Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 67. 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 67

The closer in time we get to May 25th, the higher the chances that businesses will be facing a much more GDPR-concerned and ‘private’ customer. For a salon who prides itself on delivering a standout salon experience, could GDPR turn into an opportunity to build even more trust with existing and potential clients? And for salons based in the UK, also in the midst of dealing with Brexit, is GDPR taken just as seriously as it is within the EU?

On this week’s episode of Phorest FM, Killian and Zoe take the pulse of the situation as they are joined by Nicola Sharp, owner of award-winning salon Enhance Beauty & Spa, in Penicuik, and whose mission is all about providing the best salon experience.



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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, episode 67. I’m Killian Vigna…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer.

Killian Vigna: This week’s episode focuses on one salon owner’s journey to becoming GDPR compliant.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Joining us on the show to discuss how she’s bridging the gap between operating in a GDPR compliant way and delivering a standout salon experience, is salon owner Nicola Sharp of Enhance Beauty in the UK. As always, we top off the show with our upcoming Phorest Academy webinars.

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 you?

Killian Vigna: I’m good now. There’s probably a lot of people out there today listening to this episode going, not another GDPR episode. Everyone’s probably sick of hearing about it, but it is such a big topic, that for the last while it’s just kind of been Phorest talking about it. We just decided to have a little twist and talk to an actual salon owner themselves and see how their journey has gone through this whole thing.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: A few weeks ago actually, we even went through all the basics of what you needed to do to ensure that you were gonna be compliant. That was with Connor Keppel on episode 62. You guys in training have been running webinars, trainings, consultation forms, on GDPR itself as well. We, on the marketing team have been running Q&A’s and webinars as well. I think it’s gonna be very refreshing to have the subject flipped completely.

Killian Vigna: I kind of did a few webinars myself this week, to clients. I’d say, so the webinar itself is only about half an hour, it was about 20 minutes of it was a Q&A session at the end. That’s when we realized, actually, hang on why not just get a salon owner on to see how they’re going through it, how are they kind of adapting to this new massive change.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So with this in mind, we have Nicola Sharp on the line with us, and she’s from Enhance Beauty in, Peni [quick 00:02:03]? Is that how you pronounce it, did I do that right?

Nicola Sharp: Hi, everybody struggles, don’t worry, it’s Peni [cook 00:02:08].

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Penicuik. Okay, cool. First off, I must say congratulations, first of all on 17 years with Enhance Beauty.

Nicola Sharp: Thank you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: The Dermalogica account status and the Edinburgh Business Awards. You guys are really on a roll at the moment.

Nicola Sharp: [inaudible 00:02:20] Great year so far. Lots of exciting things happening, but it’s brilliant for the team.

Killian Vigna: That’s all just in one year.

Nicola Sharp: Yeah, just from the start of this year, we found out that we are Key Account status of Dermalogica, which is fantastic, because out of all the accounts, I think there’s over seven thousand accounts in the UK, we’re only one of three in Scotland that’s been awarded Key Account status, which is a huge honor. Then also just last week we found out that we’ve been nominated and made the finals of the Edinburgh Business Awards. We’ve got that at the end of April. Very exciting.

Killian Vigna: Wow. That’s amazing. So I suppose like Zoe said, it’s been a very good year for you, but you’ve been going 17 years yourself, so do you want to share a bit of background of, I suppose your experience in the industry and kind of how you got into it?

Nicola Sharp: Of course. I basically left college and worked in a salon that I had done my work experience in. Really enjoyed it. I was then offered a full-time position and within a matter of months, working there, I got my first mortgage, first flat, not far from where I worked. Then on Christmas Eve, I was made redundant. Totally out of the blue, the salon had actually went bankrupt, so I went home and thought what do I do now?

So, over the kind of Christmas period and into January, I interviewed for other beauty jobs, but nothing seemed like the right fit for me. I even considered cruise ships, but now I know that just would have… not been for me.

While I was trying to figure out what path to take, essentially, I worked mobile while trying to figure out my next step, and also trying to hold on to the client relationships I’d built up whilst I worked in that salon, which was in Penicuik. I was then encouraged by my step-mom to take on the previous salon’s lease short term, much to my dad’s horror. I was only 21, and obviously, now had a mortgage that I’d paid for. So, it took me time to convince the landlord, and my dad, to give me a chance. But he did, and it worked. So, my step-mom came on board and she worked reception for me while I could just do the work that I knew how to do and concentrate on building my client base. I had no idea how to run a business or what it even meant to run a business. I worked really hard and everything that I know now has pretty much been self-taught or sought out by other people.

