Management / Salon Owner’s Summit / Leadership

Salon Business Management: Working On The Right Things

6 min

Salon Business Management: Working On The Right Things

When the industry you’re passionate about sees, on average, seven out of ten businesses operate unprofitably, doing the right things the right way isn’t just a desire, but a prerequisite for survival. The same goes for when you’re faced with “Force Majeure” situations, or sudden, unexpected events that can’t be controlled or protected against.

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Take Eufora International Business Team Chairman Ashley Toliver-Williams’ quite literal sink or swim situation in 2017. After Hurricane Harvey flooded the city of Houston, and damaged or destroyed nearly 135,000 homes, Ashley’s $1 million award-winning Fringe Salon & Color Bar saw their guest count drop 43%, nearly wiping the business off the map in the space of a second. Now worry not, this isn’t a sad story; rather one of resilience. If you ever find yourself in Houston, you should swing by the salon; it’s still there standing strong! The thing is, these situations force you to reevaluate your salon business management vision and priorities.

Salon Owners Summit Roadshow Philadelphia: Ashley Toliver-Williams
Ashley Toliver Williams
Salon Owner, Co-Founder of Fuse Republic & Eufora International Business Team Chairman

To which do you relate more: knowing a lot of stuff, or doing a lot of stuff? Are you using blueprints that keep you working hard but provide little results?

Tackling social media, branding, values, and motivation, the following speakers dove into some of what should make the top of your priority list as an owner, or manager.

Engineering employee behaviour with Ashley Toliver-Williams, Jay Williams and Josh Hafetz

Before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Ashley Toliver-Williams was turning hairdressers into six-figure hairdressers. The only issue was that the very same employees she would invest in, she would also see leave her business in favour of their very own ventures. Why couldn’t she retain her top performers and inspire the results she wanted to see in her salon?

With her back against the wall, she had no other choice than to dig into the issue. What she worked on was culture and communication — understanding what would motivate her staff to create growth and results for both themselves and others, all the while guided by the salon’s big hairy audacious goals.

Concretely, she shifted her salon business management style and conversations from results-focused metrics (what you as the owner, should have a grip on) to behaviour-focused metrics (for the staff). For example, she stopped talking about retail sales and instead talked about “care factor,” emphasising the idea of caring for guests long after their visit, through retail product recommendations.

Jay Williams, Salon Industry, Author & Educator, and Josh Hafetz, President of Art of Business, rocking the Salon Owners Summit Roadshow stage later in the day then tackled leadership related topics. In Jay’s highly interactive keynote, values were the main focus, along with how they could help protect company culture: “Values-based leadership requires the need to communicate your values at every opportunity possible. People are far more responsive to a conversation about values than behaviours. Talking about behaviours doesn’t shift employees’ thinking at all; therefore, it is difficult to get any emotional or psychological engagement from a business management point of view.”

Salon Owners Summit Roadshow Philadelphia: Jay Williams
Jay Williams
25 year veteran of the Salon Industry, Author & Educator

Are you in the business of hair? Or in the business of people? Most importantly, do your workplace values reflect your answer?

Jay Williams put it this way: “Leaders must lean on the value of the organisation to drive performance, especially in times of change. An organisation’s values should be the bedrock of why the company exists, how it makes decisions and its true purpose. They must be authentic and relatively specific, so they resonate with the team as guiding principles, the way that you work.”

Some workplace value examples include:

  • Being accountable
  • Making a difference
  • Focusing on detail
  • Delivering quality
  • Being completely honest
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Helping others
  • Being a great team member
  • Keeping promises, etc.

When you lead with your values, it’s your world — and you can create your world. However, you must be able to define and communicate those values to your team, compellingly and articulately.

Salon business management tip: Breaking the Habit Loop

If your people are still not following through on their professional responsibility, then perhaps, as Josh Hafetz explained, you either haven’t tapped into what motivates them intrinsically or they’re stuck in a habit loop.

Salon Business Management, Salon Owners Summit Roadshow Philadelphia: Habit Loop
The Habit Loop

“Think about something you might want to instil in your people. Let’s say pre-booking. One strategy is to say ‘you have to pre-book more’ and try to cheer your staff on. But for it to be effective in the long-term, you have to turn pre-booking into a habit,” Josh explained. “One thing you could do is create a trigger; maybe five minutes before their shift starts the trigger is they look at their book, and they look at their client base, and they say 4, 5 or 6 weeks, based on each client. They now have a trigger that’s going to help create the habit of pre-booking throughout the day. And maybe at the end of the day, you go around to each of your stylists and give them a little Wawa card or something silly to recognise what a great job they did.”

