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Whether you’re an owner or stylist in a large salon, or an independent artist in a small space, retailing can and should be part of your culture and your business plan, says former President of the L’Oréal Professional Products Division Pat Parenty. Having had the opportunity to work with many salons around the world for many years, Parenty offers these insights into retailing success.
Include retail in your key performance indicators
“I’ve looked at many salon profit and loss statements,” says Parenty, “And when you do, you see salon margins are tight. If expenses get out of line, you won’t make money. So find a software or a company that will help you identify and measure key indicators—like client rebooking, service revenue—that will provide you with an operating model that works.” Retail should definitely be one of those indicators, Parenty adds. If you’re running a salon, set goals around those indicators with each stylist, and measure them frequently to stay on track. If you’re a solo artist, sit down and set realistic financial goals for yourself, based on your expenses.
Make retail part of the service, not a sale
Salon services are holistic journeys, advises Parenty, not just a moment in time. You’re always talking about your client’s hair, what’s new, what you’ll be doing during the next visit or next season. The products used to support your work should always be part of those conversations. For example, “Next time you come in, summer will be over, so let’s plan to trim your ends and I’ll show you a really good conditioning mask that will help with that sun damage.” One tip: if you recommend a product, be sure you have it on hand. For solo artists with limited space, that means curating your product selection carefully for the space you have and recommending only what you carry.
Start by asking
Input on products comes into your clients’ awareness from many directions—friends, social media, bloggers, etc. What’s more, purchasing options are vast. One can find beauty products everywhere from Walmart or Marshalls to Amazon and Target. So why would they buy from you? Admittedly, they won’t all the time, says Parenty. But if you talk about products, educate the client on the items you use to support her hairstyle and ask if she’s interested in purchasing when she’s in your chair, you raise the odds that some will buy from you. If you don’t ask, your chances of meeting your retail goals drop to zero.
More and more salons and solo artists have become accustomed to using Instagram as an online portfolio to showcase their work. How about integrating your favorite products into those online looks? None of your hairstyles are created or maintained without a texturizing spray, matte paste, hairspray, etc., so offer full disclosure by educating your followers on the items that support your work.
Think like your customer
What drives your purchasing decisions? Are you motivated by price? Convenience? Impulse? Keep in mind the same things influence your clients and can be adapted to your salon business. Consider frequent buyer programs, for example. How satisfying is it when you see all the dots punched on your coffee shop card, indicating you get a free latte? “It’s easy to do frequency programs in the salon,” says Parenty. “All you need is a card.”