The Dos and Don'ts of Communicating with Upset Guests

They say the key to every great relationship is communication – and handling a guest complaint is no different. We’re in the service industry—and the reality is—not everyone is going to be happy about the services they’ve received.

If you do find yourself in this situation, it’s important to know how to handle the conversation the right way so that you can retain that client. However, like most things, it’s easier said than done. Industry expert Kati Whitledge is here to break down the dos and don’ts of communicating with upset guests in order to help you come out of those contentious conversations on top.                                        

In addition to hosting the beloved Beyond The Technique podcast, Kati is the owner of the award-winning Be Inspired Salon located in Madison, Wisconsin, and the creative brain behind Meet Your Stylist, an innovative salon software system that matches potential clients with salon professionals based on services, lifestyle preferences, and personality metrics.

The Dos

Kati emphasizes that when talking with an upset or aggressive guest face-to-face, you’ll want to remember the three positive C’s—calm, connect and collaborate. Let’s dive into each.   


First and foremost, it is so important to stay calm. It can be very easy to allow our emotions to take over, we typically have an adrenalin rush when contentious events occur. Staying calm helps us stay in control of the conversation. Also, by taking time to really listen and soak in what the guest is saying, you’re able to set the tone that in the pursuit of finding common ground, everyone will be in a rational state of mind.


We really need to do our best to connect with our guests in a way that makes them feel understood. Usually, when a guest is upset, it’s because they don’t feel heard. Kati knows firsthand that the best way to connect with an upset guest is to ask questions and affirm that you’re hearing what they’re saying.

Quick Tip: Use the guest’s name. If you can slip their name in as you’re asking questions and trying to understand their frustration, they’ll feel like they’re being treated as human versus a commodity, something we all appreciate.


Once you’ve listened to the guest complaint and asked questions to have the best understanding of their concerns, the next step is to collaborate with them. Kati is a firm believer in that a win-win can always be found.

Give your guest a couple of options as to how they might like to proceed. If they were upset about the price, ask if they would like to see an associate stylist in the future. If they still want a senior stylist’s expertise, offer to schedule their cut and colors separately. Providing these options instills confidence in your salon operations, it shows that you stand with your professionals and value their worth, yet it also empowers your guest to decide on how to positively move forward.

The Definitely Do-Nots

In an ideal world, we would all resolve conflict with ease, but of course we know every situation is unique. Which is why Kati also covers the three C’s that you must avoid when you are faced with an upset guest. You must never curse, correct or condescend.


This should be the most obvious but if we fail at keeping our cool, we may fall into a swearing trap. Our emotions can be fickle when dealing with contentious conversations, but we must never let our tempers get the best of us. Although you might have a valid point, the second you curse, you’re going to be viewed as irrational and all credit is lost.


Have you heard the saying, “Would you rather be right, or happy?” If your guest is sharing feedback that is inaccurate, as much as you want to tell them they’re wrong, we must respond in a way that empathizes with them. In fact, there are ways around this, such as asking questions that will lead them to accuracy.


We’ve all had people talk to us in a condescending manner, it never feels good. No one wants to be treated as if they are unintelligent or feel undervalued. Kati always suggests going back to the golden rule—treat people the way you want to be treated.

Also, you never know what someone is going through. Remember that when guests dump negative feedback on you, many times it’s because they are personally dissatisfied for some reason and their sense of loss of control is challenging for them to work through. Hence, they may take it out on you. As the saying goes, the best defense is a great offense—ask questions, stay calm and figure out a way to find resolution together. 

To listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 168, and if you’d like to learn a little bit more about our host, Kati, check out her website and don’t forget to subscribe to the Beyond The Technique podcast for more incredible industry insight.

Samantha Georgson
What the Heck is PBA?

You have probably heard the acronym PBA floating around the industry, but what do you really know about the Professional Beauty Association? PBA is a community led non-profit membership organization that represents licensed professionals, salons, manufacturers, distributors, schools, and students of the beauty industry.

In today’s political climate it is more important than ever that we seek out professional protection and include ourselves in the conversations regarding industry regulation. Salon Owner and Industry Professional, Karie Bennett, made it her mission to get involved with the government affairs surrounding our industry and she’s here to talk up the PBA and encourage others to join in the conversation.

We’ve introduced you to Karie before, but if you missed her previous interviews we’ll give you a quick recap: Karie is the owner and founder of the renown Atelier Aveda concept salons. She has been a part of the Aveda tribe since 1985, and is also a contributing writer for Salon Today magazine and an active member of the Professional Beauty Association’s Salon/Spa Advisory Board—helping to protect the industry she loves. She is here to clue you in on the conversations and regulations surrounding our industry and get you excited about getting involved with PBA.

First Thing’s First: What Does PBA Do?

The Professional Beauty Association is the government advocate for the salon and spa industry. The members that volunteer on this board, Karie included, do their best to protect beauty businesses from government regulations, or in current times deregulations, that affect how we do business.

It’s the largest organization of salon professionals with members representing salons, spas, distributors, manufacturers and beauty professionals. This association makes it their mission to elevate, unite and serve the beauty industry, and the professionals who improve people’s lives. Intrigued? You should be! 

Why is the Government Just Now Beginning to Pay Attention to the Beauty Industry? 

At the end of the day, it’s all about tax revenue. Karie notes that the government had glossed over our industry until the piece-rate situation in 2016 when they finally began to realize how much our industry was skimping out in taxes.

There are so many cash-only businesses under the beauty industry umbrella and the government has finally taken notice of how much money is being funneled into this underground economy. PBA is on the front lines of this battle, not because this organization is made up of bitter tax-payers, but because they care about protecting the compliant beauty businesses that do their part.  

What’s Being Discussed by PBA Today? 

Getting Serious About SB-999

This Senante Bill proposes to remove the licensing from shampooing and blow-drying services. This means anyone could work at a blow-dry bar or in the shampoo room at a salon. As a salon owner, Karie’s first thoughts were that it would be great to hire someone to shampoo that didn’t have to go through 1,600 hours of education—but who would that be?  

In the end, the likelihood that you find someone with necessary skills is slim. A stylist’s education is so much more than learning how to cut color and rinse. It’s studying all of the standards of cleanliness and sanitation, client safety and communicable diseases. Earning a cosmetology license is so small feat, and these are the kinds of legislation we need to protect our beauty businesses from if we want to maintain the same standards of excellence.  

This Bill was bankrolled by a company called Glam Squad, which is essentially like Uber for at-home hair services. It’s a group of independent contractors with an app that allows clients to order hair services from home and they send someone over to take care of the job.

On the surface this sounds great, there’s no doubt that these contractors have a passion for hair, but there are so many issues with the way this service is being run. For one, there’s no future for these employees. These contractors are likely only making minimum wage or some percentage of the service and there’s no room for growth, there’s no career path there. Two, these contractors aren’t protected in any way—so, what happens when someone orders a blowout and winds up asking for an added bang trim or quick re-tone?

Remember Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles

In addition to the lack of protection and projection, Glam Squad is voting to get SB-999 passed when their motives directly conflict with another piece of legislature, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles.

This was the bill that put a stop to independent contractors in California, which is now standard across most of the U.S. with the exception of a few states. So, even if SB-999 were to be passed, Glam Squad will face another rude awakening when they find out their employees don’t’ pass the ABC test.  

It’s Never Too Early to Join in the Conversation

Karie says that when it comes down to it, we have to decide whether we want to be reactive to the changes that take place in our industry, or proactive, meaning we get involved ahead of time and even influence the future of our industry as a whole.  

From her own experience with PBA, Karie notes that there’s a lack of involvement the younger generation of stylists. In her opinion, there’s no excuse for waiting to get involved. PBA wants, and needs, the opinions and input from people in every level of the industry in order to truly represent our industry as a whole.  

If the fear of inexperience is holding you back, let’s crush that right now. There is no such thing as having too little experience to have a say in your future. In fact, newly-licensed professionals are the ones who will benefit and/or suffer the most from this legislation. You have your whole career ahead of you, you should absolutely have a say.

Karie also says that a busy schedule is no excuse and she’s a prime example. With seventy employees of her own she doesn’t have much time to donate to the cause, but she makes the time because it’s important to her. It’s her 37th year with her cosmetology license, so for Karie, it’s her way of showing gratitude for her incredibly successful, long-lasting career.

If you’d like to learn more about SB-999 and the solutions that PBA board members like Karie are bringing to the table, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog post, episode 167. If you’d like to learn more about the Professional Beauty Association and how you can get involved, check out their website and be sure to reach out Karie with any questions!

Samantha Georgson
Success Doesn't Happen Overnight

Candy Shaw loves to joke about how long it actually takes to become an “overnight” success. After twenty-some years of putting in work behind the chair, the name Candy Shaw is finally a recognized one in the industry. Candy is living proof that nothing truly happens overnight, instead, reaching your goals requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance.

We have had the pleasure of chatting with Candy America’s Beauty Show during our Spotlight Podcasts, but if you’ve missed her previous interviews, we’ll give you a quick recap:

Celebrity-stylist Candy Shaw, perhaps better known as the Balay Lama, literally grew up in the beauty business as the daughter of former world-champion competition-hairdresser Jamison Shaw. Today she owns and operates three companies, all of which are under the beauty industry umbrella. She runs her father’s salon, Jamison Shaw Hairdressers as well as the Jamison Shaw Academy, through which Candy offers her infamous French Haircutting and Balayage classes for licensed cosmetologist every other month. And finally, her most recent venture, Sunlights Balayage, a professional hair product company fueled by her commitment to providing career changing education.

Candy put in the work necessary to create her own legacy, and now she’s sharing her story in hopes of inspiring others in the industry to take their time—it’s worth the wait.

Don’t Be Afraid to Do Something Before It’s Cool

I bet you didn’t know that Candy basically invented balayage, did you? She was painting hair before hair-painting even had a name. Candy developed her own clay lightener, which she used behind the chair and when working with her students.

Because nothing like Candy’s clay-based lightener existed in the industry, she decided to take a leap of faith and sat down with some of the leading manufacturers to see what it would take to mass produce her product and share it with the world. Candy jokes about her meeting with “the suits,” as she calls them, as they told her that balayage was just a fad, and like all fads, it will eventually fade.

Don’t Take “No” for an Answer

Of course, Candy wouldn’t be the great success that she is today had she listened to “the suits”. She’ll be the first to tell you that you shouldn’t take “no” for an answer, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

So, she took her clay lightener and sat through many think-tank sessions with her family before realizing that the only way to get it done was to do it herself. Of course, that doesn’t mean all by herself!

Going It Alone Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely

If you’re going to go out on a limb and try to tackle an issue on your own, you had better find people to back you up. Candy knew she would need help if she was going to try to mass produce her own product.

