A Game-Changing Remodel: Go Beyond Going Paperless

Today’s trendiest salons are always looking for new and innovative ways to up their game. For some salon owners, this has been about efforts to open a new location or grow in size, but for many of you this involves becoming more efficient in your current setting. Salon owner and industry expert Stacey Coronado has some advice for the latter.

Stacey has been in the beauty industry for sixteen years. She’s a master stylist, salon owner, and educator. She started her career by joining Sexy Hair right out of beauty school and eventually grew into her own by partnering with Aveda and opening her own salon, 20 Volume. Among Stacey’s many accomplishments she has created and mastered her own new talent training program and she is recognized as a true industry disruptor with her many groundbreaking ideas for salon-wide improvements.  

One of Stacey’s biggest, new-age ideas is that of her revolutionary salon remodel. Her salon, 20 Volume, is a paperless salon—which likely has many of you saying, “Sure, I could go paperless.” But Stacey took this business-wide renovation one step further by going completely desk-less. With her expert industry insight, Stacey will walk you through how she managed to pull off this impressive transformation, and how it has been a game changer for her salons ever since. 


Doing Something Different.

In 2009 Stacey bought a salon location that had just gone out of business, and decided to open up her own Aveda Concept Salon. She did the bare minimum, painted the walls and bought new chairs, in order to open herself up to new clients. Stacey was very successful in her first location, and Aveda noticed her rapid growth and quickly made her a Lifestyle Salon, meaning 20 Volume became co-branded with Aveda, a national salon brand with greater recognition. 

Fast forward to 2017, Stacey and her husband purchase their second location and Stacey decides they need to do something different. She envisioned a desk-less salon in which clients could simply walk through the front doors and be greeted right away. 

Stacey wanted her guests to feel connected from the moment they walked in, which is something many salons are struggling to perfect right now. She was inspired by the Apple Store’s open concept and wanted to imbue her salon with a similar exposed and welcoming aesthetic. 

With the common salon layout guests are required to make the first move—they don’t know where to go and there’s no one there to greet them, so they make their way to the desk to seek help or check-in. Stacey wanted to take the guessing game out of the equation, and the easiest way to do it? Go desk-less!


No Desk. No Problem.

In Stacey’s salon, her clients are always in good hands. Upon arrival, her guests are greeted by the stylists, invited for a tour of the space, offered a beverage of their choice—and if their stylist still needs a little more time—guests are then escorted to a small waiting area. 

Stacey believes that it’s more about the retail connection, and like all salon owners, she wants to keep her clients, so she aims to keep them engaged throughout the entirety of their visit. Even her waiting area is an engaging space— a communal table where her guests can sit down with one another and be treated to hand rituals, aroma therapy sessions, anything to keep them from feeling ignored. 

More Receptive Without A Receptionist.

No desk means no desktop computer, which is often the biggest hurdle salon owners have to overcome when attempting to go desk-less. Stacey has found her way around having a receptionist by keeping things portable. Her stylists are always on the move, so the technology must mesh accordingly.  

Stacey says the secret to her success is stashing tablets at each station. She does admit to providing one PC, which has a more permanent home at the community table, but she tries to use it as little as possible. While technology is great, there will always be hiccups, but at 20 Volume Stacey focuses on trying to make the salon experience as seamless as she can.

Quick Tip: Doing away with the receptionist doesn’t mean you can operate without phones! If you’re considering going desk-less you’ll need to create another space for receiving phone calls, and even more importantly, you’ll have to get the whole team on board because everyone will share in the responsibility of answering the salon’s incoming calls. It’s all about teamwork!

Stacey proudly makes note of just how receptive her clients have truly been to all of the changes she’s made to the salon. Her guests are loving the team-oriented atmosphere and they’re excited by her many innovative ideas for improving the overall salon experience. She prides herself on her new desk-less model and it’s evident that she has made her mark in the industry.

At 20 Volume, Stacey and her team live by their mission to create an extraordinary experience for every guest, every time. Whether that means completely abolishing your front desk, or simply focusing more energy on greeting and engaging your clients, Stacey says that as long as you treat each guest like it’s their first time in your salon, you’ll keep them coming back. 

To learn more about Stacey Coronado and her many salon innovations, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 131, or subscribe to podcast!  And be sure to check out her salon website to view her desk-less space and get a feel for this new-age open concept idea.  

Emily Kelly
The Best Salon Marketing Tool You Haven’t Tried
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When you were in beauty school or just starting your career, how were you taught to build your clientele? Do any of these sound familiar: word of mouth, handing out business cards, talking to your friends, advertising in the newspaper, offering free services or discounts, posting pictures on Facebook, etc.? Well, I’m here to tell you that there is a better, more effective, and more innovative way to build your clientele with Meet Your Stylist!

Time for an Update

Just like hairstyles, marketing techniques change and need to be updated as technology improves and new information is learned about your clientele. As stylists, we take pride in continuing to update our hair coloring and cutting techniques, and we should take the same approach to our marketing strategies. We certainly wouldn’t give a client a haircut from the 90’s, so we shouldn’t use marketing plans from the last two decades, either!

If that isn’t a good enough reason for you to consider a new marketing strategy, think about this –  only 30 percent of new hair clients will come back a second time. That’s right, out of every ten new clients who you see, only three of them will come back. Now, think about all the effort that you’re putting into attracting just three new clients. Chances are that your return on investment (ROI) isn’t that great! This is exactly why you need to try a new strategy, and Meet Your Stylist is the perfect solution!

How Does It Work?

Meet Your Stylist is a smart survey that matches clients with stylists at your salon who are the best fit for them! The Meet Your Stylist survey lives on your salon’s website, clients fill out the short survey, and they are matched with three stylists at your salon who are the best fit for them based on their personality, lifestyle, and relationship preferences. The real secret to Meet Your Stylist’s success is that you—the stylist—choose the clients who you do your best work with, and those are the clients who you will be matched with!

Remember how low the new client retention rate is, just 30 percent. Well, the surest way to improve that number is to ensure your clients have a fabulous first visit, and this goes beyond receiving a great haircut. Clients need to have a connection with their hairstylist; after all, we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The only marketing tool that offers this type of individualized connection is Meet Your Stylist! Think about how your business would change if every client who sat in your chair was a great fit for you, and you instantly clicked! I’m sure you would love coming to work every day and your books would be packed!

I could go on and on about all the benefits of becoming a Meet Your Stylist salon, but I encourage you to check it out for yourself! To learn even more about this tool, visit meetyourstylist.com and request a demo. There is a reason Meet Your Stylist won Best Marketing Campaign of 2017; you don’t want to be the last salon in your area to sign up for Meet Your Stylist, so sign up today!  

Emily Kelly
How to Lessen Your Time Behind the Chair

As a salon owner, you wear many hats to ensure your business stays afloat. In the beginning stages, you are your salon’s head stylist, receptionist, human resources director and much, much more. So it’s no surprise that it can be easy to keep those habits as your business begins to grow and you expand your staff and clientele. However, what many salon owners don’t realize is in order to be an effective owner, you have to focus on other aspects of your business beyond the chair. This is what Larissa M., a New Zealand-based salon professional turned online marketing, technology, and software development guru, wants to help salon owners across the world realize. And to bring you that great advice to help you lessen your time behind the chair, we asked Larissa to join our podcast to share her wisdom!  

After years of working in the online marketing and technology world, in addition to working and owning a salon over the course of 20 years, Larissa saw a need to assist salon owners with stepping away from what they believe to be their main source of income, and focus on other ways to ensure their companies are profitable. Larissa does this both as a freedom and profit coach and as a creator of Salon Bot Messenger Marketing. Salon Bot was created by Salon Owners Collective and helps salon owners do the necessary work to grow a brand such as finding new clients and using marketing strategies to further grow their salons. Larissa’s brainchild helps salon owners find out what they want their business to look like in the future and also helps them live more well-rounded lives.


Figuring Out the “Why”

Larissa believes the first step for any salon owner to step away from their salon chair is to remind themselves why they wanted to be a salon owner in the first place. She believes it’s important for salon owners to step away for a little bit by taking a walk, going away for a weekend, or taking the day off to remember why they own a salon and are not working for someone else. Once the salon owner finds that answer, Larissa believes that the reason they started a business was so that they would not have to work the longest or hardest, but instead could delegate to a team. Look forward to five, ten, or even 15 years down the line for your business and write down in a journal what you would like your life to be like by then. These entries can include the personal needs for you to remain sane (like spending time with family, having alone time at work, etc.) while also deciding what steps you need to take to become a better owner, such as deciding how often you can physically be behind the chair versus focusing on other parts of the salon. Being specific about where you want to be is important because you can’t get to where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’re going! Putting yourself first is also important in this industry to ensure you don’t run out of energy and can be good for everyone else. 


Define Your Freedom

One benefit of owning a salon should eventually be having time each day to be free of the demands of your company. Larissa believes that defining what your freedom will be is the first step in demanding you achieve it. She also advices that once you have defined your freedom, the next step to ensuring you receive that freedom is to bring in more people. To achieve this, you have to be clear about who will be on your team and what role they will play. Larissa advises salon owners who are serious about finding these people to close their books to new clients. By choosing to not take on new clients, salon owners can create the space to further grow the team. Taking a step back and making your team the client will help you in the long run because your team’s success will create even more success for your salon. Closing your book will also create  necessary time blocks that you can use to focus on income-generating activities. 

Know Your Business Model and Numbers

While many salon owners are open to having time to focus on other parts of their business and personal life, Larissa says what holds a lot of owners back is the fear of not having enough money once they step away from the floor – especially if they are the highest earners. Larissa believes the way to combat this is by first knowing what brings in money to your salon and working with an accountant to make sure it keeps happening. While this can vary by the salon, working with an accountant to see what you need to do specifically to not lose income will be the best way to find new strategies for growth. 

Do the Work

After finding out exactly what needs to be done for you to earn the freedom you want, you have to put in the work to actually grow your business and become the owner you want to be. Larissa believes the first thing an owner should focus on is online marketing, with a strong emphasis on social media. Rather than just showing the “before” and “after” of a look on social media, having depth and showing your audience exactly who you are as a salon is a key step to growing your social media platforms. Larissa also suggests taking advantage of popular apps like Facebook Messenger to book clients. With Facebook Messenger, clients are having direct engagement with the salon and feel as if they know them on a more personal level, which is important for new clients. Another important thing to do in the free time you will create for yourself, is to hold meetings with your team. By acting as your team’s coach, you can guide them to what needs to be done for them to attract new clients. This can include the language to use to rebook with a client, and also how to upsell to clients. Larissa thinks going over the Code of Conduct you have in place for clients will also help your team understand your business goals and plans you’ve written down. By showing your team how you would like things to run, you are creating more space to not have to do these actions by yourself. 

You are more than qualified to have your business run in a way that doesn’t require you to do everything. The main thing holding a lot of us back from what we want is the fear of taking the next step. Larissa believes the first step to getting rid of that doubt is to feel the fear, trust yourself and do it anyway!

To listen to the full podcast that inspired this episode, listen to episode 136. And if you like what you hear, make sure to subscribe to the podcast and sign up for our email list. 

