Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 8. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, this show is 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 you can join. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 8

Boosting your online presence is something many salon owners are interested in doing but don’t know how to go about it. During this episode, we have Luke Fitzgerald from Wolfgang Digital explain some of the best ways to increase online visibility. Other discussed topics are what a salon should do if they’re interested in serving alcohol along with their services, and some good ways to handle grooming policies among your salon staff.



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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, episode 8. I’m your host Killian Vigna and today I am joined by Zoe Belisle-Springer. Welcome to our final Phorest FM episode of 2016. In this episode, we will go through this week’s blogs, starting off with how to add fizz to your marketing with a festive salon drinks menu. How to go about grooming policies in your salon or spa. This week’s special guest is a prerecorded interview with our search engine optimization experts Wolfgang Digital. And they’ll be giving us tips and tricks to get you ranked higher on Google. Finally, we’ll have a special Christmas sign-off from our Phorest salon software CEO Ronan Perceval. This podcast is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off. Now, let’s get into the show.

So, Zoe we’ve seen that especially coming up to the Christmas, I was in the hairdressers there last week myself.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: And you get that usual offer of do you want tea or coffee, yeah?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, definitely.

Killian Vigna: Well that week, my mind was blown. And, like it happened… it was the same barbers I went to that I talked about before that did it.

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

Killian Vigna: They offered me a bottle of beer.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh, did you. That was pretty cool.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. I thought that this was brilliant. I thought it was great. And instantly I was… I came back to the office, and I was going, why isn’t everyone doing this? Why isn’t everyone offering you a glass of wine, or prosecco, or a bottle of beer?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: But there’s a reason for that. Like, um, so technically if you do sell alcohol or just offer alcohol as part of the treatment and you do need a license to do that.

Killian Vigna: So it’d be just like a bar. You do need a special license.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, you do need a special license. There are different types of licenses, so for instance, if sometimes you’re hosting an event it’ll just be a license for those days that you’re hosting an event, kind of thing.

Killian Vigna: So, they’re almost like timestamped licenses.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, So the thing is with licenses is that global law, right? Stays the same. It’s illegal to sell or give alcohol without a license, technically.

Killian Vigna: Okay. That’s just the general. That’s across everyone. Not just salons.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Generally spea… across pretty much, yeah. Across pretty much every country. Now, depending on where you live and depending on if you’re in the US the licenses will change from state to state and if you in the UK you might need two licenses. They’re not really…

Killian Vigna: Two licenses?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, there’s actually a blog on the National Hairdressers Federation and… that talks about the licenses in the UK, but even then they can’t really tell you what license you’re actually going to get because it differs from place to place. You really have to talk your city council, or whoever in your region takes care of that kind of stuff.

Killian Vigna: So it’s not a case of, have a quick search online, am I eligible for one. You actually have to get in contact with…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: The best thing to do is to get into contact with them because then you’re for sure guaranteed you’re allowed to do what you’re doing, and everybody can benefit from it. It’s like your clients are going to have a great experience and you’re obviously going to the repercussions from it, and it’s just going be good for your branding and customer service experience kind of thing.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. So, you’ve identified who you go to get your license. You got your license sorted. Now, what is the deal with serving times? Do salons have serving times? Can they not serve drink after 12? You know, like a pub or an off license store in Ireland? Is it time restricted?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Well I mean technically think about it, if you’re serving alcohol as part of your treatment, like the beer they offered you, they’re pretty much only gonna serve it in their business hours, right?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So, if they’ve opted for beer on their menu, then most likely it’s going to be maybe starting at noon or something, but that is something you decide, right?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Common sense kind of thing depending on what kind of drink you are serving.

Killian Vigna: Do you really want to offer someone beer at 9 o’clock in the morning?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly. And on the other hand, I had the kind of experience in Canada. I walked in, it was a snowy morning, I hated my life, and it was just so cold.

Killian Vigna: All right Zoe.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And, no but it was just so cold. Walked in and my hairdresser was like ‘we’re having a Christmas special, do you want Bailey’s in your coffee’?

Killian Vigna: Oh, that’s tasty.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I was like, Oooh, I won’t say no to that, and it just made me smile automatically. And it was just like, oh well maybe the snowstorm isn’t that bad in the end. Like, it’s fine.

Killian Vigna: So I suppose… kinda think about it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So yeah, you just think about…

Killian Vigna: Is it a hot whisky or hot coffee, something like that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Do you want to serve mulled wine, do you want to serve prosecco? You probably won’t serve in the morning at 9 AM, either. Like it just really depends on what kind of menu you’re going for. If you’re not sure how to go about… I don’t know, like people in bars know how to do drinks menus because that’s their job, but you’re obviously not a specialist in that area. So one thing you can do is partner up with whoever is local to you and then it’ll kind of decide what kind of menu you’re going for. So if you partner up with a local wine merchant, then your menu is probably going to be served around, I don’t know, from 4 to 5 o’clock or something.

