarting and running a new business is a risky endeavor. As human beings, we instinctually want to identify an exit whenever we step into even a moderately risky situation. For example, when we walk into an elevator or onto a airplane, we instinctually want to know where the exit is. Why is it that salon owners seem to rarely have an exit plan?
To define your exit strategy for your salon, you’ll need t develop your personal long term plan. How much money do you want to have to retire? What amount of money do you want to sell your salon for? Do you want to leave the business to your children? Is your goal to grow into multiple locations? Multiple States? Multiple Countries? Understanding your personal goals for your business and synchronizing these with your personal financials and personal goals will help you define what your exit strategy is.
salon successWhether your exit strategy is to sell your salon, leave it to your children, or slowly pass it on to your staff; it will become important to you that you build an independent business that has value in and of itself. The biggest mistake made by salon owners is their mistake in developing a business ON their talents rather than building a business FROM their talents. If your salon is successful, it’s lifespan as a business will outlast your career and your payoff will be in passing a wonderful business on to your successor; whether that is your children or someone who has bought your salon from you. In either case, the only way you are passing on something of value is if your salon can be just as successful if you are not involved in the business. This should be your ultimate goal. In order to do this, you will have to put your ego aside and commit to build a great business.
Statistics consistently show that businesses that have sustainable profits sell for 7 to 10 times their annual profits. Unfortunately, salons usually sell for 2 times their annual profit because when their owners leave, so too do their profits. Therefore, most salons are sold for less than their furniture and fixtures. To put that into perspective, if you build a salon business that generates $300,000 per year in profits, you could probably sell that business for $600,000 if you built a business ON your talents and made yourself the star of your salon or $3 Million if you built a business with sustainable profits even if you are no longer working for the business.
Today’s savvy salon industry offers considerable opportunity to generate real wealth for owners and investors. The emerging opportunities call for a different set of rules than the traditional salon industry has called for..