She couldn’t risk it falling flat on its face once it hit the marketplace, so she enlisted the help of a chemist with impressive product knowledge, and they tested and re-tested Candy’s clay lightener until they were sure they were creating the best product they could.

Climbing Your Way to the Top Takes Time

Candy reflects on her twenty-some year voyage to success, and remarks that is wasn’t easy. It’s crowded at the top, and you have to scratch and claw your way up there before you get noticed.

You’ll have doors slammed in your face, but that doesn’t mean another one won’t open up right down the hall. Candy often says that the key to success is to build a solid foundation with all of the bricks that are thrown at you along the way. Learn from your mistakes and the negative feedback you receive, there’s always a way to spin it into something positive.  

Candy describes balayage as the “little black dress” of the beauty industry—it’s not going anywhere—and well, the rest is history!

If you’d like to learn more about Candy Shaw’s incredible success story, listen to the full podcast episode, episode 166. And if you haven’t already, check out Sunlights products, where you’ll have the inside scoop into the history of this clay lightener!

Samantha Georgson
Successful Consultations Require Confidence

Let’s talk about the client consultation. The consultation is perhaps the most important conversation you’ll have with a potential client—it sets the stage for all of your future interactions—but don’t let that scare you!

The consultation is the best way to establish trust between you and your clients. Your first-timers are coming to you with their heart, or in this case their hair, in their hands. So, meet them half way, listen to their needs, and work with them to find a solution—after all, you’re the expert!

Howard Hafetz will tell you that the key to a successful consultation is simply, confidence. Sounds too good to be true, right? But Howard can tell you from years of experience, there is nothing more reassuring than having the expert take control of the situation.

We introduced you to Howard on our Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed his previous interviews we’ll give you a quick recap: Howard is the CEO of Art of Business, the former President of PBA, and the founder of Salon Today Magazine. Howard is also the brain behind the concept of “psy-cosmetology,” a new form of thinking which helps professional cosmetologists increase their self-esteem and ultimately lead a more successful life and career. Howard preaches confidence, and he’s here to instill a newfound confidence in all of you!

It’s Not What You Say, It’s What the Client Hears

If you ask a stylist for their definition of the consultation, most of them will say it’s about how you communicate. Well, Howard is here to tell you that it’s not what you say that matters, it’s what the client hears. Or rather, what they understand.

Howard likes to play with analogy that effective communication is a lot like playing a game of catch. If you’re throwing something out there and nobody is catching it, well, that’s pretty ineffective, isn’t it?

Howard emphasizes that if you really want to up your game as a stylist, your communication is where it counts. And the best place to start? The consultation, of course!

For the Newbies: Competence Translates Into Confidence

Young stylists tend to struggle with confidence the most. When it’s your first time behind the chair, it can be unfortunately easy to sink into those self-deprecating thoughts: Am I good enough? Do I really know what I’m talking about?

Howard reminds us that the answer is always yes! As a new stylist fresh out of beauty school, you’ve put in your time and received all of the education necessary to make you successful.

Howard recognizes that as younger stylists, you won’t have much behind-the-chair experience to play on during the consultation, so he suggests that you pull out that education of yours and tie in a few terms you learned from beauty school. Break down the science of hair for your client during the consultation, as long as you do so in a way that is both well-informed and digestible, you’re sure to gain their respect and, perhaps more importantly, their trust.

Confidence Is Comforting

Now, we’re not recommending that you fake it for your entire career (trust us, you won’t have to!) but, confidence can be easy to emulate in the moment, whether you’re feeling it or not.

Howard emphasizes the importance of posture in coming across as confident. Confident people stand taller and square their shoulders, this literally gives off the appearance that they can take on any challenge. Not only does a confident stance make you appear more confident to a potential client, but it also makes you feel more confident. They call it a power stance for a reason, right?

Touch Builds Trust

Physical contact is one of the quickest ways to build confidence with a client. We’re in one of the few industries where human touch is actually encouraged, so take advantage!

Howard encourages stylists to make physical contact with their potential clients during the initial consultation. Putting a hand on their shoulder as they tell you about their hair is one of the most comforting things you could do, not to mention, it’s a sign of good listening. This simple gesture is very settling, and it helps to build that personal connection quickly, quite literally letting your potential clients know that they’re in good hands.

What About When It’s Not Going the Right Way?

Even if you’re doing everything right, the reality is not every consultation is going to be successful. Howard calls to mind those occasions in which a client calls after their appointment to admit that they don’t like their haircut or they feel their stylist missed the mark with their color. Likely, the issue started with a failed consultation. 

Whether you’re brand new or a seasoned pro, there are so many variables and you simply can’t promise everything. So, Howard challenges us all to think about how we can predict the end result and what we can do to be proactive about our client’s expectations.  

Ultimately, the most important step is to make sure that you’re leaving room for accessible communication during the consultation. You should always be asking questions and repeating the client’s answers back to them to make sure that you’re both on the same page.

Quick Tip: This is where photos come in handy! Everyone has a different idea of what “shoulder length hair” is, right? So, instead of guessing, ask your client for a picture of a haircut they love. Of course, if we’re talking color, it’s important to educate your clients on whether their expectations are realistic. Filters are our worst enemies when it comes to color, so don’t be afraid to let your clients know when a color is simply unattainable.

At the end of the day, the best consultations come from stylists who know how to converse with clients in their own language. Your confidence translates directly to your client’s confidence—so bring you’re A-game to every consultation.  

If you’d like to learn more about gaining confidence and conviction when it comes to the consultation, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 165. If you’d like to really dive into communication, check out our recent blog post, The Key to Nailing the Consultation is Open Communication.

P.S. Are you going to be at America’s Beauty Show this year? We’d love to have you on one of our Spotlight Podcasts! Reach out to us at with the subject line: “Shine the Spotlight on Me!” We look forward to chatting with all of you!

Samantha Georgson
How to Build a Profitable Business

There’s a lot more to building a profitable salon than simply having a smart budget in place. As a salon owner, it’s your responsibility to provide your team with opportunities for freedom, security, benefits, growth, and education. Not to mention, the goal is to be able to give yourself these same affordances.

Like most aspects of running a business, profitability doesn’t come easy, but Industry expert Kati Whitledge is here to break it down step-by-step in order to help you support your team. .  

In addition to hosting the beloved Beyond The Technique podcast, Kati is the owner of the award-winning Be Inspired Salon located in Madison, Wisconsin, and the creative brain behind Meet Your Stylist, an innovative salon software system that matches potential clients with salon professionals based on services, lifestyle preferences, and personality metrics. Kati is passionate about helping others in the industry develop their own success stories, and wants to share her success with all of you with her four steps to building a profitable salon.   

STEP 1: Set a Goal and Track It Daily

First thing’s first, you have to have a goal to work toward. If we don’t have a clear target to hit, how can we expect to grow our profits? At Kati’s salon, Be Inspired Salon, her team has established a monthly revenue goal that is broken down into daily goals. Every day the salon administrative manager sends over the revenue from the day prior, along with the weekly goal they need to achieve in order to maintain their revenue expectations.

Kati’s budget is tied to these numbers and she’s totally transparent about this with her team, so that all of her guest service representatives are that much more motivated to fill the books. Kati says the trick is to keep your eyes on the prize—and get butts in the seats!

Additionally, each of Be Inspired Salon’s guest service representatives has the ability to earn an increase in their pay as they contribute to the sales of the salon. Kati holds her front desk team accountable with performance goals similar to those of her stylists. These goals include things like gift card sales, service add-ons, retail sales, personal referrals, VIP membership sales, and re-booking.  

STEP 2: Increase Your Prices

The second step to increasing your profitability is to charge more. Seems simple, right? Then why are we so scared to increase our prices? Kati reminds us that our CPAs, attorneys, product companies and contractors are all very willing to increase their prices on an annual basis. We come to accept that is the price of doing business with the people we trust, so why would we look at ourselves any differently?

The majority of our guests, whom Kati refers to as “A” clients, wouldn’t blink an eye when we do the same. There are so many reasons to increase your prices, perhaps you have just started offering a brand-new shampoo experience, maybe a handful of your stylists have been promoted to higher levels after reaching new benchmark achievements and productivity percentages. No matter how you choose to enhance the client experience, your prices should reflect the changes.

STEP 3: Stop Offering Discounts

The third way to increase your profitability is to stop offering discounts. Have you heard the saying, success is what you say no to?  

Kati offers a few examples, if you wanted to be successful in your pursuit of being fit and healthy, you would probably say “no” to fast food. If you wanted to get out of debt, you would probably say “no” to friends when they ask you to join them on weekend getaways—at least until you’re debt-free of course! What it comes down to Is this: with discounts, you’re going to attract fickle guests who won’t stick it out after the deals are over because you’re devaluing your work.  

Kati emphasizes, people don’t want to pay less, they want to be given more! There are so many ways to add value to your guest experience without devaluing your services, products, or people.

STEP 4: Think BIG

Finally, the fourth way to increase your profitability is to THINK BIG!  When you’re in growth mode, you’re thinking about all of the ways to grow your team, your guest list, your brand, and your long-term potential.  

This could mean you’re looking for a new, bigger and better space. Perhaps you even buy the building, in which case your salon would be renting from you—neat right? Depending on the space you might even be leasing out additional spaces to other businesses, essentially getting into commercial real estate. This could be great for your profitability!

You could also divide and conquer. Meaning you multiply and open your second, third, and fourth locations. Kati assures that if your systems, processes, culture, and training procedures are in place, this can be easier than you may think. There are so many ways you can grow profitability if you’re willing to think beyond what’s currently tangible—exciting, isn’t it?

To listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 164, and if you’d like to learn a little bit more about our host, Kati, check out her website and don’t forget to subscribe to the Beyond The Technique podcast for more incredible industry insight. 

Samantha Georgson
How to Win at Salon Life With Winn Claybaugh

Winning at salon business isn’t easy, not to mention, it’s going to look a little different for everybody but there are a few rules that every salon owner should play by when seeking success.

When thinking about the big winners in our industry, names like Winn Claybaugh are top of mind. As the Founder and Co-Owner of Paul Mitchell’s Educational Division, Winn knows a thing or two about building a solid platform for success.

Winn is the author of Be Nice or Else! and he has been recognized as one the best motivational speakers in the country. Early on in his career he became the youngest person to be named at the North American Hairstyling Awards, and more recently he was honored by American Salon as one of five industry leaders who helped revolutionize education. Winn is known for his humanitarian work, his passion for education and his incredible knack for business—talk about winning. 

So, what does it really take to win in this industry? Winn tells all!

Money Matters

At the end of the day, if your salon isn’t profitable, the doors aren’t open and you’re certainly not winning. While money shouldn’t be your main focus, it’s probably second on the list, and for good reason.

So, what’s keeping us from being profitable? Winn believes that the number one mistake salon owners make when it comes to money is basing decisions off of their own personal aesthetic or ego. At the root of all of your business decisions is the question of profitability, and if the outcome of your next decision doesn’t directly improve your profitability, it should be put on the back-burner until it does.  

