Phorest FM Episode 114: April Monthly Round-Up

Did you miss an episode this month? Catch up on everything that's happened in April with Killian and Zoe's round-up. On the agenda: Phorest's latest product update, highlights from popular articles published on the Phorest Blog and snippets from previous interviews with Katie Lowndes, Kati Whitledge and Steve Gomez.


Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, episode 114. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer. This week on the show, we’re reviewing everything that’s been going on in April. That includes our top blogs, recent podcast episodes, and what’s new in Phorest. 

Killian Vigna: Grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and join us weekly for all your salon’s business and marketing needs. Good morning Zoe.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning Killian.

Killian Vigna: The dust has finally settled for you!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, yeah, absolutely! Won’t be travelling until June, I believe.

Killian Vigna: For anyone that’s just tuning in, this was in relation to the Salon Owners Summit in Chicago. The Roadshow, where there was a hell of a snowstorm!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, a few flights cancelled. We managed to pull every string and get everyone there on the day. At least the speakers, and most of the audience as well. We didn’t have too many cancellations in the end, so I think everyone was very pleased with how the day went.

Killian Vigna: Looking at April now, the monthly roundup for April. Let’s kick it off with… I don’t know. Have we done this in a while? Books! Books we’re reading.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, I think we did this last on episode 110 or 111. It was with Kati Whitledge. Since then, I brought with me “The Obstacle is the Way” on the plane to Chicago, which I felt was very ironic because as I was reading the very first or second chapter of the book, the captain of the plane said that we were turning around, and going to Toronto.

For anyone who has listened to episode 113 from the Salon Owners Summit Roadshow, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, then I strongly recommend you listen to that episode. “The Obstacle is the Way,” by Ryan Holiday, yeah. I’m finally getting into it after we got it from the Summit in January.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, yeah. I think I have two copies of that now, at this stage. Actually, three, because I had the audio version, which I’d already read, we got a book free at the conference, and then Ronan, our CEO, gave me one as well, so I’ve loads of copies of that book, but it’s a good book.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Well, I hope you read it!

Killian Vigna: I’ve read it twice now.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: What are you reading now then?

Killian Vigna: I was going for a run there on Saturday, and I don’t really like listening to music when I’m running, because it kind of throws me out of sync with the pace and all, so I like to listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I decided that I was going to give “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg… I’m probably… I’m definitely saying that second name wrong. 

Doh-higg, or doo-ig, or… yeah, Charles. It’s a book that everyone talks about, and I said I’d finally crack into it. The problem is that the book is so good that I couldn’t pay too much attention to it while running. I’m only about an hour into it with the audio version, so I don’t have too much to talk about it, but the second book, I just finished today.

To be honest, I didn’t listen to the full book, because I couldn’t get a full audio version, but it was the summary of “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It,” from Chris Voss. The five big ideas that came out of that one were negotiation begins with listening.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That makes sense.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, exactly. Making it all about the other people validating their emotions, and creating enough trust and safety for a real conversation to begin, then the second point was using mirrors to encourage the other side to empathise and bond with you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: What do you mean by using mirrors?

Killian Vigna: Using mirrors, so basically, it’s kind of like reflecting what they’re doing. Their body language, repeating back the last few words and stuff they said; like repetition. It’s like when I start nodding my head, looking to you, and then you start nodding your head.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, like I just did right now?

Killian Vigna: Yeah, yeah, exactly! Then he talks about tactical empathy, so it’s bringing our attention to both the emotional obstacles, and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done. The fourth one was talking about labelling, which I thought this one was quite interesting.

It’s giving someone’s emotion a name, to get close to someone without asking about external factors you know nothing about. So it’s kind of picking up on different cues from someone like if they’re hiding something behind a wall, they’ve built a wall, and it’s picking up on those cues, and labelling them so that you can refer back to them later on.