Fast forward 17 years, and I’m now married with three young boys and my business is still growing. This week, I’ve just actually employed my ninth member of staff. So, yeah we’re on a roll, which is very exciting.

Killian Vigna: That’s amazing! Congratulations. You now have nine staff members working for you, that’s massive.

Nicola Sharp: I’m thankful to be responsible for it, yeah, absolutely.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And your salon’s mission is all about salon experience. Why was that something so important to you? Do you have an example of maybe a few things that you do that are very unique to your salon? I was reading about the soothing and refreshing foot bathing experience. That sounds inviting, even just to me, reading on the website!

Nicola Sharp: The overall salon experience was hugely important within my business because it’s something that makes us stand out from such a saturated market, I suppose. This is where we knew that we could add small things within our treatments to make the client experience different to other salons and where clients had visited before.

With the likes of our foot wrap job, we do that before any facial or body treatment. This involved the clients having their feet bathed in warm water and then scrubbed and dried by the therapist. Doing this, the client feels refreshed before getting into the bed. They’ve washed the day off of them and it gives a therapist time to have that personal catch up with the client before the treatment even starts, and not during it.

Other things that we do, we use a specific oil throughout the salon, so when clients return and smell the same scent, it reminds them its time to relax. We’ve even had clients tell us that whenever they smell that scent elsewhere, they’ll swear they instantly think of us so they instantly chill out, so that’s great.

Another thing that we do, which was a huge thing for me, and I feel it really enhances our overall client experience, is, we add on 20 minutes to every facial or massage, and this is so the client has time to prepare, and they’re in the room for the treatment, and they never feel rushed when the treatment ends. I’m a firm believer that if a treatment on a treatment menu states 60 minutes, then hands on it should be 60 minutes. Don’t tell me that a massage was only 50 minutes because I was getting dressed… give me the 60 minutes. This time that we add on as well is also used for discussing aftercare, skin education, and retailing. Within the business, we love to add little touches and surprising, so, within each eyelash tint, we carry a hand or a neck massage so the client gets extra treatment time within the treatment, which they love. They tell us this in the reviews and they are the small things that essentially don’t cost us much more money to do, but it does make us different.

Last week it was our birthday, and we were giving out little gifts to clients. We often do this throughout the year, just as like a random act, cause we really value that the client has chosen us, knowing that they’ve got millions of choices nowadays, within the market, but we’re really grateful that we’ve become one of their choices. So, I’m really proud to say that a lot of our clients today are clients that visited me 17 years ago, and that’s not a fluke. I’m so heavily involved with how the business interacts with the clients. This is now a huge part of what I do on a daily basis.

Back, this makes me laugh, back when I started the business, social media didn’t exist, and it was back in the days that if you needed a trade, you picked up the yellow pages. I can remember licking and sticking like 600 envelopes to mail to clients for Christmas event that we had coming up. Knowing that you only get around 10 percent return on a mail out, I could have cried when I realized that the letters didn’t even have our address on it or the date of the event.

Whereas nowadays, with social media, any mistakes can be quickly rectified, and it can boost your events or sales, which is just fantastic. So, going back to the social media, to keep the client experience personal, I answer all of our social media comments, our reviews, our google reviews, which Phorest has helped us with, because I want that personal connection to our clients, and I love the fact that some of our clients feel part of our team, or even they refer to us as family. This adds to their salon experience and ours.

We’ve got potential clients that follow us on social media for months before they step through the door. So we need to meet all their expectations when they do so that when they see us online they come and they know exactly how the business is gonna be when they walk in. They’re all the small things that we do that essential adds and enhances your experience when you’re in the business.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I suppose the name ties in perfectly with all of that.

Nicola Sharp: Exactly!

Killian Vigna: I couldn’t agree more. It sounds a lot of effort, this whole attitude of gratitude, but in the long run, you hit the nail on the head when you said, your clients have hundreds of thousands of people to pick, especially when you see marketplaces where it’s all just discount, discount, discount. You want the clients to come back and you want to give them a reason, so making them feel kind of cherished and valued and things like that.