For example, if you’re deciding whether you want to invest in those new marble floors or put that same money toward on-boarding, just ask yourself—which is bringing in more money?  

So yes, money does matter…

But Culture Matters More

As a salon owner, your job is to provide a home for your people. Your success and the success of your salon relies on that of your entire team. There are three musts when it comes to building a strong and successful team.

Be a Great Boss

First thing’s first, if you want to build an amazing team you have to be an amazing boss. The behaviors, attitudes, and results produced by your team are a direct reflection of the leadership they work under. If you’re looking to hire positive, proficient and productive people to your team, you had better lead by example.  

Winn says being a strong and successful leader is actually pretty simple. The best bosses simply work to meet their employees most basic human needs.  

  • Make your people feel safe

  • Let your people know that they belong

  • Give your people a purpose

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

It’s incredibly old fashioned to think that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Not to mention, it simply isn’t sustainable if you want to run a successful business.

Collaboration is a beautiful thing. Not only does a collaborative environment do wonders for your salon culture, but it also lends itself to all three of those most basic human needs. Your stylists and front desk employees want to feel valued. They want to know that their opinions matter and they want to feel like they can voice their opinions without fear of judgement or backlash. 

As a salon owner and professional leader, you already know how to bring out the best in your people, their talents, their passions, their creativity and their teamwork. As long as you’re transparent about how much you value that team effort, your employees will reciprocate those values and help cultivate that positive and collaborative culture within the salon. 

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Finally, it’s important to remember that you’re never alone. In this industry, we have each other’s backs, so ask for help when you need it.

Winn says he would never have gotten to where he is today without the help of his many mentors. It’s okay to turn to the experts when something is a little bit outside of your area of expertise. If you know of someone with knowledge you could benefit from, ask for their advice. As a salon owner, if you’re strengths lay in marketing and communication, hire a partner or a salon manager to handle the financials, or vice versa.

And don’t forget to return the favor when it inevitably circles back to you. We’re all a part of this industry and we want each other to succeed. Lift your peers up, and they’ll do the same for you. It’s a win-win!

To learn more about Winn Claybaugh and his incredible industry track record, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 163. Don’t forget to check out last years’ spotlight podcasts from America’s Beauty Show (where we first met Winn!) in order to gear up for this year’s event!

If you’re going to be at ABS this year and would like to be a part of our spotlight podcasts, reach out to us at with the subject line: “Shine the Spotlight on Me!” We look forward to chatting with all of you!

Samantha Georgson
The Key to Nailing the Consultation Is Open Communication

The consultation is the single most important step in securing a potential client. This introduction sets the stage for all future interactions between your client, their stylist, and ultimately, your salon. And the key to nailing the consultation? Open communication and conversation.  

Bespoke Beauty Bar Owners, Alicia and Christian Blazevich, know exactly what it takes to seal the deal during the consultation. In fact, their knack for client communication is what makes them a Salon Today Top 200 Salon. After putting in their time at a four-year college, Alicia and Christian found themselves longing for something different, so they decided to switch courses and that’s how Bespoke beauty bar was born.

Ironically, both Alicia and Christian grew up with a soft spot for the salon environment. As a child, Alicia spent most weekends at the salon with her grandmother perfecting her perm, and Christian fondly remembers visits to the barbershop with his grandfather. The Blazevich’s both grew up with a deep appreciation for the community atmosphere that salons provide, which played a significant role in their beauty bar for their own salon.

Alicia and Christian opened Bespoke Beauty Bar with the intentions of highlighting each client’s individuality. They knew that the same old cookie cutter formulas simply wouldn’t cut it in their studio, which is why they put an extra emphasis on the consultation. By getting to know each of their clients and their own intimate relationship with their hair, the Blazevich’s and their team are able to tailor their services to meet each client’s unique needs. Alicia and Christian ask all of the right questions during the consultation—and you can too!

Put it in Writing

Contrary to popular belief, the Blazevich’s know that doing everything digitally doesn’t always mean it’s going to be done better.  Alicia emphasizes the impact of using a hand-written client intake form during the consultation. While a digital form might speed up the process, there’s a level of thoughtfulness that comes with writing something down by hand.

I mean seriously, how often are we asked to jot down our thoughts and feelings anymore? Alicia encourages salon owners to hand their clients a pen and paper during their first visit in order to prompt them to really process the questions and fill out the form authentically.

Make it Positively Personal

While the consultation should still ultimately be about the technical services your client is seeking, it’s important to include some personal questions when getting to know them and their individual needs. Not only does this help you match each client with their perfect stylist, but it also shows that you care about the person underneath each head of hair.

Alicia and Christian also suggest spinning the consultation in a positive light. During the first visit, we often focus on what the client is looking to change, what they don’t like about their hair. Alicia emphasizes how impactful it can be to shift the focus to what they do like, what about their hair makes them feel good.

Of course, we’re still there to tend to that unwanted outgrowth or make those color corrections, but by asking these questions and getting to the bottom of their wants and needs you’re letting each client know that they’re valued, and that you care about their feelings.  

Alicia also suggests that you ask each client about what they look forward to when coming to the salon. Make yourself aware of their favorite part of the salon experience and linger there during their service. For some, coming to the salon is a chore in and of itself, so don’t add the extra frills. For others, they might say they love the shampoo or simply being pampered, so give them an extra rinse or add some essential oils to amplify the experience.

Ask the Tough Questions

It can be tempting to wrap up the consultation after the more enjoyable “get-to-know-you” questions, but it can’t end there. The most important questions are the ones regarding maintenance and budget.

As a salon owner or stylist, the goal is always to send clients off with a new wave of confidence and incredible hair, but the key to keeping your clients is giving them the ability to recreate that same look and feeling at home. Alicia and Christian know that hair maintenance looks a little bit different for every client, which is why they take the time to ask the tough questions.

At Bespoke, they really break it down to understand each client’s level of ability when it comes to maintaining their color, their biggest challenges when it comes to styling, and their current product regimen. Alicia suggests that you start with the basics and work your way up. Ask your clients, “How much time do you spend on your hair in the morning?” And go from there.

Break Down the Budget

Finally, it’s time to talk about the budget. At Bespoke, the last page of their client intake form is the personalized Bespoke Beauty Plan, where they cover the cost down to the dollar.

Again, Alicia says it’s important to break the cost down by service. Does your color require an additional glaze or bonding treatment? How many times will you need to process? While this level of disclosure might sound daunting at first, Alicia and Christian argue that this kind of transparency helps build trust with your clients. Not to mention, it’s tremendous for bridging the gap between the client’s expectations and what’s actually realistic for their budget and level of ability. 

To learn more about Bespoke Beauty Bar and the Blazevich’s knack for client communication, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 162. If you’re interested in more step-by-step advice on perfecting the consultation conversation, read our previous blog post on the Six Steps to a Winning Consultation.


Insider Tips on Big Time Blogging

Blogging has grown substantially over the years—and although blogs are no longer the hot new form of communication per say, they have picked up some serious speed with the rise of social media. 

If you haven’t already launched a blog for your business, it’s time to get started! Blogs are one of the most valuable tools business owners have in their toolbox. A blog essentially acts a publishing platform for your business, and it creates the perfect avenue to market directly to your prospective clients at little to no cost. 

If you still need convincing, you’re in luck because digital marketing expert Joey Donovan Guido is here to sell you on the concept of blogging and to offer his best tips and tricks for taking your business blog and running with it big time. 

We introduced you to Joey on our Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed his previous interviews we’ll give you a quick recap: Joey owns his own online marketing business, Cuppa SEO, in which he helps businesses improve their searchability and master all aspects of digital marketing. 

Before this major business venture, Joey dipped his toes into the world of blogging and was the writer behind “Daddy Brain,” a blog that gave its readers a peak into the thoughts, feelings and struggles of being a modern-day dad. Although he has retired his popular “dad blog,” he’s still very active in the blogging scene. He publishes content under his business name, Cuppa SEO, and works to help other businesses get their blogs up and running as well. With his expert industry insight, Joey spills his best blogging secrets to get you excited about creating content for your business.

Blogging: Good for Business in More Ways Than One

There is much to be said for publishing a blog under your business name because, regardless of what your business is, does, or sells, a blog is a great way to build a network of customers before they even walk through your door. 

Joey reminds us that blogging is not for the purpose of selling or pushing a specific product onto our readers, instead, a business blog should be used to build relationships with your clients. For salon owners, blogs can be the perfect way to preview some of your services for new clients, and to continue that candid conversation long after their time in your chair. 


Google Loves a Good Business Blog

On the marketing side of things, what a blog does for your business is absolutely invaluable. It’s a way to connect with clients. It’s a useful tool in helping them find your business and it could wind up being the cherry on top that really seals the deal in their decision to seek out your services.

This is where SEO comes into play. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is Joey’s jam. It’s exactly what it sounds like, it is the science behind enhancing or optimizing your searchability—or essentially an attempt to get the big dogs, like Google, to notice you. 

SEO is so important to your business because in today’s digital world everyone turns to Google for recommendations, and if you provide the services that a potential client is searching for, you want to ensure that your business is listed among those top hits. 

Well, we have good news—Google loves a good business blog. If you’re pushing out content, even just once per week, Google takes notice. After a few weeks, you start to build up some credibility and suddenly your blog alone has bumped you up from the third page of hits to the first recommendation.


Boasting About Your Business? Put It in Writing

A lot of the fear around publishing a blog comes from business owners who are afraid of the writing component. Joey encourages his clients to change their thinking—don’t view blogging as a writing assignment, think of it as another platform for communicating about your business.

At the end of the day, you know more about your business and your industry than anyone else. If you’re a salon owner, you likely can’t help but get excited about the services you specialize in and you could gush about your team or your best clients all day long. Take that same energy and put it down into words—it’s as simple as that. 

You don’t have to be an amazing writer to produce a popular blog, you just have to be pushing out content that you’re passionate about, and the writing will come naturally as a result. 


Get Crafty with Content Creation

When it comes to writing a blog for your beauty business, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are so many beauty blogs out there, you could easily look to other savvy salon blogs for some ideas and find fun ways to spin them to fit your salon. 

Gentle reminder: no one is expecting you to produce Pulitzer prize-winning blog posts. Your efforts should simply be put toward adding value for your readers. Focus in on a few topics that you know are relevant to your client base and run with them. 

Quick Tip: Sometimes the best blog posts are the ones that focus in on just one micro-topic. This could be a piece on your salon’s specific technique for cutting curly hair or a product review of your new beard oil, and just really cover that topic in full. These posts are super easy for your readers to digest and they’re just short enough to leave them wanting more!