Killian Vigna: That’s just hit me. That sounds class. Like if you… a local cocktail bar, it’s just like instantly everyone knows cocktails.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Certainly, Like that.

Killian Vigna: So you just go in and get like a keg of premixed cocktails from a local bar or something like that. That would be unreal.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: See you don’t need to have someone hired in your corner with a little cocktail bar.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. That’s the whole idea behind it; you don’t want to add time and effort to your side of the things. But then when you partner up with someone, it’s easier to cross-promote each other. So they’ll send clients over to you, but you’re obviously promoting their brand by having their product in your salon.

Killian Vigna: Exactly. Maybe to have a little chalkboard to say presented to you by such and such.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Something like that. There was Alex that you heard on the last episode of the Phorest FM, was telling me yesterday that she went to the salon and they kind of had like a cooler stamped, like branded with the name of the partner that was offering the alcoholic beverages.

Killian Vigna: That’s a really good idea. Or you can flip and go the complete opposite spectrum because just when we were prepping for this webinar, someone dropped it into our Slack, there is actually a bar that’s just opened around the corner from us that now has a barber seat in the back. So you can get your pint of Guinness and your short, back, and sides all in one. So there’s either spectrum.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Exactly, yeah. So this blog basically just talks about how to get well prepared for it if you want. If it is something you want to do, have a discussion with your city council. Maybe go for your insurance and see what kind of liability you have there.

Killian Vigna: Because there’s insurance as well, of course.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Of course. So like what do you have to prepare for that, and when you apply for your license, make sure you have all the documents in hand because they might do background checks and stuff. It just depends on where you’re from exactly and where you’re trying to push this promotion out.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: But it’s definitely something to try out. It does put a smile on people’s face. It works 100% of the time.

Killian Vigna: You in Canada, wet and cold, put a smile on your face. Me going to a new barber, getting offered a beer for the first time. All a sudden, it’s like what is going on here. I just finished work, so it was perfect, too. But just on that whole, getting your license and documents and stuff together, that brings us over to a topic we’ve talked about before, our SOP, and that was from our special guest blogger Valerie Delforge.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Indeed. Yes.

Killian Vigna: So Valerie has been kind enough to do us, I suppose, a section of SOP that salon owners can use.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Definitely, so she explains in her blog… it’s about grooming policies, right? So, for any kind of hairdressing salon, you might not feel very appealed to this because you might not have uniforms or anything in your salon. However, she also talks about tattoos and piercings and just general appearance. So even if you don’t have a uniform, this section of your SOP manual can be applicable to pretty much any business in our industry. Right, so she basically explains how to go about creating this procedure, so you write it down, what… are you going to be flexible? Do you want a uniform? Do you want to be more traditional? Do you want people to be in all-black? Do you want hair slicked backed or tied up? It’s just defining what’s your brand image and then from there, what you want project to people and just go about that and then set up your image of your employee kind of thing.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. So your staff need to, I suppose reflect your salon, reflect your brand as long as they’re there, and these are just putting guidelines in place that they agree with. So is not necessarily saying that you can’t have piercings or you can’t have tattoos, it’s if you have, then you do this.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, kind of. It’s just about deciding… you don’t want to discriminate anyone you have employed or are going to hire.

Killian Vigna: You don’t want to limit their creative flair.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, exactly. So, she was also saying about this that the best way to start talking about your grooming policies is in the interview process, to begin with. Because if you have it in your head, and it’s written down in your manual, and you have a place at the bottom for the employee to sign on it, then in the interview you’re making kind of like a verbal contract and then you’re making that person sign, Okay I agree to respect the fact that you don’t want any tattoos on show, or maybe my nose ring, I can’t wear that while I’m in. Any kind of rules that you want to put in that’s basically written down, given out the employee, you have a verbal contract, and a written down one and then you have resources if anything happens afterwards. So if the employee comes back and she’s well aware that the nose ring is a no go, comes back every week with the nose ring, after three strikes you can actually do something because she was aware of it and actually signed a contract.

Killian Vigna: It was an agreement in the first place.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Whereas if you don’t have it, then it’s kind of hard to do anything legally speaking because the person can be just like, I never agreed to that.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. And I suppose just to emphasize this blog isn’t about procedures you have to put in place for how your staff look or that. Because we actually encourage you to let your staff, I suppose, kinda be creative and be themselves and stuff like that because that’s what makes them good. But there is then the topic for certain, I suppose, some beauticians where they like that uniform look.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. It’s very much more of a traditional environment.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. And the thing they would like to do is, I suppose, to budget it, so in the initial contract, who is responsible for the uniform.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. So there’s different ways you can go about this, right? You can offer to give the first, just one set of uniform or maybe two if you can afford it. And then if it’s misused or gets damaged in some way then the employee has to pay to replace it. You can also make the employee pay for the uniform as part of coming into your salon or you can… another third option would be to give them the uniform for free, but when they leave, they have to hand it back in.

