Salon owning can be a frazzling business. It differs from other sorts of industries: you face customers every day and can’t miss a beat on bringing excellence everyday; managing a spectrum of personalities to work towards sustainability in one of the most competitive fields.
Managing a successful salon is like folding a fitted sheet: not every one can do it, but with the right habits can be a success.
Many of those that use Shore are salon owners. We’ve inquired about how they run their businesses smoothly and sustainably.
As a business’ Master and Commander, delegating may seem the opposite of what you think you need to do. But the proof is in the pudding: delegating is essential for all leaders who intend on growing their business—and keeping their sanity. When you delegate, you represent a shift in how the salon is viewed: from a purely entrepreneurial view to one of business leadership. You delegate because you know that’s how things will get done efficiently and smoothly. You manage growth, not tasks. Divide tasks and disperse the workload throughout your team. You will reduce your work on menial tasks so you can focus on the business leader areas of analysis, strategic partnerships, and building a business. Additionally, it’s a way to give your team members growth experiences, a chance for them to have autonomy in their positions, and flourish. Delegation is a business owner creating an environment for growth and stability.
2. Always Be Learning
Now that you’ve assigned tasks to team members, you can focus on the channels and people that will help you grow your salon business. Learning fuels success. As a salon owner, find areas that you may not feel confident in. Do you have trouble talking with the team in a coherent way? Hire a session with a coach. Do you feel nervous about public speaking? Get involved in a local Toastmasters. Are you unsure of how to address your finances? Take an online finance course of small business. Keep learning to remain competitive.
3. Identify your salon niche
What makes your salon special? A jumping off point would be: why would first-time customers pick coming to your salon out of others? Maybe because you use organic products. Maybe your decor and business vibe is more punk than Zen. If you do men’s haircuts, think of what makes your barbershop stand out. Do you teach more than haircuts? Is it a kid-friendly salon, with books or a special corner? When you identify what sets you apart, you can really begin focusing on this when developing your marketing.
4. Treat marketing as the main driver
Marketing is the salon’s megaphone that says, “Here we are. You’ve been searching for us. You found us”. Marketing is a three-pronged approach: it’s composed of special promotions (like Mother’s Day sales), advertising (Facebook ads or radio commercials), and communication (the language, style, and method in how you win customers through your marketing channels).
5. Carry exclusive products
Along with your niche, think of products as a way to further set your salon apart. It’s not difficult to find salons that carry L’Oreal or OPI. What are brands that could amaze your customers in their quality, but that are also a bit more difficult to source? This is one way to have returning customers (in addition to offering them great service). This also will be another source of revenue as you sell exclusive products.
6. Focus on long-term relationships through service
Building a salon with an excellent reputation takes time—and yet, with one act, can be destroyed through a negative customer experience. When facing a concerned customer, think of ways to work with them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Think of how this could play out in the long-term. By giving them a free haircut because a team member made a mistake shows a customer you emphasize and care about them. If a customer is being rude and disturbing others, be sure to gently correct them. If they proceed, ask them to leave. Loyalty goes beyond customer service. Think of fostering long-term relationships with your team. Stand up for your team if a customer is not treating them well. Be a strategic planner in personal interactions.
7. Mission before money
Your business will manifest its principles, for better or worse. Not the principles that are written down on paper in pretty calligraphy, but the every day values you work and have team members work with. Think deeply about the type of atmosphere you wish to create in your salon. Think of the personalities you want as team members. Chose how you wish to behave when economies crash, when team members are disloyal, when customers are difficult…chose the reputation you wish your salon grows by.
8. Make a long-term plan
Even in the beginning of owning a salon, what’s your long term plan with the salon? Do you hope to sell it? Do you plan to pass it down to another family member? What’s your exit strategy? Write down your plan and then reverse plan from there. If you plan on bequeathing it to a family member, how involved will they be? What tasks or obligations will they performa on a daily basis, if any? If you plan to sell, do you have particular company in mind? Do you know someone already there? If not, begin planning on how you can network with salon buyers. By planning the exit strategy, your daily and quarterly performance can be held accountable to the long-term plan, making you a smarter business owner.
9. Make your company sustainable without you
A smart company means not everything is contingent on you. Create a salon where it can be self-sufficient without your involvement. You will be needed, but not necessarily relied upon for the function of the salon. Every day operations can happen without you. Stylists are given autonomy to organize themselves and their schedules. You are not caught having to play negotiator between feuding team members or the person that has to constantly order supplies. Create positions and responsible for each team members so operations can run smoothly.
10. Foster a learning workplace
When operations runs seamlessly, it becomes a calmer place to work. In the beauty industry, especially in salons, it can move at a frenzy, stressful pace. Make your salon a great place for stylists and other team members. You do this through following values, organization, and offering opportunities. Give employees autonomy. Offer workshops at your salon so team members can sharpen their skills. By creating a sincere workplace, you will also be creating a place where others want to work—a competitive advantage in the talent search.
11. Organize your business
To keep yourself and your team members in a happy place, organize everything. From schedules, designating team leaders, supplier deliveries, to who is managing social media. Focus on the obligatory tasks: from taxes, supplies, to clean up. Then, work on the “who” behind it. Who will be doing salon taxes, checking inventory, and cleaning up after hours. Thereafter you can build a schedule for yourself and for your team.