Emily Kelly
 How to Stay Humble When You’re Tempted to Be Otherwise
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In the salon industry, having a passion for what you do is only half of the requirement to become successful in your field. You also need to become good at what you’re doing and hone in on your skills and techniques. Once you learn those skills, though, you will find yourself building clientele and finding new ways to grow your business and career. When you begin to reach the levels you want, sometimes it can be tempting to be arrogant or conceited about your accomplishments and any accolades you’ve received throughout your career. This temptation will drive clients (and possibly your employees) away if it goes too far.  It is imperative to your business and work environment to remain humble. 

For episode 135 of the Beyond The Technique podcast, we brought back Abigail and Sierra, co-owners of the Boulevard Hair Company in St. Louis, Missouri. Boulevard Hair Company was named the top salon in Salon Today in 2017. The salon currently has over 50 stylists on their team and are both experts on growing a salon team.  Abigail and Sierra discussed the importance of being humble in all areas of the salon industry and how we can learn from each other to be our best selves. 

Understanding What It Means to Be Humble

Being humble is something that is foreign to some people, especially those in high-demanding positions. Sierra believes the key to being humble is not to be arrogant about your work, but instead become modest. It is more than natural to put modesty to the side when money, and sometimes fame, go to your head. Instead of letting success go to your head, Sierra believes taking on new opportunities to learn from others and helping colleagues of all levels thrive within their positions is the best way to remain humble. 

Comparing Yourself to Others WILL Drive You Crazy

While learning from others who may be more experienced than you is a great way to learn something new, many stylists will avoid taking that step due to the fear they will not be successful at mastering a new skill set. So often we waste our energy worried about what the person next to us is doing that we don’t focus on improving our skills and our career. In the salon industry, so many of us offer different techniques that’s unique to everyone. Abigail believes that when we start comparing ourselves to others, you start getting down on yourself, which will make you produce work that you’re less than capable of doing. To avoid this, Abigail believes it’s more effective to stand alongside your fellow stylists and ask how they achieved a certain look or technique. Doing this will help you remain positive if you are feeling inadequate to your peers and will also help you stay humble if you are the one being asked for guidance. 

Seek Guidance When You Need It

One of the best aspects of the salon industry is that it’s always changing and expanding as more stylists begin to emerge with new skills. While it can seem embarrassing to ask someone younger or new to the industry for help, it can be used as a teaching moment for both parties and will inevitably help your career. In addition to seeking guidance, not adapting to changes in the industry can be a pitfall for your business in the future. Many stylists who have been in the industry for decades, and have had the same clients for years, may not want to fix what they feel isn’t broken. This can stop them from not trying new color techniques that could better their clients’ looks in the future. Instead of focusing on the status of your position, you should always be looking for ways to learn and grow as a stylist. 

Remaining Humble as a Salon Owner

Boulevard Hair Company’s success is largely in part to Abigail and Sierra having the ability to work together as a team. Abigail said that while many stylists on the team are independent contractors, everyone has always been supportive of each other and wants to see the company continue to grow. She believes in having a strong support system, as well as being able to help others who aren’t in the same position as you. As Abigail found success as an owner of her own salon, and then moving to Boulevard Hair Company and being nominated for the top salon in the nation, it was easy for her to become egotistical about where the company was going. This changed once her family intervened and helped her see she wasn’t better than anyone else who works for her – or with her. Both Sierra and Abigail credit having a strong support system that will humble them if they feel they are in over their heads. Investing in your stylists is also a great way to find what is important to them and have them feel comfortable working for them. 

Words of Affirmation Are Key

In addition to asking for help and finding ways to work with your team, complimenting your team of stylists is always a good way to show that you’re not competing with anyone and aren’t afraid to acknowledge someone’s work. Words of Affirmation is one of the five love languages and is something many people strive for, especially in the workplace. Abigail and Sierra believe that if you compliment someone, they are more likely to compliment someone else down the line, which creates a positive rapport in a salon and keeps clients coming back. 

A Way of Life

Being humble is not just one act or complimenting one person, but is something you practice every day. Abigail believes that if someone is struggling to be humble, they should practice humbling acts until it’s a part of who they are. Being humble is a practice that a salon professional can apply to both their professional and personal lives. It is what helps an individual find the strengths of their fellow stylists and how they can incorporate that into the company. The salon industry is 80 percent people skills and 20 percent technical skills, and remaining humble can largely impact the 80 percent in a positive way. Being open and vulnerable is the best way to grow because it’s what will keep people wanting to work for you in the future and grow your salon. 

To hear more from Abigail and Sierra, check out episode 135 of the podcast. And if you like what you hear, check out episodes 122 and 128 where both Abigail and Sierra drop more gems. 

Emily Kelly
Benefits of Bringing Your Salon Branding In-House

Choosing a salon to service your needs is a bit like online dating. Each possible pick does their best to make a favorable impression by including their favorite photograph of themselves and conjuring up charismatic ‘about me’ pages. You wade through the list of potential contenders until a particular profile catches your eye and the rest is history.

In a similar fashion, potential clients will form their own opinions of your salon before ever seeking out your services. The good news is, in this scenario, you have the opportunity to push your salon’s profile above the others through personal promotion—this is where branding comes in.

Developing your brand strategy can be tricky business. You can hire outside help and bring in a consulting agency to boost your brand, but at the end of the day nobody knows your business better than you do. Would you want someone else designing your online dating profile? Probably not, which is why nothing beats building your brand in-house.

There are few more passionate about in-house promotion than the dynamic marketing duo that is Jordan Becker and Amy Pirro, of Interlocks Salon and Medspa. Jordan is the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Interlocks. She’s been with the company for over seven years and has had a helping hand in all of the rebranding they’ve done in the past. Amy is the Graphic Designer and Media Coordinator for Interlocks and her role continues to evolve as the salon puts more emphasis on perfecting their marketing scheme. Amy is primarily responsible for keeping the Interlocks brand cohesive across all of their various marketing platforms. These two clever ladies have come together to give you their best advice for bringing your branding in-house so that you can land all of the hottest dates—I mean, clients.  

Consistency is Key

The biggest mistake business owners make when branding their company is coming up just short of cohesive. If you want to achieve greater brand recognition, consistency across all platforms is absolutely crucial. One of the things that makes the Interlocks brand so perceptible is the harmony they’ve achieved across their many marketing platforms.

Jordan and Amy like to think of their brand as their salon’s identity. If your business were a person, your brand is the personality that brings your business to life. Much like most of you strive to remain true to yourself no matter your setting, at Interlocks, these two savvy women work hard to maintain a consistent brand identity on their social media pages, their salon website and within their physical space.

There are Two Types of Branding

Jordan and Amy recognize two distinct branches of branding their business. For the first branch, you have your branded materials, which include your salon logo, your signage, your service list, and anything else that you consider to be a core component of your salon. For the second branch, you have your promotional content, which ranges across your many marketing platforms and could include physical flyers, promotional posts on social media, email blasts, and really any other pieces of your business that vary with new partnerships and publicity.

Jordan and Amy emphasize the importance of understanding these two branches of branding because you should be approaching them quite differently. While cultivating a cohesive relationship between these two branches is important, your company’s core components require absolute coherence and your promotional content is more about compatibility.

Your logo, signage and service list should consist of the same color scheme, font and format structure. However, your promotional content will evolve with each varying endorsement so you can kind of play around with this propaganda, nevertheless you should always be weaving in aspects of your brand identity to preserve the public perception of your business.

Quick Tip: You can even rebrand promotional content from your partners! Say you’re putting out a promotion on a specific product and the parent company sends you a media kit with their own marketing materials included, don’t be afraid to take these materials and make them your own. Simply adding your own imagery for better brand recognition can encourage loyal customers to partake in your promotion—it’s a win-win for you and your partner.

Day-of Marketing Can Only Be Done In-House

When working with an agency, you have to plan ahead, sometimes months or even years in advance, and you’re required to stick to your schedule regardless of any major disruptions in the industry. For Jordan and Amy, one of the biggest benefits to bringing their branding in-house is that by pushing their own content they can adjust to the latest trends in real-time.

With this kind of flexibility, you can bend to the needs of your clientele without missing a beat.

If you see a gap in one of your services or a spike in the demand for a specific product, you can create the perfect promotion on the spot, launch it that day and receive a rewarding return on it immediately.

By building your brand in-house you have the ability to foster a stronger relationship with your clients. You have more creative freedom and at the end of the day you’re simply more connected to your community.

Re-brand Only When Necessary

Brand recognition is not easily earned, so you shouldn’t rebrand unless you absolutely have to. Of course, some occasions do require rebranding. Interlocks has revised their brand several times over the course of their 30-year lifespan due to changes in trends and the natural ebbs and flows of the beauty industry.

The Interlocks brand has evolved because it has grown. The salon initially opened under the title of a boutique and hair salon. Eventually they moved on to become a salon and day spa, they then re-branded again when they expanded their cosmetic department, and now they’ve transitioned into medspa territory, which required another full-fledged revision.

While rebranding is no small task, it’s wise to be open to the idea because in this industry it’s inevitable and when well-executed, it really pays off.

Put Yourself Out There

The second largest mistake a business owner can make when building on their brand is simply underdoing it. You have to put yourself out there in order to be noticed, so why not give it your all.

So yes, for a salon, branding is a bit more complicated than perfecting an online dating profile, but it’s still best when built by you. Your brand is your identity, it’s everything that your business stands for, and you have to find the best way to communicate that character to your potential clients. You want your brand to reflect your mission and your company’s core values tried and true, which in turn will translate into how your clients differentiate your salon from the thousands of others attempting to do the same.

To learn more about Jordan and Amy and their mindful marketing techniques, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 133. Be sure to also check out the Interlocks Salon website and social media pages to get a feel for what a well-established brand identity looks like across several different platforms.

Emily Kelly
Salon Tip: Start Marketing to Your Stylists
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Today is the day to start marketing to your salon team! What the heck do I mean by that? Marketing to your team means getting in front of them the same way that you get in front of your clients, and it’s crucial to your salon’s success and stylist retention.



Why Market to Your Team?

First, marketing to your team ensures that you’re maintaining a communicative relationship. After all, the key to a great relationship is communication. If you’re a follower of Beyond The Technique, you’ve probably heard me say that a top reason clients will leave you is because they think you won’t notice. Well, the same reasoning holds true for your stylists. By routinely and consistently communicating with your team, you remind them that they’re important to you and it keeps them excited about their career.

A great way to stay in front of your stylists is by sending marketing emails. That’s right, the solution can be as simple as a weekly or monthly email. You can think about the marketing email like an internal newsletter, so you truly have endless amounts of content to include. Here are some great ideas to get started:

  • New hire welcomes

  • Upcoming education opportunities

  • Local networking events

  • Stylist promotions

  • Upcoming salon events or promotions

  • Recognition of team members who’ve been outstanding

  • Positive reviews you’ve received

  • Stylist birthdays or anniversaries

  • Salon policy reminders

Really, there are so many topics that you can include in your newsletter, so get creative! Maybe you’ve recently upgraded some equipment, put that in the newsletter to remind your team that you’re invested in their success. What about asking one of your stylists who recently returned from a workshop to write about the top three things they learned from that experience to share with the rest of the team? Are you getting some ideas?

Marketing to your team with an internal newsletter helps your stylists feel like they are part of the “inner circle,” and that you appreciate their contribution to your salon business. Give it a try and share your success by posting in our private Facebook group. We can’t wait to meet you!


