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10 Expert-Backed Salon Success Strategies to Grow Your Beauty or Hair Business in 2020: Lessons From ISSE

Whew! The Genbook team just got back from the International Salon + Spa Expo (ISSE) in Long Beach, California, and we’ve got some insights for you.

Look at us, having a  great time chatting with so many of you!

Genbook at ISSE

While we did have fun, we also attended dozens of educational sessions led by some of the industry’s top experts. These sessions were brimming and were packed with actionable salon success strategies that entrepreneurs like you can immediately put to work. 

In this post, we’ve put together some of the top expert-backed salon strategies that were shared at ISSE. 

Check them out below!

1. Clarify Your Income Goals

Are you looking to grow your income in 2020?

If you’re like most salon owners, we’re willing to bet you just nodded your head to that question.

Most entrepreneurs make income growth a top objective, and for good reason: higher income leads to more money in the bank, which then helps you be more financially secure.

And according to Lauren Gartland, Founder & President of Inspiring Champions, one of the most important steps you can take to achieving your goal is to know your numbers.

So, set an income goal, and then figure out how much you need to make each day to hit it.

Let’s say you want to make $8,000 a month. If you run the numbers, then you’ll see that $8,000 in monthly sales amounts to $2,000 per week. And if you work 5 days a week, then it means that your daily goal is $400.

Armed with that insight, you can start cooking up ways to drive $400 in daily sales at your salon.

To make this process easier, Lauren recommends totalling up your day in advance. Every morning, look at your calendar and calculate the amount of revenue you have in booked appointments.

For instance, if you have four people who are scheduled for a haircut that costs $50 each, then it means you have $200 in the books. You can then ask yourself what you need to do that day to reach your $400 sales goal.

Again, think out of the box here. It needn’t just be a “service” that you can bank on to get closer to your target. Look out for other options or host “experience-led” events for your clients that they’ll be happy paying for.

It’s a simple exercise, but when you do it daily, it can have a profound effect on your bottom line. Keeping your goals top of mind helps you stay on track and prods you to come up with more ways to achieve them.

Which brings us to our next tip….

2. Get Others Involved When Crafting Ideas

So you ran the numbers… what’s next?

While it may be tempting to try to come up with ideas on your own, you’ll be far more productive if you seek the help of your team members and peers.

Salon business coach Steve Gomez recommends getting others involved in the ideation process.

“[For salon owners], that means getting your team involved… Get people who can help you. Get ideas.”

He says that you should also reach out to those in your network.

“You’re not on an island. We’re a small community for as large as we are.”

Stylists who are renting spaces in salons should do the same thing. “If I’m a suite owner or a renter, this is where I get fellow renters and suite owners involved, and asking their thoughts, [to] brainstorm together,” remarks Steve.

Steve also cautions salon owners against being too busy to work on their businesses. He stresses the importance of making time to analyze your business and ideate ways to improve.

“If all we’re doing is grinding behind the chair and the treatment room 5-6 days a week, 8 to 10 clients a day, then we’re not doing anything. We’re just being busy, letting the ebbs and flow of the business dictate what we’re doing week in and week out. We have to change that.”

3. Find Ways to Offer Multiple Services per Appointment

The key to growing your income isn’t necessarily to find new clients.

As Lauren puts it, “You don’t always need more clients, you need to maximize what you already have.”

How do you do that?

Two words: multiple services.

According to her, booking clients for multiple services has some sweet benefits, including:

You’ll Work Less and Earn More

It’s easier and more efficient to provide two or more services in a single appointment versus spreading out several single-service bookings throughout your day.

Think about it: let’s say you charge $50 for a haircut and $80 for hair coloring. If you stick to a single service (haircut), then you’d need to book 4 clients to earn $200. But if you manage to get your clients to book 2 services (cut + color) then you stand to earn more money from fewer clients.

Two bookings for a cut + color earns you $260, versus the $200 you stand to make from four haircuts.

Having multiple services also means you’ll work less because you won’t have to switch gears from one client to the next.

Greater Client Retention

Another advantage of multiple services comes in the form of higher client retention, says Lauren. She says that it’s far easier for customers to jump ship if they’re only getting one service from you at a time.

But if you get them in for two or three services, you’ll encourage them to remain clients of yours for a longer period of time.

4. Selling Retail? Pay Attention to Your Stock Movements

A salon retail display can be an excellent source of revenue if you manage them properly. That’s why it’s important to track your inventory on a regular basis and gain insights to make the right decisions.

As Steve notes:

“Your top 20 sellers. Know what they are. What are those mid-level movers and what are those sluggish performers?”

Once you have a handle on your stock, understand why they’re selling (or not) and then adjust course, he says.

Steve also stresses the importance of marking up your merchandise to maximize profit. Many salon owners, he points out, are hesitant to mark up their items too high out of fear that people won’t buy.

This often isn’t the case, he says.

“When was the last time you marked up more than 100%? Probably never… Take your top-movers [and] mark them up 110, 115 [percent]. Play with the numbers,” he adds.

“If you end up marking up 110%, in my experience, customers aren’t going to bat an eye at the $3 level. Above that, they might start to say ‘Oh these prices went up for your retail products,’ but anything below that, they’re not even going to bat an eye, they’re going to purchase.”