When It Comes to Blog Titles: Clarity Over Creativity

Perhaps the most important element to each blog post is the title. You could be publishing some incredible must-read content, but if that title doesn’t scream “click on me!” your readers won’t think twice before scrolling on until something else catches their eye.

Titles are your attention grabbers, they are the primary vehicles driving traffic to your blog posts, but at the end of the day—clarity always trumps creativity when it comes to titling your published pieces. 

Again, this has everything to do with SEO. If you want your blog post to pop up on Google during a relevant search, Joey says you had better throw the dog a bone and insert a few keywords into the title to increase your chances of being found. Think about the content of your blog post and dig deep to determine the main topic. Once you’re able to pinpoint the true premise of your blog post, you can begin to build off of that theme in order to brainstorm a more creative title.  

The best thing you can do when launching a blog is to simply put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Think about your target audience, all of your clients, past and potential, in order to determine what kind of content will be the most relevant to them. As long as you include your clients in the conversation and have a little fun with it, you’re going to benefit from publishing a blog under your business.     

For more insider tips on starting your business blog, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 158. Be sure to also check out Cuppa SEO’s website and business blog for more expert advice on all things digital marketing.

The Two Areas You Must Master If You Want to Be Successful

We all want to be successful, but for each and every one of us that same success looks a little bit different. Some measure their success by the amount money they have in the bank. Others view success in terms of the number of achievements, awards or honors they have received over the course of their lifetime. And for many, success simply means having the flexibility to decide what will make us feel successful day by day. 

Regardless of what success means to you, there are two major areas of your life you must master if you want to be truly successful—and that is your time and your standards.

Industry expert Kati Whitledge shares her personal trials and tribulations when it comes to achieving her own version of success, and offers her best advice on mastering those two areas in our lives that we often take for granted. 

In addition to hosting the beloved Beyond The Technique podcast, Kati is the owner of the award-winning Be Inspired Salon located in Madison, Wisconsin, and the creative brain behind Meet Your Stylist, an innovative salon software system that matches potential clients with salon professionals based on services, lifestyle preferences, and personality. Kati is passionate about helping others in the industry develop their own success stories, and wants to share her success with all of you by spilling her secrets to mastering her own time and standards, both personal and professional. 


Taking On Time

The first decision you have to make in figuring out your path to success is where you want to spend your time. Kati’s favorite social media gif says, “You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé.” And it’s so spot on. We all get twenty-four hours a day to maximize, and as Kati says, time is the one commodity we don’t get back. 

So, how are you going to maximize your time? Sure, we all have tremendous responsibilities, but we also all have the power to prioritize our time. It’s a choice, and how you choose to define success will ultimately determine how you choose to spend your time.

For Kati, this means getting up before her one-year-old so that she can have some quiet time. It also means checking emails and logging into work before her salon opens so that she can make it to her 4 p.m. yoga class and be home before her husband gets back from picking their son up from daycare.

Success is simply about making a few value-based decisions and managing those decisions each and every day. Kati makes sure to schedule no more than two in-person meetings per day and allows herself at least two totally uninterrupted days during the week to accomplish tasks. She’s mindful about only saying yes to one after-work event per week so as not to neglect her family time, and she’s especially intentional about getting enough sleep. Every choice is purposeful—so, what does that look like for you? 


Setting Your Standards

The second decision you have to make during your journey to success is determining what standards you intend to live by. Kati likes to set standards instead of goals because a lot of times goals turn into wishful thinking. So, why don’t we shift the mindset away from setting goals and move toward setting tangible and realistic standards for ourselves. 

The important piece here, is that unlike goals, these standards are non-negotiable. Outside of work, Kati’s non-negotiables are reading, writing, checking in with her managers, and doing one load of laundry per day. While to some these might seem like items we wouldn’t even include on our checklist, that sort of attitude is exactly how we wind up with six loads of laundry and two un-finished novels sitting by our bedside. 

If you need help determining your non-negotiables, Kati recommends that you think about your environment, your identity, and your values. First, your environment, all of the places and people you surround yourself with. You have to decide who fits into your environment. This is critical because you are who you spend time with, and that decision plays an active role in determining how you spend your time. Are the places and people around you challenging you or pushing you toward your version of success?

Second, your identity, who you are. Think about who you are right now, and then who you want to become. Are there areas in your life where you’re failing to take accountability? If you were the dream version of yourself, who would you be? What do you need to do in order to become the person you were meant to be?

Kati shares some insight from her friend, Dave Ramsey, who taught her about the concept of displacement. In his words, displacement is, “pouring in the good to remove the bad.” Instead of pinning your focus on ridding yourself of your bad habits, put your energy toward bringing new and positive behaviors into your life.

Finally, your values, the attributes and aspects of life that matter to you most. Simply put, your values are displayed by your actions. You may say that you value education, but when you’re asked to sign up for an amazing opportunity, you decide to pass because you’d rather use your lunch break to sit on Facebook. You may value reading books on salon marketing or personal growth, but when the rubber meets the road, you choose to turn on your favorite Netflix series.

As Kati says, you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. These words are here to encourage you to live by new standards and be wise with your time—all in order to get you to the level of success you truly desire. For Kati, all it took was hearing Brad Sugars say, “If you don’t know where you’ll be in five years, you’re already there.” What will it take for you? 

Use this as an opportunity to create the life and legacy you’ve always desired. 

To listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 159, and if you’d like to learn a little bit more about our host, Kati, check out her website and don’t forget to subscribe to the Beyond The Technique podcast for more incredible industry insight. 




Emily Kelly
Getting Down to Business at Serious Business® 2019

Serious Business® is the beauty industry’s networking event of the year. The conference, put on by Neill Corporation, can be chalked up to a wonderful weekend gathering of like-minded individuals and industry leaders dedicated to personal development and bettering their business practices.

According to Neill, the purpose of Serious Business® is to expose, evoke, and evolve the thinking of its attendees in order to encourage business owners and all of their employees to reach their full potential. This year’s theme, “Get Out of Your Own Way,” well—it pretty much speaks for itself.

Here at Beyond The Technique, our team had the pleasure of attending the many educational and inspirational talks given by this year’s amazing keynote speakers and we were so proud to support our own incredible host and CEO, Kati Whitledge, along with the other 2019 breakout speakers during this year’s breakout sessions.  

After spending an incredible weekend in New Orleans networking with and learning from some of the best in the business, we compiled a list of the top 12 takeaways from the event. Salon owners—listen up!

A Change is A-Coming

Seth Mattison, author of The War at Work, opens our eyes to the massive change we’re experiencing in the workforce today. We’re slowly and steadily shifting from the age of the hierarchy to the age of the network—which promises to change the way we work.  

Ultimately, this shift will lead toward more freedom for stylists, and in return less security for salon owners—but this is a good thing. Seth encourages salon owners and managers to welcome this change, it’s a chance to prove your loyalty to your tribe by propelling your team forward.

If you work to provide your team of stylists with ample opportunities to develop their skills and educate their peers, in return you’ll begin to build an even stronger relationship, one based on mutual trust and respect instead of unstable top-down leadership.

Personal Growth is Professional Growth

Advancing in your career can’t happen without a little personal growth and development. If you’re looking to level up in your professional life, you should start by looking for those areas in your personal life that could use some improvement.  

The pioneers of Emergent Wisdom, Alexi Panos and Preston Smiles, stand by the idea that breaking down those personal barriers is what will ultimately lead to developing your best business practices.

As founders of the groundbreaking Bridge Method, Panos and Smiles encourage all of us to get outside of ourselves in order to leverage our potential both in and outside of our profession. They recently co-authored the trailblazing book, Now or Never, which fits in perfectly with this year’s Serious Business theme—if you don’t dig deep now in order to determine which of your own personal tendencies are holding you back today, you won’t be better tomorrow—the time is now.

Get Social With It

There’s something to be said for social media marketing, and Shama Hyder is here to give you the low down on the importance of having a digital presence in today’s technological world. Hyder is the CEO of the award-winning agency, Zen Media, and the best-selling author of two books, The Zen of Social Media Marketing and Momentum.

As a keynote speaker with vast knowledge of the world of marketing, Hyder encourages salon owners to really think about the benefits surrounding social media marketing. She says the best way to gain a following across any of the various platforms available today is to find your niche in the marketplace and milk it.

Hyder shares the three principles for gaining momentum on social media.

It’s About What We Can Do for You

It’s not about what your brand says about you or your business, it’s about what it says about the people who believe in it—your clients are your brand ambassadors.

Agility Is Based in Analytics

Numbers are your friend—use your data and analytics to tell a better story.  

The People Are Vying for Video

Video has three times more reach than any other content, heed Hyder’s advice and make 2019 the year your brand focuses on video content.

Business Is About Building Relationships

The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life—or, in this case—your business. Psychotherapist, Esther Perel, recognizes the unique advantage that stylists have when it comes to building real relationships with their clients and customers. 

In addition to the generous amount of time stylists are able to spend with their clients in the chair, the salon is one of the few havens where human touch is actually encouraged, and that alone lends itself to a great deal of trust between the two parties involved. Capitalize on this opportunity—make it a point to really connect with your clients.  

Communicate With Your Clients

It might sound simple, but the key to keeping your clients is solid communication. Joey Coleman, author of Never Lose a Customer Again, argues that most businesses lose that connection with their clients after the purchase. So, he’s challenging salon owners and stylists to keep that connection and communication alive well beyond the point of sale.

If you want to keep your clients coming back, let them know! In order to improve the client experience, you have to carry on the conversation long after your clients leave the salon. Get personal—show your clients you’re thinking about them, spread love—and you’ll never lose another client again.

Know Your Worth

As president of the Gene Juarez Salon and Spa group in Seattle, Washington, Scott Missad is all too familiar with the stress that comes with pricing your own services. He encourages stylists and salon owners to remember the difference between value and price.   

Your clients aren’t just paying for their cut and color, they’re paying for the time spent in your chair—the full salon experience. As a salon owner or stylist, it’s important to that you give yourself credit where credit is due. Understand your worth and promote yourself with confidence. In return, your prices will always reflect the value of the services you provide.


Surround Yourself With Success

As the owner of Be Inspired Salon in Madison, Wisconsin, Kati Whitledge knows how important it is to build a strong team of stylists. For many, the recruiting process is exhausting and can feel like a vicious cycle, but Kati encourages salon owners and stylists alike to get exciting about on-boarding by viewing it as an opportunity.  

Kati shares the three steps she always takes when it comes to recruiting.

You Must Master Thy Self

You can’t expect to successfully lead others without first conquering your own faults and flaws. Once you learn who you are, where you might fall short and where you often succeed, then you can begin to build your team with people who compliment you in those areas.

Be Tenacious When it Comes to Recruiting

You have to be relentless in the recruiting process. In fact, you should always be on the lookout for those people with potential, because regardless of whether or not you’re looking to add to your team in that moment, those personalities can be hard to come by and if you know they’re going to be a great fit, you can always find room.  

