Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 90. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, Phorest FM is a weekly show that puts forth a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, salon/spa marketing tips, company insights and information on attending Phorest Academy webinars. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 90

Episode 90 of the Phorest FM podcast discusses everything that’s happened here and on the Phorest Blog over the previous 30 days. From the most popular blogs to snippets from previous podcast episodes, announcements in regards to Modern Salon’s Salon Digital Summit and Phorest’s Salon Owners Summit, you’re sure to get all the marketing advice you might have missed.


Popular Blogs of the Month:


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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM Podcast, episode 90. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer. This week’s episode is our usual monthly roundup. We’ll discuss the best bits from the podcast, the Phorest blog and announce what to expect this coming November.

Killian Vigna: So 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! How are things?

Killian Vigna: I’m good now, good, good. So where have you come back from now? I feel like every time we do a monthly episode, you’ve just come back from traveling somewhere and I’m looking at you and I know well you’re not actually in Canada at the moment, are you?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: No I am not. I’m going back soon though. This time around I was in Seattle, I was at a conference, attending a really cool conference called Seattle Interactive and was also speaking at it actually. Then I went back to our Philly office in the US and that’s where I am at the moment. Makes me wonder sometimes, you know how loads of salon owners go, or even therapists and hair stylists, they go to conferences for work, either to attend, to speak, to meet people, there’s a lot of traveling involved and I wonder sometimes, how do you manage to plan out leaving your business for it to be running smoothly when you’re away and all of that? It’s easy for me in one sense, I’m only managing my own calendar, I suppose my own projects, but if you’re in charge of a whole salon, how do you do that, you know?

Killian Vigna: Yeah, I suppose it really does take gaps out of your day and it really does throw you off a little bit traveling because even though you’re traveling on work time, you’re not really getting any work done.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Be curious to see – if anyone listens to this today and does a lot of traveling and has tips and stuff, I’d be really, really curious to hear more about that. So yes, slide in our DMs, ew want to hear about this. But yeah, a bit of serious talk I suppose, you’ve been quite busy too with the whole VAT situation in the Irish hairdressing industry? You went to the march and stuff recently.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, so we had that there, this was last week now and we’re still to do a bit of following up on it but yeah, there’s going to be basically an increase in the tax that hairdressers have to pay now to the government, which is a fun topic, but we’ve done a podcast on that, there was a blog, we’ll touch off a bit of that in the show but I think for now, we’ll just jump straight into the monthly articles and see where we’re at.

So the first one we had cued up is from a writer who’s been on the show before and he’s going to be on the show in the next couple of weeks too – to look out for – but it’s, “How Much Salon Retail Products Should You Stock?” By Phil Jackson.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Phil Jackson, a salon consultant, he’s also an author, he wrote The Hairy Book Of Email, if anyone remembers from back in the day, that episode. This blog came shortly after the #SalonRetailWeek where people literally got all their stock sold out. The increased sales on average for salons was 78% which is absolutely amazing, right?

Killian Vigna: Do we know what the average was before? Or it was just kind of… that’s on average what they increased by?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, it was on average what they increased their sales by that week, doing the challenge versus the week before that they didn’t do the challenge.

Killian Vigna: Cool, so definitely a big impact there.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, yeah, yeah, 100%. So Phil and I were chatting away and he was telling me about this whole concept of speed of sale percentage and he literally just wrote a blog for us just to kind of explain it. He was taught that concept by a friend of his. It’s essentially kind of like a simple way to gauge how many retail products you should hold so you don’t overstock or under-stock.

Killian Vigna: Oh, okay, yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So it’s actually fairly simple. He breaks it down in the article anyways, but you kind of go sales divided by value, times 100. So sales, it is what it is, the total amount of retail products you sold for a specific period of time, usually a week he says. Then value is the total value of the retail stock that you’re currently carrying. So you use the retail prices, ignore any discounts or whatever you got from your suppliers when you did order the stock, literally the value of the products and then you-

Killian Vigna: The rate you’re paying the supplier?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Not exactly, sometimes you can get discounts from a supplier. Don’t count the discounts, count the actual original price that you should pay in full. So the sales divided by the value times 100, gives you the speed of sale percentage. It gives you an idea of how fast you’re moving stock. If you’re selling too fast, it can be detrimental just as much as if you’re selling too slow.

Killian Vigna: So what exactly – does he say what a good or bad speed target is?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Well generally speaking, a good target is around 10% each week because he says if it’s too high, you’re probably going to end up selling out of products and you’re probably going to end up having disgruntled clients looking for a product that you don’t have anymore because it’s sold out. So you’re missing out on potential sales. So if you notice actually… he says if you notice that your speed of sale’s continuously over 10% that you should actually consider stocking more of that… the highest selling products and offer alternatives for other ones as well. Alternatively, if your speed of sale is too low, then… He kind of painted a picture, he’s like, “Imagine you have a product that your staff loves to use in-house. It doesn’t move as fast as it should on the shelves.”

