June 2010

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Are “The Good Old Days” Gone?

I stood in line last week at the department store with an armful of clothes, when I came in for one simple shirt. I asked myself, “Are the rest of these items needs or wants?”

As I made those choices and narrowed down my purchases based on my budget, I couldn’t help thinking about items I would have easily purchased completely and totally thoughtlessly two years ago, paid with on the credit card, and not really given it a second thought.

Those days for most of us are gone, and part of me says, “Good riddance” to it. As consumers we are more cautious now and this is a great thing, although the means for learning how to be smarter consumers and business owners was a much tougher lesson than we would have liked.

In what I hear many refer to as, “The Good Old Days,” prior to the economic meltdown and the effect it had in our salons and spas; we like to think business was booming and for some it was. In fact, it has always been difficult to start and grow a successful salon just by flying by the steel of our shears.

It has always taken careful planning and execution just to stay in business, let alone grow and flourish. The majority of our customers had more money to spend per visit, and if they didn’t come back someone else would take their place. In the past, we all knew what we “should” or “someday” get around to doing and didn’t act upon it because we were too caught up in the day-to-day living to get it done.

Around four years ago, I remember calling all of my salon clients on a monthly basis to check in and would ask what they needed help with and if there were any areas they needed my support with. There were always a few salons who consistently month after month would tell me, “Everything is great” or “I am too busy to get into it right now, I’ll call you later” and then didn’t.

I was saddened and dismayed two years ago when the credit crunch hit and many times those salons who seemed to be doing so well or were so busy that they couldn’t seek out help for the issues they needed cleared up, were no longer in business. It hurt to know that people were too busy or didn’t know how to ask for help and had to suffer major consequences.

There were many salon owners who were not going down without a fight. They took quick action in the face of the challenging economy and, by taking control of what they could, changed the course of their business forever. I began to receive calls asking me for assistance to help them get in gear and tackle their “should” or “someday” lists immediately.

I like to call these the “thrivers.” They have not only survived, but also thrived. There were four big differences “thrivers” made that led to their success in maintaining and growing their salons and spas in one of the worst economies in modern history.

Try, try again: There is no one-size-fits-all for salon success; what works for some does not always work for everyone. Trying new things, even if it meant possible failure, was key to their success. Many had to change the way things were done in the past in order to keep their doors open. When the first thing they tried didn’t work, they went back to the drawing board until they found something that did.

Utilizing your Human Resources: Many owners who may have had difficulty getting support from their employees in the past, found these same employees jumped on board for changes immediately when they saw slower days and smaller paychecks. The best way for a boss to improve morale among employees is to ensure them they are being heard, appreciated for their skills and able to contribute when needed.

Geek is Chic: Many salons that avoided it in the past were now ready to embrace technology and harness it. Whether it was e-marketing, texting, online booking, or social media, their use became essential. The popularity of social media and technology gave the platform to clients to spread the word like wildfire about the salon experience.

Cutting Expenses: It is a lot easier to spend money when you know you have a large credit line. Many of us woke up to the fact that we really had to find a different way to run our businesses and fast.

Clients don’t come because your salon has the most expensive shampoo bowls in town. Clients come back because of excellent service, great retail products and because your staff knows how to rebook them.

As we are beginning to see some signs of early recovery in the economy, we know “The Good Old Days,” as we referred to them, may truly be long gone. There will always be room for existing and new salons that can adapt quickly to a changing economy and the needs of their clients in new and creative ways.

Charlene Abretske is a business advisor with YBNLive and supports salons and spas with growing their businesses through on-demand back office tools designed for beauty professionals. For more information call (888)391-3360 or email charlene@ybnlive.com.