Nicola Sharp: Of course.

Killian Vigna: So, Nicola, obviously you’re based in the UK, we’ve been talking about GDPR, which is… it’s a European Union regulation here, but with you being based in the UK, what was your first reaction about GDPR, with Brexit and everything going on?

Nicola Sharp: Honestly, how much is it gonna cost my business? How much time will I need to invest and how it will affect our client experience, I suppose. Like I say, in business you’re constantly learning new things, so GDPR was just another thing to add to that list, which 17 years on in the business, I made a decision quite a number of years ago to step out of treatments after I had my second child. It’s been one thing, it’s been fantastic, it’s propelled the business forward, to any salon owner that’s sitting on the fence whether to do that or not, essentially for me it’s been fantastic. That means that I have the time to work on things like GDPR or salon policies or HR issues, anything like that. I have the time to do that, and GDPR… I first heard of it I thought, okay this is now another thing that I’m gonna have to sit down and work through. That’s all you can do.

Killian Vigna: Really like that answer, Nicola, because this can be seen as something to be scared of and to worry about and to push it off, but you actually look at it, well I’ve done this for the last 17 years it’s just another learning program. You’re meeting it face on, and you’re doing it now, you’ve given yourself plenty of time beforehand.

Nicola Sharp: Yes. You need that time. I think, if you don’t give yourself that time, you’re only gonna put yourself under pressure that’s not necessary. Anything can happen within your business, with staff or… you’re always ongoing promotions going on that you’re constantly, your business… well my business definitely, is always on the move to the next thing, so if I left this to the 25th of May, I’d be in hot water. It’s not something that I can do.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, you’re adaptive, you’re not scared of change, you’re willing to take it on.

Nicola Sharp: Of course. Again, it’s how you go into these things, isn’t it? It depends how you adapt your mindset and how you move forward with it.

Killian Vigna: Exactly.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Did you see GDPR at first as kind of, almost a threat to your salon experience? How is it gonna affect my clients, how is it gonna affect the way that I interact with my clients, or did you even see it as an opportunity maybe to set yourself apart from salons who weren’t taking GDPR seriously?

Nicola Sharp: Again, I think that depends on what your mindset is. For me, this is an opportunity for us to build more client trust to what we have already. For us just now, GDPR is an ongoing task within the business. Every day brings another question from my team, which is great because they’re asking the questions that essentially clients might ask. Our aim is that by the 25th of May, all our procedures will be in place and it will make us GDPR compliant. We want to confidently answer any questions that our clients may have about how we store their data… listen, I’ve been naïve to think that our clients don’t already know about GDPR. Some are dealing with it within their own businesses and workplace. We want our clients to know that we’re a credible business, that they can trust with their personal information.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s very true.

Killian Vigna: Especially like, you think about the amount of information you give to a salon. The only other person, again we said it before, it’s nearly like a doctor is the next person you’re giving that much information to. There is a lot to put into place. Have you noticed with being in the UK, have you noticed any GDPR similarities between the UK and the EU versions?

Nicola Sharp: Due to the volume of work that GDPR is creating within my business, honestly I’ve only researched what we need to do with regards to the UK. We’ve not sought any legal advice yet, but within the coming months, this may be our next step. Right now we’re working on how to implement these new steps and policies within my business, and gather as much information as we can before moving forward. If we need to take any legal advice, it may never come to that, but I’ve not essentially looked at the differences between the EU and the UK, purely because I’m focusing on what we need to drive and drive the business forward for our sales.

Killian Vigna: Of course, that makes sense.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: The learning journey about GDPR, has it mainly been a solo one, or have you been getting your staff… obviously, the staff is asking you questions and things like that, but have they been more involved in that? Or are you pretty much tackling the whole subject head on yourself?

Nicola Sharp: I do a lot of online research myself. Each year I attend a Content Marketing Conference in Edinburgh. In doing that, I’ve met a lot of other business owners that have businesses across the board doing different things. Each of them have been holding webinars about GDPR, which I’ve actively been attending. These have been brilliant and really informative and it’s helped me to see things, not just from a salon point of view but just from a general business point of view. I think that’s been gold for me.