The Truth Is in the Technique: How Do You Hire?

Finally, it all comes down to the nuts and bolts of hiring. At the end of the day, your salon’s culture comes first. If you find that person with the strong personality who still needs time to develop their technical skills—hire them. Skills can be taught, but attitudes can’t always be changed.

Be Better Than the Best

Bad-Ass Business Coach, Lyn Christian, works with professionals in every industry in order to encourage them to take control of their lives and ultimately take charge of their careers.

Whether you’re looking to reinvent your career or you simply need help taking your business to that next level, Lyn believes the best way to close the gap between who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow is to find a fresh point of reference. Take the time periodically to sit down, look at your current situation and write down your goals. You might be surprised at how your objectives shift as you continue to develop your career.  

Be Nice, or Else!

The founder and dean of Paul Mitchell’s educational division, Winn Claybaugh, is here with one simple snippet of advice—be nice, or else. Being kind to others is the one behavioral practice that is guaranteed to guide you toward a life of love and leadership. Not to mention, it’s unbelievably easy and the rewards are immeasurable.

If you can create, train and sustain a “be nice” community in your workplace, potential hires will be dying to work with you, clients and customers will be determined to do business with you, and your team will thank you. 

Double Down on Your Salon Culture

As the owner of the Nutur Salon and Spa group in Columbus, Ohio, Patrick Thompson is all too familiar with the importance of forming a solid salon culture. Your culture should never be overlooked, it’s the energy that fuels the relationships that your business relies on.  

The two most important assets to any salon business are your teammates and your clients—and the one tried and true way to preserve those relationships is to provide an environment that both parties want to be a part of.  

Find Partners With Potential

As the Founder and CEO of Qnity and the 2 to 10 Project with a background in salon ownership, Tom Kuhn is uniquely qualified to see all angles that go into successful partnering. He believes that the secret to forming these relationships and ultimately finding a partner with potential is to keep competition out of the conversation.

Whether you’re looking to leverage your business or you’re hoping to hand over some of your responsibilities, building relationships through partnerships can be a great way to add value to your business while also providing a potential exit strategy for salon owners who are ready for their next career move. Partnerships are all about possibility—so, keep your eyes peeled for that next promising opportunity.   

Put Yourself First

Health and Wellness Expert, Ben Greenfield, reminds us that our professional performance relies on our personal health and longevity. Life is a delicate balance, and as busy industry professionals, many of us forget to take care of ourselves at that most basic level.

We all aspire to some level of health, wealth and happiness, but it’s important to keep up the effort in each of these categories. At the end of the day, a lavish life has little meaning without people to share it with. Take time for yourself, put energy toward maintaining your relationships, both personal and professional, and relish in the little things.

How to Craft Your Culture and Ultimately Shape Salon Operations

Culture is the spirit that lives in your salon. Your salon’s culture is what ignites your employees. It drives the decision making within your business, and ultimately, your culture dictates how your salon operates—so, if you want to have some control over your operations, you have to first understand how to craft your culture. 

The queens of culture keeping, Keri Davis and Karla Lopez-Martinez from Beauty Backbone, are here to share their secrets for crafting a positive culture in order to shape your salon operations. 

We introduced you to Keri and Karla on the Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed their previous interviews, we’ll give you a quick recap: Keri is the owner and founder of the reputeGila Rut Salon group in Southern California where Karla actually began her journey as an assistant. Karla quickly moved up the ranks at Gila Rut to eventually become the co-owner of their second location. 

With the help of Gila Rut’s educational director, Jonatan Rizo, Keri and Karla founded Beauty Backbone, a digital education platform for owners by owners. Beauty Backbone teaches salon owners the secrets to educating, directing operations, managing finances, and instilling leadership skills in your team. Keri and Karla have had years of experience in crafting their own salon culture, and now they’re here to help you do the same. 


Communicating Your Business Mission is a Must

The most important step in crafting your culture is creating that one common goal. If you want your team to come to work feeling motivated each and every day, they need to have a tangible mission to work towards. 

Keri believes the best way to decide on your salon’s business mission, is to ask yourself one question, “What are my three core values?”. Of course, very few of us can recite our top three right here on the spot, so—let’s break it down even further.

Who Are You?

Now is the time to dig deep in order to determine who you are at your core and ultimately what matters the most to you as a business owner, both personally and professionally. 

What Do You Believe In?

After you’re able to pinpoint exactly who you are at your roots, it’s time to dig into your most basic and fundamental beliefs in order to determine what kind of culture you’re going to build within your salon. 

What Are Your Non-Negotiables?

Everyone has them, and as a business owner you need to clearly communicate your non-negotiables with your team from the get-go. Honesty is key in crafting your ideal culture. You have to set those ground rules and clearly lay down your expectations before you can watch your team soar. 


The Formula for Guiding Operations

Keri and Karla approach their salon operations as a formula of behaviors and actions that produce results. So, if you want to master this formula, you have to first differentiate between your individual operations and determine which ones might require your attention.  

If you want to have more control over, let’s say, your salon’s customer service, you have to clearly communicate the kind of attitudes and behaviors you expect of your team in order to see those results. This boils down to the specific verbiage your front desk team is using over the phone or when checking in your guests to the exact route you expect your stylists to use when taking new clients on a tour of your salon. 

The more specific you are in your instructions, the more precise your results will be. Your team is your vehicle for maintaining your culture and really seeing your salon operations through. If your team knows what’s expected of them, they’ll quickly fall into their groove, and your culture will surely follow suit.


The Cultural Commandments

Many of you, as salon owners, likely already have a mission statement in place, but now it’s time to figure out where that mission exists. To be clear, we’re not referring to where it’s written out on the “About Us” page on your website, or how it’s buried deep in the paperwork you use for hiring. We’re referring to where this mission exists within your salon. 

Someone somewhere along the way told us that we needed to have a mission statement in order to build a business, but no one told us how that mission statement becomes this living, breathing thing within our business—and that is where your salon culture comes in. 

Culture is this buzzword now and suddenly everyone is scrambling to figure out what their culture is or if they even have any sort of culture in place at all, but if you really think about it—

this is nothing new. Every salon has established its own “vibe.” It’s an inevitable component of running a business and building a team. Keri and Karla both emphasize that it’s really not about finding your culture, but that instead, it’s about nurturing that energy and keeping your culture alive. 

If you’d like to learn more about this beauty business phenomenon, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 157, and don’t forget to check out Keri and Karla’s digital platform, Beauty Backbone, for the ultimate in-depth guide to crafting your salon culture.  

Emily Kelly
How to Become a Hair Boss

The best thing about working in the beauty industry is that none of us are here by accident. We all followed our passion and, regardless of our own individual interests or skill sets, our paths have all lead us here, and that alone is pretty rad.

So, we know that we all have this innate desire to be the best in the business, which is why we show up each and every day with such great enthusiasm for our work, but what does it take to become a true Hair Bossin the beauty industry today?

Industry expert and the original Hair Boss herself, Jamie Wiley, is here to walk us through exactly what it takes to reach that next level. Jamie works behind the chair in between her appointments as a session stylist. She has a degree in technical communications as well as an associate’s degree in the science of cosmetology and she’s the author of the book, Hair Boss, a hairstylist’s guide to owning their career. 

Before finding her stride in the beauty industry, Jamie served five years in the United States Army, which taught her everything from discipline, to loyalty, to selfless service—qualities that have taken her far in her life, both in the beauty industry and beyond. Jamie offers her best advice for hairstylists who are totally committed to owning their career and taking it to the next level.


Learning the Business of Hair

Ask yourself one question, “What is it that I want out of my career?”

For all of us in the beauty industry, our answers go far beyond financial stability, we want to be successful, we want to build relationships, we want to grow and prosper in the art of pampering our people. We all have aspirations, but we also all take time to get there. 

Jamie knows firsthand that if you want to make the most out of your career, you have to be the one to take the reins and steer yourself in the direction that you want to go, nobody else can do it for you. Oftentimes, we leave cosmetology school with vast knowledge on how to cut, color and style, but with little to no knowledge on how to actually build our business or direct our brand. 

Jamie says that the key to becoming a Hair Boss is to learn the business of hair. If you want to catapult yourself into your dream career, it’s imperative that you dig deep and find the drive to push yourself beyond your boundaries when it comes to learning how to do business—so, let’s get started. 


Building Your Clientele From the Ground Up

Jamie is an army wife, and with her family’s constant relocation she has become all too familiar with the daunting task that is building your clientele from scratch.

Jamie believes the secret to building a solid book when you’re just starting out is really in your communication. First, you have to find clients to market yourself to. You have to put yourself out there, whether that be on social media, over an email marketing campaign or live and in person at events where potential clients might be lingering.  

The most effective way to gain a solid clientele is to simply be true to yourself. If you brand yourself authentically and are honest about your skill set and your passions, you’re going to attract your ideal clients and your book will quickly begin to fill itself. 


Offering Solutions Not Making Sales

Let’s be clear about something—when we’re talking about recommending retail, we’re not focused on making the sale. Our goal is to provide a solid, long-term solution to our client’s haircare needs.

Jamie is incredibly passionate about pushing stylists beyond their fear of making sales. She encourages everyone in the beauty industry to remember one thing—that we are in the customer service business. Recommending retail isn’t about sales, but instead, it’s about creating satisfied customers by providing them with the products and tools needed to recreate their looks at home. 

In her book, Hair Boss, Jamie offers word for word scripts for selling products so that you can feel confident in making that sale, and she does so in a way that prompts your clients to understand the true intentions behind each product recommendation. 


Uncovering Your Full Potential

Not only is it important to understand your worth when it comes to building confidence in your career, but it’s a crucial piece in setting your prices. 

You have to attack your career with confidence and live out your passions intentionally each and every day. You deserve to be where you are, you have earned each step, and your prices should reflect your journey. 

Whether you’re closing in on your greatest achievement or you’re just setting sail, Jamie offers step-by-step advice for how to reach your biggest business goals. If you want to learn more about Jamie’s personal journey through the industry, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 155, and be sure to check out her book, Hair Boss, for all of her insider tips for truly owning your career.

Emily Kelly
The Backbone of Your Beauty Business Has Arrived

Whether you’re the head of a large empire or you’re just beginning to grow your business, each member of your team plays a significant part in running the show, and it’s absolutely crucial that everyone be on the same page when the curtains rise. 

As the owner or manager of a salon, you can’t always be there to train new stylists, and it can be difficult to know where to begin when trying to teach your master stylists how to educate new hires. The goal is always to put the passion for the craft at the center of your educational training, but how do you do that while simultaneously running a successful business, communicating your company culture, and clearly defining your expectations? This is where Beauty Backbone comes in. Beauty Backbone is your digital training assistant, created to help your established stylists become solid educators all while maintaining your desired salon culture. 

