Tips & Insights
“50-percent of the reason your clients comes to you has nothing to do with a comb, a brush or a color bowl – it’s because they LIKE you. Build relationships,” advises Eric Fisher, owner of award winning Eric Fisher Salons & Academy in Wichita, Kansas.
The ‘Golden Rules’ of manners and etiquette are certainly important in business, but even more so in personal care service environments like salons. In addition to professional, quality work, courtesies that reflect simple respect and consideration for clients will keep them coming back.
There are a few realities associated with Non-Compete Agreements in general, and for cosmetology professionals in particular:
1. Stylists are NOT lawyers (and vice-versa, thank goodness).
2. Many stylists are a bit intimidated by legal issues, such as Non-Compete Agreements.
3. Salon owners KNOW THIS and use it to their advantage.
4. ALMOST ALL NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS ARE UNENFORCEABLE (INVALID).
As the leading provider of upscale salon suites facilities in Texas, we have seen it many times: a stylists wants to strike out on her own, make her own way, build her own business, finally make some REAL money, and take control of her own career. But she feels she can't because she signed a pesky Non-Compete Agreement (sometimes known as a Covenant Not To Compete) with her current employer, which says something like she can't leave and work as a stylist, usually within a certain distance from the current salon. So she is intimidated into staying, resigned to limiting her income and independence, fearful of her salon owner "coming after " and suing her if she leaves. Understandably, this strikes more than a little fear into the hearts of most people.
Many salon owners know this and understand the power of intimidation, particularly on someone without the legal background and/or resources to understand that almost ALL Non-Compete Agreements are unenforceable (illegal). That's right, the Non-Compete Agreement that you signed at your current salon is probably not worth the paper it's printed on, and the courts have consistently rendered most similar agreements invalid.
Here's the deal -
A few years ago, the Texas legislature passed the Covenants Not To Compete Act, and any Non-Competition Agreement in the State of Texas must adhere to its provisions. Among other things, a Non-Compete Agreement must have several elements to make it valid: protect a legitimate business interest, have reasonable limitations as to the scope of activity to be restrained, have reasonable geographic and durational limitations, and (most importantly) be ancillary to or part of an otherwise enforceable agreement at the time the agreement is made. Whew...ok...that's a lot of legalese. What does it mean?
A Non-Compete will typically say that if you leave the salon's employ, you can't work within a certain radius of the salon's location (usually 10 miles) doing the same kind of work you did for the salon (cosmetology work), for a certain period of time (1 to 2 years). OK, pretty straight-forward so far, but the important part comes along in that last clause, "ancillary to or part of an otherwise enforceable agreement". What does that mean?
Texas is known as a "right to work" state, which essentially means that your employment is "at will" (basically, you can leave any time, they can terminate you any time). This is important because the Texas Supreme Court has held that an "at-will" employment relationship is not an otherwise enforceable agreement since it can be terminated at any time by either party. For this reason (here's the important part), a Non-Competition Agreement that is ancillary only to an "at-will" employment agreement is invalid, no matter how reasonable in scope on the other issues.
In simple terms, that means that if you have a Non-Compete Agreement that does not include other "independent consideration" (i.e. bonuses (and commissions are NOT bonuses), ownership in the salon, disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, etc.) , it is unenforceable, or not valid, no matter how reasonable the other provisions of the agreement may be.
We have seen many Non-Compete Agreements, and have yet to find one that adheres to the requirements of the Texas Covenants Not To Compete Act, which makes them legally invalid. Our experience has been that some salon owners are aware of this and others aren't, but that almost all use these agreements to intimidate stylists with no legal training and few financial resources to fight them. Knowing your rights and a little law can free you to pursue your career the way YOU want.
If you are thinking it is time to get out on your own, a suite is the best way to do it. Most stylists double their income when working for themselves in a suite environment (which is why the beauty industry is trending hugely toward salon suites). If it's your turn, and you have a Non-Compete Agreement, bring it to us, and with confidentiality, we will run it by our legal counsel to see if it is enforceable. It might be the best decision you have ever made!
For more information on Texas Non-Compete issues, click here.
Here is a good article that bears including on our continuing list of tips and helps for our professionals. For the original link, click here.
"Without clients, you’re just a person with scissors," says business expert Paul DiGrigoli, and he should know. After 30 years as a stylist and owner, he heads up a thriving salon and the über successful DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology. In this excerpt from his best-selling book and CD set, Booked Solid, he waxes on the reasons clients choose to stick with you for the long haul and how to make sure they stay in your chair.
Four Reasons Clients STAY:
1. Consistency. "You will be booked solid because you will deliver for your clients every time," Paul shares. "They know what to expect—great service and a great haircut— every time they sit in your chair. You’re always professional, you always do exactly what they want, you always exceed their expectations. Here’s the big question, who cuts your hair and why?"