So for instance, the hairstylist or the therapist uses a product for their treatments, but the actual product when on sale for the client, that doesn’t move as fast but the hairstylist or the therapist loves to use that product. So it’s kind of like, if it’s not moving as fast, then incentivise your team to keep pushing it, or I suppose get a way to get it out there to the clients because it’s not beneficial for you to keep it on the shelves if they’re the only ones using it and you’re not selling it to clients. You know?

Killian Vigna: Yeah it’s just sitting there gathering dust, or going to waste. It’s money sitting on the shelf that’s not going anywhere.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly, so he’s like you can incentivise, put together focused training on that particular product. Maybe help your staff identify ways to sell the benefits a bit more or something like that. Just kind of help them get it out there in the hands of clients and if that’s not working, maybe you look for another product to stock in-house and use in-house as well, during the treatments.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, so does he give any stock management tips? Because I know when you have your professional retail product, if staff members aren’t scanning that out as professional products, then your stock take is essentially telling you you have all this stock but it’s being used as professional, but because it’s not accurately being counted or scanned out as professional, you’ve two different reports. You’ve what’s on the shelf and you’ve got what your reports is showing you. So does he have any tips or tricks around that?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: He has a few management tips, stock management tips. So one of them is making sure that you know what your stock levels are first of all, and where your stock is going. Investing in a salon management system, to be able to monitor those without having to do every manual bit of work. He says also the FIFO, first in – first out approach. So when you’re displaying it and selling it, you should sell the products in whatever order that they were purchased, to ensure that first of all, you’re selling products that are in good condition and that are not damaged or anything. So whatever you order first has to go out first.

Killian Vigna: Is that kind of like, say like fresh fruit-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: … or any meat, so products that go off? So you’ve got your sell by date.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Killian Vigna: Whatever’s about to expire the fastest goes to the front?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly, that’s exactly the same approach, yeah. He also says to hold a regular stock audit and then to foster good relationships with your suppliers. We actually had a blog written about that a few months back so I can link that in the episode’s notes but yeah, just make sure that they know what you’re looking for, what you need, keep that conversation going with your suppliers because often times they can help you. They’ll be more than willing to negotiate with you and sometimes smaller brands are more flexible on minimum order quantities, so you shouldn’t have to carry too much salon stock. Yeah, stuff like that. So really interesting blog. It’s called, like you said at the beginning, “How Much Salon Retail Products Should You Stock?” And it’s written by Phil Jackson.

Our second one that was quite popular was about the mystery shopping visits.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, it’s definitely come up a few times, we’ve chatted about it a few times here. So this is from Valerie Delforge from Delforge + Co. So what’s Valerie got to say about this one?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So how she broke down her article was essentially in a few points. Why are they so valuable? Two types of mystery shoppers, where to find industry people to conduct those mystery visits and also the kind of feedback that you should expect.

First, why are they so valuable? Well, she lists off five main things. They highlight what you do well, they reassure you, they highlight what needs to be improved, they help implement best practice for guidelines and procedures. You can identify training needs through them and they also let your team know that you’re serious about your customer journey, because at some point you kind of just realise that it is, at the end of the day, the most important thing to take care of in your salon. If your client doesn’t have a good experience, he or her is not going to come back.

Killian Vigna: So what are the two types of mystery shoppers that Valerie was talking about?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I’ll let you guess one. I mean, one’s an easy one.

Killian Vigna: Family and friends.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Everybody likes a free treatment, right? And they’ll give you the real client feel. They don’t have that industry background necessarily so they’re giving you exactly how your client feels.

Killian Vigna: You’d want to make sure what sort of friends though, because surely you’d have to be careful of biases? “Oh I’m doing it for my friend… Oh your salon is great, it’s wonderful.” You want a nice lean critique, don’t you?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah of course, but at the same time, that’s why you have two mystery shopping visits. One done by a friend to get that real feel and then one done by someone from the industry to give you a kind of a more detailed view of the actual experience. So a more professional industry background critic I suppose, yeah.

Killian Vigna: So that’s balanced out with the two of them then?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, but where do you find those industry people to do it?

Killian Vigna: Ask the salon down the road?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Well like networking, right? Networking is a great way to do it because often, we appear on trade shows or conferences or any seminars and stuff, you meet people that you really get on with and they’re not necessarily in your area so they’re not necessarily competing against you, but you can still have that conversation and get them to trade… Valerie essentially used to do it and she would trade off, “I’ll test your salon and you come test mine.” So that would work out well for them at that stage but then obviously if you’ve done it once with that person, you can’t really get that person back in for a second time. So from there, just maybe look at their senior team members and from there, who do they know?