Emily Kelly
Trust: The Key to Retaining Salon Clients 

In the salon industry, client retention is one of the most important factors in running a successful business­ – yet, it's one of the most difficult things to achieve! We've covered ways to increase client retention previously, but what is truly at the core of making a connection with clients? Industry expert and author of the book Leave Your Mark…The Thinking, Skills and Behaviors of Salon InfluencersJay Williams, shares his knowledge on the connection between client retention and trust.

Why is trust important? 

Trust plays a role in all of our day-to-day interactions. According to social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, we inherently evaluate whether we can trust a person or a situation when we  first encounter it. If clients are interacting with you as a stylist and trying to determine whether they can trust you, then trust becomes your most important commodity!

The good news is that you already have a way to measure trust! Metrics like retention, referrals, re-bookings, and reviews are all affected by trust. If your retention rate is 60%, then that means 60% of your clients trust you enough to re-book you, refer you, and even write a great review about you! So, how do you build trust with your clients? The first step towards building trust is understanding what components make up trust.

What does it mean when your clients trust you?

We've established that trust is important, but what makes up the concept of trust? Trust is made up of two things: Character and Competence


1.    Intent: Why do you do the things you do? If you are recommending a retail product to a client, what are your intentions? Are you recommending a product to help them look good and feel good, or simply to gain a sale?

2.    Integrity: Do you do what you say you're going to do? If your client says she wants a hairstyle that is low maintenance and easy to style, do you deliver that hairstyle? 


1.    Capability: Can you do it? What are your skills, licenses, and certifications? How many years of training do you have? 

2.    Results: Have you done it in the past? Are other clients happy with the results of their visits? 

If either character or competence is affected, then trust between the client and stylist is compromised! Oftentimes it can be only too easy to focus on being competent and forget about the character aspect of trust. To build trust with your clients, make sure that you are taking a hard look at your team and ensuring you are consistent in your intentions across all clients. You might judge yourself by your intentions, but your clients will judge you by your actions, so make sure that your actions match your intentions.

What strategies can you use to help build trust with your clients? 

1.    The first important strategy Jay suggests is beginning each sentence with "My intention is." Especially when it comes to retail, it can be very difficult for clients to determine what your intentions are! Are you trying to sell them an overpriced product or do you truly care about equipping them with the right products to help them feel great about themselves? Starting your sentences with "My intentions are" will help clarify your intentions and build trust with your clients. 

2.    Evaluate your trust level with each client. Just as you have a different relationship with each client, your trust level with each client will also differ. For example, if a client is relatively new, it may not be a great idea to offer them a free haircut since they may not trust you at that level. They may, however, trust you enough to come in for a free blowout. Evaluate your trust level with each client and try to extend an offer just past his or her trust level so that you can work on building a stronger foundation of trust. 

3.    Ask for feedback. Talk to your clients! Describe each of the services they received that day and ask them for their thoughts. What would they rate it on a scale from 1 to 10? If they're not comfortable giving feedback in person, could they give their feedback anonymously? Asking for feedback is a great opportunity to get another person's perspective and allows you to gather data that you would not have had solely based on your own experiences.

Understanding how trust is built is the first step towards retaining a client. Becoming aware of your trust level with each client will help shift your thinking and lead to behaviors that will work towards building trust between you and your clients. Check out Episode 130 – Retention = Trust with Industry Expert, Jay Williams the Beyond The Technique podcast to learn more about how you can build trust with your clients and stylist! If you want to hear more from Jay, listen to Episode 122 - his first appearance on Beyond The Technique. 

Emily Kelly
How to Choose a Valuable Education Class as a Hairstylist 

Today’s blog is all about advancing your career and skill set through education. There comes a point in every hairstylist’s career when they need to learn more techniques and enhance their fundamental hairdressing skills. However, with the noise of everything that’s in front of us, from social media to countless internet reviews, it’s hard to siphon all of this information without getting distracted. How do you decide what will give you the best value for your time and money?

I sat down with industry experts, Kenny and Lenore Gibson from the Collectiv Academy,to discuss how to choose a valuable education class. With their knowledge and expertise, you’ll feel much more confident about continuing your education. 

A Little Bit About Kenny and Lenore Gibson

We’ll start with Kenny. Kenny broke into the beauty industry when he was 19 years old. Working in a creative environment appealed to him. As he got deeper into the industry, TONI&GUYcaught his attention with their modern yet relatable looks. Eventually, he got a job with them as an assistant for Lenore (whom he would one day fall in love with) and worked his way up the TONI&GUY ladder. 

Kenny is one of the original TONI&GUY Art Team members. During his impressive career, he traveled worldwide, worked with the likes of Anthony Mascolo and James Morison, and developed the U.S., Fiji, and guy National Art Teams with them. He served as the President of the TONI&GUY Academy Division for ten years and developed in franchise 27 basic academies. 

Lenore got into the industry at the young age of 15. After being in the industry for a few years, she wanted to expand her education. She went to TONI&GUY due to their reputation. As her career grew, she made sure to have education be an integral part of it.

Lenore was the Artistic Director for all of the U.S. TONI&GUY salons. She was the General Manager of TONI&GUY U.S., and she served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Education for the TONI&GUY salon and Academy Divisions. 

Today, the couple owns their own cosmetology, hair, and barber school called Collectiv Academy. At the academy, they offer education to become a licensed hairstylist along with more advanced courses. Their goal is to give their students a solid foundation that will allow them to grow their careers. 

Why Continuing Your Education Is so Important

As styles evolve and you mature as a hairstylist, you’re going to want to acquire a broader skill set. The challenge is, how do you get there? How do you get to becoming better than where you are? The answer is by continuing your education. 

Continuing your education allows you to grow as a hairstylist. Clients will trust you to do more advanced haircuts, and your confidence will grow. Our experts tell new hairstylists to let their confidence show, even if they need to fake it for their first few years out of school. Also, with more education comes more earnings. Really, it’s a win-win situation. 

Although seminars and trade shows are exciting and fun to attend, hands-on experience is what our experts say is the best form of education. Observation is necessary to understand concepts, but hands-on experience is where you really do the learning. You can’t learn how to drive a car by having someone only explain it to you. You have to get behind the wheel.

Roadblocks to Keep in Mind

The two biggest constraints keeping hairstylists from taking education classes are time and money. Oftentimes classes will require you to travel, which may cut into your salon time. Also, it costs money to make money. Though it may be difficult to justify paying for class, it will pay out in the end. Our experts recommend putting aside a portion of your tips to pay for classes. 

Recommendations When Considering Taking a Class

Around five years into your career as a hairstylist, it’s time to assess where you are. Are you happy with what you are earning? Do you have a good amount of clients? Are you confident in your work? Taking additional classes will help you to be able to answer “yes” to all of these questions. 

It’s recommended that hairstylists take a fundamentals class every other year, and during the year in between, they take an advanced or trends class. This way, they aren’t just learning haircuts, they are learning how to truly cut hair. In other words, they are diving deeper into the art and skill of being a stylist. You must be an expert in the basics to do well in more advanced work.

Another recommendation Kenny and Lenore have is to expose yourself to as much as possible on an ongoing basis. Soak in all of the knowledge you can. A wide skill set makes you more appealing to clients.

Finally, don’t put off your education. Even if your pay increases only $5 an hour, that adds up to a lot within a year. 

How to Choose Your Class

  1. It’s best to avoid companies that only want to sponsor their products. You want to focus on learning the technique, not just how to use their product. 
  2. Look at online reviews. What are people saying about the class? What are they getting out of it?
  3. Ask yourself: Is this going to help me be a better hairstylist immediately? Is it going to help me earn more immediately, or is it just something that's exciting? Is this what I'm looking for? 
  4. Choose a school that covers the cutting and coloring trends you’re interested in.
  5. Start off with local education. If the education is worth it, some salon owners may send their stylists to a more extensive course far away. 
  6. Master the art of cutting hair...not just specific haircuts. 

Lenore and Kenny recommend stylists continue reinventing themselves and expanding their craft. If you are interested in enrolling in the Collectiv Academy, keep in mind to book six months in advance. To learn more, visit https://collectivacademy.com/.

If you want to hear the full interview with Lenore and Kenny Gibson, check out episode 125 of the Beyond The Technique podcast. Remember, when it comes to growing as a stylist...fake it till you make it, but have the education to back yourself up! 

Emily Kelly
How to Make Decisions for Your Salon Based on Your Profit & Loss Statement 

Today I want to discuss your salon’s profit and loss statements. Why? Because this topic is essential for us to touch on to keep your salon business up and running! We brought in Kim Light to help consult us on what to look for in our profit and loss statement and how to make the best decisions for our salon based on our numbers. 

Get to Know Kim

Kim is the general manager and shareholder at Urban Betty Salon in Austin, Texas. She also serves as a Summit Salon business and social media consultant. Something a bit more surprising about Kim’s background is that she earned a double major in Geology and Biology to become a vertebrate paleontologist. This is still one of her passions, but she enjoys having the opportunity that the salon industry gives her to touch peoples lives every day. She quickly fell in love with the beauty industry when offered a job as a receptionist for Urban Betty. Kim currently leads a team of 40 service providers and support team members at Urban Betty – a Meet Your Stylist Salon since 2014. 

Bringing in the Money

When looking at your profit and loss statements, a good starting point is figuring out your services to retail. According to Kim, the goal here is to have your services be 80 percent of your income, and retail 20 percent. The 20 percent will ensure that you are paying for the products being used during services and turning a profit. Remember, retail sales impact your salons ability to buy the products needed for services being done. 

Kim recommends commissions to producers, or anyone that provides a service for you such as stylist or nail tech, to be around 40 percent. Retail sales can play a role in this too. Even just a two percent raise in retail can help drop your commission line by one percent to help stay within your budget guidelines. 

So, what’s the biggest difference maker to help with the retail sales? Bring three products up to the checkout at the end. No need to stress about having to be a salesman. Think of it as a transfer of passion. If you believe in your products, then you want your customers to experience the awesome products for themselves. It’s not selling if you are expressing why you like the product.

How to Encourage Support Staff

Your assistants, or associates, should be around two percent of your total sales. How can you get it that low? By having opportunity days. These are days when they bring in family and friends to be their clients. They can get in more practice time, plus the charge for the service can go into paying your associate hourly. 

Pro tip: Utilize your associate. Have them ask clients about add-ons to enhance their experience. Clients might not think of adding an eyebrow shaping or using the essential oils unless they’re asked. 

Members of your support staff, or the front desk, should be five percent of the total sales. This number can stay so low by setting goals for them to achieve raises. Kim suggests having them add on services while on the phone with clients. Another goal she uses is selling a certain number of gift cards each month. With birthdays there is always something to celebrate. If they hit their goals six out of twelve months, that’s enough for a $1 raise. Plus, it takes the decision making on raises out of the managers hands. 

Determining Product Supply Cost

When looking at your profit and loss statement, you will find the cost of goods (COG). This should be 17 percent of what you’re spending each month. Being such a large portion of your spending money makes it extra important to have control of your inventory, so you know exactly what you need to order. 

Pro tip: Order on a budget. Keep track of what you spent last month to ensure you have the right number of products. 