Killian Vigna: They have to return it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, exactly they have to return it.

Killian Vigna: And they’re all fair as well, I want to again… once they’re put in the procedures document, people sign it, because at the same time if you have to wear a uniform, you have to respect your uniform. It doesn’t matter what field of… what career you’re in.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And is not just the uniform; it’s respecting the brand image.

Killian Vigna: The brand, yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: Like people are coming in; you’re the professional, they see this lovely brand. They see all these uniformed staff members. It shows off that kind of level of expertise right there.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Actually, Valerie mentioned a quick tip to know how your clients perceive you. She was telling hire some mystery shopper for a day.

Killian Vigna: Great idea.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Your employees don’t know who that person is, nor when they are coming in, and then the mystery shopper can give you some amazing feedback on loads of things. And it’s not the only subject you can apply it to. You can apply to loads of things.

Killian Vigna: That mystery shopper is a great example. Because it’s making sure everyone… it looks like everyone is in line with the brand, but you can also check then for customer service and kind of skills, how they were welcomed, everything, anything you want to identify in your salon. Mystery shopper.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly. So that was a great tip from her part. So she really goes into detail about the whole creating the procedure and how to go about it if, for example, that employee was aware that they couldn’t do this, or this, and then you can come back with… oh, fuck.

Killian Vigna: Again, it identifies the procedure at the start. So from when you first hired your new team member, identify the procedure in place and it’s not a case of, you can’t do this, it’s, well if you have it tattoo or if you have a piercing and if you’re going to dye your hair a rainbow color, here are things that you might need to do, to keep in touch with the brand.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly, yeah. Pretty much.

Killian Vigna: So we’re not giving out, and we’re not, I suppose restriction… restricting how people appear, but we’re just putting procedures in place, and things need to be done. Because if an argument breaks out a couple of months down the line, like Zoe just said, at least you can backtrack and go well actually you signed this and agreed with it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And you know, if you’re implementing this, at the beginning of the interview process, that’s the best place to know if they’re on board with your policies or not. You don’t want to know that, a year down the line.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, exactly. So last week we had our own SEO experts Wolfgang digital come into us, and we thought well this is a perfect time if they’re in here, in the building, we’ll capture them and record something for salon owners.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yes, so salon websites and such.

Killian Vigna: Salon websites. So, what is SEO you’re probably thinking? SEO, search engine optimization. In a nutshell, it’s how you get ranked on Google. So, if you go to search “Salon in Dublin”, the first 10 results that appear on the website, your goal in terms of SEO, is to be one of those front-page results.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, exactly.

Killian Vigna: So, we had Luke come in from Wolfgang Digital and recorded a nice interview with Connor Keppel earlier.

Connor Keppel: It’s Connor here from the marketing team at Phorest, and I’m joined by Luke from Wolfgang Digital. So today, and we’re going to get into it in a few minutes, but we’re going to be talking a lot about websites and how to rank better on Google. Luke, do you want to give a little bit of background about Wolfgang Digital? So, just to give you guys background we know Luke because he basically helps Phorest and helps us rank better and helps us with our online marketing. So do you want to say a little bit about Wolfgang?

Luke Fitzgerald: Yeah. Absolutely, and not to plug the company too much but we’re Ireland’s leading digital marketing agency, and we’re also Europe’s leading digital marketing agency. We won a couple of awards this year, and we’ve also won an award in New York, the Landy’s Award…

Connor Keppel: First, congratulations.

Luke Fitzgerald: … for the world’s best digital marketing agency for this year. Which is a pretty good feat. So, basically what we do is we do SEO, we do Google ad words, and paid social media marketing to drive traffic to our clients’ websites effectively. And so, Connor has brought us in today to talk a little bit about SEO and how you guys can handle it with your own small salon websites.

Connor Keppel: Cool. So a question we get asked a lot how… I’ve actually had one particular person ask me this last week, and that was Sinead, from Precious Hair and Beauty in Dublin, about how can I rank better on Google. So this is a question that we get asked a lot, and it’s quite a complicated topic, and there’s lots of different factors to it, but there is some kind of more basic aspects that can really help rank better on Google. So we’re gonna kinda jump right in now, if that’s okay Luke?

Luke Fitzgerald: Yup.

Connor Keppel: And ask you a few questions. So starting from the very start, say I’m a salon owner like Sinead, small budget, and I want to go out and basically get a website that I think will be Google friendly, like is there kind of a couple of things that I really need to look at for a small business website?

