Coffee For Lunch | Interview With Salon Owner Lynda Tarpey

5 min

Coffee For Lunch | Interview With Salon Owner Lynda Tarpey

What makes a salon, a winning salon? How does one manage retail, customer service and care altogether in a perfect balance? These were questions we had for Lynda Tarpey, director and founder of Pretty Woman, the stylish and elegant Salon and beauty boutique in Leeds, United Kingdom.

More than a mere profile spotlight, this interview series focuses on industry thought leaders’ main specialities and aims to give you a quick insight into their minds.

Coffee For Lunch With Lynda Tarpey

In July 2007, at a prominent Retail Awards Ceremony, Pretty Woman won the “Gold Salon of the Year” competition and achieved one of the benchmark accolades in the beauty industry. At the British Beauty & Spa Awards in 2008, Pretty Woman then won one of the four regional “Salons of the Year” for Midlands and North East Region.

Five years later in July 2013, at the same Retail Awards Ceremony, Lynda Tarpey saw her salon come 3rd in the competition, succeeded by a second place in June 2015. As if that wasn’t enough, Pretty Woman was also given Phorest’s Client Experience Award for the past two years.

[This interview with Lynda Tarpey was originally published in the Salon Owner’s Ultimate Guide To Shaping A Retail Culture. Download the full eBook here for free.]

About Retail & Customer Service…

Phorest Salon Software | As of today, how many treatment rooms or therapists do you have?

Lynda Tarpey | The toning tables went in 2006, and I now have four full-time therapists and one part-time. Plus a Salon Manager and me – we both work on Reception.

P.S.S. | What does a typical day look like as Director of Pretty Woman?

L.T. | Every day is different. There are two parts to the business – beauty and retail. On the beauty side, we offer over 100 different treatments, so a therapist’s day is varied. In retail, we have been for around 7 years – Clarins’ 3rd largest retailer in terms of product sales. Reception is busy with people coming in to buy Clarins. Many of the clients have been coming since I opened; we have been through births, deaths and marriages together. They are like friends, and it is wonderful catching up on their news.

P.S.S. | In your opinion, what’s the earning potential with retailing – is the rapport client-therapist about love, sale targets or both?

L.T. | Profit margins are not huge in product sales across the whole of the beauty industry. However, it is customer service, and we have a duty to give clients a Clarins Skincare Planner or Jessica Prescription at the end of their treatment. We also discuss their skin/nail needs, and it is down to the client if they want to buy or not. Retailing is a huge income stream, and it’s not just a rapport, it is down to the therapist being professional. I send my staff on every course possible so they can learn more skills from our different suppliers. I do not train in-house.

P.S.S. | Do you come across therapists who are reluctant or afraid to upsell their treatments with retail products?

L.T. | The good news these days is that colleges are now training in selling. It’s no longer perceived as being something negative. It’s part of their course, and they’re trying to get the message across that it’s part of the treatment that therapists give clients feedback and solutions to their questions – that’s why they come to us.

P.S.S. | Let’s talk about becoming a top retailing salon. What do you think has been key to your success in winning UK’s 1st, 2nd & 3rd place in the annual Clarins Gold Salon Awards over the past few years?

L.T. | The key factor behind Pretty Woman’s success is because we are very good at customer service. We go that extra mile, looking after the clients’ Clarins Loyalty Card and sending their free products too. We make our own gift baskets, gift wrap products, etc. It’s all the little touches. Every little action counts.

P.S.S. | What challenges has your salon faced to reach that status?

L.T. | Beauty therapists. There are not enough quality beauty therapists coming out of colleges to satisfy all the salons that are opening these days. Another problem with our industry is that often, beauty therapists stay for a year, and then they leave, go backpacking, working in London, etc. It’s very transient, but it also depends on where your salon is located. If you’re in the countryside, there aren’t as many job opportunities, so people will stay a long time. If you’re in a city, things are different, and every salon has tons of competitors.

P.S.S. | What approach has helped tackle this challenge?

L.T. | When you go somewhere, you want to get a quality treatment, and if it isn’t quality, you won’t go back. So far this year, I have spent – now bear in mind I’ve only got six staff members – £16,200 on 38 days of training. That includes the costs of the course and the travel, but also the money that you “lose” while the therapist is away from the salon on training.

Related | What Happens When You Invest In Salon Staff Training

P.S.S. | Apart from education, there’s a lot of talk about display. Has retail display had a significant impact on your salon’s retailing performance? How so?

L.T. | Your salon has got to be very clean with a nice attention to detail. You can’t leave the same display stands out for 6 or 8 months. We get new stands every 6 or 8 weeks for differents purposes each time. Your display has to look good, your shop’s window has to look good, all your marketing material has to look the part. Every client who comes to my salon should get 100% service. It’s as simple as that. It’s very hard to keep my staff at their 100%, but the team I’ve got now are great girls, they work hard and work as a team… and that’s really important.


P.S.S. | What advice or starting point would you give to anyone struggling with retailing in their salon?

L.T. | In general, I think people who come to beauty salons are receptive. It’s all about the services; making people see what you have available. It’s their choice if they want to buy it or not. Ask for their current routine, find out what their needs and major concerns are. There’s an expression that goes: “you can’t sell unless you tell”. You have got to create the ambience, the right retail area that looks very professional and then you have to invest money to allow your staff to go on suppliers courses too… They will learn far more if they leave the salon for a day than if you train them in-house.

Lynda Tarpey, director and founder of Pretty Woman, in Leeds, United Kingdom.

If you’re interested in shaping a retail culture in your salon and learn the all the tricks to have retail flying off your shelves like never before, why not check out the Phorest Academy ‘Salon Retail’ Masterclass? Click here to watch the retail masterclass webinar on demand now.

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