August 2009

Retail Matters

Retail Matters | by Gordon Miller


One Salon Makes Retailing Work

What follows is an email (edited for space) from an Ohio based salon that took our retailing advice to heart and made it work for them – with the help of a supportive manufacturer and team-oriented staff. Importantly, the salon did their homework and was thoughtful in their approach – working hard to adjust ideas to work in the context of their salon and all that is unique to it.

As their note to me began, “Marva Collins once said, ‘Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.’ And that is exactly what we as a salon and a team decided to do.” Read on…

Dear Gordon,

We are Lisa and JP Travis, working stylists and owners of Jungle Red Salon in Centerville, Ohio. Being frequent readers of Ohio Stylist, we found your article, “Retail Matters”, to be not only truly inspiring and motivating – but it also helped us jump start our retail sales. I am so proud of our accomplishments and wanted to share this with you.

At Jungle Red, we’ve decided that we were not going to participate in the recession but instead focus squarely on increasing sales. We are a booth rental salon, however, we really work as a team, and that can be challenging in growing retail sales. Our first concern was how to motivate the stylists.

Our original retail program required a minimum of $300 in monthly sales to earn a 10% commission – but there was no motivation to grow so we adjusted to a tiered incentive program ($300-$600 receives 10% commission, $601-$900 is 15% and $901 + is 20%).

We then went to AG Hair Cosmetics, an incredible product company out of Vancouver, and asked for their support. Their motto is “education + knowledge = sales.”

We combined this with your “Top 10 reasons to retail” to show our staff how service and retail go hand-in-hand. AG was happy to provide an excellent hair sculpting and product knowledge class, as well as incentives and ongoing support for our efforts.

AG really customized the class to our salon. They asked what products we have challenges with and really focused on those. They gave us free products to give to each of our stylists (a great benefit as I truly believe if you are not using the products at home you can’t sell them).

We chose to launch our new retail commission structure at the class – and we started to see an immediate increase in sales. We are now paying 20% retail commissions to more than a few of my stylists as we continue to see sales grow.

Next we put together a “retail team” consisting of two stylists who are our top retailers (those who had the most to gain with our new tier system), my husband JP, and myself. The team’s role is a key one – helping us to execute new ideas and talk with our peers about retail. The retail team meets once a month to prepare for our staff retail meetings. These meetings are so great! We talk about challenges we are having as well as new initiatives being rolled out in the next month. We have found peer recognition is very motivating – more so than dollars – and so we announce the “stylist of the month” at the meetings, allowing each to talk about their favorite product’s features and benefits.

AG asked us to be one of their “retail with substance” salons – providing us with ongoing support and incentives every four-six months. They’ve given us a blueprint to go by and are teaching us how to keep the ball rolling.

One of the challenges we all face is that enthusiasm spikes after a good class and then begins to wane. One great way to keep it going is to create healthy competition among the staff. We post each stylist numbers daily, weekly, and monthly in our break room on a new “retail information” bulletin board. We’ve also involved our clients by holding “enter to win contests” with each product purchased. Our clients love it.

I feel we are forming some great retail habits. Next I want to start focusing on why we are doing this (the big picture if you will) and our goal to make our salon and each person who works here successful. I want us all to get the link between retailing and client retention. Also how it brings in new business as current clients tell their friends about their new products.

 I am definitely passionate about this subject and about our industry. As I mentioned earlier, peer recognition really inspires success. It would be such and honor to be mentioned in Ohio Stylist and Salon Newspaper and to share our story with others who are working to succeed.

Best Regards,
Lisa Travis


Dear Lisa,

Consider it done!

All the best,
Gordon Miller

Gordon Miller is the Executive Director for the National Cosmetology Association, the largest organization of salon professionals in the world. Its mission, since its inception in 1921, has been and continues to be to ensure that working salon professionals have the tools and resources available to create career success with integrity. For more information on the NCA, visit or call 312-527-6765.