Then the final one, which I found very interesting, was sometimes “no” provides a great opportunity for you and the other party, because by saying “no,” you can move on from there , knowing what they don’t want, because sometimes when people say “yeah,” they don’t mean “yeah.”

It could be like a fake yeah, or… what does he call it? A counterfeit yeah. So, “Yeah, that’s right,” or, “Yeah, you’re right.” Doesn’t mean I necessarily believe it, I’m just saying yes to kind of push you away. 

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, and they do get you.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, yeah. Really good points. The summary was only an hour and 15 minutes. I couldn’t believe how fast I got through it. Like I say, it was the fastest book I’ve ever gotten through, because it takes me ages to get through books. But yeah, it’s broken down very well. It’s on Audible now; I’d definitely recommend that one.

Changes to Phorest’s Services screen [04:55]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Well, awesome. I believe you have… If we’re getting into, I suppose, more of the episode, I believe you have quite a few things to say about the product features and updates with Phorest.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, this is a new feature, for anyone using Phorest, it’s the Services screen. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be slowly rolling out this big update. There’s a lot of work done behind Services. This is a massive improvement. The update will also include changes on how access works in your Phorest system.

The two main areas it covers are… Or the two problems that it’s solving here is that there are too many staff categories in Phorest for each salon, and it’s improving the Chain Library, so anyone that has multi-branch salons. Just to dig into it a little bit deeper here, the first problem is that there are too many staff categories.

Right now, the staff category, an employee is in, controls three things. It controls the duration of each service, the pricing for each service, and their access to the system. The problem with this setup is that many staff members have the same role in a business, but would charge different prices, or have different durations, so think of staff category like a senior stylist.

Let’s say we have Emma and Daryll. They’re both senior stylists. They both charge the same price, but Daryll happens to take 10 minutes longer to do, say, a cut and colour, or a cut and styling. So now, salons have to create two staff categories. Instead of a senior stylist, we create a senior stylist Emma, and a senior stylist Daryll.

Because the staff category controls an employee’s access to the system, we now have to configure the access for each of those categories. Essentially, you have to tick loads of different access boxes. What it means is basically, it’s a really time-consuming process for anyone setting up staff categories.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s a whole lot of information there. What’s the solution?

Killian Vigna: We have it broken down into three stages here. The staff category will control the pricing of services and nothing else, so that’s all it’s going to control. Durations will be controlled at an individual level on each service. For example, Emma will be 30 minutes, Daryl will be 45 minutes.
Then the third one is, access will be controlled by a new category known as access level.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: You mentioned that there were two problems with the Services screen. What was the second problem? The Chain Library?

Killian Vigna: Yeah, exactly. This is more for multi-branch salons, so businesses that have a range of salons. At the moment, shared services are controlled from two places in Phorest. The Services section on the manager screen and the Services Chain Library. As you’d imagine, if you have to update one of the services, then you’d have to go and update again in Chain Library.

What solution has the product guides come up here? The regular Services section, and the Chain Library Services section have both been now combined into one. It’ll still be in the same location as the old Services screen, which means that the Services section will cater to both the business and the branch values of a service.

Essentially, you won’t have to go into Services, and do an update, and then go into the Services Chain Library to do the same update again. Single branch clients won’t see any difference, but multi-branch clients will now be able to set values for a service within the business, and that affects all branches.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: This is quite a big change for a lot of people using Phorest. Will there be any training available for this? Will it be with the Grow team, or the training team? Do you even know yet?

Killian Vigna: Absolutely, yeah. So like I said, this is being launched or released over the next few weeks. I believe there’s going to be some kind of soft launch, or I suppose early access taking place next week. Our education department is completely up to date with it now, so it will already be incorporated in any of the trainings.

Anyone that does want to book in, and I suppose… the screens are fairly straight forward. The lads have done a great job on making it nice and easy to use, but if you do want to book into training, you can go to Manager and Training in your Phorest system, and then book online training, and you’ll be able to check any availability there, and sit down with one of our live online trainers.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Looking forward to seeing it, anyways. Every time the guys release a product update, it just seems to revolutionise the way that we did things in the past, so I’m really excited about that one.