2. Great attitude. "Do you like hanging out with miserable people?" Paul asks. "Be likeable and positive in every way with your client—about their hair and their look, but also about their life. As you get to know your clients, you have the opportunity to be helpful and over delivery in every way. For instance, if they mention they need a new car, mention that your brother works at the dealer across town. If they need childcare, maybe one of your friends runs a home daycare. When you really listen, you’ll hear ways you can contribute. Bottom line: make your chair a happy place. Never hang around someone who’s a wet blanket."
3. Education and service level. "Clients will stay with you if you can offer them everything they need from your chair. This is about convenience as much as anything else," he says. "Today one-stop shopping is a major modern convenience. When you are highly trained as a hairdresser, stylist, colorist and more, you are offering convenience and one stop shopping to your clients. Why would they stay with you for a cut when they have to go somewhere else for color, when that colorist could also give them a great haircut? The more you know and the more you can do, the better."
4. Availability. "Even after you are booked solid, how can you stay available for your clients? Planning is everything," Paul says. "At the end of each service, tell your client how long the cut or color will last and when they should return. You can even walk with them to the reception desk and let the receptionist know the date as well. This way, the client won’t be faced with calling you for an appointment when they need you immediately and find that you’re booked, forcing them into someone else’s chair or another salon." Paul says that another great offering is to work the hours that your clients need. "Perhaps you could add a couple of late nights or an early morning," he suggests. "Ask your clients what they need or just open up at different times and find out what works. When you accommodate them, they are appreciative and want to stay in your chair—the place where all of their needs are met."
1. Partner with the pros. When you're running your own small salon, you want to partner with professional brands that can offer education, business building guidance and national recognition, even if you're a single-chair facility. The right partners will help establish your credibility, support your future growth through their constant research & development with new product, provide brand recognition through national marketing programs, and increase your skill set through extensive education opportunities. (Remember, you have already made the best partnering decision by leasing at Delaney! Now go get more!)
2. Retail Sales: yes, yes, yes! Retail is a must-have for the success of your business. Many stylists feel uncomfortable selling product, as they don't want to seem "pushy" with their friends. However, a friend should help a friend look as beautiful as possible (that's why she comes to you, right?), and your professional product line helps her achieve that between visits. When you create an intimate environment in your salon suite, it provides an opportunity to talk about your products, and to provide instruction for your clients for their use at home. More importantly, the fundamental economic model of running your own business in a suite is that you should be selling enough product to pay for your lease, then the income from the services you provide is pure profit. Use our online calculator to see how it can work for you. A the end of the day, the successful stylist will consider retail to be an integral part of an overall business strategy.
3. Referrals: ask, ask, ask! Just because your friend is sitting in the chair doesn't mean she understands your business or what you need to succeed! Ask your clients for referrals and to buy products. If you don't ask and don't tell, your clients may never know what else goes into your business. Clients often don't understand that retail and referrals help to keep your business growing, so let them know! Your clients want you to be successful. When you're small, you can take advantage of that relationship because they are usually very willing to help you succeed.
4. Be that friend. When you work in your private suite at Delaney Salons, you create a an intimate setting that provides a great opportunity to build a personal relationship with your clients. Ask lots of questions! People will be willing to talk openly about their beauty wants and needs, not to mention their personal lives, when they are in a quiet setting with no interruptions. Your suite at Delaney provides a tremendous opportunity to foment a personal relationship with your client, which translates into long-term loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising for your business. A good friend is a good LISTENER, but be professional at all times.
5. It's a business. Run it like one. The opportunity to run your own business in a beautiful professional environment is what attracted you to Delaney Salons in the first place. While you're building personal relationships with your clients, always keep in mind that this is YOUR livelihood, YOUR business. Your success requires that you do those things that all businesses must do to be viable: marketing, scheduling/booking (stay consistent!), management of finances and good cash flow, staying up on the latest trends, etc. Stylists will often neglect the financial management side of their business, but it can be so easy if it's set up right the first time. We recommend that you obtain and USE a financial management and accounting software package like Quicken. (QuickBooks is a much more powerful business financial management program, but is not necessary for a small, single-chair salon. Plus, Quicken's cost is about $50, while QuickBooks, depending on the version you use, can run to several hundred dollars.) Once a software program is set up correctly, management of your accounting and cash flow can become very easy, and will save you a lot of headaches later on (like at tax time). We can help you with this if you would like, but you need to DO IT!
6. You live in a modern world. Take advantage of it! Do you have an online presence (a website)? Are your clients able to book an appointment online? Do you use social media to stay in touch with your current and future clients? If you answered no to any of these questions, then make some changes! This isn't 1980, so don't run your business like it is. An active online presence is essential in the growth of your business these days, but many stylists are intimidated by technology. Don't be. Modern online technologies can be easy to use, will make you look professional, and will provide easy use for your clients. At Delaney, we can help you with these if you need it. Ask!
7. Manage your bookings. As a single-chair salon, you don't have a receptionist to manage your clients, so it is important that you stay on top of your schedule. Use of an online booking service can go a long way toward managing this essential function. Check out Styleseat.com or Schedulicity.com, and see how easy and inexpensive this can really be. Once again, if you need some help, ask us!
We'll go into more details on all of these issues in the coming months, so stay tuned!
