A Walk into the Unknown

There are several moments throughout your business day that present perfect opportunities to upsell products and services, while at the same time, cross promote your salon. However, sometimes these opportunities knock and we just don’t hear it… Here’s how a lightbulb moment taught me how to maximise my opportunities

When the economy decided to take a nose dive, it wasn’t just the smaller salons that suffered. With a substantial business spanning eight salons across the US, generating millions of dollars per year; I, a salon owner of 20 years, also felt the pinch. Never one to rest on my laurels, I decided to embrace the opportunity to change the spec and upgrade my business model to one that fitted my guests’ needs – and that has meant that my businesses have remained successful.

With the already established A Robert Cromeans Salons (ARCS), it was a loss of £575,000 in one particular salon and a drop in frequency of visit to just four times a year, that led me to a lightbulb moment. The creation of Walkin by Robert Cromeans, shaped a two-tier, multi-brand business with a solid career path for Future Professionals and giving guests what they crave: choice.

“Our business is built on two things, volume and performance. In order to build volume in the business I created the Walkin Salon concept. With a smaller price point it makes it easy for new stylists to build a clientele and gain the Reputation, Experience and Demand (RED), which helps to build the performance that they need to be successful hairdressers and progress in their career to joining the flagship ARCS team as stylists. More volume, more practice, better performance.”

The ARCS part of my business remains the brand flagship with an average service ticket of £77 per guest.

“I’m ‘schizophrenic, 50% hairdresser, 50% business man. I wish I knew 20 years ago what I know now. The price of your haircut is irrelevant to the equation and it’s actually the average service ticket per guest that can make the difference. Fewer guests more meaning, letting each and every guest fully enjoy your salon through multiple service experiences will set you free.”

By aiming to maximise every guest’s experience, the ARCS team focused on a ratio of three services per guest; with cut, colour and a professional treatment. In addition, they asked guests to come in more often for blow outs and style – “You deserve to look your very best, come in and let me do the rest!”

Inspired by Starbucks’ treat receipts (a time-sensitive money-saving offer printed onto your receipt to encourage regular re-purchasing), ARCS also introduced a treat receipt system that encouraged guests to visit in-between their regular reservations, increasing frequency of visit.

“We are now back up to a frequency of visit of 6.7 times per a year and increasing!”

However; I knew that these changes wouldn’t appeal to my fashion-conscious but cash-strapped guests, which is where Walkin comes in: a simple pricing structure along with a great experience, but without some of the bells and whistles that guests would expect at ARCS.

“The pricing menu is easy for the guests to understand as it is standard across the board. £13 for a haircut, £26 for colour, £40 for mini-highlights and £52 for maximum higlights. Even though the haircut price for all stylists at the Walkin Salons is £13, the average ticket is upwards of £40-£45 per guest, all because of maximising the guests’ experience in the salon with multiple services. The goal at Walkin is for the stylist to build their performance through giving an exceptional salon experience to each and every guest every time.

“We want them to win every day by upgrading their guests, making take home sales through professional recommendations, asking for referrals and also making future reservations, all of this to build their average ticket beyond the £13 haircut price.”

It’s a system that is clearly working, with Walkin stylists being between 70 and 80% pre-booked.

With two different salon brands to my name offering very different guest experiences, how does it work when it comes to the team?

“I believe in picking the apple from the tree, not the barrel. All stylists that we hire start as a Rising Star in the flagship ARCS salons, where they learn the salon culture, the business of The Wash House, The Color Bar, Take Home, etc. They are then promoted to a Walkin Salon where they have the opportunity to shine through their own performance.”

One non-negotiable for me is to coach using numbers with maximum visibility amongst the team.

My entire salon team has access to where we can see everyone’s performance real time. When they consistently meet their salon goals through volume and performance, we are then able to promote our stylists back to a flagship location as a stylist. Hairdressers want to know that there is a place for them to grow to and work towards so this is the perfect building block.

And what have I learned from the process?

“I build hairdressers and the best way to get them to be successful is to get them doing hair as soon as possible. Moving them through the Rising Star program and into the Walkin salons is the best way to build their confidence and their RED. Embrace the change. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change and that might just be the time to make or break your business.”

My Top 5:

  1. Your business needs volume and performance
  2. Embrace change, and think outside the box
  3. Coach using numbers
  4. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade
  5. Think RED – Reputation, Experience and Demand

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