Killian Vigna: Absolutely! I love this section of the monthly roundups, is the product updates and the new features. Remember we did the update, the end of the year, what happened in the last 12 months, with Ronan? There was just a list of things, so we kind of decided, “Right, we need to do a breakdown of this every month.”

Whether if it’s a new feature launch, or if it’s a feature update, but there’s just so much going on with the product, and it’s happening so fast, that we’re like, “Right, we need to start bringing this into the podcast.”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, 100%. By the way, guys, if you are a Phorest user, and you have suggestions or anything that you would like to see happening in the product, we are always looking for feedback, and we have UserVoice, available for you to put in your ideas there. If you’re interested in testing out the features, we are always looking for beta users.

Introducing Phorest Academy, a one-stop education stop [10:02]

Killian Vigna: Absolutely, and I’m going to jump on board with what you’ve just said there, because I’m in the Education department, and we’re working on this cool, new thing at the moment. It’s called Phorest Academy.

Where I just mentioned there that you could book in for live online training with an instructor, what Phorest Academy is going to be, is it’s going to be an online learning portal full of fun, interactive and bite-sized self-taught training courses.
It’s hard to find time in your busy day to sit down and do training at a time that suits both you and our trainers. The point of this is that it’s self-taught courses. They’re going to be interactive, online, and on-demand training. You’re going to be able to access these courses via an app.

You’re going to have a library of regularly added and updated courses. Where we were just talking about the services screen there, eventually we’ll have a little micro-course that’ll only be a couple of minutes that long, that you could… using your app, or logging in via your email, you could just watch a video, or do some quick interactions, and learn all about the Services screen, and how to use it.
That’s just an example I’m giving. We are doing a beta test at the moment in the US, and we have products and inventory course, and we’re working on a Phorest Go Live course. We also have an Introduction to Phorest Go course there as well. By enrolling in these short courses, you can also get a Phorest Academy certificate.

While this is just a beta test, I would love for anyone to email, or even email, and say, “Killian, I want to join Phorest Academy,” and I can get you set straight up, and we can test it out. You can give us feedback on these courses. Is this the new way that you want to do training? Let us know! We’re dying to see how it works for you. Yeah, either of those two email addresses. We’ll put them into the blurb here, but give us a shout, and we’ll be happy to get you onboard it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Happy days. What’s next on the show then? Phorest FM and the Phorest blogs. This is our monthly roundup, after all. We’d need to talk about what happened in April as well, yeah?

Killian Vigna: I know, I know! What’s this? April has just felt so long. I think I say that every month, actually.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: You do.
Killian Vigna: It’s because it’s that crossover of going into May. It’s weird. We’ve had such hot weather this month, that I don’t even know what season we’re in any more.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Listen, speak for yourself. We’ve been hit with snowstorms over here.

Throwback to some of the latest Phorest FM episodes [12:28]

Killian Vigna: Winter is coming! Yeah, so the first episode that we had in April was episode 110, with Katie Lowndes, on the ABCs of Hosting a Successful Salon Retail Event. What were we talking about in this one? This was a really interesting one, because the first thing I think of when someone mentions hosting an event, or a retail event… I’m thinking budget here.

This is going to cost me a lot of money. I have to pay my staff overtime, going to be working long hours that day. This episode wasn’t exactly the case.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, no. It was actually how to host one, and a successful one at it, on a shoestring budget, which was really, really interesting. Without saying too much more, we’ll play a few clips for you here.

Katie Lowndes: “If you’ve got a room of people, you need to keep their attention, and you need to give them the hard facts. They don’t need to know every single thing about everything. They just need to know what it is, what’s it going to do for them, why is it different, what’s happening tonight? Is there a raffle, is there a free treatment? If you book tonight, you get a discount, or whatever it is. You want to get that out there into the open before you lose their attention.