Breaking it down, your professional supplies are seven percent and your retail is 10 percent of your overall income a month. Your break-even point is also key to knowing how much you need to make in your total sales each month to pay for everything in your salon company. Kim suggests taking rent, plus any long-term debt and multiplying it by 10 to determine your break-even point. 

The last big expense to consider is advertising dollars. This should be two percent of your total sales. Traditional advertising isn’t used as much anymore, so turn to social media and post ads there. 

Sales Drivers 

Sales drivers are what help us make our profits. Kim has a couple ideas to help in this area. First, pre-booking or reservations. This helps secure your salons financial future. The more pre-booked appointments, the more income you have guaranteed for the next month. 60 percent should be your target each month to help with retention rates and scheduling. 

Next, look at the percentage of guests doing color. Kim recommends 40 to 50 percent of your clientele are color guests. The reason for this being that they are pre-booking with us and they are going to buy the products to protect their investment. They’ll also send you referrals when they get comments on how great their new color looks! 

Making the Best Decisions

So, after looking at all these things that affect our profit and loss, how do we decide when it’s time to open a second location, invest in new chairs, products or remodeling? Make sure you have it in your budget. Try to spread it over the next couple months so your quarter isn’t overspent. If you aren’t hitting the profit markers needed, you might need to consider hiring more people or opening for more hours. 

There are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to your salon, but remember numbers don’t lie. Look at your profit and loss statement carefully before making any large investments. To listen to the full interview with Kim, head to podcast episode 134. To schedule a consultation with Kim you can email her at Klight@summitsalon.com.

Emily Kelly
Why Your Emotional Intelligence Matters More Than Your I.Q., with Jay Williams
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As salon owners, many of us are creatives first. We hated sitting in class all day and the idea of standardized tests still makes us want to scream in agony. What drives us, though, is the connection we have with our clients as we build rapport and truly get to know them. We are the ones who help them look and feel their best, and our willingness to help them is what motivates them to keep coming back. This week on the blog we are discussing emotional intelligence and why it matters more than your I.Q. in the salon industry. This amazing content comes from a conversation with Jay Williams, a keynote speaker, author, business coach, and former manager who has worked with companies like Paul Mitchell, Aveda, and Bumble and Bumble. In many of his roles, Jay has helped his clients get in alignment with what their audience needs and has found ways for his clients to expand and ultimately bring in more income to the company. His latest book, Leave Your Mark, which was inspired by the thoughts of Dr. Lula Sensei, connects emotional intelligence to the technical knowledge needed for a stylist to thrive in their field.

Cosmetology and Psychology

While technical knowledge is an important piece of the hair and salon industry, Jay believes the emotional intelligence and psychology of the industry is what will make a salon professional continue to grow their clientele. All salon owners and professionals have to go through some form of training to become licensed professionals. Skills like coloring or cutting hair are important for any stylist to have, but knowing how to relate or listen to each client is what brings the client to a specific stylist’s chair. Having those skills requires a high emotional intelligence, something Jay says many salon owners have overlooked. A stylist who can psychologically transform a client will see their client on average between six and 50 times a year, and will keep the client for an average of six to seven years. Having a client who feels comfortable with you can secure their business much more effectively than simply achieving the style they asked for.      

Engaging with Clients Brings Retention

Stylists lead insanely busy lives, and sometimes it can be difficult to stay in the moment with one client when you have two, three, or even four or more clients for the day. Jay says one of the top 10 changes he would make to a salon would be to enhance human engagement. Many of us are so preoccupied with our phones that we can neglect not only what the client is saying, but how they are saying it. If a client is venting about a job loss or personal issues at home, using active listening skills and empathizing with the client will keep the client coming back. Jay believes putting the phone down and being in the moment will boost your retention, your referrals, your appointments, and your reviews in the future. 

Emotional Intelligence Begins with Self-awareness

One way that stylists can hone their emotional intelligence, or, as Jay refers to it, “emotional quotient”, is to have self-awareness and self-regulation in your work. Jay says being aware of your emotions at the moment – whether you are happy, sad, or frustrated – will make you 80 percent more likely to do something about them. Having the ability to be both aware of and handle your emotions will help you as a stylist better focus on your work and your clients. Self-awareness also allows you to be more empathetic with your clients. When we are present and focusing on the needs of the client, we can hear exactly what they want and act like their doctors at that moment. Self-regulation is also an important key to heightening your emotional intelligence. Jay says how we regulate ourselves and our emotions have everything to do with how we empathize with others. Self-regulation shows itself in the energy you have in facing your own emotions, which can be a positive aspect for your clients, if focused on correctly. One way we can regulate our energy towards a client is by helping them find what motivates them when it seems as if they’re facing hard times and helping them to focus on that more. 

Tools for Better Emotional Intelligence

So far, we have learned that a stylist who possesses a high level of emotional intelligence can further build their clientele and earn more income than someone who focuses on their technical knowledge alone. Jay said studies have proven that professionals who have a high emotional intelligence earn $29,000 more than their technical-savvy colleagues.  But how can you practice or learn more about emotional intelligence to help elevate your career? In addition to his own book as a resource, Jay suggests a book written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves called Emotional Intelligence 2.0. The book comes with a complimentary, online assessment where the authors give you feedback on your results. The authors also show you how to heighten your emotional intelligence.

To connect with Jay Williams for a workshop on communications for your salon, check out his Facebook, Instagram (@jaywilliamsco), or on his website. You can also check out the full interview from the Beyond The Technique podcast here

Emily Kelly
Five Ways to “Wow” Your Clients and Improve Your Salon Experience 
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When working in a salon, your biggest challenge is creating a lifelong customer. Even if your guest leaves with a haircut they love, they’re unlikely to schedule another appointment if they didn’t enjoy their time in your salon. It’s no longer about simply satisfying your clients’ needs, in order to keep them coming back you must find new and innovative ways to really “wow” your guests and add value to their experience. 

From large-scale, salon-wide changes to smaller, more personal adjustments, industry expert, Kellie Johnson offers her best advice for adding value to the salon experience.

We introduced you to Kellie in our Beyond The Technique Podcast, but if you missed her previous interviews we’ll give you a quick recap: Kellie is the owner of the renown Elan Studio and a council member of The EmpowHERment Project. Aside from her career in the beauty industry, Kellie is also a certified Hypnotherapist and Professional Coach. With expert industry insight, she offers a few tips and tricks on going the extra mile and really wowing your clients.

Ace the Greeting

If you really want to impress your clients, you need to engage them as soon as they step foot in your salon. The general rule of thumb is that a client should be greeted within eight seconds of their arrival. Because this is such a short window, you must find the best way to welcome clients in without missing a beat. 

Kellie emphasizes the significance of greeting clients at eye level. Whether that involves eliminating chairs from behind the receptionist desk or specifically staffing greeters to maintain a post at the entrance, this small signal speaks volumes for your guests. 

Kellie also highlights the importance of presentation, and suggests that all staff be required to wear nametags and maintain a consistent dress code. You could incorporate all-black uniforms for a high-end feel, or playful work aprons for a vintage vibe. Whatever you decide, remember that the uniforms should match the feel of the salon and nametags should always be visible to your guests to add that personable touch. 

Include Complimentary Services  

Adding an optional, complimentary service, such as a scalp massage, to your salon routine automatically elevates your clients’ experience and reduces waiting time, leaving no guests unattended. This can be as simple as having an apprentice prep the client for a few minutes while their stylist is getting ready – a small gesture goes a long way!

The key here is making this bonus treatment optional. Although many clients are likely to oblige, others will opt out, which shifts the responsibility onto them for any waiting they choose to do before they’re escorted to their station.

You can even go the extra mile by giving clients the option to tailor their scalp massage to their needs. If your client is feeling stressed at work, go with a lavender scent. If they’re in need of a pick-me-up you might work in a bit of jasmine oil during the massage. This personalized experience is one way to make your clients feel important and appreciated before they even sit down in the chair.

It's in the Details

When looking for ways to add value to your clients’ experience, it’s easy to forget that this can be done at any stage of their visit, even the shampoo. 

Kellie suggests using heated towels as a small way to show your clients you care. Drying your client with a warm towel after treating them to a scalp massage and finishing their shampoo is the icing on the cake. It’s an unexpected surprise, but it’s these kinds of little things that clients reference in their reviews. 

Quick Tip: Customer reviews can be a great place to hunt for new ways to add value. When surfing through your online reviews, pay attention to those seemingly insignificant details that are repeatedly popping up and you might just stumble upon a new way to elevate your salon experience. 

Make Your Clients Feel Welcome

Personalization goes a long way in enriching your clients’ salon experience. To give your salon that personal touch, Kellie suggests adding name plates to each station that stylists can use to welcome their guests.

Kellie stresses the importance of having the whole team on board when introducing major changes like these in the stylists’ routine. With the name plates for example, your entire staff needs to be prepared to put in the extra effort to spell the client’s name correctly and have it written by the time they’re due to arrive at the salon. If you can get your team to buy in to these new techniques, you’ve already won half the battle. 

It's All About the Vibes

Really wowing your clients is often more about the intangible aspects of your business. Returning customers come back for the whole experience — the quality service, the friendly faces and the positive vibes.

As a salon owner, this means creating a great environment to work in and as a stylist, this means showing up for your clients every day and coming to work with good energy and enthusiasm. 

When Kellie senses low energy in her salon, she playfully suggests that her staff do five jumping jacks just to get the blood flowing again. It’s all about the energy. You have to keep it flowing, and keep it positive—but it really needs to come from the leaders, they’re the guardians of the company culture.

Finally, You Have to Do It With Love

Life is a lot easier when you make it about others. Most of you got into this business because you enjoy making other people look and feel good, on the inside and out. If you make each day about your clients, they will greet you with the same energy and enthusiasm — it all comes full circle. 

To learn more about Kellie Johnson, listen to her first podcast, episode 123. To listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 127


Emily Kelly
How to Customize Your Consultations Using VAK

I bet I grabbed your attention by talking about consultations, right? As we all know, consultations can be tricky, but they are so important for a successful appointment and something that we can all get better at. If you haven’t heard of VAK, I’m here to tell you what it is and how you can use this strategy to improve your client consultations!

What the Heck is VAK?

The suspense is over – VAK stands for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Here are some interesting statistics about these learning styles: only 20% of people are auditory listeners. (Of course, if you listen to the Beyond The Technique podcast, you are the exception!) 40% of learners are visual and the final 40% of people are kinesthetic learners.

Do you know what type of learner you are, or maybe more importantly, what type of learners your clients are? Here are some descriptions to help you better understand these ideas and identify your style.

Visual learners need to see to learn. These individuals learn through reading and writing activities. They feel comfortable with charts, demonstrations, videos, and other visual materials. Are you someone who can remember exactly where on a page a specific sentence, phrase, or image is? Or better yet, can you remember how to drive somewhere after only going there once? These are signs that you are a visual learner.

Auditory learners absorb information by hearing it. Often, these individuals talk to themselves. Do you have a coworker who you can hear mumbling alone at her station? This is the sign of an auditory learner. Additionally, these learners may move their lips when they read or even read aloud.

Kinesthetic learners do best while touching and moving and will often lose concentration if there is little or no external stimulation. These individuals often use highlighters when they take notes, draw pictures, or doodle while they are learning.

