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A Practical Guide for Salon Owners to Prosper in Today’s Economy

In my last installment, “Today’s Tough Economy: Crisis…or Opportunity?”, I discussed the importance of maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity. And our industry certainly has its share of adversities today! From price and commission wars to staff pirating and high turnover, from problems with booth rental to finding the marketing dollars to keep the clients coming in and your hairstylists loyal…. And this doesn’t even begin to speak of the state of our current economy! It’s no wonder salons are closing their doors at unprecedented levels today. And many of those salons that are staying afloat are struggling under all the pressures of today’s environment.

After my last article, I was contacted by numerous salon owners, many of whom I’ve had the opportunity to meet or speak to over the years, with stories of their personal struggles. The one common element in my conversation with virtually everyone went along these lines: “Jon, I know you said all this adversity is really an opportunity for those of us with tenacity and right attitude. But how do I really do that? What can I specifically do to not just stay afloat, but prosper again?”

Hairdresser Career Development Systems is your partner in helping you meet these challenges and opportunities with confidence.

Despite all the doom and gloom and numerous challenges facing salon owners today, there are those that not only make it through bad times but thrive! If you are a savvy salon owner committed to excellence, you will never lack for business. Let me put it another way: if you truly want to succeed, you will. It’s really that simple.

Believe it or not, our profession is a recession proof business, once you create a demand for your services. Yes, you may have dozens or even hundreds of competing salons in your geographic area, but ask yourself how many are really prospering? Which of your competitors always have their booths full with quality stylists and clients in the seats?

Take a look around at your competitive landscape, and determine those salons that are really achieving the level of success you would like to. I bet you discover that less than 5% of your ‘competitors’ are doing the kind of business YOU know you can! So there, now you have just cut your competition down by 95%! Sometimes, just removing that negative mindset is enough to set you free to start reaching your real potential.

You have also done something else by isolating your ‘real’, successful competitors; you have found yourself a benchmark, or mentor to emulate and/or learn from. What is it they are doing that you aren’t? What kind of marketing and advertising do they do? What kind of relationship do they have with their stylists? This information isn’t difficult to find out. Now take from it and implement those successful actions yourself!

I don’t mean copy or steal from your competition, but learn from them. Find their successful actions and make them your own. Implement them into your own unique business. You’d be surprised, it’s often the most simple things that make the biggest difference, not a great location or huge marketing budget.

By the way, you should also similarly look at those salons that are NOT succeeding, or struggling to keep their doors open. Often, learning from others’ mistakes and avoiding those pitfalls is more beneficial than following the leaders!

The sky is the limit, no matter what the current state of the economy. Believe in that and you will soon be in that 5%.

Here are some other tips to prospering in a tough economy:

  • Seek out self improvement through knowledge and education. This is probably the most important thing you can do. The best of the best, no matter what profession they are in, are always trying to better themselves through new knowledge and education. Knowledge is power; it will renew your passion to keep getting better. The more you learn, the more you earn!
  • Develop a winning and positive attitude towards your personal life as well as your business. Being a happier person in general will make you more positive and passionate in every aspect of your life, including your business.
  • Excel at customer service and exceed client expectations. Create a customer service mission statement or protocol for your salon, and demand that your stylists follow it, whether they are employees or rent your space.  If they don’t, you don’t want them representing your business.
  • Seek out feedback from your customers. Many customers would be happy to fill out a brief questionnaire to let you know their experience and what they think you could be doing better.  Never take criticism personally, but do take it to heart and change those things you are hearing consistently could be improved upon. Remember, the customer is always right!
  • Develop a marketing mentality. This is critical also! And it doesn’t need to take the form of spending huge dollars on ad campaigns either. Remember, this is a referral / word-of-mouth based industry. Every person you come across, not just in your salon, but in the grocery store, your church, your children’s school… everyone is a potential customer. Toot your own horn! Keep first-time customer discount cards with you at all times. Little measures like that can go a huge way.
  • Sell more salon services to your regular customers. Bundle services together to encourage upsell. Hold competitions for most product sales or other services amongst your stylists. Consider adding new services that your top competitors are doing or your top stylists are skilled at, and make sure to get the word out there!
  • Ask for referrals! As Gandhi said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” It never ceases to amaze me how many salon owners and managers do not ask for referrals, or teach their stylists how to either! This is the LIFEBLOOD of our business. It doesn’t have to be in-your-face measures either. Make sure each customer leaving your doors is given at least two business cards and maybe a discount card too. Offer them a free service for referring a family member or friend. Or here’s a great little script to use on your regulars: “Joan, I need your advice. I’m growing my business, and I want to have more wonderful clients just like you. If you were me, how would you do that?” This makes your client a trusted confidante and equal you are asking for advice (not referrals!) from – I guarantee you, you will be amazed at the kind of response you get. They may offer you family or friends’ names on the spot, or the other women in their bridge club. They might give you ideas of ways to prospect you never thought of!
  • Duplicate your best, most loyal clients. This goes along with the bullet above, but with a slightly different twist. It’s a fact that people similar in personality, socio-economic status, etc tend to attract and hang around with other people like them. Find out who your best clients hang out with! Where do they go for fun? What kind of groups do they belong to? Do they live in a particular neighborhood or part of town? Instead of marketing to the masses, specialize your marketing efforts to these circles.

If you take on and really work at just a few of the tips above, I guarantee you will see your business increase, and guess what? Success just breeds more success, even in a down economy!

If you are truly motivated, check out my complete salon management book and resources series (click here for more information now)! If you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up for my quarterly FREE newsletter also at, I also strongly urge you to consider joining me at my next Strictly Business Seminar coming to your area soon! In one day you’ll learn enough to transform your business and double your profits! Click here for a complete upcoming calendar.

Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game. Then you have to play better than anyone else.”

I challenge you this month to go out and give it you’re A-game. Watch the rewards come rolling in and soon you will be in that 5% tier of recession-proof salon owners prospering no matter what!

0 Responses to A Practical Guide for Salon Owners to Prosper in Today’s Economy

  1. Allie October 20, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    Great article, fabulous tips too.

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