I would say, okay, so the product house would do the goodie bags, so that’s that cost over to them. I’d normally ask for a raffle prize from them as well, so like a gift set, or, say, three or four full-sized products in a bag, so they would donate that.”

The only cost, really, is how you market it. Be consistent; make sure you follow up. It has to be in advance as well. You can’t just go, ‘I’m going to have an event next week, boom.’ These things take planning. Use your product rep. They should be supporting you.”

Killian Vigna: And in the second episode we had, it was episode 111, with Kati Whitledge, on Creating Digital Sales Funnels to Drive New Clients to Your Salon. Again, this one, it sounds like kind of a scary topic when you look at the headline there, but Kati broke this down to be really, really simple.

Everyone knows that whole thing in the industry of, “It can cost up to 10 times more to attract a new client rather than retain clients,” but some of the tips and tricks that Kati had here were so cost-effective – like literally cost nothing.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: To attract new clients, which was great. Sales funnels, when you put it that way, could seem scary like you said, but really, you do a lot of those things on a day-to-day basis. I think to give an insight into this episode, we’ll just have to play a few clips because honestly, she really puts it in the best way possible.

Kati Whitledge: “People tend to have heard of sales funnels, but they don’t really know what it means, because nobody’s teaching salon owners about this.

I want everybody to imagine an actual funnel, and at the top of the funnel is awareness; people have to know you exist. The next part of a funnel, you’re going to take what you’re already doing with your marketing budget and be super intentional with it. You start with this free thing that gets awareness and interest, and then you take them up your value ladder. For every step of the ladder, it costs more, but they get more value out of it.

You start out with the problem, and then you’re going to share the promise that you can provide to solve that problem, and then you’re going to share the process in which you do that, and then finally the proof. For us, it helps, then, create that engagement, that emotional connection, and now I’ve captured that lead, so if they’re not ready to buy today, I can market to them until they are ready to buy.”

Killian Vigna: That was the second episode, with Kati Whitledge. This episode was from a man who managed to book himself back in, so for anyone that has issues rebooking their clients, take a leaf out of this guy’s book. This is Steve Gomez, on Interdependent Leadership, and Holding Empowering Meetings.

I loved this episode. I think it was more because we can resonate with this as well because we hold a lot of one-to-ones, we hold a lot of team meetings, and all that, in Phorest. When not done correctly, they can seem like a lot of time waste, these meetings.

But also, sometimes you can see a meeting scheduled into your calendar, and you can nearly dread it. You’ve got that daunting thing, and we know we’re not the only ones to sometimes feel like that. There’s a lot of people out there that kind of dread meetings. This episode was brilliant, about how to get your staff empowered about those meetings, and actually look forward to the next one, and actually bring topics to the table to help you stage that meeting.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: There’s no better way to end this podcast section than to play the last bits from episode 112. What Steve Gomez was saying, it’s absolutely gold.

Steve Gomez: Meetings can always be magical. They must be about elevating culture. They must be about supporting somebody to grow, and move beyond what they’re capable of. Shift things up. Be creative. If you’re just doing the same thing month in and month out, no wonder you’re getting the results you’re getting, and people are like, ‘Why am I going to have to sit here now for the next half hour?’

Be creative. Ask questions. Make it about them. Notice how you think. Shift you first, and then you increase the chances that they shift as well. Be patient with the process, and lastly, let go of your expectations.

Accept where people are, accept where they’re not. Accept how they think, accept how they don’t. Accept how they relate, and how they don’t; accept what shows up for them, and what doesn’t.

When you allow people to be where they’re at, you then can dance with them, and hold them to account. When you come from that place of acceptance, you become more patient. With patient energy, you become more empowered. With empowerment, you become a better leader, and people feel that vibe from you, they resonate with it, and they want more of it. Take your time; it’s not a race.  It’s about loving people for where they are at on the journey and allowing them to continue to gradually progress into the highest iteration of themselves.”