After reading these descriptions, do you know what type of learner you are? Many of us are a wonderful mix of all three learning styles or maybe prefer different approaches for different types of content. Nonetheless, I bet a majority of hair stylists are visual or kinesthetic. Think about a lot of the education in our industry. Oftentimes, we will watch a demonstration, then have a chance to practice on a mannequin. This gives auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners a chance to learn the best way they can!

VAK in Consultations

Now that you have a better understanding of VAK, it’s time to implement it into your consultations! The key to implementing VAK into your consultations is listening for cues from your clients to discern what type of learner they are.

If your client is a visual learner, you will hear her say things like: “Could I see that?” Or, “I see what you mean.” For visual learners, you really want to use illustrations or images in your consultations. You should consider showing them pictures and saying things like “This is what I visualize for your hair color and cut today.”

If your client is an auditory learner, you will hear her say things like, “I hear what you’re saying” or, “I heard about this new technique.” For auditory learners, you want to teach them through talking. Try telling them exactly what you plan on accomplishing that day, and at the end of the appointment, recap the entire service. Even if you have a client who gets the same haircut every six weeks, walk her through the entire process from start to finish.

If your client is a kinesthetic learner, you will hear her say things like “I feel like my hair is really dark.” Or, “Last time, I felt like my cut was too short” For kinesthetic learners, they want to be moving around or maybe listening to music. For their consultations, get out the color swatches and let them touch and pick out the colors they like. Try giving them the products to hold, feel, smell, and even apply to their own hair. They will appreciate having this control.

Matching your client’s learning style will go a long way to building her confidence in you and building your relationship together. Start with baby steps, and try this with just one or two consultations the next day you’re behind the chair. As you use this technique more, you will get better at hearing your clients’ cues, and your consultations will become more effective. Give it a try and let me know how it works!

To get even more industry advice, make sure to follow Beyond the Technique and listen to the weekly podcast.


Emily Kelly
Tips for Remodeling Your Salon from an Award-Winning Interior Designer

Welcome back to the Beyond The Technique blog! We recently published a blog that was all about Salon Design 101 with award-winning interior designer, Leslie McGwire. We enjoyed chatting with her so much, that we brought her back to talk about the rules every salon owner should know before remodeling a salon. 

If you missed her first interview, here is a quick recap about Leslie: she has been in the interior design business for over 30 years and specializes in high-end jewelers and salon and spa interior design. Leslie has won multiple awards for her work, including America’s Coolest Store and Salon of the Year. Leslie is an industry rock star, and we’re excited to have her back! 

When to Remodel Your Salon

If you’re reading this, chances are you are a salon manager, owner, or stylist. For us, our office is our salon, so what do you do when your current location needs a facelift, but you aren’t quite ready to relocate? Remodeling is a great option, but how do you know when it’s the right time for your salon? To make the right decision, Leslie recommends asking yourself these questions:

  • Does your salon look outdated? 
  • Does your equipment look like it belongs in the nineties (or worse!)? 
  • Is your equipment mismatched – with some old and some new? 
  • Does your furniture have some wear and tear? 
  • Is there paint chipping on the walls? Or, are the walls an outdated color? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time for a remodel! It’s important to keep your salon looking fresh and updated. This is especially important for salons because people go to a salon to get a fresh look and to stay in style. And potential customers will think twice if your salon doesn’t look like it understands what’s in style. 

Leslie suggests that a good rule of thumb is to remodel every three to five years. Now this doesn’t mean you do a complete overhaul every few years, that would not be feasible. But you should be doing small-to-medium scale updates – like fresh paint, new pedicure chairs, or new flooring – every few years to keep your salon updated. And then leave the bigger remodels for closer to five years. 

Don’t let this recommendation freak you out. There are so many ways to remodel your salon without breaking the bank. Interior design has come a long way in recent years. For example, there are a lot of affordable flooring options that look great and have low maintenance, such as designer vinyl and porcelain tiles. And if you want to keep the updates inexpensive, but not look cheap, reach out to a designer! They are a great resource for cost-efficient updates. 

Once you’ve decided to remodel – talk it up! Get your stylists and guests excited for the change. Make sure your stylists mention it to their customers throughout the day, send out an email announcement, and mention it on social. You can even put together a design board and have it on display in your retail section to give guests a sneak peek. 

Quick Tip: After you’ve completed a remodel you want to make sure to celebrate! Again, announce it on all of your channels and host an open house party or event to show off the new place! 

How Much Time Does it Take to Remodel? 

The number one thing salon owners don’t accurately account for when it comes to a remodel is time. How much time it will take to plan, how much time it will take to get in new equipment or materials, heck, even finding time to do the actual remodel work. 

Leslie suggests working with a contractor who can commit to working nights and the days your salon isn’t open. The goal is to keep your salon doors closed for the least amount of time possible – and a good contractor will understand that. But for a big remodel project, you should plan to be closed for a solid week. However, there’s a caveat. To get a big project done in that short amount of time, you have to have everything scheduled and orchestrated – floors and light fixtures should be installed before you paint, which needs to be done before your equipment is delivered, the list goes on. Your remodel needs to operate like clockwork or you will lose out on potential revenue. This factor alone is why it’s important to work with an experienced interior designer who also offers project management as part of the contract. They can help manage those details to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. 

Things to Consider Before Remodeling Your Salon

Before you begin any remodel project, take time to analyze your current situation. Do you like where your shampoo station is located? Can the plumbing even be moved if you don’t like the shampoo location? If you want to rearrange your stations, how much will it costs to reroute the electrical work? Details like this are very important to consider before beginning. 

It’s also worth evaluating your future in your current space. Are you leasing your salon? How much longer will you be in that location? Is it worth putting money into a remodel when you want to be out in a year or so? Answering these questions will help you determine if it’s time for you to remodel. 

Remodeling your salon can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it! The average increase in revenue for a salon is 20 percent in the first year after a remodel. So just do it! A remodel will keep your salon looking fresh, your clientele impressed, and help increase your bottom line. 

To learn more about Leslie McGwire, listen to her first podcast, episode 118. And to listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 124

Emily Kelly
Salon Tip: Host a Client Appreciation Party

First off, what is a client appreciation party? Well, it’s a fun event that you put on to celebrate your clients! That’s right, your clients are the A-list celebrities at this party! I know what you’re thinking. You have tons on your plate already, and this is just one more thing. But, you need to take the time to show some love to the people who support you, support your team, and ultimately support your salon business. After all, we are nothing without our amazing clientele!




Well, of course, you need to invite all your clients. But to maximize this party and get the most “bang for your buck” you need to take your guest list one step farther. This is how you do it. In your invitation, ask your current clients to bring someone new to the salon. For this to work well, consider offering an incentive to the current client and the potential new client. At my salon’s client appreciation party, we would enter both guests into a drawing to win a product bundle, and the product bundle can be tailored to fit the winners. For instance, if the winner is a male client, you probably wouldn’t give him a basket with mineral makeup and shine spray. Simply advertise a “Product bundle tailored to the winner worth over $50!” or something similar. This small incentive will get everyone fired up and excited to attend!

If you know me well enough, you know that we don’t stop there with the new visitors. Because my salon is a Meet Your Stylist salon, we ask that each new party guest take a couple minutes to fill out the Meet Your Stylist survey. Meet Your Stylist is a personalized survey that matches clients with their top three stylists at your salon based on their personality, lifestyle, and relationship preferences. The survey gets potential clients excited about who they would see if they choose to book an appointment. Even better, by filling out the survey, we’ve now captured their name and email address, so we can continue to market to these potential new guests. Finally, for filling out the survey, they are entered into the product giveaway twice! Who would say no to that?!


When do you actually do this? I suggest that you sponsor a client appreciation party annually, so your clients can expect that you will give back to them every year. You should also be strategic about the time that you’re hosting the party. I recommend a time that isn’t going to sacrifice your best revenue days, but is still convenient for clients. If your busiest time is Thursday evenings, you probably wouldn’t want to choose that day for your party – but maybe Tuesday or Wednesday night instead. We typically host our party from 5pm - 8pm, and mark our stylists off at 4pm. This gives everyone time to finish their clients, grab some food, and get re-glammed for the evening!


The obvious choice is to host your party at your salon, but your options are endless! You could rent a room at a swanky restaurant, or maybe you have a relationship with another local business who has a great space for you. We typically host our party at our salon, but one year we rented two rooms at a restaurant because we wanted to film some video testimonials. You want to host a fun party that people want to attend, but you can also get a return on your investment. Get creative and think about how your party can be a win-win for the clients and your salon.



Now you know when and where you’re hosting your party and who you’re inviting, so what are you going to do? The main event is all about showing some love to your clients. Of course, you want to offer hors d'oeuvre and beverages. Depending on the size of your space and your budget, you could have servers walking around with platters, or you could set up a little food table. To keep an eye on the amount of alcohol guests are consuming, I suggest having someone pouring beverages. After all, you don’t want things to get too crazy!

I also suggest that you offer complimentary services to your party guests. Consider offering a different service at every station, so your guests see the range of services that you offer! For instance, we offer a men’s scalp facial, a mini makeover, curl transformation for those with curly hair, braiding, and curling with a flat iron or curling iron. This is a great opportunity for mini tutorials and to sell products! I can’t say it enough—always be looking for opportunities to benefit the salon.

Finally, you want to offer fabulous networking, so make sure to get the word out about your event! Don’t limit yourself to promoting to the clients who already love you, but get others in the community to come in and see what you’re all about! Put the event on social media, add it to your marketing emails, ask your stylists to invite their friends and family, invite other businesses near your salon, and share with your local chamber. Make sure to think through your strategy and implement it well in advance to ensure a successful party!

As always, you can get as creative as you want for your event. In years past, we’ve done some fabulous giveaways, live entertainment, a DJ, and outside activities. You know your clients better than anyone, so give them a great reason stop in with a friend!

Hopefully, these quick tips on this topic have offered you some great insights and inspiration to host your next client appreciation event! If you have any questions or want to bounce some ideas off of other industry pros, make sure to join our sister company’s private Facebook group! Good luck at your next event!

Emily Kelly
Salon Design 101 with Award-Winning Salon and Spa Designer, Leslie McGwire

This blog is all about Salon Design 101, and to bring you this awesome content, we partnered with Leslie McGwire. Leslie McGwire is an award-winning salon and spa designer who has been in business for over 30 years. Leslie helps businesses in the hospitality and beauty industry with everything from interior design, furniture, sales and marketing, and even new business development! She is not only a specialist when it comes to salons and spas, but also with resorts and jewelry retailers. Needless to say, this woman has talent! 

When it came time for my salon, Be Inspired Salon, to move from our starter salon home to our forever home, I knew I needed to hire the best of the best. Leslie has won Salon Today awards time and time again for having amazing salon designs, and I wanted her work for my own place! After getting to work with her, I knew we had to bring her to Beyond The Technique to share her wisdom because I know I’m not the only salon owner who needed advice when it came salon design. 

A Little Background on Leslie

Leslie’s journey began with some advice from her mother. She once told Leslie that she had to do some type of work that she really loved and had a passion for. As a young person, Leslie always loved salons and the beauty industry. After Leslie received her Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, she wasn’t quite sure how she could use that degree in the beauty industry. But as fate would have it, Leslie was soon hired to develop a salon and spa design program for salon owners. One thing led into another, and she became a regional manager for Takara Belmont for five years, and then a vice president for Belvedere for five years.