Luke Fitzgerald: Yeah, absolutely. There are a number of things. Like well, there are over 200 different elements, 200 ranking factors that Google sort of sucks in as part of the algorithm that are very in-depth, intricate algorithm that they sort of grade websites using.

Connor Keppel: So that’s kind of like Google’s automated way of finding out all these different factors, and where should I rank this website based on a search.

Luke Fitzgerald: Exactly, yeah. So they’ve got 200 different things that they look at to determine how to rank one website over another website. So there’s a couple of things, some are more important than others out of those 200 factors. So a couple of things off the top of the scale would be content, back links to your website, your social media signals, and your technical on page structure.

Connor Keppel: Okay

Luke Fitzgerald: So if you’re a small business starting out with a small budget I’d look at the on-page. It’s very important to get your on-page SEO authorization and base things like title tags, meta descriptions. So they’re effectively a tag on your page that tells the user and search engines what that webpage is about.

Connor Keppel: Okay

Luke Fitzgerald: And then under the title you’ve got a description, so it’s basically 156 characters to shop window, effectively, in Google search, making sure that piece of description is unique, tells users why they should click on your web result versus your competitors’, and puts in a little call to action. So it entices clicks from the search results.

Connor Keppel: So that title won’t be visible on the page itself though. That title underneath.

Luke Fitzgerald: The title would be, that’ll be on the tab on the top of your browser there. The description is only visible either in your source code or the search engine results.

Connor Keppel: Okay. So basically if you’re a salon owner then you’re getting a website developed, they need to… you need to be asking these questions of whoever is developing the website.

Luke Fitzgerald: Absolutely.

Connor Keppel: Have you got, like… the, sorry not the title, what was the second one thing…

Luke Fitzgerald: The description.

Connor Keppel: Yeah. Is my description right, what does it say. All of that kind of thing.

Luke Fitzgerald: And it’s free too. So a lot of the websites are built using WordPress, it’s like the world’s most common CMS generator for small businesses. So there is a tool called Yoast, which I recommend everyone install.

Connor Keppel: We use that actually.

Luke Fitzgerald: Yeah. And you can literally just; you can edit your own titles and descriptions in there. That’s looking after a lot of your own page SEO at a high level.

Connor Keppel: So a lot of websites that I look at in terms of salon websites that get very, very… probably launch their own website, get someone to develop it for them, as most of us do and some of this stuff is okay in terms of it’s in place, like their description and so on, but mobile, a lot of them when I look at them on mobile, it’s just like, whoa. Pinching and pinching, and scrolling and I’m all over the place. How important is that for Google?

Luke Fitzgerald: Well, especially in Google, Ireland is 65% and mobile of users. Everyone whips out their phones. 65% of all traffic is on a mobile device now.

Connor Keppel: Wow.

Luke Fitzgerald: I think it’s even higher in the US, I think that it’s 69-70% in the US. So you’ve got to be mobile out first. The algorithm, Google, everyone even users yourself and myself, would use our mobile device 70+ times a day versus our desktop. It’s multiple times more you’re on a mobile device, than on a desktop. So you gotta be found, and you’ve got to be visible, and you gotta be prominent on mobile. So building your website for mobile users making sure that… there is a tool that you can use. Google, mobile-friendly test. Just stick it into Google, and you’ll get the mobile-friendly test.

Connor Keppel: Just Google, mobile-friendly test, and test your website.

Luke Fitzgerald: Exactly, yeah. You can put in your domain, and it will give you a score out of 100 on how user-friendly and how mobile friendly your website is.

Connor Keppel: Okay.

Luke Fitzgerald: That’s free, again.

Connor Keppel: There is another quick one, isn’t there? Like you can basically… if you drag your cursor over to the side of your browser, and just pull in your browser, and if it’s not kind of squashing and fitting into the window, that’s kind of a very good test.

Luke Fitzgerald: Absolutely, yeah.

Connor Keppel: Because if it’s not moving, then it’s not mobile optimized. It’s just… yeah, you’re just kind of covering the text.

Luke Fitzgerald: That’s it, or else whip out your mobile and stick in the URL.

Connor Keppel: That’s probably one of the easiest…

Luke Fitzgerald: That’s the tech savvy way to do it. Yeah, absolutely.

Connor Keppel: Okay.

Luke Fitzgerald: But again, things like page speed, we see Google… like everyone’s boring page and now on a mobile device if your page isn’t fast to load, then people are going to go to a competitor’s site. So it’s all relevant to the page speed. Making sure, again another free tool, the Google page speed tool, so you stick in your domain and it gives you a score out of 100, and it doesn’t just throw you a score and tell you to go away, it gives you a set of actual recommendations, where by you can actually work with your developer team to improve the page load speed of website. So quicker is best. Going into 2017.