Killian Vigna: I remember listening to that… I remember listening to it? I was there. I co-hosted it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Technically, you did listen to it while he was speaking, you know?

Killian Vigna: I did listen to it, yeah, but we were both just sitting there with our jaws open. We were gobsmacked. We had absolutely nothing more to add onto that. He’s got a great sign off; I’ll give him that!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Well sure, I suppose, before we move into the blog section, there was episode 113, which was live from the Salon Owners Summit Roadshow in Chicago. Of course, we just talked about it earlier in the episode. We’re not going to play any snippets here.

To get the real value of that episode, go and have a listen to it in full. It’s 24 minutes; it’s really short. Put it on your way back home; you’ll get some good vibes. You’ll even get a little surprise there at the end. We switched out the outro music, our regular outro music, to Barry Quinn, our sales executive, singing “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis. So yeah, have a listen to that, episode 113, live from the Salon Owners Summit Roadshow in Chicago.

Review of some the latest Phorest Blog articles [19:48]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Next up on this episode, Phorest blogs. I’m going to talk about two in particular. The first one was by Avril Kealy, and it’s “What to Consider Before Setting Software Staff Access Levels.”

This is a tricky topic because a lot of salon owners don’t necessarily trust their staff to have full access to the software, which is understandable in some cases, and what you give access to and to who is totally on you. That’s a decision you can make on yourself.

She highlights a few things that I thought were interesting to consider before you decide on what access level you do give to people. The first thing she starts with is trust — the foundation. A strong culture of trust will make it easier for you to decide on an access structure, and will also alleviate any worries you may have towards certain situations.

Say, for instance, a staff member leaving with client details, and stuff like that. Then she goes into transparency, which goes, often, hand in hand with trust. Some salon owners want their staff to learn about all of the inner workings of the business. It depends on what you want as a salon owner, as a business owner.

Do you want to be very transparent with your staff, or do you feel a little bit more uncomfortable with staff knowing too much about your salon? In that case, it might be beneficial to lock down certain areas of sensitive data.

Then, it’s all about autonomy, so how much autonomy and access a team member should be granted, and to figure that one out, you have to speak to your staff individually.

Gauge what kind of responsibility they expect to have. Match this with what responsibility you expect an employee to have, and while your expectations might be different, consider both sides of the coin, and come to an agreement. Giving more responsibility to your team can be rewarding for everyone, and it doesn’t have to come at the cost of your privacy or authority.

Then, the last bit was about seniority. A key reference for setting software staff access levels should be how long has your staff member been with you? How senior is their role? Do they need to have access to everything, or do they need just to have basic level access?

As your team progresses in each of their chosen trades, so, say if you’ve given the responsibility to one of your staff members to do social media or email marketing, it might be a case of giving them more responsibility or access to those parts of the system, and less to other parts.
Say, if your receptionist… you want them to do more of the salon reports, and get those out, maybe you give access to that part, more than someone else who is on the social media side of things. It’s really just figuring out what works for you. What do you feel comfortable with as a salon owner, and really, start trusting your staff as well. It’s super important.

Killian Vigna: Absolutely. We reiterate that so many times. It’s a great blog. I don’t get to read all of the blogs, Zoe, but I did give that one a read, and it was a very good blog. I have to say, a big shout out to Avril, because Avril’s only just started writing blogs for us recently, and she is so good.

Avril comes from the First Impressions department, so anyone that has rung Phorest in the last few years has probably spoken to the lovely Avril.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, and then the second blog, which is kind of like two, actually, it’s a series. If anyone was in Chicago at the Salon Owners Summit, you would’ve heard Jay Williams speak. He was also on the podcast on episode 104. He’s back on the Phorest blog this time, with a video series, and it’s called “Eat This Not That… A Leader’s List Of Ingredients To Create Better Communication.”