Fast enough you’ll realise that you have an incredible bank of people that you can actually reach out to and do those shopping visits. You can also ask your coach, your mentor and there also are companies that do mystery shopping visits but she does put a disclaimer in the blog where she says that if you do go through a company to make sure that they do have experience in the salon and spa industry just because sometimes it’s quite different from the experience that you’d get in a retail shop or something like that. So you want to make sure that you’re getting the feedback that you should be getting.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, exactly. Well it is good sometimes to look outside the industry but yeah, I suppose when you’re looking for that overall salon experience, that’s where you want to keep it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, for sure.

Killian Vigna: Cool, so that’s our two blogs and then… two blogs today? Yeah. And then we’re moving onto this month’s podcasts.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. First one started off with the whole SMS, reaching 68% more of your clients.

Killian Vigna: Yeah and with that one we had our very own Luke Doolin and Helen Devenney, and 68% are probably thinking, “What are you on about?” That 68% of people actually came from our very own client database, so our own bank of salon owners. We’ve realised, well actually, [salon owners] hold 68% more clients’ phone numbers, mobile numbers, than they do emails. So that’s where that figure actually came from and it was more a kind of reaching and retaining your very own clients. So it wasn’t about getting new clients, it was about client retention because we said in the episode, it comes up time and time again in our surveys from onboarding of what do you want to get the most out of with Phorest? And one of the big ones is, “How do I retain more clients?” So that’s where that one came from and I think there was a couple of resources attached with that one, like SMS eBooks and guides and then Helen also went through five to seven of your key SMSs that you should be automating.

So if you were to take into account, these are the SMSs that you should be sending to every client. Like your confirmations, your feedback, your follow-ups, your reminders. If you were to actually dedicate a person to stand there all day and send all those messages, it’d actually costs you a lot more money in the long run than if you just find an automated SMS system. So yeah, check out that episode to see what those seven messages were and to get access to those guides. Zoe’s going to cue a few clips for you here just to get a taste of that episode.

Snippet 1, Luke Doolin: We know that SMS converts better than all other channels. If we look at just the open rates let’s say between SMS and email, an email has an average open rate of about 23%, while SMS is about 99%, so you’re getting your message out to more and more people.

Snippet 2, Helen Devenney: Maybe what salons aren’t aware of is that there’s two types of messages apart from SMS and email. There’s transactional messages and then there’s promotional messages.

Snippet 3, Helen Devenney: Even I know myself, from working in salons and obviously this time of year it’s coming up to Christmas, a lot of salons dedicate time to ringing clients and confirming their booking or they’re more so reminding them of their booking. So when you think about if you had 50 clients a day, you’ve got 50 phone calls to make. How could the salon be using that time so much more wisely? Why wouldn’t you have the system, just do that on one trigger and you can just send that out to clients?


Killian Vigna: That brings us up to our last week’s episode which is the Retain The 9%, the impact of the Irish government VAT increase on hairdressing. So for anyone outside of Ireland wondering what the VAT is, it’s the value added tax, so it’s an additional tax hike. Why we’re saying retain the 9% is, the government are looking at increasing it from 9% up to 13.5%, which is like a 4.5% increase but it’s not just an increase in the VAT, there’s also an increase in PRSI and there’s also an increase in the minimum wage per staff member. Now that one is across the board, that’s just the minimum wage in all businesses in any sector, not just the salon industry that’s going to be increased, but it creates all these knock-on effects and-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah because they’re all happening all together in January or something.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, and that’s the worst bit. It’s January and like Lisa and Declan, who were on the show here, they were saying January is notorious for being quiet. It’s hard enough trying to get your clients back in after the Christmas rush that now government have gone and added all these tax. So there was a protest at Dáil Éireann, which is basically the Irish parliament, or the Assembly of Ireland here and that took place on the 23rd, Tuesday the 23rd of October. So it’s interesting to see how that progresses now but there has been a petition signed and handed in. We had Sean Taaffe and Bridget Haren, both from the Irish Hairdressing Council, so they said a few words and Zoe’s going to cue some more of those snippets there. So apologies for the sound quality, it was quite loud on the day and it was windy, but I hope it gives you a taste for what it was like on the day.

Snippet 1, Sean Taaffe: We invite thousands of people, we need the VAT retained at 9%. Support hairdressing, support the 9%.

Snippet 2, Bridget Haren: There is 35 million that is actually put towards tourism but it actually hasn’t included the hairdressers, we’re not getting one cent of that, so we want to know strategies that are going to put in place by the government to help us to move forward as an industry.