Connor Keppel: Okay. So things, for instance, we helped… with salons, we basically helped them share before and afters onto social media. Okay, I know the things you do with as well is your online booking, so just for those of you who were wondering, our online booking is mobile optimized. So even if your website is not mobile optimized, if you click on online booking that particular widget is optimized. In terms of social media, does updating your Facebook regularly actually help your Google ranking?

Luke Fitzgerald: It does. Yeah, absolutely. It’s a fraction of signals, Google has a patent on fractions, so it’s an actual thing that they use to determine what websites, what companies, what web entities are fresh and topical and current in their related niche. If you’re continuously banging out fresh content, relevant content, and getting the likes, getting shares, getting engagement on your social media, and your social media, in turn, links back to your website, and your website has all your social signals, your social profiles linking from a section on your website, they’re interchanged.

Connor Keppel: Yeah, they’re linked.

Luke Fitzgerald: The algorithm now is smart enough now, and it has ranking signals up there in the top five most important parts. Social media is one of the top five things when it comes to SEO. I’d also recommend don’t neglect Google Plus as a social platform. Also, “Google My Business”, you can effectively get free advertising through “Google My Business”. So if you search for your salon brand name, on the right-hand side, you’ll see a section called the knowledge panel. And it’s free to set up, and you can put in images of your gallery, you can put in your business opening hours, and you can get Google reviews which are very important for self-referencing. You want people who have used your business before to see five-star reviews if your services are good.

Connor Keppel: Of course, yeah.

Luke Fitzgerald: This is all now going into effect, and it brings more business. So Google My Business and Google Plus as a social network are huge.

Connor Keppel: So I think the moral of the story is that when you’re looking at how your website ranks in Google, you have to look far beyond your website.

Luke Fitzgerald: Absolutely. So there’s on-page and off-page signals. So we’ve touched upon on-page a lot there with the reader elements and the tactical using words on your website. Keywords are still important. But also off-page is very important, so back links, getting links from local businesses and local directories, or local people who might be talking. If you’ve got a good news story, getting a link and an article from a press publication is really going… it’s a section of off-page SEO, which helps. Again, links and content are two of the most important ranking factors, again.

Connor Keppel: So just before we finish up, one other thing is like… it’s, the question we get asked is how do I rank better on Google. But the question I always ask is, for what? So, if you’re a local hair salon, look for a search term. There’s not under you, correct me if I’m wrong, there isn’t much point in me being ranking number one for “Hair Salon in New York”. I mean that would be good, but I mean, “Hair Salon Ireland”, you’re a localized business. So, how do I know if a developer says to me, right? Because they won’t know the hair and beauty industry, and if I’m the salon owner and the developer says what keywords should we focus on?

Luke Fitzgerald: Yeah.

Connor Keppel: How is the salon owner, or me for instance, to find that out? What do you think?

Luke Fitzgerald: You could use again another free tool, the Google keyword finder.

Connor Keppel: Yeah.

Luke Fitzgerald: You can put in your keywords. Your list of main keywords, and you can get a list of localized relevance. So, it’s not rocket science really, keyword research. As long as you can, let’s say for example you are based in Dublin too, or if you are based in New Jersey, you want to have beauty salon New Jersey, or a certain element as Cranford say, is a town in New Jersey. So, if you’re using that, the word Cranford in your main title, in your descriptions and sprinkled throughout your content, then there is relevance there.

Connor Keppel: Okay. So you want to do is to want to pick as a key term, bigger isn’t always better. It prefers localized business or local terms probably better. Like “hair salon Dublin 2”, and then trying like a focus on that more so than trying to be ranked number one for hair salon.

Luke Fitzgerald: Absolutely.

Connor Keppel: Because it’s actually less competitive, right? I have a better chance probably of ranking the more localized I make it, and the traffic is then more relevant if you are searching for yourself in Dublin 2.

Luke Fitzgerald: That’s it. You’ve gotta start close to home. So you’ve got to be the best salon, the best most findable salon in your local region. That’s what gets bums on seats. That’s what gets bookings there, online bookings. Again, you gotta have online booking functionality through your website. If you’re not visible within your local region, then people in your local area aren’t going… aren’t going to be travelling from across the country just to get their nails done, when there’s 15 other salons around them. Control your local market first, and then you can look to nationalize.

Connor Keppel: Yeah, great. And just one other thing as well, is that online booking we find is, if you’re not… whoever your software provider is, make sure that it’s integrated with your software, because sometimes what we find is online bookings are like an email tool. So people will fill in a form and send them, and they naturally assume their booking has been made.

Luke Fitzgerald: Yeah.

Connor Keppel: When all it is, is an email comes in, someone the next morning goes Oh god this is a double booking, and they’re ringing back. So the advice I’ll give salon owners for online booking is, make sure it is actually integrated with your appointments, so there’s no double booking, cause nobody wants to make a booking and then be told the next morning that there is a double booking, it’s bad service. So make sure that, guys if your… whoever your software provider is, make sure it fully integrates with your appointment book.