All of his videos, and we’re going to release one every second week on the Phorest blog, all of his videos are about… I want to say 45 seconds to maximum a minute and 15 seconds. His idea with this series is that when we frame an idea, a problem, or an opportunity, we’re choosing a perspective.

He says look at a glass half empty, and we start conserving and protecting. Seeing the same glass as half full, and opportunity and growth emerge. Our thinking shifts, simply by looking at how we choose to look at or frame something. This series explores different concepts, and it’s a guide to reframing our perspective on various situations.

The first two that have been released in April were “Expectations vs Agreements,” so are you operating off expectations that your staff will show up on time with the culture that you want, or do you have an agreement that they will show up on time, support your culture, and etc.?

The second one was “Courtesy vs Curiosity.” When you ask questions, are you just asking a question because you feel the need to ask the question, or are you actually curious to know the answer, and want to discuss it more? If you’re saying, “How is your day?” vs, “What was the most rewarding part of your day?” Do you see the difference there, you know?

Killian Vigna: I’m laughing at that one, because… typical Irish people. “How are you getting on?” It’s like the response is, “How are you getting on?”

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh, god.

Killian Vigna: No one actually answers anyone there.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Don’t get me started on that. When I first moved to Ireland, I remember going into the office, and someone saying, “Hey, how’s your day?” Or whatever, and I actually reply, and the person just kept walking, and I was like, “Oh, okay. All right.”

Killian Vigna: No one’s looking for a reply, Zoe, it’s just a phrase! It’s a saying, like. No one’s actually interested!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, so great videos, like I said. Super short, less than a minute most of them. If they’re over a minute, they’re really not that long — definitely less than a minute and a half. Like I said, “Eat This Not That… A Leader’s List Of Ingredients To Create Better Communication.”

They’re by Jay Williams, speaker and author. He wrote a book called “Leave Your Mark,” so you can check that out, and we’ll have a link to his website in the show’s notes.

Killian Vigna: So yeah, a lot of content in this episode, but we’re just about to wrap it up. We only have one more thing, and Zoe, I believe this is you.

Inside Phorest: reflections, upcoming events & final words [25:44]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yes, and it’s all about the Salon Mentorship Hub, so you’ve heard about this before. I mention it in pretty much every episode of Phorest FM, but again, if you’re struggling with retail staff, customer service, anything related to the running of your business, we’ve teamed up with coaches and consultants, and we have a website called The Salon Mentorship Hub.

It’s, and you can book a free 15 to 30-minute consultation with one of our coaches and consultants that we’ve teamed up with.

Currently, that means Valerie Delforge, Susan Routledge, Danielle Boucher, Richard McCabe, Phil Jackson, Jennifer Swaine, Gloria Murray, David & Nicole Barnett, Stefania Rossi, Kati Lowndes, and Susie K Brooks.

If you’re ever feeling stuck on a particular topic, and you need to have a chat with a business coach, and figure out maybe what’s the next step to get unstuck, you can head over to the Salon Mentorship Hub, and book your free consultation there.

Well, that’s all we’ve got for this week guys, so as always, if you want to share your thoughts on this episode or have any suggestions, please send us an email at, or leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. We genuinely love feedback and are always looking for ways to improve the show.

Otherwise, have a wonderful week, and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Related links

What To Consider Before Setting Software Staff Access Levels

Eat This Not That: Expectations vs Agreements

Eat This Not That: Courtesy vs Curiosity

Jay Williams, Leave Your Mark

Book a free 15-30 minute consultation on The Salon Mentorship Hub


This episode was edited and mixed by Audio Z: Great music makes great moments. Montreal’s cutting-edge post-production studio for creative minds looking to have their vision professionally produced and mixed. Tune in every Monday for a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, roundups of our most recent salon owners marketing tips & tricks, all the latest in and around Phorest and what upcoming webinars or events you can join.

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