Beauty Backbone is the brainchild of three renown hairdressers who are very familiar with the struggles that come with owning and operating a business. Salon owner, Keri Davis, and her team of educators, Karla Lopez-Martinez, and Jonatan Rizo, came together to develop this digital education tool in order to help align their passion for beauty with the business side of things, and to effectively communicate that relationship with their entire tribe. 

These three industry leaders found their stride while working together to build fresh experiences into their educational program at Gila Rut, a group of luxury salons in greater San Diego. Keri and her team came up with an extensive in-salon training program built around the five fundamentals of running a successful business—education, culture, aspirations, financial stability, and leadership. Their program was so successful for their own team at Gila Rut that they decided to share it with the entire industry in order to empower other salon owners and brilliant educators to become true industry leaders. 


Consistency in Education is Key

Education is the cornerstone of every salon’s culture. It’s how your stylists master technical skills, and how they absorb the systems and practices that make your salon exceptional. The right educational platform allows you to retain amazing stylists and managers and continually grow your business.

Train U is Beauty Backbone’s built-in education tool. Jonatan developed this digital training platform shortly after joining the Gila Rut team because he wanted to find a way to make sure that all of the salon’s educators were receiving the same training, and thus delivering the same results.

This customizable training program includes everything from class guides and lesson plans to video tutorials for when you just need to see the lesson in action. The Train U program begins with instructive tools for your master stylists and top educators and trickles down to your newest employees and assistants in training. This top down approach is the perfect way to ensure that all of your stylists understand their role in maintaining the salon’s culture while still providing fun and engaging learning experiences.  


Teams That Grow Together, Stay Together

Employee retention is even more important than client retention. At the end of the day, your clients are choosing your salon because of the stylists on your team. Once you’ve managed to build a strong and unified team, you want to keep them around, so you have to keep them engaged. 

Beauty Backbone and the Train U program are also great tools for retaining stylists. This program has a specific timeline for stylists to follow, with check points along the way to keep them on track. This timeline makes it easy for new hires to know exactly when they’ll be out on the floor, and it puts the pressure on them to complete their training in order to get the ball rolling. 

This program also provides additional engagement for your established stylists by providing opportunities to continue their technical training and advance their career with the goal of becoming educators themselves.


Sustainable Education Cycles Back

Beauty Backbone’s top-down approach to training creates an educational cycle within your salon team. Salon’s that use Beauty Backbone are encouraged to have all team members, regardless of their level of experience in the industry, go through the Train U program. Higher level stylists are then often selected to become educators for new members of the team.

This mentorship piece is a really valuable aspect to Beauty Backbone and the Train U program because it ensures that none of the students, assistants or trainees are being left behind. It can be hard to adjust to a new salon and learn the culture, but when you have your own people filling in as educators for your new hires, these connections grow organically and you’re able to build a really strong, cohesive team. 

This top-down approach creates a truly sustainable cycle for education within your salon. As your stylists progress through their training, certain personalities will rise to the top and your next group of educators will begin to show themselves as they grow within the program. 

If you want to learn more about the founders of Beauty Backbone and Train U, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 149. If you want more in depth information on each step in this powerful training program check out the Beauty Backbone website and watch their public webinars to learn just how this tool could truly service your team.  

Emily Kelly
How to Help Your Stylists Find Their Niche

It’s no secret that stylists have a flare for the creative, but any hairstylist will tell you that finding their niche was no small task. 

As a salon owner or manager, we want to help all of our stylists be as successful as they can be in their careers. We push them to advance their education and climb the ladders in cutting and coloring, but perhaps the best thing we can do for our stylists is to help them figure out their very own niche in the marketplace. 

It’s better to be great at one thing than it is to be average at all of the things. Every stylist is going to have his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and nestled somewhere deep within all of those trials and tribulations they will find their niche, or their specialty. Salon owner and industry expert Kati Whitledge shares her best advice for salon owners who want to help their stylists figure out their domain and drop the FOMO, or fear of missing out, for good

In addition to hosting the beloved Beyond The Technique podcast, Kati is the owner of the award-winning Be Inspired Salon located in Madison, Wisconsin, and the creative brain behind Meet Your Stylist, an innovative salon software system that matches potential clients with salon professionals based on services, lifestyle preferences, and personality. Kati is passionate about helping her stylists find their stride, and wants to teach other salon owners how to do the same. Kati offers her tips and tricks for helping your stylists choose their specialty. 


What Sets Your Stylists Apart?

Kati believes that, as an owner, the first step in finding the perfect niche for your stylists is figuring out what sets them apart from the competition. 

Think about it this way—if you’re looking to make dinner reservations on a Friday night, are you going to choose the average restaurant that offers a little bit of literally everything, from pancakes to potato bakes, or are you going to pick the place that does that one thing really well? You’re probably going to go for the ladder, because those are the places with rave reviews and lines out the door—the same goes for salon services. 

Of course, in this industry, everyone wants to do it all, but if we’re looking at the behavior of our buyers, we know that quality trumps quantity, and people want to know that they’re going to the best of the best for the services they’re looking to have done. Most of your new hires won’t feel like they know what sets them apart if you ask them fresh out of beauty school. Giving your stylists time to embrace all of the things your salon offers is one of the easiest ways to find out what they’re actually good at. 

Kati encourages salon owners to work with their stylists during their first few years, and to really push them through technical challenges, because you never know, those skills might become one of their biggest strengths. 


Imagine Your Stylist in Their Ideal Work Environment 

As salon owners, we’re aware of the importance of developing relationships with our clients, but we have to remember to put that same energy into getting to know our stylists. 

Instead of focusing on the services your stylists perform, it can be helpful to think about which kinds of clients your stylists enjoy working with the most. Each stylist has his or her own personality, skillset, and ideal work environment, all of which contribute to finding their niche within your salon. Once you form a solid foundational relationship with your stylists, you’ll start to pick up on which clients fit their personality and aesthetic the most. 

In order to help your stylists find their specialty, Kati recommends that you think about which kinds of clients energize and excite them, which services tend to drain them, and to really think through the situations that prompt other team members to turn to them for advice. These questions will help you, as a salon owner, find what works best for your stylists over time. 


Finding Their Niche Creates a Law of Attraction

Once your stylist finds their niche, they’ll really hit their stride. This doesn’t mean that they’ll lose touch with the other skills and services they’re required to perform, but they’ll begin to really build on the skills and services that excite them the most.  

Of course, nature always plays its course, and as your stylists start to hone in on the specific skill sets that set them apart, they’ll begin to attract clientele seeking those very services. This is what Kati refers to as the law of attraction

Once your stylist gets in their groove, everything falls right into place—but finding that niche involves much more than just thinking about which services each stylist performs the best. While technique and skill set play a significant part, emotional intelligence is perhaps the number one contributing factor in determining each stylists’ niche. Kati is very familiar with the power of emotional intelligence and the laws of attraction, which is why she built Meet Your Stylist. 

Meet Your Stylist is a salon software that operates as matchmaking service for clients and stylists. Meet Your Stylist goes above and beyond matching clients with salon professionals on the basis services, it thinks about personality type, availability, and of course, required skills, in order to determine which stylists would be the right fit for each individual client.

Specializing in specific services is a win-win for everyone. Your stylists can continue to build on the skills they’re most passionate about learning, allowing them to truly feel fulfilled in the workplace, and your clients will feel that much more confident in the services they’re receiving. 

To listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 153. Don’t forget to check out the Meet Your Stylist website in order to learn more about just how this tool can benefit your salon, build your clientele, and transform your tribe for the better. 








Emily Kelly
Overcoming Major Beauty Industry Disruption

Disruption is inevitable no matter what industry you’re in—and that’s agoodthing. The beauty industry beckons a consistent wave of innovation, and in order to survive in the face of the rising tide we must embrace change as it crashes onto the shoreline. 

Industry giant Scott Missad has worked in almost every aspect of beauty. From his humble beginnings working in a beauty warehouse, to becoming the Senior Vice President of Sales at L’Oreal, to eventually becoming the CEO of a group of luxury salons and then elected as President of the International SalonSpa Business Network, Scott has seen it all. So, what brought about such an incredibly transformative career? The answer is simple—major disruptions in the industry, each one pushing him to dive further in. 

Scott walks us through a few of the significant disruptions that he’s lived through during his thirty years in the beauty industry. He shares how he has managed not only to survive, but to truly thrive in his career by welcoming these challenges and facing the competition headstrong in order to come out on top. 


Technology Has Changed the Beauty Industry Forever 

The many advancements in technology that have come about over the last few years have caused an uproar in our industry, and it’s not slowing down. Before the advent of the Internet, clients would simply put their trust into the hands of their stylists. Stylists were the experts, and our clients would never know any better if our stylists were misinformed in their practice. 

Of course, all of that has changed. Technology has put the power into the hands of the consumer, and honestly—it’s about time. Today, our clients can hold us accountable for the services we provide because in our digital world they have all of our industry knowledge right at their fingertips. While at first it may have seemed like an unsettling shift in power, in the end, those who have managed to keep up with these changes are now producing better results, giving better recommendations, and really advancing in their careers. 


Don’t Be Afraid of Industry Disruption

Scott warns against holding onto the idea that these waves will ever change course. The truth of the matter is, each upsurge of change headed toward our industry almost always follows its trajectory, often striking the shoreline harder than expected. 

Scott’s best advice is quite simple: don’t play by the rules. Rules are arbitrary, and as the industry changes, so should you. The major disruptors in our field aren’t following the rules, and they’re doing great things while simultaneously changing the way we work. Look at Amazon, or the new wave of retail in the beauty industry, like Ulta, these companies are paving the way for some really neat things. So, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, in fact, we encourage it. 

Scott says the key is to remain optimistic, these challenges are what make the beauty industry so exciting. Welcoming change is half of the battle, but if you can find the opportunity lurking in the tide, you’re already ahead of the storm. 


Get Your Head in the Game

If you want to dominate in this industry, you can’t sit on the sidelines. Competition is all around us, there are thousands of salons in each city vying for everyone’s time and loyalty. So, if you want to thrive in this business, you have to play to win. 

If we compare ourselves to Amazon, or even these other beauty stores that are retailing our salon products, we have to think about how we can compete. Today, nobody wants to get in their vehicles to drive out to their salon when they run out of shampoo. And can you blame them, when somebody else could fulfill their needs with the click of a button? So, it begs the question, how can we measure up?

Ride the wave. If you haven’t already instituted an ecommerce program within your salon, Scott says now’s the time. If you really want to dominate in this industry, you have to give your clients the convenience they’re looking for. 

Quick Tip: Find ways to add additional value to your ecommerce experience. In order to differentiate yourself from Amazon even further, you could extend your rewards program to include these digital purchases and orders. Your clients won’t think twice before deciding to order through you! 


What Do You Have That They Don’t?