Luke Fitzgerald: Yeah. You’ve got to have end to end tracking of some form. You gotta be able to have visibility for when a user visits your website until they leave your website, hopefully, happy and with a booking. A single booking, not a double one.

Connor Keppel: Brilliant. Luke listen, thank you so much for coming in and doing that. There is a lot of knowledge there. And we’re going to do a blog post about this as well, a Phorest blog post. We’ll take a lot more content on that, so thank you.

Luke Fitzgerald: Thank you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So I hope you enjoyed that little interview with Connor and Luke. Before we head off to the sign off with Ronan, we have a few announcements for Phorest. The Phorest blog is actually going audio. The same way you follow Phorest FM, you’ll be able to follow the Phorest blog, and there is also going to be that little link in there at the top of every blog so you can listen to it if you don’t want to read it. You just kind of click on the article and if you change your mind and want to listen to it, it’s there.

Killian Vigna: And for anyone that downloads Pod Bean, you can actually subscribe to the blog as well, so you get instant updates, real time.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly, there you go. That’s really great for… we’ve had loads of feedback from people being like, we’re on the road, we don’t really have the time to read the blog, so we love the audio version. So there you go: Christmas present.

Killian Vigna: Oh, it’s fantastic. I listen to it on my way into work. Like sitting on the poster, something like that. On the Louis. I listen to the Phorest blog, so it keeps up to date because it is, it’s hard to get that time to sit down and keep reading that whole time.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Life is just so busy. Especially in December.

Killian Vigna: Exactly.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So this is our last episode, but we will be back in January.

Killian Vigna: With a bang.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: With a bang. We’ll be live from the Salon Owner’s Summit 2017. We don’t have an exact time that we’ll release it, but we’ll keep you updated through social media. So that’s the big update for next year I suppose.

Killian Vigna: Excited. Can’t wait. Finally, we’re going to wrap up the show with our special guest CEO of Phorest Salon Software, Ronan Perceval.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: First time on the show.

Killian Vigna: First time on the show, so this is our chance to grill him. So Ronan…

Ronan Perceval: Hey lads.

Killian Vigna: How you getting on? Delighted you could be here. Let’s kick it off with I suppose 2016, how do you see 2016?

Ronan Perceval: Well I mean so much about the year has probably been said and done already by everyone. I think… that something that I… just one thing that I noticed this year probably more so than other years is that, I think traditionally and still now most people find a salon through referral. You get your good clients through people that know your existing clients, that’s always been how you get good clients, not through things like Groupon…

Killian Vigna: Word of mouth stuff.

Ronan Perceval: Yeah, exactly. Like the Groupon, the marketplaces… the clients tend to be discount-driven, and they don’t stick around, and they don’t come back. So it’s always been true word-of-mouth, and that’s as true today as it’s ever been, but I think the difference now is that a lot of that word-of-mouth is happening online and it’s happening through Facebook or whatever, so people are on a device sometimes when they get that recommendation like their friend WhatsApp’s them somewhere good, or whatever it is right. When they get that recommendation now, they often put that into Google and let’s have a look.

Killian Vigna: It’s the first thing you do.

Ronan Perceval: And they see the reviews or whatever and I think, or they look up Facebook if they’re on Facebook, see their system somehow, through Whatsapp or whatever it is. They’ll look it up, the Facebook page, and I think how a salon appears on that page is becoming more and more important, and I think it’s something that most salons still aren’t really addressing. I would say going into next year it’s going to become critical, I think. Basically, what do you look like online, how many reviews you have, in all the places they have, Google, Facebook, whatever, how many reviews you have, are they good, do you know what I mean?


Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, because the main difference between two salons could be, you get a recommendation you go online and then see maybe five reviews, but go into another one down the road that has 2000 reviews. Most likely even if you had that referral… word-of-mouth referral. You’re probably going to go to the one that has 200 reviews.

Ronan Perceval: Yeah, you’re certainly going to question it. Sometimes you might get two recommendations from two friends; this is like really common. Mary tells me this. Jane tells me this. You look them both up, and one has just like 50 reviews five stars, you’re just gonna go with that one first.

Killian Vigna: It all comes back to that social authority is one of the principles, that six ways of influence. It’s social authority so the more people that tell you about A, you’re going to follow them. It’s essentially following the crowd. You’re gonna Google online; you’re gonna check out the reviews. No matter how great someone has boasted about one salon, if the reviews are better on another, you’re more inclined to go to that one.

Ronan Perceval: No, I totally agree.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Do you have anything else that stood out this year to you?