I’m the type of person, I need to go into something armed with knowledge, so the more knowledge I can get and the more questions that we ask and get answered, great. My team are fully up to date with where our other responsibilities lie, and what our next steps may be. My management team joined me in Dublin at the Summit, so they heard the talks and discussions on GDPR, which is great. That opened up that conversation for us to then bring that back to the salon and figure out what our next steps were.

We are working together, cause that’s the only way I can actively implement it into the business. For being, as a team to understand how serious and important as well… can’t do it myself.

Killian Vigna: When your team went over to the Salon Owners Summit, was that their first taste or experience of GDPR? Because I know, you said you’d been doing a lot yourself already?

Nicola Sharp: Yeah. It was. And I could actually see the look on their face… how is [inaudible 00:15:52] you know what its like, with your staff where you don’t want to go into too much detail about something until you’ve got the full information yourself. So, I waited until we went to Dublin and they obviously had hundreds of questions. They’ve been asking questions that I’ve not even thought of, which is great.

Unfortunately, you guys have been bombarded with our questions, and they’ll keep coming I’m sure until we get deeper into this and have more of an understanding.

Killian Vigna: But it is brilliant like you were saying, you were bombarding us with questions. It’s such a big thing, that no one really knows all the questions unless you’re actually involved in law; like we keep saying, seek consultancy on it. The more we learn about it and the more you learn about it, the better prepared everyone is.

Nicola Sharp: Absolutely.

Killian Vigna: There’s no bad question, really, it’s just kind of setting up for everyone.

Nicola Sharp: Yeah. Everybody’s business is different as well, so the question that we might be asking may not be what anybody else needs to know. Everybody works differently, and logistics of your business are what matters to you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Do you have any main concerns about GDPR still, or is it kind of now trying to figure out how are you going to operate the salon with this?

Nicola Sharp: There’s a couple of questions that we’re still waiting to be answered. One of our major concerns is, do we have to start an email list from scratch or can we hold onto the data that we’ve collected before the 25th of May? We’ve over five thousand clients on our email list and this is value to the business. Erasing it would be a massive hit, but up to this point, nobody’s been able to answer that question yet.

In a way, that’s okay, because if there’s not an answer to it yet, maybe we don’t have to erase that, we’ll wait until we find out what we have to do. We have been speaking to our insurance companies as well, regarding how long we need to hold data for.

It’s more just about getting used to operating in a different way. To be honest, we follow good practices within the business, and I’ve always used pin codes from day one of taking Phorest on. For us, it’s just adding more time on to that client visit so the treatment time’s not affected so they can fill out consultation cards.

This is a concern though because obviously, that will eventually have a cost implication if we’re having to add on another five minutes to treatment times. I think the first few months will be a challenge, but then very quickly it’ll just become a new way that we work. I’m looking forward to saving money on paper and ink, so that’ll work in our favour.

Killian Vigna: And getting a lot more storage back in your salons.

Nicola Sharp: Absolutely.

Killian Vigna: So, there was just one other thing to follow up on Zoe’s question there about, did you have any major concerns. You were saying that you’ve gone about this… you’re well on top of this by the sounds of it and you’ve gone out and done it all yourself. Now you’re working with your team, which is brilliant because you need to communicate this stuff with your team and get everyone on board, everyone should have a role to play in this and not leave it all on you. Have you got involved with any local salon owners in your area, or anyone like that, or are you as a salon going solo with this?

Nicola Sharp: Not exactly got involved, but I do… every six weeks or so I meet with another nine salon owners within the area, who… I’ve known them over the years, we discuss different issues, problems or challenges that we have within our businesses. This has certainly been a conversation that’s been going on since January, regarding GDPR. Some of them are already Phorest clients, which is great. They have all the backing from Phorest. Some of them aren’t and they’re not getting their information… that they need elsewhere. That’s a concern.

Essentially we’re trying to answer some of the questions that they may have that we’ve found out, and working together again, as business owners. I think if you’re always trying to do the right thing and follow procedures that are put in place by the companies that you trust, I think there’s nothing wrong in doing that.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, no, brilliant.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: To kind of wrap this episode up, would you have any recommendations for a salon owner who hasn’t actually yet looked into this?

Nicola Sharp: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Too late.