After spending ten years getting to know manufacturing and design in the context of salons, it only deepened her love for the beauty industry. Not long after that, Leslie decided it was time for her to start her own company. Leslie McGwire and Associates was born. Since then, Leslie has worked with salons and spas across the country, including salons such as José Eber in Beverly Hills and Premier Salon and Spa at Marshall Fields in Chicago. Leslie has also helped design the Wynn Hotel and JW Marriott in Las Vegas, and has worked with several very high-end jewelry stores.

Why Salon Owners Should Hire an Interior Designer

Salon owners often end up hiring their equipment supplier, such as Belvedere, to help design their salon. While this may seem like an easy solution, we strongly suggest hiring an interior designer. Why? It will save you money in the long run. Most cabinetry and equipment companies have the goal of selling you their products – not helping you design a salon that not only looks great, but functions efficiently. By working with a designer, you end up saving time because a designer knows what to do and who to work with. A good designer will be a team player who is there to support you and help build a salon designed to succeed. 

Leslie often gets calls from salon owners who start without a designer and end up having to pay more to essentially “redo” the work of a big equipment company. Save the stress, and the money, and start with a designer! 

What to Look for When Hiring an Interior Designer

Before you hire an interior designer, there are some things to consider. First, there are different types of designers. If you hire someone like Leslie, who is a top specialist in her niche, you will be paying a higher price. But Leslie also offers turnkey services, meaning she helps salon owners from start to finish. Leslie comes in with a blank slate and helps with everything from a space plan, to cabinet selection, to the accent colors. But there are also designers that can come in and help on a smaller scale.

No matter what “level” of designer you choose to go with, you want to make sure they’re associated with American Society for Interior Designers (ASID). ASID is the number one association for interior designers, it’s very prestigious, so chances are you are in good hands. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices for an interior designer, it’s always a good idea to ask to see their portfolio. If you like what you see, ask if you can get references from at least three of their past salon clients. Take the time and interview past clients to help you decide if you want to work with that particular designer. 

Design Budget: How Big It Should Be and Where You Should Spend It

Just like good hair color, you can’t go cheap on interior design. It’s important to view it as an investment. If you are thinking of starting your own salon, or relocating to a new salon, here’s some advice for a realistic budget. 

Leslie estimates that if you are looking to have high end turnkey service – which means help with everything – you should plan to pay about $9 per square foot. So, if you have a 2,500 square foot salon, your budget should be about $22,500. 

Speaking of square footage, you want to have a floor plan designed to generate the most revenue possible per square foot. What does this mean? It means you shouldn’t waste space on a big back office when you could add another chair or a manicure station. You want to fill your space with things that will make you money. 

It’s also a good idea to put aside a chunk of money for your equipment. It’s never a good idea to go cheap on equipment, because chances are you will be replacing it within a year. Leslie suggests prioritizing your budget to invest the most on styling chairs, shampoo units and processors, your front desk, and your lighting! Lighting is so important to prioritize in your salon. Great light makes all the difference! 

While it’s important to invest in some areas, there are other areas of salon design where you can spend less. Flooring is a great place to save money. Flooring has come a long way and there are a lot of inexpensive options that still look great, such as vinyl “wood” flooring and porcelain. Another great way to save is by going with ceiling tile instead of drywall and spending less on window treatments. 

Five Salon Design Elements That Will Make an Impact  

When you are in the process of designing your salon, you have to keep in mind what your guests will experience when they walk through your doors. What will be the first thing they see? What is going to grab their attention in the first 15 seconds and leave a great impression? There are a lot of ways to go about creating that “wow” factor, and Leslie kindly shared the top five design elements that can make the biggest impact. 

  1. Lines. Lines provide visual interest. When you walk into a salon, do you see curvy lines? Do you see straight lines? Say you walk in and see a curved reception desk with a curved wall behind it – that’s going to stand out.
  2. Color. Color is a huge element, and it does have an impact on the atmosphere of your salon. Having an accent wall with a pop of color can bring great energy. 
  3. Movement. Movement is becoming a very popular design element. Just picture a big wall with a large, beautiful image of someone cutting hair, or of an attractive female with the latest hair trend in action. These large images create movement and draw people in. 
  4. Scale and Size. It’s important to keep scale and size in mind. Having a big, oversized reception desk with a huge, bright chandelier over it can help create a “wow” factor.
  5. Texture. Texture is another design element that’s become very popular. Think reclaimed barn wood and exposed brick. Texture adds a unique element that attracts people. 

Designing your salon should be a fun experience! That’s why you should consider working with an interior designer to help you save money and stress. To listen to the full interview with Leslie, check out podcast episode 118

Emily Kelly
How to Become a Rock Star in Salon Retail 

Retail is a fundamental part to a successful salon business. Unfortunately, it seems to be the least favorite part of the industry to many beauty professionals. But fear retail no more! Today we are bringing you great advice on how to sell more retail at your salon. 

This awesome content would not be possible without help from our fabulous podcast guest and industry expert, Jesse Marcks. Jesse is not only a platform artist but also the owner of Au Fait Hair in Madison, Wisconsin. Jesse is a rock star in the beauty industry. She really knows retail, and she has high expectations for herself and her team. We know if you’re a Beyond The Technique fan, you have similar “A Player” qualities, so here is our advice to help you become a rock star in salon retail. 

Why Selling Retail is Key to Salon and Hairstylist Success.

Most stylists HATE selling retail. Many would prefer to simply come to work, do great hair, and go home. Unfortunately, that’s not a good strategy for any single stylist or salon looking to stay in business. So why sell retail? The biggest reason to sell retail is to build client loyalty. It’s been proven time after time, study after study, that a salon client that purchases retail will remain a client longer than those that don’t. If that isn’t reason enough, the other major reason is that it simply brings in revenue. Retail helps a salons (and independent stylists) stay in business. 

How to Change Your Mindset About Selling Retail. 

One comment Jesse often hears from stylists is this, “I’m here to cut and style hair, I’m not in sales.” This can be frustrating to a salon owner trying to increase sales. The thing is, everyone is in sales! That’s the industry we work in. However, Jesse often recommends shifting your thought process around product. 

Here’s a quick story. Jesse often teaches at other salons. She was once brought in to help a salon struggling with retail. Her suggestion? Take all of the back bar products away from the stylists. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well, but only at first. This practice helped the owner demonstrate how important products are. If stylists can’t do their jobs without product, how can we expect our clients to? Clients are going to buy product one way or another, so make sure it’s from you – the professional! As the professional, you should be the one recommending the products. And if you do great work for your clients and earn their trust, they will want to purchase your product recommendations. So, long story short, if you’re doing your job well, it shouldn’t feel like sales. Change your mindset to think of it as part of the job. 

When to Sell Retail? Start at the Consultation.

One common mistake among stylists is waiting until the end of the appointment to start selling retail. This is not a good approach. Once the cape is off, the client is ready to leave, and pushing retail while they are checking out can get awkward. Jesse recommends starting at the consultation at the beginning of the appointment. There are three key questions to ask your client during a consultation. 

1)   What don’t you like about your hair? This is important because your client might dislike more than the cut or color. Perhaps she doesn’t like that her hair is frizzy or thinning. Collecting information like this allows you to recommend products to help throughout the entire appointment. 

2)   What do you like about your hair? Again, similar to question one. Your client might have certain things they love about their hair, and you can offer product that enhances it. 

3)   What is your daily routine? This is a great way to gain insight into hair habits and maybe learn why their hair is flat and limp in the morning. 

The consultation is key. It will provide you with information to help you educate your client, build trust, and sell product. 

How to Sell Retail: Give a Styling Lesson.

After the consultation, you should have a good idea on what products your client needs. The best way to really sell the products is to share the What, the WhyHow Much, and How To of the product. Stylists often grab products and apply without ever showing the client. A good rule is to always give your client a styling lesson. Show your client what products you are using, why you are using them, how much to use in their hair, and how to apply it properly. 

Let your client look and hold the products during the appointment. By teaching them how to use the product and letting them interact with it, it will increase their confidence that they can recreate the look at home, encouraging them to purchase what you recommended! 

Quick Pro Tip: When you are walking your client to the register at the end of the appointment, always ask an open-ended question. For example, which products do you want to take home with you today? Never ask a question that can be answered with a yes or no. An open-ended question gets them to think about it, and it makes it harder to say no. 

How to Keep Selling Retail.

So, how do you keep up selling retail? The easiest way? Keep up with amazing consultations and styling lessons. Even if it’s with a client of 5+ years, always provide a strong consultation and styling lesson with each appointment. 

Another great way is to follow up with your clients after the appointment. Check in with them and see if they like how the product is working. The vast majority of the time, the client will love it. But by reaching out, you are providing that little extra level a customer service no one else is providing. 

Quick Pro Tip: Keep at least two levels of product lines in your salon. Some clients will want the higher end, more expensive products. While some may get sticker shock. By having options, you can offer something to every client. 

With a good mindset, strong consultations and styling lessons, you can quickly become a rock star selling retail. If you’re interested in listening to the podcast that inspired this post, check out episode 116. To learn more about Jesse listen to episode 89 – her first Beyond The Technique podcast appearance. 

Emily Kelly
Sexy Science Series Part 3: What Your Clients Need to Know That You're Not Telling Them

Welcome back to our Sexy Science Series! If you’ve been following along, you will know that this is our third and final part to our series. If you haven’t been following along, make sure to check out Part 1: What Causes and Prevents Hair Damage and Part 2: Strand Test or Die. 

As a reminder, to bring you this series, we partnered with Gina Cooper, Wella Master Color Expert and owner of Spectrum Salons in Park City, Utah. Gina is also a frequent guest on the Beyond the Technique podcast, so make sure to check out podcast episode 105, our first introductory episode with Gina to learn more about her background.

With all the fun introductions out of the way, let’s jump in! As hair professionals, we often get so used to being in the industry day in and day out, that we forget that our clients don’t hold the same hair knowledge as we do. And sometimes, without even trying, we become unintentionally negligent. Which brings us to our topic today – what do our clients need to know that we’re not telling them? We’ve outlined five items that stylists should be telling their salon clients on a regular basis. 

1). Properly Shampooing and Conditioning Our Hair

Let’s start with the basics, properly shampooing and conditioning our hair. Typically, clients come in with dirty hair. This presents the perfect opportunity to share the basics for shampooing and conditioning. 

Let’s start with shampooing. Clients should expect there to be a lather when shampooing. Now, there are some brands that are specific to different hair textures that actually don’t lather up, but if you don’t fall into that category, most professional shampoos are going to create a lather.  A lather is basically the bubbly soap that’s created by the shampoo. However, it’s important to note that drug store shampoos will lather more than professional shampoos, typically because professional shampoos are more concentrated. This is important to share with your clients!

Gina also likes to show her clients how much shampoo she’s using for their hair. She makes sure to point out that she doesn’t start to apply it before their hair is sopping wet. Even then, she notes how she rubs it in her palms first to start the emulsification process before touching the scalp. 