Your people don’t have to have the same values as you. But they have to be willing to support your vision. They need to know what’s in it for them if they choose to support your values. And when a leader gets better, the people get better.

Social media and brand management with Olivia Smalley and Mikey Cannon

Despite coming from two opposite perspectives, both Celebrity Stylist and Social Media Influencer Olivia Smalley and Product Design Lead Mikey Cannon also stressed the importance of having a strategy that provides results — only this time, in a social media and brand reputation context.

While Olivia tackled content creation and connecting with users on social media, asking attendees if they’d rather have 1000 views or 1000 likes, Mikey talked about ways salon owners could fully capitalise on their existing database and ideal clients by leveraging reviews, custom branded experiences and Instagram advertising.

Context, consistency and purposeful posting on social media

It can be quite easy to lose track of what can concretely help grow your salon or spa when it comes to social media. “But Instagram is not the devil,” claimed Olivia. “What we don’t know is what we don’t know. That’s why I am here today: to make it seamless and easy.”

Purposeful posting is simple when you have the formula for it: entertain, educate, and inspire (EEI). Starting with content, she explained: “As soon as somebody grabs their phone, the first thing they’re going to see is your pictures.”

From there, they do one of three things:

  • Swipe away, not interested
  • Follow up with your work 
  • Decide they want to sit your chair

Captions, she continued, create a context for your followers or people landing on your page. Where content is king, context is queen. Your pictures are essential, but so are your captions: “The caption is where people get to know you.” Imagine working out at the gym and only building arm strength. That’s what you’re doing if you’re posting content without context.

Olivia then dove into cross-promotion and consistency, adding another layer to working on the right things: “When you start promoting other stylists on your page, people start interacting with other employees in the salon, and slowly, this makes them feel at home when they spend time in your business.”

So what about followers you may ask? As a focus point, it’s not something you should keep tabs on. Instead, “keep up with your online portfolio,” the social queen said. Bring your offline reputation online, and grow your finishing skills; or in other words, how you angle the camera, how you get your clients to pose, the way the hair falls, the light you use. Keep your focus on educating clients and prospects through your work.

Using your client database to its full extent

In the same spirit, Phorest Product Design Lead Mikey Cannon discussed the future of salon marketing, putting great emphasis on users’ online experiences.

This included three key ideas:

Each of these ideas fed into one another, and we could observe their relationship by looking into a person’s customer journey.

Salon Owners Summit Roadshow Philadelphia: Mikey Cannon
Mikey Cannon
Product Design Lead

Before someone books into your salon, they are likely to look you up online. It turns out that 70% of people check out a business online after someone refers it to them, and 46% of online bookings happen outside of opening hours. Therefore, you need to make sure your offline reputation matches your online reputation, or you run the risk of losing out on appointments.

How often do you ask your existing clients to review the services you provide on Google, Facebook and/or Yelp, and reply to both good and bad reviews? Share this feedback on your social media accounts? All of your online activity, as Mikey illustrated in his presentation, impacts your SEO and inherently your salon’s Google ranking.

For more insights on the effects of online consumer reviews on purchasing decisions, download the free Phorest Online Reputation eBook here.

But let’s say you’ve got that under control. Mikey Cannon’s second point was about delivering custom branded experience: “At Phorest, we’ve completely redone our Branded Apps experiences. The main reason and focus was about ensuring the salon was communicating who they were online and controlling the experience they get.” If we understand a brand as a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organisation, then we must agree that a brand is dynamic, “some people connect with certain aspects of a brand, while others connect meaningfully with another. And oftentimes, a person’s relationship with a brand can really develop – increasing trust, loyalty, meaning, and engagement.”

And provided you deliver exceptional service, getting that first online interaction right ensures new clients book in and existing clients return — hopefully in time, creating a reliable database of ideal clients.

This is where Mikey’s concepts came full circle with Olivia’s social media keynote. Once you have an ideal client base to grow from, you can use it to its full extent and draw in similar people on Instagram, using targeted advertising.

After all, perhaps social media isn’t the beast we make it out to be when we strip it back to business priorities, now is it?

Want to be in the heart of the action at next year’s Salon Owners Summit? Get your tickets now!


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