February 2011

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Rules for Investing in Your Salon

It seems everyone has advice for investing in your business. Everywhere you look, there is this product or service which will grow your business past the point you could have ever imagined it.

If we listened to advertisers, we would be convinced that our businesses could not survive one more day without the products and services they offer. "Newer," "better" and "must have" products and services are not always your best choices for investment in a small to middle range business.

Beauty product companies are masters at marketing to their demographic; they have spent millions of dollars figuring out what pushes your "buying buttons" and they are very successful. Unfortunately, most salons and spas do not have an unlimited budget, and need to determine the best ways to spend their money.

Where do you start? There are three good rules for investing in a salon or spa:

1.) Will this save me time or money?

This is a good rule, especially when investing in technology. For example, you may want to purchase user-friendly salon software. Yes, technology should help streamline your business; however, you will want to make sure to keep up on training and updates for your software.

I have seen salons fork out thousands of dollars for the purchase of the software, and find out later that they need to purchase education packs and pay extra for updated versions. Look for software that has online education, allows free calls to the help desk, and provides you with updates free of charge.

2.) Is the initial cost and investment for training and marketing relatively low in comparison to the potential gain?

This can be a very deceiving question. Believe me; salespeople have this broken down for you in every possible way. From "This will be only as much as a latte from Starbucks" to "It will pay for itself immediately." Ask yourself, "Who will train my staff on how to use it and how to sell it?" The seller should provide product training, along with a method or a specific targeted market to sell it to; if they do not provide these things, find a company who does.

The next critical part of this investment lies in getting to know your clients' needs. What appeals to you as a salon professional may not appeal as much to your clients. They may be wishing for an easier way to book appointments or better overall customer service, rather than having the newest teeth brightening system, clip in hair piece or latest pomade. If you are unclear about what your clients expect from you as their salon or spa of choice, it is time to conduct a survey. The information you will gain from your clients is the number one thing you need to know about your business.

3.) What is the cost and what could I lose if I do not invest in this?

Sometimes, we forget the basics, like training and development for our team, having a marketing plan and monthly budget, as well as maintaining our profit and loss statements. These items are not only basic, but are also essential for any business, especially salons and spas that are customer service driven.

You may have the most beautiful, stylish and convenient location possible for your business; but without exceeding expectations in customer service, paying strict attention to finances and finding strategic ways to bring in clients, the business will eventually fail. Believe me; I understand it is a lot more fun to think about spending your budget on remodeling with top of the line items than it is to think about your profit and loss statement. Remember this, customers do not come back to your salon because the shampoo bowls look like they belong in the Museum of Modern Art. They come back because they know you provide them with the customer service they expect from a beauty professional.

At the end of the day, what we choose to invest in can make or break our business. Investing wisely will make you more money for the fun items down the road, and will allow you the peace of mind to enjoy yourself and your role in your business. Avoid being caught up in the sales pitch. Instead, keep your desired result firmly in mind.

Charlene Abretske is an independent business advisor. To reach her email charleneabretske@gmail.com or call (760)453-1882.