Back In The Black ...and How to Get Thereby Victoria Thomas
Renee Shakour, Executive Vice President, Essential Salon Products, Leadership Council / PBA
Hairdressers like to say that our profession is recession-proof. But the truth is, we’re all feeling the cold, economically speaking, even though summer is right around the corner. How to turn up the heat on that bottom line? Retail, retail, retail.
Professional services require skill, training and artistry. These creative aspects of our business, quite understandably, are where a stylist’s most heartfelt values, not to mention a healthy helping of ego, typically rest. But here’s the thing: services are down. Clients are asking for single-process color instead of complex dimensions. And, the unimaginable is happening all over America: former salon regulars are going DIY and coloring straight out of the box.
According to “BUSINESS OF BEAUTY: MAXIMIZE YOUR PROFITABILITY”, the landmark PBA study released in the summer of 2009 on industry profitability, salon profitability is in decline, and will continue to decline, because an astonishing 71% of customers are never offered a product recommendation by their stylist. In these cases, retail is an afterthought, and a retail opportunity of approximately $1 billion walks out the door each year, industry- wide, simply because hairdressers don’t effectively offer their expertise in product selection for the home-care regimen.
This breathtaking stat was uncovered through PBA’s survey of more than 1,000 consumers nationwide.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means that, after a service, whether as routine as a fringefreshener or a complex color-service, close to three-quarters of our customers walk out to their cars empty-handed, without purchasing your salon’s sulfate-free shampoo which will keep their red radiant, or the high-tech conditioner which will shield their blonde from UV-damage, or any of the array of advanced modeling mud and styling serums which impart red carpet control and glamour to their coifs. What do they do next? They jump into their cars and drive off to purchase those products, or products which they perceive to be comparable, elsewhere.
This decision usually isn’t made on the basis of price. If your team says this is why the salon brand isn’t selling, they’re copping out! In most cases, the client simply is not made aware of the products available right there in your salon which offer optimum results for their hair. This is an instance of “Don’t ask, don’t tell!” at its worst!
A decade ago, professional-quality products were available only in the salon. But today, the massmarket venues, including even drug stores and supermarkets, have upgraded their offerings.
Whatever these products may lack in quality or exclusivity, they compensate in terms of aggressive marketing and accessibility.
Here’s the bottom line: unless you take control of your retail, you have surrendered control of your business.
The PBA study and its participants offers this eight-step process as the method for driving higher retail sales: And here’s the best news of all: clients ENJOY receiving professional recommendations. They VALUE your expertise and prescriptive selling, especially when the results are more vibrant, gorgeous hair. They SEEK your guidance. Thus, good retailing leads to a big bump in client loyalty and cements the bond with your customers- making our beauty biz truly a thing of beauty!
Do yourself and your salon a favor as the summer season begins: visit www. probeautyorg/businesstools/research — the study is available for purchase, and provides insight on how owners and stylists can maximize their retail profitability. And this modest investment will do far more for your bottom line than a new Feng Shui fountain or a new couch in the waiting room.
EIGHT STEPS TOWARDS RETAIL EXCELLENCE:
STEP 1 — Establish a clear commitment to retail that is integrated with the overall salon philosophy and culture. Retail cannot be an afterthought; it needs to be woven into the fabric of the salon’s raison d’etre — its reason for being.
STEP 2 — Focus on retail education and training. It is an often over-looked part of a stylist’s education. Well-trained and confident stylists produce better results.
STEP 3 — Make a recommendation. Create an integrated, consistent process throughout the salon experience that ends in a definitive recommendation of products.
STEP 4 — Have strong merchandising of retail products. Create a dedicated space for retail products that presents the merchandise like a best in class retailer. This means attractive displays, effective lighting and product that is merchandised and communicated by key benefits to the consumer.
STEP 5 — Offer Strategic Selections. Carefully select the products that go into the salon so that they are consistent with the brand and target customer, offer clear trade-ups and are limited enough that employees can be well educated on their key benefits.
STEP 6 — Be Creative with Promotions. Develop a long-term promotional calendar that determines how your salon will promote throughout the year.
STEP 7 — Align Incentives. Align incentives so that every employee is working towards a common goal. Integrate retail and services together and set team goals.
STEP 8 — Measure, Measure, Measure. Know the details of the retail business intimately so that salons can gauge their levels of success.