Although the beauty industry has expanded beyond salon visits, the one thing that we’ll always have over all of the cosmetic retailers and specialized service providers is that special one-on-one time with our clients. 

That uninterrupted time is our strategic advantage in the marketplace. I mean, just imagine what Amazon would give to have their shoppers spend nearly two hours on their site at a time, perusing products completely uninterrupted. That value is simply unmatched. Not to mention the ability to build strong, treasured relationships with those clients is so important. 

A typical visit to a salon could take anywhere from thirty minutes to up to three hours, which is incredibly valuable time spent in the chair—time where your clients are able to relax and focus all of their energy on the salon experience. These routine visits encourage your clients to build strong connections with your brand, and that loyalty is an absolutely invaluable aspect to the experience we offer. 

Our industry will inevitably continue to grow and evolve, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re going to ride the wave. If you want to learn more about Scott’s many achievements, and hear his advice for how to stay ahead of the game, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 154. Be sure to check out the International SalonSpa Business Network for updates on the many innovative ideas coming from our industry today.


Emily Kelly
The Secrets Behind Search Engine Optimization

If you have a question you need answered, where do you turn? Gone are the days of hauling out our dictionaries, encyclopedias, and directories in order to find what we’re looking for. With the world at our fingertips—we simply turn to the internet. As people grow to rely more and more on Google or other search engines for answering their immediate questions, discoverability becomes that much more important for businesses like ours who want to service those needs. This is where SEO or Search Engine Optimization comes in. 

Search Engine Optimization is exactly that, a way to optimize or enhance your searchability. Essentially, this is an attempt to get Google to notice you, which then determines the likelihood that a potential client will stumble upon your business or website when surfing the web. SEO is becoming much more prominent online, so as business owners, you need to stay on the up and up with your SEO in order to maintain a searchable status and help potential clients find your salon. SEO expert Joey Donovan Guido has a few tips and tricks for getting found. 

Joey owns his own online marketing business, Cuppa SEO, in which he helps businesses improve their searchability. He uses SEO to drive traffic to their websites, making it that much easier to turn visitors into customers. Joey offers his best advice for enhancing SEO in-house, so that you can get on Google’s “nice” list too.


Meet Your Matchmaker

How often do you search through even the second or third page of suggestions or “hits” Google computes for you? Most of us don’t even scroll all the way to the bottom of the first page.

Perhaps a potential client is searching for a specific product recommendation or seeking out a stylish salon in their area—their first instinct is to pull out their phones for a quick answer. They’ll sift through the first few hits until they land on a product or service that fits their needs. SEO helps ensure than your business is among those top hits.

Let’s go back to the online-dating analogy from our blog on the benefits of in-house branding—there are millions of people registered on dating sites, but only a few will actually make successful matches. SEO is comparable to using keywords to leverage your profile. These keywords are used to promote your best attributes and values, making it easier for potential matches to find you when searching through the site. 

Similarly, when someone is searching for a new salon for their cut and color services, a lot goes in to finding the right match. They might leverage specifics like price, or products, maybe they really value that luxury experience, or they might have super curly hair and are hoping to find a place that specializes in catering to their hair-type and texture. Whatever it may be, the goal is always to find a perfect match, one that fits their most basic needs, and in this scenario Google plays matchmaker.


Carefully Craft Your Website Content

As business owners, most of us strive to have clean, beautiful and easy-to-navigate websites, but have you considered how the content on your site influences your searchability?

Joey suggests reinventing your web content first, simply because it’s the easiest place to begin. Your web content refers to everything on your website that potential clients and visitors actually see, read, and interact with—otherwise known as your copy. Joey highlights the importance of writing rich, relevant copy in order to attract people who will fully benefit from the products and services you offer. 

Joey recommends filtering all of your copy through three important questions before uploading it onto your website:  

1.     What is this for? 

It might sound silly, but seriously, you need to think about what each word on your website is for. Is your copy informative? Does it have a purpose?  

2.     What does it do?

Now it’s time to think about verbiage and what each word is actively doing on your site. Are you using calls to action? Are you prompting potential clients to actually interact with your page? With your brand? 


3.     How does it help me? 

Finally, you should consider the actual influence these words have over your business. Your calls to action could prompt people to book appointments, follow your business on social, and sign up for email lists or membership services, all of which can boost your business and bring in extra revenue.

With rich, relevant copy your website can be both sophisticated and totally searchable. 


The Key Is Finding Useful Keywords

The trick is to figure out which keywords and phrases your potential clients are using when searching for services online. When people turn to Google for answers they rarely type out their entire question, instead they use a few keywords that they assume will help them filter some of the results to match their specific needs.  

Let’s say a potential client with super curly hair is looking to find a salon in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin that specializes in curly cuts and gets good reviews. She’s probably not going to type all of that into Google—instead it might read something like “Curly hair salon Madison, WI”. Well, if you specialize in curly hair and you know that you make a great fit for this potential client, you would want to make sure that your salon is the first suggestion on the list. 

So, how do you let Google know that you deserve that spot? Simple, use keywords. Keywords can be written into just about every aspect of your salon website and social media. 

Quick Tip: The best way to figure out which keywords are the most relevant to your business is to ask! Joey says it can be as simple as asking friends, family, and customers about how they found your website. What did they search for? And why? 

Do you have pictures on your website? Picture titles have uses far beyond locating them in your folders. Although they’re invisible to the eye once they’re embedded into your webpage, you can use SEO in the titles to improve your searchability. 

Instead of titling your headshot “Kati Whitledge Headshot” you should use keywords like, “Kati-Whitledge-Beyond-The-Technique-Podcast-Madison-WI-Beauty-Industry-Blog”. It’s the perfect way to embed some keywords into your site without word-vomiting all over your webpage. The same can be said for posts on social media—and never doubt the power of hashtags! 

To learn more about SEO and searchability, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 152. Be sure to also check out Cuppa SEO’s websitefor an in-depth look at the many benefits of SEO and digital marketing—while you’re there, see if you can infer what keywords Joey’s using to get Google’s attention. 

Emily Kelly
Running Your Business by The Book
Mike and Gayle for Audio Graphic.png

Regardless of your religious background, we can all agree that entrepreneurial pursuits almost always require a bit of faith. Faith in ourselves, faith in the business, and faith in faith itself for getting us through. Salon ownership is no exception, it’s tricky business to run a salon and sometimes you just have to step back and let your faith guide your journey.

It can be a challenge to build a business that aligns with your values, but if you can incorporate those core beliefs into your work in small ways every day, you can create a prosperous and truly fulfilling career. A career that not only benefits you, as an owner, but one that imbues meaning into the lives of all those you employ and all of the clients you serve. 

There are few more passionate about running their business by the book—that is, the Bible—than Mike and Gayle Reuling, owners and operators of the Air Salon & Blow Dry Bar, with three locations in Louisiana. The Reulings are steadfast believers in the power of sticking to your values and they’re excited to share their best advice for encompassing your spirituality in your business model with a special focus on servant leadership. 

Gayle is the founder of Air Salon & Blow Dry Bar, she started her salon in the attic of her home and has grown substantially in her last 30 years. She thinks of her time behind the chair as both her passion and her ministry. 

Mike, on the other hand, is still relatively new to the industry. After 31 years in corporate America, Mike decided to retire with the expectation that he would help Gayle run her business on the side. Little did he know this hobby would quickly turn into an incredibly successful and rewarding second career. Mike primarily takes on the role of CFO and “CSO” or Chief Spiritual Officer. Together the Reulings run a successful salon business, guided by their faith in the work they do. With their expert industry insight and their prevailing passion for God’s work, the Reulings offer their best advice for keeping the faith while pursuing your greatest career goals. 


The Bigger Impact of Your Business

Owning and operating a salon is about so much more than just doing business. It’s about all of the people that give your business value. It’s about the people you employ who make your salon a home. It’s about the people you serve, the clients you touch and the customers that keep coming back to be a part of what you offer. 

Gayle reflects on the beginning of her career and the disapproval she initially received from her family after choosing to enter into the beauty industry. However, once they saw the great work she was doing and the value she was creating for her clients, they couldn’t be prouder. For Gayle, moments like these are fuel to her fire. They feed her passion and push her to create an environment in which all of her stylists can be proud of the work they do. 

Mike also remembers a moment during the early stages of building their first salon when he and Gayle decided to stop by the site to check on the progress. While they were touring the interior, one of their new trainees stopped by to show her family where she would be working. She was beaming with pride, and it was evident to Mike and Gayle that to her, this was so much more than a job—it was an opportunity. It’s small moments like these that help us realize how much of an impact our business has on the lives of those we open our doors to. 

No matter how you choose to run your salon, it’s important to realize that not only are you setting out to build a successful business, but you’re also responsible for creating a business that is sustainable, one that will fuel the livelihood of your employees for as long as you’re in the industry.


Be Transparent with Your Values

In order to run your business by the book you have to be completely transparent with your values. 

For the Reulings, this is just another part of the discussion. When interviewing new stylists, Mike and Gayle make sure to talk about how important their faith is, both to them, and to their business. As long as you’re open about your beliefs and sincere in how you present yourself, you’re sure to attract employees that share similar values. 

Although this honest approach might turn a few potential employees away, at the end of the day you’ll be left with the applicants best suited to work in your salon. The Ruelings recognize a big difference between approval and acceptance, and they embrace anyone who chooses to work with them with open arms. They aim to treat all of their staff like family, and to incorporate their faith into their business through their actions. 

Your values are a huge part of your company culture. Transparency allows you to find and hire stylists and staff members that are not only well-versed on a technical level, but that also fit into your salon culture and value system.  


The Beauty Industry Is About Giving Back

In so many ways, the beauty industry is about giving back to your community. Gayle says that one of the most rewarding aspects of running her business is the opportunity to make people feel beautiful inside and out. Gayle remains humble in her role because she knows she’s doing God’s work, and simply hopes to represent him every day. 

Gayle and Mike really emphasize the importance of service and leadership skills in their salon. Each year, the Reulings host an award ceremony for all of their employees; the servant leader award is the highest honor their staff can attain. Their mission is to encourage selflessness, and they recognize the most helpful and dutiful leaders on their team in this way. 

The beauty of working in this industry is that there are so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. At the end of the day, if you can remain true to your values while running your business, you and your staff are sure to be both incredibly successful and fulfilled in the workplace—you just have to let your faith guide the way. 

To hear more about Mike and Gayle’s journey through the industry, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 146. And don’t forget to check out their salon website to learn more about their business model and their dedication to servant leadership.

Emily Kelly
Creating a Referral Program for Your Salon That Really Works

Word-of-mouth is a business’ best friend. Why? Because it’s perfectly targeted and incredibly trustworthy. A potential client is going to be much more excited about a raving review from a close friend than they will be about an ad they scroll past online.

