April 2010

Retail Matters

Retail Matters | by Steve Sleeper


Celebrate Earth Month With More “Green” in Your Pocket

The trend to “go green” has become common place.

Small businesses in every industry are racing to keep up with their wealthy corporate counterparts to satisfy the demands of their environmentally conscious clients and employees.

The salon industry is certainly not immune to consumer scrutiny: With worries about chemical toxins and high-energy use at the top of many green advocates’ minds, it’s no secret that the salon and spa industry is under the microscope of environmentally friendly consumers.

It may seem daunting to small business owners and independent contractors to contemplate making the green change with limited income. Though major corporations sink millions into green projects, small businesses can keep pace in the race to a greener tomorrow without sacrificing all the “green” in their pockets.

To celebrate Earth Month this April, start taking some easy steps to do your part to preserve resources and put your salon or home business on the fast track to a more sustainable future – without breaking the bank.

A great way to get started on your green journey is to get green educated.

This may sound simple but let’s face it, there aren’t many salon owners out there with a whole lot of extra time on their hands and adding one more task to an already long list probably doesn’t sound very appealing.

Just start your green transformation slowly. Don’t focus solely on internet searches about mass campaigns implemented by large companies with unlimited resources – start by creating a dialog among other small businesses in your community. Not only will this create a great camaraderie among local entrepreneurs, you will likely be surprised at just how much you can learn from each other and how much you have in common with your fellow local business owners, whether it is the local bakery or baby boutique.

Once you’re ready to start making some changes, talk to your salon team to get them engaged and learn about what’s most important to them. Is fuel consumption a concern for some? Start a carpooling campaign and encourage involvement by being the first to offer ride sharing with team members close to your home.

Do you have a recycling program? Set up designated recycling bins for paper, plastic, and aluminum in your staff break room and your customer waiting areas if you have space. Green savvy clients will love your effort and pass on their excitement to their stylist and other team members they interact with.

Once you and your staff are geared up and are on board of the green train, start slow with affordable ways to make simple yet impactful changes in the salon.

Start with the obvious:

Replace station and retail display light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs – It’s true that they are a little more costly and salons need a lot of light bulbs. But did you know that you will save an average of $30 on energy costs over the life of each bulb? And, energy-saving fluorescent lights produce up to 70 percent less heat than traditional light bulbs, saving on cooling costs in the summer. With all the blow dryers and flat irons blasting throughout the day, that can add up to pretty big savings!

Swap those harsh, chemical-based cleansers with eco-friendly cleaning products – Before you disregard this tip because of the extra trip you’ll have to make to your neighborhood organic supermarket, consider making some of your own cleansers with normal household products like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. A quick internet search and you’ll find hundreds of easy recipes.

Use less paper - If you haven’t already jumped on the technology bandwagon (and there are still a lot of you out there who haven’t) get started now. Using online campaigns helps you go green by not using as much paper and is a great way to boost your marketing efforts. Start a text message or email program to remind clients of upcoming appointments instead of handing out business cards. It’s a great way to save on printing costs while keeping customer records up to date for monthly e-newsletters and promotions. When it is time to print new cards, switch to recycled paper.

Of course, these are only a few ideas to get the ball rolling. The most important thing to remember during your green transformation is that it doesn’t need to happen overnight. Every effort you make in the fight for a sustainable future is a step in the right direction and your clients, peers and team members will notice.

Steve Sleeper is the Executive Director of the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), which is made up of salons and spas, distributors and manufacturers dedicated to improving their individual businesses and the industry as a whole. For information, visit www.probeauty.org or call 1-800-468-2274.