12. Leverage tech to automate and save time
This is the single most important and easiest thing to do to grow your business. Automate when suppliers drop off new batches of products. Automate invoices and team member salaries. Most importantly, automate the customer experience. People will choose the salon that is easier to use online. We’re biased, but we support thousands of clients in making running their online booking services seamless. This makes a world of difference—between booking and a losing a customer.
13. Design due to team members personalities
When hiring or coordinating existing team members, think of personalities and goals. What are each member’s personal or professional goals? What are their personalities and strengths? Design salon structure on these principles. Maybe one stylist enjoys the administration side of running a salon. Another may have a professional interest in managing social media. Work with personalities and team members to find their areas of growth and interest.
14. Structured, standing meetings
Meetings are essential. But plenty of things mentioned in a meeting are not. Create an agenda and a time frame when the meeting should take place. Be careful not to go over time. By respecting the meeting’s time, it shows you value your time and running a business. This will translate to your employees in understanding that time is treated carefully at their place of work. Ask your employees to prepare accordingly, if they have any news to share on. Standing meetings are great way to ensure a meeting does not drag on incessantly.
15. Set aside time for one-on-one meetings with staff
Part of creating a healthy workplace is investing time with each member of staff. Schedule regular one-on-one meeting with staff on a quarterly basis. This can involve a performance review, but should also focus strongly on their own professional goals and see how you can work together to help them. This gesture shows employees your serious about their professional ambitions, creating loyalty. Additionally, you gain insight from employees about social dynamics, concerns, or questions they may not feel comfortable raising with others around.
16. Offer discounts strategically
Discounts can be great for a quick cash infusion, but it’s bad financial strategy to rely on them as a pillar of business strategy. Many salons make the mistake of relying on them too heavily to attract customers. Instead create discounts that make sense and do work for you. Think of them as tools to reward your most loyal customers. Think of discounts in other ways: bundles salon services together for one rate. Or create a “Bring a Friend” program, where the existing and new customer receive a discount. Or bring in a neighborhood business and offer a joint discount on products or services.
17. Focus on the online booking experience
It’s 2018. Your salon, if not already, needs to be online. Your customer experience online needs to be just as excellent as if a customer was sitting in your shop. Create a website that is attractive, easy to use, and where an online booking form is front-and-center. Online booking needs to be a joyful experience, where a customer feels confident they can do it from their desktop and their mobile with only few clicks. If it’s a frustrating or long-winded experience (too many steps or too many boxes to fill), you risk losing to another salon. (Psst—Shore handles thousands of online booking transactions for small businesses to giant corporations; we make the experience seamless).
Ask for and promote testimonials on social channels
Testimonials are big drivers for selling. Think of Amazon Reviews. Before plunking down money, who doesn’t want to read about others’ experiences with the product? Depending, a person can be ready to click “Buy” or quickly realize to move on. Reign in customers with positive customer testimonials on your social media and on your website. Show Before and After pictures of happy customers on Facebook. Use Instagram Stories and tag customers that love their new nails. Get quotes and plaster them on your website. Testimonials add credibility and trust to your salon. Be sure to utilize this approach.
19. Say “Thank You” with a card
Since you’re a long-term-thinking business owner, plan out unusual ways to show you appreciate customers and team members. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it can be as simple as a “thank you” card. If a client is expecting a baby, think of sending over a “Congratulations” card. If you don’t have an address, think of looking them up in the phone book or even on their next appointment. For team members, birthday cards are another way to show your appreciation and care for them. Loyalty begins with viewing clients and employees as human being that deserve a bit of special attention now and then.
20. Connect with other local businesses through social media
Being a small business owner means you’re part of a community. Get to know your community. Be involved. Local businesses have a way in banding together to support one another. By plugging in, you’ll be able to gain and give support. From discussing new zoning policies, tax initiatives, or promotions, you’ll have more resources to learn from. Working with your neighbors can be another way to grow and connect with customers. If your neighboring business is a florist and you do manicures and pedicures, offer Valentine’s promotions or Mother’s Day specials. Find businesses on social media. Don’t talk about your services or post things about your business. Compliment what they’re doing. Talk about their goals. Pop in for a visit an introduce yourself. You can make key business contacts this way. They may have a customer who is looking for a haircut or a manicure; now, they personally know someone in the neighborhood who they can refer that person to.
21. Monitor and reflect
Like the saying goes, “You can manage only what you measure”. Measure key business aspects like client performance (how many new clients gained, thte number of returning customers, the average invoice amount, what kinds of products purchased etc.). Keep an eye on your online presence. Monitor web performance, how many bookings through site, how many sign ups or the number of e-newsletters opened. If you do marketing online, plug in Google Analytics to track marketing performance, the bounce rates on your website or the audience reach from your Facebook ads. Track progress and change strategy if necessary.
At Shore, we streamline the entire process of managing a business.
From smart appointment booking, digital customer management, and equipping you with marketing tools for customer retention, think of us as your personal assistant in running your company.