May 2008

Community Reaches Out to Beleaguered Stylist

By Gordon Miller, Executive Director, National Cosmetology Association

Editor’s Note: The National Cosmetology Association’s SalonLife Blog is an online resource for professionals looking to connect and interact online to discuss a variety of issues. The follow is an edited version of a recent blog including reader comments.

Have you ever had that desperate feeling of being completely out of your depth with no life vest? Many of us have.

Recently, Dawn R. responded to our “Devil in the Details” blog with a cry for help. Here is her online post and the comments that followed.

“I am a stylist in a new salon and spa in a renovated house located off the beaten path. The owner has never owned a salon and is desperately trying everything to pick up business while trying to keep expenses low. She is doing some advertising in local coupon magazines plus two rounds of direct marketing of packages at greatly discounted prices to get people in the door.

“She says she can’t afford to pay more than $7 per hour for a full time receptionist. There is no plan for retail displays so things end up on shelves wherever there is room. I have made many suggestions (i.e. reading publications, etc.) but she is defensive and doesn’t see a way to change things.

“I worked at an upscale department store salon and sold $300 to $500 of retail per week -- where we had 10 lines. I can barely sell $100 here because there are only two lines. If retail is where the add-on money is, how do I reach my boss?”
Mary said, “Research the two lines you do have and start selling them to your clients. Almost every line made for professionals has one or two items that work for a client. When your owner sees success, your talk about retail will have more credibility. Another suggestion is for stylists to contact car dealerships, real estate agents, church groups and health clubs with an introductory brochure or coupon posted or given out by the salesperson. Offer those who help a free service and continue to do so as long as they send you clients (five for every free service, for example.)”

Brenda H. said, “Write an introductory letter telling about yourself and your salon and send it as a new neighbor letter to all of the new home owners in you area. You can get the list from the real estate section of your Sunday paper. Use letterhead paper with matching envelopes and include a coupon with a stated value (I did $10.00 savings), a salon menu and business card. Do not skimp on this. We also hand address the envelopes for the personal touch. Another idea is to get very involved in your local Chamber of Commerce. It’s a huge networking tool. Good Luck!”

Bruce said, “A great way to make a positive impact on the community and increase business is have a “cut for the cure” event (women’s breast cancer program) and donate a portion or all of your take for the day (consider a slow day like Sunday, Monday or even a holiday) to charity. You’ll be surprised how pleased they are to assist you and the warm wonderful buzz it will create. You can do the same for a shelter or battered women’s group. A little TLC goes a long way. Good Luck!”

Bart said, “Dawn, a $7 per hour front desk person can actually be a positive. A lot of young kids in High School or college will work for that rate. Find a cute one and offer incentives (perhaps free services if she sells a certain amount or a small commission). Just be sure to train her well.

“And as for the two lines, dress up their presentation, and talk them up with every guest. Your best source of extra revenue is the guest in your chair. Don’t wait for the front desk to finish your job. It’s not the front desk’s responsibility to close the retail sale. It’s yours.”