Nicola Sharp: Well, not to alarm anybody, but get busy researching and don’t think that it doesn’t affect you. Whether you’re a large salon or mobile therapist, this affects us all. Not complying to GDPR regulations is like working without insurance. You just don’t do it. So, seek out the right people to help you and guide you, and the companies that you have built personal relationships with, work with them and ask them the questions.

Again, like I said, I think if we’re trying to do the right thing, that’s all we can do. There’s gonna be a certain amount of time for transition between… from the 25th of May, I’m sure there’s gonna be a couple of months where people are trying to figure out how things work, and it’s all a new reworking. This also gives us time to learn and then get better at what we do.

GDPR is there for clients’ protection, but for our protection as well, and I think that essentially people forget that and they’re scared to put new practices into place because they just see the volume of work, and you shy away from it, it’s a natural instinct. Whereas if you just start to research it and then take a step back and say, right okay this can be implemented into my business by taking this step, this step, and this step. You’re moving forward to do the right thing. If they’ve not researched it yet, I’d start doing that now.

Killian Vigna: Well it’s just like any goal, really, no one’s going to run a marathon tomorrow, you have to start at a few kilometres today, a few kilometres tomorrow. You’ve summed it up brilliant there. Take your small steps and don’t see it as a mountain.

Nicola Sharp: Yes. It’s like when the pensions came into force. Everybody was terrified of how am I gonna manage that myself? How do I need to implement this into my business? Again, if you need to seek out advice and pay somebody to help you to do that, that’s essentially what you need to do to make sure you are keeping your business compliant. These regulations and laws are there for a reason, you just need to make sure that you follow them for your own business, and not be scared of these things.

Killian Vigna: I think you’ve done a brilliant job getting this far anyway. Like I’ve said, you seem to be well on top of it. What I loved most, hearing you talk about it, from this, was that you didn’t see it as a challenge or “Oh no not another thing to do”. You are adaptive, your salon is ready for the next change and it keeps making those changes. That’s what we love to see, cause change is always gonna happen, especially in day and age we’re in now, where technology is moving so fast. You just have to embrace it.

Nicola Sharp: Course you do. You have to move with the times technically, don’t you?

Killian Vigna: Well, Nicola, that’s been absolutely fantastic, thanks very much for joining us on the show today. I hope there’s more salon owners out there just like yourself who are embracing GDPR as opposed to fearing it.

Nicola Sharp: I’m sure there are, thank you very much!

Killian Vigna: No problem.

Killian Vigna: And now for the second half of our show, over to you Zoe.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: For the Phorest academy webinars, coming up soon, we have one on March 21st, but that’s an IHF, so Irish Hairdressers Federation, exclusive on salon GDPR. And then coming up on April 11th, which is open to everyone essentially, is Valerie Delforge’s Salon Manager Development Series, and it’s all about becoming an exceptional leader. So, she’ll teach you how to motivate your team to achieve their targets and goals, how to inspire staff to take ownership of their roles, strategies to become the leader that you want to become. That’s all happening on April 11th from 2 PM to 3 PM, UK/Ireland Time, or 9 AM to 10 AM, US Eastern time. If you want to sign up to any of those, you go onto our Facebook page in the events section, you find the webinar of that name and then you click get tickets, register for your free seat and you’re in.

Other than that, before we leave you today, we have a big announcement. Following its smash success last year in July, we’re running a second edition of #30Days2Grow. This year, it’s starting on April 1st, 2018 and every day for 30 days, essentially, we’ll be sending you a simple and easy to execute challenge and it’s all designed to get your clients coming back more often and spending more, so making more revenue for your salon. Along the way, we’ll be providing you with exclusive tips, ideas, templates, everything to help you accomplish each of the tasks. If you want to register for that, it’s free, you have to sign up before March 31st. It starts on Sunday, April 1st and it goes on for 30 days. Like I said, it’s free, you don’t need our software, you don’t even need… you could be on pen and paper and still do this challenge. We also have a Facebook group for you to network in, and you’ll all have that information if you go and sign up on www.30days2grow.com. That’s 30 numeric and 2 numeric as well. 3 0 days 2 grow.

That’s it for us today, 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. Otherwise, have a wonderful week, and we’ll catch you next Monday for March’s monthly round-up episode.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Thanks for reading!


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Note: Phorest FM is designed to be heard, not read. We encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion which may not translate itself on the page. Podcast transcription by Rev.com