Snippet 3, Declan Kehoe: Some smaller businesses will probably have to have a very, very serious conversation with their accountant. Profit margins are very, very tight for a lot of smaller businesses so how do they absorb the cost? That may result in letting a staff member go or they’ll have to increase their prices.

Sean Taaffe: The point that I want to make is it’s not just an immediate issue. We all know that the increase is going to drive clients into the black economy, into hairdresser’s kitchens rather than actually into our salons, but what’s actually more worrying is the fact that salons will not be taking on trainees and if we don’t have trainees coming into our industry, what happens? The industry dies.


Killian Vigna: So now we’re going into the Zoe section. So you’ve actually a few things coming up now, don’t you?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So the main thing coming up real soon is the Salon Digital Summit which is organised by Modern Salon and so it’s taking place in LA, November 4th to the 6th, Phorest are Platinum Sponsors, so we’re going to be there… it’s actually shaping up to be a really exciting few days to be honest. You’re going to have hands on training in social media and other digital platforms. It’s all to help you take your career and your the business to what’s next, I suppose. They’ll be quite a few familiar faces from Phorest on stage during those three days. Chris Brennan, first of all, will be speaking about the Four Keys To Controlling Your Digital Reputation. Myself, I’ll be hosting a panel talk with Christina Kreitel, Christopher Aaron and Natalie Boos. It’s all about Instagram and your brand, how it’s not just business, it’s also personal and on Tuesday, November 6th, Ronan Perceval and Paddy Monaghan, so Phorest CEO and Product Director, will be hosting a session from 10:00am to 1:00pm and they’ll be sharing you tools that we’ve developed to help stylists and salons build their following, boost their presence and improve their engagement on Instagram.

So it’s going to be a really interesting session. I can’t wait for it, I actually haven’t even heard a rehearsal or anything. It’s going to be all new for me too, really excited anyways.

Killian Vigna: That sounds like we’ve got Phorest just moving over to LA for the week.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Almost. Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of Phorest familiar faces in LA next week, yeah.

Killian Vigna: It’s going to be really cool and for any clients or anyone that is looking to find a bit more about Phorest, that’s probably the perfect opportunity to attend and ask questions because there’s a couple of big players from Phorest heading over there. I would grab them and grill them.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh yeah, 100%. While you’re there, there’s so many other sessions on as well that you’re going to come back and your head is going to be buzzing with inspiration on all sorts of subjects. So yeah, definitely something to look out for. If you wanted to attend or register for tickets, everything’s going to be in the episode description, so check it out there and, our own conference in January on January 7th, we have a few announcements coming your way in November, so keep an eye out for that. But other than that, before we ring the bells on this episode, we wanted to give a few shout outs.

You probably have met, virtually met, our new Social Media and Community Manager Paige and so she’s been doing a stellar job at just getting to know you guys and re-posting people who have been tagging us in posts and stuff. So a few shout outs this month. The Beauty Quarters who were talking about their online reputation and how they were getting amazing reviews, Enhance Beauty & Spa, which we took part in that, they started a boomerang challenge and challenged us to also do a boomerang post and tag them and it was a pretty cool post, if you saw it go by. Kolaine showing off their, “Clients Are My Cardio” Phorest branded bottle and there was also Rejuvenate Advanced, @Hairbymonalisa2017 was in for training in Phorest, @skindeep.laser.beauty, the @TheSpaceHairSoulBeauty, @Lenoas_Nails, @allorasalons and @thenailloungeuppermill. So if you have anything that you want to share with us, do tag us. Hashtag anything, just let us know where you’re at, what you’re doing, we want to be involved, we want to take part in that conversation, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

Killian Vigna: I personally want to give a shout out to Michaela from Salon 718, she came over in the last few weeks from the States and she just essentially wanted to come over to say hi to us and because of that, we all… and myself as well, including the Product guys, we all jumped on the opportunity to have a salon owner come in and just spent the day getting feedback from a product point of view, from all different things that we’re working on. So thanks to Michaela for that and she also sent us a box of chocolate and sweets that went up to that canteen today and they didn’t last, Michaela. They were gone within seconds.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I’d say so, yeah!

Killian Vigna: Yeah thanks very much for coming in on the back of your own accord, because we love getting feedback from clients on how we can improve.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And if you are a Phorest client, there’s also Uservoice, so if you have any suggestions and ideas, you can pop them in there. But I suppose that’s it for us today! So if you know someone with an interesting story for this podcast, do get in touch with us. As you know, we’re always keen on feeding off your ideas so as well if you have any feedback, feel free to leave us a review on iTunes or on Stitcher, we’re always looking for suggestions on how to improve the show. Oh, and don’t forget, we’re also on Spotify now. Otherwise have a wonderful week and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Thanks for reading! #LetsGrow

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