Ronan Perceval: Not like that, like we’re in the tech area of salons and stuff like that. Nothing really like that I suppose, the only thing that I was kind of… that’s got me thinking recently, and I think I’m going to do a blog post on this… so I’ll say it now and see what the response is to it, but basically… we work with nearly 3,000 salons now, but a lot of the clients have been with us over 10 years. We’ve seen, and we know a lot of those people that run those salons and know them really well. I count a lot of them as my friends. I’ve seen something happen… over that last 12 years I’ve probably seen stuff happen around growing a salon business beyond your first location into another location. It’s something that every successful salon faces that option at some point. How do they go… when sales really well, it can’t really… they don’t think it can grow much further, but you know everybody wants to grow their business. How do they go next? And so they think about that second location, and I think that’s… I think it’s something that is really… I think a lot of people have made mistakes. We’ve seen them do, what I’m just going to say now, and regret it.

And so I just want to talk about that. Basically, they’ve… they opened the second location or even a third location, and then they start trying to manage the three places. The thing about a salon which is different to say a clothes shop or whatever is that it is all about the personalities of the people there, and often it is the owner’s personality that is the whole vibe of the place. And if you take that owner out of the salon everyday, it’s not that it can’t succeed, it’s actually quite rare that the salon succeeds without that.

Killian Vigna: That’s your purple cow, isn’t it? If the salon owner is the reason, your clients are going to this salon. The minute you’re gone the salon has just lost all credibility.

Ronan Perceval: That’s exactly what it is. What’s his name, who’s the guy who does…?

Killian Vigna: Seth Garden.

Ronan Perceval: Seth Garden. Yeah, exactly.

Killian Vigna: I love him.

Ronan Perceval: Basically I think… look, it’s not that it never works, because obviously we have clients that have four or five locations and they run them really well. But I think it’s the exception that proves the rule. Like the people that do run it really well, they’ve managed to figure out how to hire the right people, and they’re amazing at hiring and getting… hiring a really good manager. And having all those structures in place before they do it, or they did it, faced the problem that it wasn’t working and they’ve done that.

But a lot of salon owners don’t have that experience, and I know I wouldn’t have had the experience building a company before I did it either. You make a lot of mistakes. What happens is though, because the salon industry is so personality-driven, you’re being stretched from perch to pole, so you like… you’re two days over here, two days over there and the standard almost drops the minute you walk out the door and all this kind of stuff. What happens is, we’ve seen really successful salons like fantastically successful salons, they’re making a lot of money, and doing really well, and they’re great places to be in, and customers love them, and then they open a second location, and all the locations go downhill. The next thing you have is they go out of business altogether. It’s such a shame because the original salon was fantastic.

Or we’ve also seen, and I’ve seen this the last couple of years.  But a few times, where the salon owner realized before it’s too late and has kind of got rid of or sold off the other two locations and gone back to one location, then a year or two later that one location is doing fantastically again. I think it’s just… salon owners need to think… it’s not always the only way to grow it. Some of the most successful salon businesses in Ireland are one location. But they’ve just taken that to the max. You know what I mean?

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Ronan Perceval: So there is locations… or salons… and often at the top market you can keep driving a salon more and more, market so it gets more and more expensive. So rather than just trying to serve more people, you’re only going to serve say 200 people a week in a big salon. 200 people a week, but you are just going to move up market with that and maximize the profit you make, so maybe it’s three or four hundred quid a pop.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: So obviously it is a tough time for a salon owner to decide whether they expand or not. Do they just, I suppose, get more staff into one building, one lot, or do they build another one? And I suppose having grown the company in a matter of years to what, nearly 200 staff yourself, have you got any advice that you’d give a salon owner when they’ve come to that stage of where they’ve had to think about it. Do they move on or…?

Ronan Perceval: Yeah. I just think everyone is different. You need to go, do you have the structures in place in your salon where you can actually not be in that salon 3 or 4 days a week before you open your second location.

Killian Vigna: Will your clients still keep going to you if you’re not there?

Ronan Perceval: Exactly. You’ve basically need to prove that out first. Like if you have a location and you’re only in there one day a week, and then you open a second location where you are going to spend all of your time building it up, if that first location is still doing well, obviously that will work. But that’s very rarely what happens. They’re usually working in the first location and the second location opens, they move over there, or they start just commute in between. Or often they’ll go to the second one, work flat out the second building and the first one starts to go downhill again, so they have to go back. It’s just very much reactive.

Killian Vigna: Then there’s also that thing of, okay I’m doing one week at this salon, but I’m gonna do a load of days… alright, so you’ve made the decision, I’m going to build… I’m going to create the second salon. Then there’s kind of you’re spreading yourself thin. You’re wearing yourself out, by trying to do your best at both, at two salons.