Of course, some clients might be more motivated to spread the word if they were offered a little incentive. This is where referral programs come into play. Referrals are everywhere, but they’re especially effective in health and beauty, because new clients want to be sure they’re putting their trust into the hands of someone they know is worthy. 

Whether you’re looking to implement your first referral program, or you’d simply like to make a few improvements to your current system, salon owner and industry expert Stacey Coronado has a few tips and tricks for creating a referral program that really works.  

We introduced you to Stacy in our Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed her previous interviews we’ll give you a quick recap: Stacey is the owner of the incredibly successful Aveda Lifestyle Salon, 20 Volume. She attributes her success to her paperless business modeland her passion for the industry. She is also the Education Director of her very own New Talent Academy for training new stylists, and at 20 Volume she has mastered a referral program that helps her newbies begin to build their clientele fresh out of training. With expert industry insight, Stacey is excited to share her best advice for building a successful referral program. 


Back to Basics

Referral programs are just that, programs that invite referrals. Many of you might remember the three R’s we learned back in beauty school—referrals, rebooking and retail. While they can be often overlooked, sometimes the fundamentals are the most important. Your program doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate to be successful. 

Referral programs, at their most basic level, aim to encourage satisfied clients to share their salon experience with friends, family, and anyone else interested in our services. Our goal as salon owners is to attract new guests, and the best way to advertise our talent is with our previous work.


Referrals Are All About Reciprocity

While referrals are mostly about recommendations for the sake of attracting new clients, there needs to be incentive for both parties, giving and receiving, in order for it to be truly successful. 

Referrals are all about reciprocity and creating a two-way exchange of value. A referral program that rewards the sender of the referral as well as the receiver, or potential client is going to produce the best results. At 20 Volume, Stacey’s team hands out referral cards that offer potential clients twenty dollars toward their new services. When those cards are redeemed the original client, the one who gave out the referral, is then rewarded with a gift voucher for $25 toward any products of their choice. This system encourages customers to spread the word about their services, and it gives additional incentive for new clients coming in.

Quick Tip: Traceability is key when it comes to referrals. If you decide to implement a referral program in your salon, you need to make sure you have a way to keep track of the referrals as they go out. Keeping a spreadsheet of client emails makes it easy to trace those referrals as they come in. This way you can assure that you’re rewarding the right guests for their recommendations.


Get Your Stylists On Board

The number one thing to be sure of when attempting to implement a referral program in your salon is to make sure that your team is committed. At 20 Volume, a lot of the responsibility falls on the stylists who fill out the referral cards for their customers at the end of their visit.  

Stacey has found that having her stylists fill out the cards for her clients is the most effective way to go about it. This way her clients leave the salon with cards that are ready-to-go and Stacey can be sure that no mistakes are being made in the process. Stacey requires her stylists to hand out a minimum of 25 referral cards a month and they are responsible for uploading the details into the database. This way, when referrals begin making their way back into the salon, receptionists can easily look up the client who gave out the recommendation in order to send them their reward.

With your salon team on board, your referral program will quite literally speak for itself. Referrals are a great way to attract new clients, and they reward your most loyal clients for their recommendations—boosting overall retention rates. It’s a win-win! 

To learn more about Stacey Coronado and the many things that20 Volumehas in the works for 2019, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 145. If you’d like to read up on her incredibly innovative, paperless business model check out our previous blog post, “A Game Changing Remodel: Go Beyond Going Paperless” or listen to podcast episode 131

Emily Kelly
Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Stylists
iStock_21052875_LARGE - Copy (2).jpg

A salon is nothing without its stylists. One of the most challenging aspects of owning a salon is hiring and retaining good employees. For many this can be a daunting task, not only is the beauty industry subject to a high degree of turnover, but there’s a lot riding on the talent and ability of your staff.

So, the goal is to recruit talented and loyal stylists who come bearing positive energy and good work ethic—simple right? Well Brandon Hensley is here to tell you that it’s easier than you think.  

You might remember Brandon from our previous podcast episode featuring his best tips for boosting your salon business through your website, in which he actually discusses ways you can use your website for recruiting. If you missed it, we’ll give you a quick recap: Brandon, and his wife and business partner Janet, own and operate the Tangerine Salon Group, a collection of renowned luxury salons with quite the reputation in the beauty industry. Among their many accomplishments they recently became the exclusive salon for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

Having just opened their fifth branch of Tangerine Salon, Brandon is all too familiar with the motions of recruiting and retaining employees. Whether you’re struggling to find fresh talent or suffering from constant turnover, Brandon argues that you can win this battle by following these
simple recruiting and retention practices.


Sell New Stylists on Your Salon

You have to appeal to the best of the up and coming stylists before you can attempt to attract new clients. Of course, in order to entice new staff to join your team, you have to have your business in order, so these two go hand-in-hand. 

It’s even more important to set your salon above the rest in bigger cities where there is simply more competition. So, you have to start by creating a salon environment that everybody wants to work in. If your salon is able to staff the top new talent, your clientele will grow naturally. 


Create an Apprenticeship Program

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re only hiring the cream of the crop when it comes to new stylists is to raise them yourself. By creating your own apprenticeship program within your salon, you can take brand new talent, students just out of beauty school, and shape them into your top preforming master stylists. 

New employees are always looking for ways to further develop their skills. An apprenticeship program gives recent graduates the advanced education opportunities they’re looking for. Not to mention, it also ensures that you are protecting your salon culture and brand by setting certain standards for your employees and the work they produce. 


Make Use of Social Media

The next step is getting your employment opportunities in front of the right people. Brandon suggests using Instagram as your main marketing tool for attracting new stylists. Today, everyone is on Instagram. Students and recent graduates rely heavily on this platform to showcase their work. As an employer, you won’t want to be the last ones up to bat.

For the Tangerine Salon Group this means curating a tasteful and cohesive salon Instagrampage with high quality pictures of their best work. You want your Instagram page to be representative of your brand, just like your website. Think of it as simply another way for students and potential staff members to find you, and then make sure they’ll like what they see.

Brandon also encourages salon owners to take advantage of the opportunities for two-way communication over these various platforms. Don’t shy away from reaching out to students that catch your eye. If you stumble upon a talented young hair artist’s social media page and you’re
impressed with what you see—let them know! 


Communicate Your Culture Every Day

The number one way to retain employees is to communicate your culture every single day. Your salon staff want to know that they work in a place that they can be proud of. In order to keep your employees feeling happy and fulfilled in the workplace you have to reiterate your purpose and make clear your collective mission every chance you get.  

It’s good to give your staff a pat on the back every once in a while. Retaining staff is easy when you practice positive reinforcement. Remind your stylists that they are appreciated. Remind them that they belong to a team, a team that you hold to high standards because you know they can reach them, and one that you are honored to represent.

When you run a great business, and are able to create an environment that people want to work in, fresh young talent will naturally gravitate toward your salon. This will in turn spur a new wave of clientele to come in and see what you’re all about—it’s a promising cycle. 

If you want to hear more of Brandon’s best tips for boosting your business, listen to his first podcast appearance, episode 132. If you want to listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, check out episode 144.

Emily Kelly
Expand Your Salon by Adding a MedSpa

Are you looking for new and innovative ways to expand your salon business? Perhaps you’ve already undergone a few expansions, or you’ve made the move to a bigger space, maybe you’ve even opened other locations, and now you’re searching for the next exciting salon development. 

Instead of moving toward another physical expansion, why not attempt to grow your service list? While growing in your physical space tends to be a game of time and money, expanding on your services involves quite a bit of thought, and it has to be timed just right. 

In today’s fast-paced salon environment, the hottest expansion that every salon should be considering is that of becoming a MedSpa. We’re at the height of anti-aging technology, and non-surgical aesthetic skincare and medical spa treatments are quickly growing in popularity. 

Ginny Eramo, owner of Interlocks Salon and MedSpa, was one of several early adopters to this strategic salon trend. She’s had great success with her latest expansion, and with her expert industry insight and years of salon experience she offers her best tips for taking the leap into MedSpa territory.


Putting the Medic in Cosmetic

It doesn’t matter where your stylists or beauticians earned their license, medical cosmetology procedures and treatments are not to be performed by cosmetologists, period. So, many of you are probably wondering where to begin when transitioning into MedSpa terrain. 

First thing’s first, if you’re thinking about becoming a MedSpa, you’ll need to hire on a new team of medical professionals to perform these services. At Interlocks, Ginny partnered with a team of nurses that now handle all of her MedSpa patients under the direction of a medical director, specializing in everything from Botox to laser hair removal. 

With the rise of this new trend there are many medical professionals seeking out opportunities in salon and spa settings, you just have to know where to look.

This Is Not an Inexpensive Expansion

 Adding a MedSpa to your salon can be an expensive endeavor. Although the treatments and services pay for themselves in no time, you have to be prepared to shell out some serious cash in order to purchase all of the necessary medical equipment. 

Of course, physical space does play a role in this expansion in that you have to think about where you’re going to keep your equipment. Depending on the state you operate out of you might be able to have some overlap, but some state laws require you to build a completely separate space dedicated to your medical practice. 

Don’t forget, there are additional expenses beyond acquiring this high-end technology, think warranties, maintenance and repairs. Ginny suggests minimizing overhead by leasing or financing your equipment, it’s good to keep costs down any way you can! 

Know Your Market

Do your research. There’s no other way to be absolutely sure that adding a MedSpa to your salon is the right move. 

For Ginny, her clients were already asking for these services, so for Interlocks it was a sensible expansion. Think about your clientele: What’s your primary demographic? Are your clients interested in anti-aging treatments and technologies? If these services are already available at other salons or specialty locations in your marketplace, are those locations having success? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, and you’re prepared for the additional expenses, adding a MedSpa to your salon might be the perfect way to expand your service offerings. 

Don’t shy away from this opportunity just because you hear that your clients are already receiving these services someplace else. Your customers have already placed their trust in you, if you were to offer similar treatments and amenities with the added convenience of location, your clients will support you all the way. 


The Payoff: Expanding and Strengthening Your Business

While in comparison to your salon, a MedSpa might seem like somewhat of a separate entity, Ginny and a handful of other salon owners have proven that these two service-based businesses can really complement one another if the marketplace allows.

Adding a MedSpa is just one of many possible ways to expand in your salon setting, but this fast-growing trend has proven itself to be a worthwhile addition. By expanding into MedSpa treatments and services, you’re adding to your customer’s salon experience and increasing the amount of time they spend in your facilities, which in turn lends itself to creating a very loyal client. 

To learn more about Interlocks Salon and the other aspects of their transition into MedSpa territory, listen to our earlier podcast with Interlocks Marketing Team Members Jordan Becker and Amy Pirro. In episode 133, in they discuss their re-branding strategies after the switch. 

If you’d like to learn more about Ginny and the new MedSpa trend, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog post, episode 142.

Emily Kelly