So, when you are shampooing your client’s hair, make sure to point out how much pressure you are putting on the scalp to clean away build up. Remind them that washing their hair isn’t actually about washing their hair, it’s about washing their scalp and removing that layer of oil. Ask them how many times they wash their hair in a week. If they’ve jumped on the bandwagon of washing a few times a week, stress how important it is to shampoo properly when they do wash their hair. In fact, many times there should be two consecutive shampoos before the conditioner is applied. This is why you often see professional shampoo bottles that are bigger than their conditioner counterpart. When it’s time to clean your hair, you need to really clean it! 

2) Use a Towel Dry (Whenever You Can) Before Conditioning

At Gina’s salon, she encourages her stylists to squeeze out any excess moisture after they’ve shampooed a guest with a towel, and then show their guest how much extra moisture can come out from a towel dry. She encourages her clients to keep a little hand towel in their shower and squeeze out the extra moisture from their hair after they shampoo, but before they condition.

Towel drying, like shampoos, are not created equal! It all depends on your hair and its needs. It’s important to keep in mind the manufacturer’s directions for the products you are using. Some will call for a towel dry, some won’t. If your client’s hair does call for a towel dry, make sure to share that!

After sharing the towel dry trick, Gina also shows her clients how much conditioner to use and how to apply it. She loves doing this with her clients because by teaching her clients about the proper amount of product and techniques to use, she saves her clients money and earns their trust by sharing advice – an easy win at no cost. In fact, your client can save money by using less product and salon owners can save money by having their stylists start with a towel dry before diving into conditioning. 

3) Coach Your Clients

Sharing advice and tips is so important! In fact, it leads us to our next tip, coach your clients! Help your clients understand that the products you recommend are worth every penny! When your clients are at your chair, with a cape around their neck, they aren’t going anywhere. This is the time when stylists need to nurturea relationship of trust with their client. Explain to them why they should be using certain products, show them how to apply it, teach them to use a hot tool, etc. Use it as a coaching session to demonstrate the value of the product and teach them how to create the same results in the salon at home. Keep the products out during the whole session and keep reminding them of their benefits. Building this type of trustingrelationship will help you keep your clients for years to come. You want to be the person your clients turn to for advice on anything and everything that relates to the hair and beauty industry.  

4) Quote Before You Start

One issue Gina has with the hair industry is the norm to not provide clients with a quote before starting on their hair. Think of it this way, when you go out to eat and you see an item on the menu that’s listed as “seafood market price” chances are you aren’t going to order (unless it’s a special occasion or you really want it) because you know it’s going to be expensive. We forget that not providing a quote at the end of the consultation is like asking our clients to order the seafood market price. What if your client only has $200 to spend? She’s probably panicking a little bit hoping that it won’t cost that much. At Gina’s salon, there is an emphasis on focusing on what her services are worth, but not surprising her guests with what that worth costs. 

With that said, Gina shared some tips on how to have the sometimes uncomfortable conversation about costs with clients before starting work on their hair. 

First, always sit down. Grab a floating stool nearby and take a seat. It’s good to be at their level. 

Second, walk them through the basics of what you need to do for their hair and give them a price. And then, feel free to throw in other services you typically do, such as a conditioning and gloss services. Again, share the price for the add-ons. Make sure you let them know that you want to be on the same page with them budget-wise before beginning. 

Gina finds that two things usually happen. One, she gets interrupted from her client who’s excited about the extra treatment and has her add it on. Two, she gets a heartfelt thank you from her clients for being upfront and honest about the price. 

Now, once that initial price conversation happens, you can begin the appointment. But Gina also recommends discussing the price that it will cost to maintain the look they are getting, so that the price is already known for future appointments. It’s also a great way to coach your clients that professional hair color can be maintained on a budget. Which leads us to our last item….

5) Maintaining Color on a Budget

It’s important to help your clients understand there are ways they can keep their professional hair color while not breaking the bank. But as hair professionals, it’s also our job to offer those opportunities. One way Gina does this is by offering her clients mini color touch services. This helps hold her guests over between services. At Gina’s salon, they see guests come in for the mini color service at the four-week mark. Her team will just hit the guest’s part line, hairline and go around the nape of the neck. Her team is using a quarter of the amount of product typically used on a root retouch. And since her team has used the formula before, they know what it will be doing, so their clients have the option to leave with wet hair and reduce the cost of the service by not including a blow dry. 

Another service Gina offers is a mini foil service. This service allows Gina to target specific areas, and it’s especially nice for bright blondes who like to look fresh and keep their hair back. She will put a few foils around the hair line, mohawk area and a few face framing pieces. This is a great service that will help you keep your color on your clients instead of losing them to a different salon, or home box color. 

There are even more ways to help extend your clients’ color! One way is by having them express themselves through retail color services. Gina loves to add fun color to her clients hair by adding a hint of a fashion shade, say a rose gold or an electric peach, with tinted shampoos. It’s a great way to give her clients a fun look, without having them invest in a whole new balayage experience. Gina shares what she is doing with her clients and lets them know that they can purchase these tinted shampoos to give their own hair a temporary, fun color. It’s a great way to send your client home with more retail that was custom made during their salon experience!

If your client would prefer to use a conditioning toner versus a shampoo toner, Gina recommends creating a custom mix conditioner for your guests. For her guests, she will add a direct die to the conditioners for at-home use. Again, it’s a great way for your clients to keep their hair color fresh between visits and it allows them to experiment with fun colors. 

We covered a lot today, but to recap, here are the five things you should be telling your clients…

  1. Properly shampoo and condition our hair. Teach your guests to emulsify the shampoo in their hands and really get into that root area and get a good scrub, especially before a color service! 
  2. Towel drying. Make sure you are following directions and being mindful of the product you are using as well as the fabric of the hair. And if a client is a candidate for towel drying before conditioning, share it with them! 
  3. Coaching sessions. Make your client understands that products are worth every penny. 
  4. Quote prices. Let your guests know what their budget can handle and what your services are worth. Your guests will appreciate the transparency you’ve created. 
  5. Maintaining color on the slightest of budgets. Offer express services on your menu that will help your client stay within their budget and help them express themselves through color retail services.

That’s it for our Sexy Science Series. We hope you found this information helpful. To listen to the original podcast with Gina Cooper, check out episode 115 on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or your favorite podcast app! 

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Emily Kelly
Sexy Science Series Part 2: Strand Test or Die

Welcome back to our Sexy Science Series! This is the second part of a three part series dedicated to the science behind healthy hair. In the first part, we discussed what causes and prevents hair damage. If you haven’t read it yet, make sure to check it out! 

As a reminder, to bring you this fun series, we partnered with Gina Cooper, Wella Master Color Expert and owner of Spectrum Salonsin Park City, UT. Gina is also a frequent guest on the Beyond the Technique podcast, so make sure to check out podcast episode 105, our first introductory episode with Gina to learn more about her background.

With all the fun introductions out of the way, let’s get started! For part two, our topic is: Strand Test or Die. 

For most stylists, strand testing is reserved for extreme cases. For example, you have a client come in with a level two hair and they want to be a level eight.  Although they told you they did box color a few months ago, you’re still nervous about the outcome. Or on the flip side, you have a client who is a level 12 who wants to go back to a brunette, and you want to check it out before moving forward with anything. 

Both great reasons to strand test, but Gina believes you should strand test on a more frequent basis. From her experience, strand testing is a simple way to get a solid foundation and understanding of your client’s hair before beginning anylightening service or color correction! A ten minute strand test takes out the guess work and produces consistent, beautiful results for your clients. 

At Gina’s salon, she requires a strand test anytime her stylists will be doing a service that requires lightening, color, or bleaching. She encourages her stylists to recommend a strand test at the beginningof a consultation, that way while the test is processing, her stylists can spend that time having a conversation with their client about what they are looking to get done and possible solutions. 

The reason Gina has incorporated this into her everyday practice is because she feels strand testing is a long forgotten trick stylists should be regularly practicing. Just like we should be testing our blow dryers on our wrists before applying it to our guests. We want to make sure we are following all the steps to make sure we are  safe, professional service providers.  

How to Do a Strand Test

At Gina’s salon, they are loyal Wella followers. For their strand tests, they use a Wella technique that is one part lightening powder and one part 10 volume, and they mix that one-to- one ratio for ten minutes. After you’ve prepared the mixture, you will want to isolate a few strands of hair over a few different areas of the head. 

Typically, if you are dealing with a color correction, there will be a few different zones to work with. Say your client applied color at home and she couldn’t reach the back as well, but she really over-saturated the front. Cases like this require you to test different hair strands around the head. 

So, you will take a few strands and isolate them in a foil, then place the mixture and gently fold the foil. After the ten minutes are up, you are going to want to spray each of those sections with a little bit of water and gently towel off the lightener. Then you want to go through and mechanically stretch the hair with your hands to see what happens. If it starts to break, you know it can’t withstand the stress of lightener. 

Gina’s Pro Tip: The reason you want to test small sections is because there could be a chance that when you take the foil off, there will be hair that is breaking. However, by testing small sections, you can isolate the areas of compromised tears versus large chunks of hair that you can no longer do anything with. In other words, always do a small strand test! 

If a client wants to go lighter or have a color correction, it’s always best practice to conduct a strand test. Even if it’s for a client of 10+ years, if they want to go lighter, make sure you do a strand test. It gives you a great opportunity to make sure your client’s hair is healthy and can take the lightener. Because as we discussed in part one, lightener has a much higher pH level than color and can cause more damage. 

Building a Roadmap from Your Strand Test

When you’re conducting a strand test, you might have a client that has had a wild color history and you might not catch all the color treatments they’ve gone through simply by looking at it. That’s why it’s important to always formulate to the deepest tone to prevent the underlying pigments from being an issue. 

Typically, the darkest, deepest point is going to need the most time and attention. By targeting it first, you get an understanding of your most challenging area and it will help dictate the pace at which the other sections of hair can move. This will allow you to set a roadmap for the rest of the color correction. 

Unfortunately, while you are building your roadmap, you might realize you can’t provide your client with their desired service for the day. One clear red flag that you shouldn’t move forward with a color treatment is if you see the hair snapping or breaking when you use your fingers to inspect it. Try and stretch the hair a little bit and if it has the ability to stretch and return to its length without breaking, it’s a good sign you can move forward. 

If you find the hair is breaking and you can’t continue with color treatment, you should begin to think of a different recommendations for your client. Take advantage of the other services your salon has to offer and make the best of the situation for your client. Perhaps offer a conditioning treatment or recommend product that will help get their hair healthy again. 

View Strand Tests as Insurance

There’s a good number of stylists that won’t even conduct a strand test. In most cases this is because they don’t feel they have the time. Stylists are encouraged to keep their consultations to less than 15 minutes, which doesn’t bode well for a ten minute strand test. This usually results with making a judgement call based on what you can see and what your client has told you. 

The problem with this approach is that you could be wrong and end up seriously damaging your client’s hair. Hair can only take so much stress, so while it may seem like an extra step, it will provide you with information you need to produce better (and healthier) results for your client.  By conducting a strand test, you have a solid insurance to take back to your client for reasons to hold off on color treatment until their hair is healthier – saving you from making a mistake that could cost you a client. 

To Sum it All Up: Strand Test! 