Ronan Perceval: It’s very demotivating. I just think people should really be… if you have… it’s not to do it but just go in with your eyes wide open. And you can build probably the most profitable salon business in Ireland, nearly. It’s a single sight in Dublin. And I know in London as well we have a lot of clients, like some of the most prestigious salons, which make the most money, are one location, and what they’ve done is they’ve just built that location to the max, but the spirit is still there. They’ve got maybe an Academy, a product range, whatever it is, but it’s all built by that one location. Do you know what I mean? And not everyone can do that. I mean like if you’re down in the country, in a town in like Sussex or where ever you are, you mightn’t be able to go upmarket, upmarket, upmarket, upmarket. Obviously, if you’re in a city like Dunlin or London you can. But that mightn’t be open to you, but you can still… there are still other ways to maximize what you have and where it might suit your personality more. Do you know what I mean? To do it and do it well.

Killian Vigna: So the main thing I suppose here is, don’t jump straight into it. Don’t because you have had a successful year, or successful two years, don’t straight away go, oh we need a second chain.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Reevaluate everything.

Killian Vigna: Sit back, think about it. And even take a backseat, out of that salon yourself. See if you clients are still going to come. Even ask your staff and stuff like that because when you go operate multiple branches, then you need to start putting more procedures into place, and things need to start becoming uniform and if you’re running an open vibe salon, that we’ve already discussed. Is that plausible through every salon?

Ronan Perceval: And is it what you want to do, as well? It’s a lifetime. You’ve got to think what is it that you want. I think salon owners probably know if they’re… if they go off and think about it themselves. Why did they start this? Do you know what I mean? Because of a lot of pressure from like… I’ve heard it from accountants and everyone, you don’t know or understand what is happening in this industry but they’re like right… they’ve been looking at it as a shop but… It’s not like that; a salon is different to that… do you know what I mean?

Killian Vigna: You’re client based. You’re spending 15 minutes to two hours dealing with a client. That is your client. You’ve gotta make sure that that client is coming back to you for a reason. And identify the reasons, get talking to your clients. Why did they come back to you time and time again?

Ronan Perceval: Absolutely. I agree with that, Killian, yeah.

Killian Vigna: So moving on then. We’ve kind of identified some things for you in 2016.

Ronan Perceval: Yeah.

Killian Vigna: What do you see happening in 2017? Other than the Salon Summit.

Ronan Perceval: Well I think one thing is we’re definitely going to do something around that online reputation thing. I mean we’ve been talking about it all year, and we’ve got some stuff going on there. We’ve done some surveys, so people listening to this, who have Phorest, have probably received questionnaires around, you know, different areas to go down. So we will do something around that. We need to do that for people. Make it easy. Because it’s like a lot of things in marketing for salons, as you guys know, people can be afraid of what they don’t understand. The tech, everything is so technical now. Getting started on something, even if it’s simple seems like you can kick the can down the road.

Killian Vigna: And your clients are already going online. They’re already doing these great reviews. Now it’s just a way to get those reviews to funnel right back to you. As opposed to having ten different links, to different sites.

Ronan Perceval: Exactly. I think we’re… obviously we’ve done stuff around social media, you guys know that. You’ve done great e-books around that stuff. And we’ve got the online booking too, because that’s the other thing. I got the reference, you know the referral on Whatsapp, I check it on Facebook. I can book now on Facebook, and I can book into Phorest, through Phorest straight into the salon. So, it’s that missing piece just to tie it all together to make sure that all those referrals as well have booked in. Because it’s not just that, they got a good review, but then I have to… it’s a Sunday night how do I book it in?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah.

Ronan Perceval: Like tomorrow I might have forgotten about it again, and a different friend might have texted me with a different referral.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And you might just go from that to this.

Ronan Perceval: And it’s Monday at 10 o’clock so I can actually book then, so just take that latest one. Do you know what I mean? So it’s all these things we’re hoping to do for a salon to make sure we get as many of those good clients into it as possible.

Killian Vigna: Putting you at the forefront of the client’s mind. We’ve mentioned that several times, but that is essentially it in a nutshell.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So that pretty much rounds up our year in Phorest FM. A short year at Phorest FM.

Killian Vigna: A short year, we’ve done eight episodes, but we’re finally wrapped for 2016 already.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: We’ll be back in 2017, and live from the Summit once again. And that should be a great episode.

Killian Vigna: We’re going to be out on the couch. We’re going to be having a couple of glasses of champagne, Ronan. Yeah, that’s just for us. No, it’s going to be a great day.

Ronan Perceval: You’re paying for these things.

Killian Vigna: Prosecco, so… but, yeah so the next time you hear from us we’ll be at the Salon Summit. Listen we’ve had a great 2016, and we look forward to an even better 2017. And of course, we hope you guys are going to have a great 2017. So, from all of us here at Phorest, thanks for listening and have a great Christmas and a happy New Year.

Ronan Perceval: Yeah. Great Christmas.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years.

Thanks for reading!


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