I love your ideas, and wanted to get your advice on reputation in a salon. I am purchasing a salon that has been under poor management for 4 years. The staff started at 40, now there are about 10 employees. I will change the name and website, but I do not have a lot of capital to start. Where do I focus?
This is a recent email I received and it was incredibly timely. Having just taken over a new salon myself (albeit a lot smaller) I have a similar issue. Luckily we have a brand with years behind it, and an infrastructure to roll-out our working practices but it does highlight the same issue.
I have one major piece of simple advice for your salon, and a few others that may help. Well, when I say simple – they are simple to talk about but harder to implement and can take a while to get moving.
Staff – Your Biggest Asset
Your staff will make or break your salon. That’s why it’s essential to treat them well. Far to many salon owners see staff as a problem and an expensive cost to the business, especially with increasing legislation. But, if you do that, it’s YOU that is creating the problem from the get-go.
Staff not only generate the income for your salon, they also nurture the atmosphere that you (as an owner) create. That means that you plant the seed and your staff help it flourish with your guidance. Take the example above, 40 staff down to 10 – that has to be about atmosphere in the salon. That must have come from the top.
If you take my recent experiences: We walked into a new salon with three members of staff who have never experienced a ‘real’ salon environment. They had always been seen as a means to an end. For the previous owner, it was just as important not to turn the heating on when there were no clients in, or to close up early (unpaid) if there were no bookings with no notice.
Your job as a salon owner is to develop the environment that encourages a great atmosphere – not to the detriment of hard work; but one that fosters a brighter, happier workforce.
Word-of-mouth alone will have a huge impact.
Weed Out The Trouble
If you have inherited a team that is not happy, there may be a good chance that one or more of the staff is actually never going to work out. Get rid of them. Do your research, have chats with every member of staff (and clients if you can) and then take the necessary action to get rid of the lazy, trouble-makers.
In my experience, one member of the team can bring down the entire salon if you are not careful. It’s hard, may cause anguish at the time, but ultimately you probably have a lot at risk personally owning your salon, so take decisive action… don’t let it run on and on. And don’t let your staff run you.
Back To Basics
Let your staff guide you and take their advice – you will probably quickly suss out the ones that are your ‘gems’. Create the right environment and take time to educate everyone in the business on your dreams and how to do things your way. Have training sessions – invest in your people.
I’m not talking about wages, I’m talking about making your staff feel wanted. Running a salon involves a lot of ego stroking and money is never the number one thing for people in salons – no matter how much they say it might be.
Be encouraging, supportive and treat them like you are their parent. Most people in business at this level are just looking for recognition. (see Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs which is cited a lot by workplace HR teams.)
Show Your Current Clients Some Love
Short-term – you need to make sales. Long-term you can focus on the type of clients you’d like to attract. For me, the main focus on any salon (at any time) is retention – keeping the clients you have. Get your people re-booking (here’s a downloadable book about salon re-bookings I wrote that may help).
Promote New Ownership
Take time to shout about the fact that things have changed. On our very first day in our newest salon, we had people coming in asking what we were doing and when we explained we’d taken over, they preceded to tell us how bad the salon was. Perversely it creates a sales opportunity:
Give us a month to settle in then come back in and give us another try. Here’s a £5 voucher to give you a reason.
Word travels – both negative things and positive. Get involved with your local community and reach out to let people know that things have changed. If you have therapists / hairdressers who aren’t busy, do offers to encourage people in.
Give people a reason to come through the door. Then make sure they are impressed enough to come back. That simple up-front offer could create a regular client.
These things take time to evolve, but they cost nothing (but your time) and they create a much stronger and more sustainable route to growth for your salon above and beyond advertising.
Quick Wins Online
If you have a new website, run a Google Adwords Campaign that promotes the fact that you are now owned by new people. Maybe a starter offer? It’s fast and can be very cost-effective (but stay niche).
Eg. sponsor keywords like “hair salon offers yourtown” and focus your reach only on people in the town.
Finally, no pressure…. But, the pressure is on you. You had the confidence to buy your business and the confidence to know you can make a success of it. Now take control and do it!
Learn, try new things, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, evolve and streamline your operation.
Make your business better than the competition in service, remain competitive on price and let your business do the marketing for itself. And don’t forget… Create and nurture an amazing team!