The formula Wella provides is one part lightening powder and one part 10 volume, mixed one to one and applied to several different sections of the head in five strand increments. Then you process it for ten minutes. After those ten minutes, simply spray the hair with water and gently towel off excess lightener. Check for snapping, breaking, and the strength of the hair. If you have a client that passes the strand test, proceed forward. Otherwise, evaluate that strand again. Check for your deepest points of lifting and that will be your roadmap to where you will apply your lightener first to start your color correction. If in fact you did hit that stop sign (e.g. too much breakage), make sure you have those ideas in your head for what you need to do to redirect your client in another route, but still keeping them in your chair.

For Gina, having her Wella Master Color Expert certification really helped earn trust from her stylists when she decided to implement her strand testing protocol. But more importantly, her stylists have seen incredible success come from strand testing. And because of this new protocol, their new mantra is this: ten minutes with a strand test can translate to 10 years with a guest. 

To listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 114 on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or your favorite podcast app! 

Make sure to check back for part three: What Your Clients Need to Know That You’re Not Telling Them. 

Emily Kelly
Sexy Science Series Part 1: What Causes and Prevents Hair Damage

Who said science can’t be sexy? We certainly don’t think so, especially when it comes to the science of great hair! In fact, this is the first part in a three part series dedicated to the sexy science behind beautiful and healthy hair. To bring you this fun series, we partnered with Gina Cooper, Wella Master Color Expert and owner of Spectrum Salons in Park City, UT. 

Gina is also a frequent guest on the Beyond the Technique podcast, so make sure to check out podcast episode 105, our first introductory episode with Gina to learn more about her background. Gina is super passionate about the science and chemistry that goes along with the beauty industry and for the first part of our series, we want to discuss what causes and prevents hair damage. 

The Basics

So, where to begin? We started our conversation with understanding natural pH. pH stands for potential hydrogen and it measures the alkaline and acidic levels of a substance. The pH scale works similar to the Richter scale when measuring earthquakes. The range of a pH scale, is 0 – 14, with 7 being neutral. Any number below 7 is acidic and any number above 7 is alkaline. As you go up the scale, the next number is ten times the alkaline level as the number before. And as you move your way below 7, each number is ten times more acidic than the number above it. Got it? Good, let’s keep going!

The pH of our hair exists between a 4.5 – 5.5 range, which means even the simplest exposures to anything can cause damage. This is why it’s important to be mindful and consider the origin of hair pH, because if a product says it’s pH balanced, we have to make sure what pH it is referring to. It could be referring to the pH balance neutral, which is 7, but to your hair, skin and nails, that could be extremely damaging. 

Basically, everything can cause damage to our hair. It’s a real bummer of the hair industry, but it goes to show how delicate our hair really is and why we need to take precautions as professionals to protect not only our own hair, but our clients’ as well. 

So with that, we have the top six things that cause hair damage and tips for how to prevent that damage.

1. Color and Volumizing Products

Ammoniated or permanent hair color products typically have a high pH level, around an 11-12 pH. The reason the levels are so high is because we need to swell the hair open to either expose the natural melanin or pigment, or to soften the hair strand so it’s prepared for coverage. This doesn’t mean ammoniated hair color is bad, it just means you have to respect it while you are processing it, and make sure to shut it down and restore the pH after the process is complete. 

Lightener is also another alkaline product to be aware of. Lighteners typically have a 12-13 pH level. Again, when working with these products, it’s important to respect the potential damage they can cause. Gina shared that with Wella, her salon practices a method called “slow and low” – which means that they use a low volume developer with a slow lightening process. This ensures that they are keeping the cuticle intact and slowly working their way through the melanin grains and dissolving them instead of blasting the cuticle wide open with a higher volume developer and attacking everything quickly. By going slow and low, it allows for a gentle opening and closing process. 

Volumizing products also have high alkaline levels. Volumizing products are focused on making each strand look larger and more full. The alkaline is what helps create that swell of the hair strand, but be cautious when using them. One great way to get volume without as much product is to use a blow dryer. When using a blow dryer, it’s important to turn it around and let the exhaust fan pull some of the heat off as you are drying, or hit it with a cool shot, this will help shut the cuticle down. By using your blow dryer correctly, you can shut the cuticle down and keep it protected mechanically, rather than chemically with a volumizing product. 

Obviously as hair professionals, we can’t avoid color, lightening and volumizing products, but we can be educated about them. These are all great tools to use, but it’s important not to abuse them. 

But don’t be discouraged, not all products cause damage! Most acidic products can help restore the hair’s pH balance. Styling products such as a Moroccan oil containing water are really great. The lower pH level helps shut the cuticle down and make it lay smooth and flat and helps with a faster drying time. 

2. Water

One of the biggest forms of hair damage is water. Water is a 7 on the pH scale and it causes hair to become 100 percent more elastic. When exposed to moisture, hair is 16 percent more swollen and two percent longer, which means that it can be stretched mechanically with our brushes up to 100 percent its dry length. 

Ten years ago, we were taught that you should let your hair air dry to avoid the damage of heat from a blow dryer. But with technology and new scientific knowledge, we know there are safer ways to dry your hair so that we don’t let the water sit for too long and cause damage.  

Unfortunately, we can’t avoid water in our hair completely, but there are ways to help prevent extensive damage. One way to do that is by investing in a brush or comb that is created to work through wet hair, and teaching your guests to properly address their hair after a shower with products, tools, and tension. 

Gina always coaches her guests to give their hair a really good towel dry, then a rough dry with a blow dryer, being mindful to shoot the hot air down the cuticle strand, even if that means flipping their hair over. After getting about 60 percent of the water out, she then suggests running a round brush through it. This helps cut down on the tension so they are not stretching their hair when it’s sopping wet. 

3. Hair Accessories

One of the most common forms of hair damage is caused by hair accessories. Gina often has clients that are trying to grow out a fringe, or are very active outdoors or at the gym, so they use headbands and bobby pins daily, causing a breakage along their hair line from the tension. Gina likes to coach her clients on accessories for their hair. One fun way to do this is with the cash wrap zone by your register. At your register, it’s always good retail practice to have little impulse purchases, these can include the hair accessories that are good for preventing damage, such as the fabric hair ties, or the beautiful bobby pins that have the old school clip on them, or a fun style of barrette. 

4. Sleeping

Yep, even sleeping can cause hair damage. One of the best ways to prevent damage in your sleep is to reduce the amount of friction we are exposed to. Gina coaches her clients to get a silk pillowcase and give their hair a soft braid with a fabric hair tie before going to bed. The bonus to doing this is when you wake up in the morning, you can shake out the braids, add a little dry texture spray and have cute, beachy waves for the day!

5. Sun Damage

This one is really important! Both our skin and hair are equally susceptible to sun damage. So, just like we put UVA and UVB protection on our skin, we need to do the same for our hair. There are a lot of great hair products out there that help protect from the sun. Wella’s Eimi line offers protection as well as Paul Mitchell’sMarulaOil. 

Often products will not say it on the label if it offers sun protection, so it’s a good idea to ask your distributor or rep for that information. This is especially important if you live in a state with lots of sunshine all year round. 

6.  Hot Hair Tools

Knowing the temperature at which your hair can withstand heat is really important. Many companies produce irons that don’t have gauges or dials that allow us to select a temperature. Dry hair can only withstand heat up to 392 degrees, and when wet, it can only withstand heat of 248 degrees. Those temperatures are pretty low when you consider how high some irons can get. 

It’s important to evaluate the hot tools you use and make sure you purchase one that you can set the temperature. And make sure to educate your clients about this as well! 

We hoped these little scientific nuggets help you feel empowered about the science behind being a stylist. The big takeaway from this is that as stylists, we may already be informed of these forms of damage, but we need to make sure we are informing our clients as well. Empowering our clients with knowledge helps them feel confident and safe when they sit down in our chairs. 

Next up in the Sexy Science Series, we will be address strand testing. It’s going to be a good one! So, make sure to come back to our blog and check it out. 

To listen to the original podcast with Gina Cooper, check out episode 113 on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or your favorite podcast app! 

Emily Kelly
Earn Your Worth: How to Increase Your Income as a Hairstylist

When we mention earning your worth, we imagine most of our readers yelling into the computer screen: “Yes, please!” Well, we have heard you! We are excited to feature Stacy Porter—regional director for Paul Mitchell—who is going to dive into how your appearance, attitude, and behavior will determine your income potential.


Many stylists—especially those who are new to the industry—may be wondering what earning your worth even looks like. How much should you be earning now, and what is your earning potential? To answer your questions, we have both bad news and good news. The unfortunate news? The national average income of a hairstylist is about $30,000 a year. The exciting news? Stacy believes that your earning potential is actually endless! She wholeheartedly believes that what you put in, you will get back out.

As a professional at Paul Mitchell, Stacy rolls with a ton of amazing professionals who most of us only get see on stage. In this circle, Stacy knows numerous hairstylists who earn $100k+ and have plenty of leisure time for themselves and their families. To reach that level, stylists need to know their value and charge for their value. So, how do you get there? Stacy has a three-step approach to earning your worth which includes: your look, your attitude, and your behavior.

Your Look

Stacy believes that you should always put your best foot forward. After all, you only have one chance to make a fabulous first impression! As a stylist, you should always make sure that your hair is done, your makeup is on, and you look your best.

When reflecting on your appearance, Stacy suggests thinking about how your clients are going to perceive you as a professional. Would a professional wear sweatpants to work? Stacy explains that when a customer sees a stylist who isn’t dressing professionally, it really relaxes the services and expectations. An unkempt stylist is no longer perceived as a professional, but transforms to a friend. How does this translate to earning your worth? If a client believes that they’re getting a haircut from a friend instead of a professional, they will expect to pay less for your services. Professionals get paid more. The bottom line: when you look good, you feel good, and you perform better!

Your Attitude

Stacy also explains that your attitude determines your profit potential. What kind of attitude does a successful stylist have? Positive! Let us remind you that attitude is a learned behavior. This means that everyone has the ability to change their attitude for better or worse. Positive stylists attract colleagues and clients who are positive, loving, excitable, and encouraging!

Again, you may be wondering how this translates to higher earnings. A stylist with a positive and optimistic attitude will set and achieve higher goals. Instead of thinking that they will never master a skill or earn their worth, stylists with positive attitudes will achieve their dreams!


Your Behavior

Attitude and behavior go hand-in-hand. The way that you think and the ideas that you formulate affect how you act both personally and professionally. Stacy believes that the stylists who earn their worth always treat people the way that they want to be treated.

As industry pros, Stacy points out that we often overlook how exciting it is to receive services at a salon! Our clients really look forward to having their hair done—just look on Pinterest! But, stylists also shouldn’t forget that their clients are setting aside a certain amount from their personal budget to be spent on their hair and hairdresser. In return, stylists need to put forward their most professional behavior at all times because the clients deserve our very best. Customers are willing to pay for your value if they believe that there is no other place that treats them as well as you do!


Occasionally, we all need to reflect on our look, attitude, and behavior. When doing so, think about the type of professional who you want to be and the type of client who you want in your chair. If you are a professional in both appearances and actions, Stacy is confident that you will earn your worth!

If you need some more inspiration and guidance, listen to Beyond the Technique podcast Episode 61: Go To Another Salon! In this episode, we show you how observing others will help you realize your own potential!

Listen to the full interview with Stacy Porter on Episode 75 of Beyond the Technique’s podcast.

Emily Kelly