September 2012

Charlene Abretske

Beyond Your Chair| Jayne Morehouse


Why You Need to do a 360-Degree Space Audit

From the color of your walls to the cleanliness of your station to the way your reception area invites clients to come in, feel at home and relax, your physical space can be a huge asset — or liability — when it comes to attracting and retaining clients.

After 25 years visiting salons as both a client and a consultant, I'd like to relax and enjoy my experience fully, while my color processes or my pedicure dries. However, my mind inevitably starts to wander to parts of the business that could easily be used more effectively to encourage clients to try more services, take home more products, return more frequently or refer their friends.

Here's an outsider's perspective on how your space impacts your bottom line and your relationship with your clients.

• Take a 360-degree look at your salon from the outside. Drive or walk up to your door from every direction the same way a client would. Do it morning, midday and late afternoon/early evening — the sun's movement can change the view completely. What message does the outside of your salon communicate about the experience your clients will have once inside? Can a passerby tell you're in the service and product business? Does your salon look inviting? fun? relaxing? Are there smudges on your door's glass or doorknobs?

• Walk in like a stranger. How is a guest greeted and welcomed into your space? If the front desk is not directly at the primary door people use, is the guest directed where to check in? What sights, sounds and smells greet her? Is her first impression a hint of a lovely aromatherapy oil or a delicious smell of fresh coffee and cookies—or is it a whiff of ammonia or formaldehyde? All of those sensory impressions contribute to creating her salon experience.

• Check your changing area. This is always one of the most confusing areas for me. Do guests know where to change, what clothes to remove and where to hang them, and what clothes they can keep on? Do they really know — or do you just think they know? Do you have smocks/robes that are large enough to accommodate all shapes and sizes comfortably — and are they freshly laundered? Do they know where to put their smock/robe at the end of their service? (Hopefully it's into the laundry and not for another client to use that day).

• Double check your bathrooms. As soon as you've finished the service, your guest is going to get out of your chair and walk into the bathroom where she can decide if she likes what she sees in private. Is your bathroom lighting flattering? In almost every salon I visit, the bathroom is too dark to see anything very well. Do you have plenty of toilet paper and disposable towels handy? Are the plants shiny, watered and healthy? Make sure someone is assigned to check the bathrooms every hour to make sure they're neat and clean all day.

• See the light. Does your salon have the proper lighting to show off your gorgeous hair color, texture and style? If you have purple or green walls, it might create a mood, but neither you nor your client is seeing your hair color properly. If you have to take the client outside to see her color or she looks completely different once she steps into natural light on the way to her car than she did when she was in your chair, you're sending her the wrong message and not providing the most professional service possible.

• Stock your shelves. If you want to sell products, you've got to have products on hand to sell — even better if you have them available in several sizes from travel to backbar. Clients hate to take the last one, so have products on the shelves and keep them in stock.

• Straighten and dust your displays — every night. Having cluttered, unorganized and/or dusty shelves will stop your clients from taking home products more than any beauty store on the same block.

• Touch and go. Finally, make sure you have a touch-up area. Ideally, have someone touch up clients' makeup before they leave. Better yet, make it portable so stylists can bring it to every station at the end of each service. Better than nothing, make it available for clients to use on their own. (Nothing makes me feel worse and ruins your opportunity to delight me than to leave the salon with gorgeous hair but with all of my makeup smudged or washed off after my color service). If your client has to bring her own makeup and redo it in the bathroom or her car, you've lost the opportunity to help her experience the joy of looking beautiful. You've also lost the potential makeup sale.

In addition to doing your own audit, it's worthwhile to hire secret shoppers to do the same. An extra set of eyes will provide invaluable insights into creating your perfect space.

Jayne Morehouse is a columnist for Stylist Newspapers and the president of Jayne & company, a full-service brand communications agency for beauty companies and salons. Follow her on Twitter @JaynePR and @BeautyIQ and connect with her on