5. Sell Gift Cards Every Month

“I always see gift cards as a way to build new client traffic, period,” remarks Steve.

“If I end up making some money with a redemption rate, then good. If not, I’m looking to make the money with long-term client retention.”

Gift cards, he says, can be a great revenue-driver if you sell and track them properly. For starters, strive to market your gift cards every month, instead of just making them a seasonal initiative.

“We should have a focused plan of attack every single month for them because it’s part of our business,” he adds.

Once you’ve made those sales, pay attention to the numbers. Monitor your sales as well as the number of gift cards that are actually being redeemed, so you can plan accordingly. If you sell 100 gift cards and 70 of them are redeemed, then you have a 70% redemption rate.

You then need to make sure that 70% of your gift card sales are kept in the bank to cover the cost of the service for those cards.

For Genbook users, gift cards or gift certificates as we like to call them aren’t new. It’s a feature that’s available and requires less than a few minutes to set up.

6. Leverage Your Front Desk and Support Staff as a Sales Resource

“Your front desk and support team is a secret hidden profit resource,” stresses Steve.

So, leverage them as much as you can. Keep your team in the loop when it comes to your promotions, gift cards, and other offers that they can market to your clients.

One thing you can do is split the different sales and marketing tasks between yourself and your team. For instance, as the stylist, you could be in charge of recommending related hair products, while your front desk employees can handle rebooking or gift card sales.

That way, the job of driving add-on sales is divided between you and your team.

7. Work With Your Salon Staff and Find Ways to Add Value on Social Media

Improving your social media presence is another solid salon strategy for growth.

And while there are plenty of tactics you can implement to give your salon a social boost, one thing you can do right now is to work with your staff to grow your account.

“You can use it as a team-building [exercise]” says Chelsea James, an educator and the founder of Forma+Collective Salon.

According to her, she loves featuring her team in her salon’s and personal social media account. She interviews them and does a lot of fun things with the staff.

“We do funny things. We show clients what we’re about. We do different dress-up days.”

Consider implementing a similar strategy. If you’re struggling to grow your presence on Instagram and other social networks, work with your team to produce interesting content for your fans, followers, and potential customers.

8. Optimize Your Salon Space for Photos

Speaking of social media, be sure to invest in great lighting.

“Lighting is everything,” says stylist and educator Presley Poe.

According to her, making sure that your photos are properly lit can make all the difference between a stunning image and a lackluster one.

Her advice? Have a studio or corner in your salon that’s equipped with the right lights and equipment.

“Make sure that whatever photography studio you have in your salon is doing work for you… that you’ve got good lighting, and that it’s easier for you to get that shot.”

In doing so, you’ll take high-quality photos in less time and effort, so you can go back to actually running your business and serving your customers.

9. Brand Yourself Correctly

Another key to establishing an amazing social media presence?


To be more specific — consistent and compelling branding.

As Daniel Mason Jones, a celebrity stylist and the owner of Muse Salon and Spa aptly put it:

“When you confuse people, you lose people. You want to make sure that your brand message is very consistent.”

How do you do that? He recommends asking the following questions:

  • What do you love to do?
  • Who do you love to do it for?
  • How can you get more of it?

Taking that simple step will give you clarity on what you’re all about and who your target audience is, so you can attract the right clients.

One powerful way to accomplish this, says Daniel, is to tell your story.

He quotes Maya Angelou who said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

He says, “It’s easy to see how pretty a butterfly is, but you don’t know the struggles the caterpillar went through. People need to know your story.”

Have someone interview you on social media. Daniel points out that video is the most powerful way to humanize your brand on social, so get in front of the camera and tell people all about your journey.

10. Work Towards Creating a Better Business Experience

After all, isn’t it what matters the most? 

Nicck Townsend, Owner and Founder, Nicck Townsend Salon and Michael DeVellis, Owner and Founder, The Powder Group both harped on the role a good business experience plays in growing a beauty and hair business today. 

While chatting with Philipp Liver, CEO of Genbook, Micheal said: It’s not enough to be a great artist, it’s crowded and there are a lot of people at your level, so what you can do to stand out is to make sure that you are elevating the experience.” 

So how do you ensure that a client visiting your salon has the most amazing experience? There are tons of ways. For Nicck it means picking the right music, the right scent and creating a spa-like experience. For you it may mean something else, the idea is to stay consistent with it. 

As Micheal elaborates: 

“Elevating an experience is about making people feel welcome. Also elevating consistently is important. People will forget the things you’ve said, people will forget the things that you’ve done, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”

The panel discussion that happened on the Genbook stand was full of insightful and actionable takeaways for small business entrepreneurs in the hair and beauty space, and we couldn’t resist ourselves from sharing it with you. Check out the full coverage below: 

Time to Take Your Salon Strategy to the Next Level!

We covered a lot of ground, but hopefully, the pointers in this post gave you some actionable ideas to take your business to new heights in 2020 and beyond.

Which one was your favorite tip? Use the hashtag #GenbookExperience and share your thoughts with us on Facebook & Instagram.

And, if you want to know the online booking sources that get the maximum client bookings, download this infographic.

Top Online Booking Channels 2020

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