There is an interesting trend in the industry that might have application for your business. Some salons are offering memberships which charge a flat monthly fee, and provide whatever salon services are required (cuts, color, blow-outs, etc), instead of a fee for each service every time they book an appointment. The membership system provides for more consistent cash flow, but the potential drawbacks are obvious.
It could work on a limited basis for suite stylists, and it would not be good for 100% of your clientele. Additionally you would have to be aware of anyone that would try to take advantage of you. But, maybe on a limited basis?
1. Cash flow can be more easily calculated and managed throughout the year (better through the slow times of the year).
2. Cash management is super-easy if payments are through an automatic monthly draw (we can help you set that up)
3. Client loyalty increases, because they sure aren't going to look somewhere else if they are paying a monthly membership!
4. You get paid even when they don't set an appointment in a month.
1. The client might feel like they have the right, or even the obligation to visit daily for a wash and blow-dry in order to maximize their membership.
2. Most suite stylists offer their clientele 100% of their attention and professionalism when the client is in the chair, and this might feel like a discount, or more of a hair-factory environment.
It would take some serious calculations to see if it could work for you, but might be something to think about with part of your clientele.
Has business been a little slower than you would like? Have no fear, try these ten marketing tips and watch your business grow!
1. Greetings and Salutations - When was the last time you stuck a postage stamp on something other than a bill? Utilize the postal system like Shaina Cook from The Arrangement Salon in Napa, CA. “One thing I’ve really focused on this year that has gotten me the most response is sending personal greeting cards to my clients letting them know how I appreciate them,” explains Cook. “Since times have been pretty tough, you need to make a lasting impression on someone. I write something unique and personal to each one of them. And to get a card for no reason is always great!”
2. VIP Treatment – As a booth renter, you need to make sure you are constantly booked which occasionally means you’re working on two clients at once. Sometimes you have to fit in a quick cut while you have another client processing for 30 minutes. Kena Brewer from The Beauty Shoppe in Charlotte, NC gives her clients the option of upgrading to VIP status. “The best thing I do as a booth renter is offer private sessions,” explains Brewer. “I charge more for these private sessions so the client has me all to themselves during their visit.”
3. Thank You! Come Again - Referrals are money makers if you’re a booth renter. In order to keep that newbie coming back, you have to treat them to something special. And don’t forget to thank your referring customer! “My clients are my biggest asset,” explains Tamara from Salon Si Bon in Kansas City, MO. “I make sure I send new clients off with a nice goodie bag. Then, 24 hours after their appointment, I send out a thank you card to both the new client and the referring client.”
4. Networking Nelly – In order to stay ahead of the competition, you have to network your pants off and Tamara from Salon Si Bon is doing it the right way. “I’m in a networking group called BNI (Business Networking International). I have 40 people in addition to my current clients passing out my business cards and I have an ad in a hotel magazine that is placed in every room. I also utilize the Welcome Wagon to send out 75-80 cards to the new residents in my city.”
5. Friend Request Accepted – If you’re not social networking these days then you are living like the Flintstones. “I have a Myspace and Facebook page and 70% of my friends are my clients,” says Nancy Britton, a booth renter at Trendsetters Salon and Day Spa in San Bernardino, CA. If you don’t want to mix business with pleasure, create a separate “work” account to keep your clients in the loop about open appointments, specials, offers and discounts on retail.
6. Philanthropic Profits – Sometimes you have to give to receive and Stasia Howell from Jerri's in Norwalk, OH does just that. “I donate services whenever asked,” shares Howell. “For instance, I will give out certificates for color services or free haircuts for a year. It gets plenty of attention and it’s a great way to get new clients into the shop, while at the same time, a great way to help out others. I recently advertised free haircuts for those who were actively seeking employment in a county that has been hit hard by unemployment. It was an effort to show support and gratitude.”
7. Retail Queen – Some salons don’t offer retail to customers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t! “My salon owner does not offer retail,” explains Laura Woodmansee from Nailtique Salon in Martinez, CA. “However, the salon owner lets me and I get to keep all the profits!” This is your opportunity to utilize that shelf space that’s been collecting dust and give you the “one-up” on the other booth renters in the salon.
8. Thinking Ahead – Pre-booking is crucial, especially for booth renters. Jane Pachura from MBS Salon in Danville, CA thinks “ahead,” literally. “I take the time to reschedule my client’s appointments for the whole year, especially if they frequent the salon every 6 weeks,” explains Pachura. “I book them every 6 weeks at their preferred time and day until the end of the year, and I give them the list of their appointments to mark on their calendars. This enables them to work any other appointments around their hair schedule. They rarely have to change appointments with me. They view this as me taking extra special care of them and they appreciate it!”
9. Happy Birthday to You! – When you create your client cards make sure to include their birthdays. “I send out a postcard to my clients for a birthday special,” says Sharolyn Kane from Aspen Salon in Pleasant Grove, UT. Not only are you giving them a gift, you are also showing them how on top of things you are. Don’t forget to take down their wedding anniversary day so you can send them an offer to get all gussied up for a night on the town with their hubby or wife.
10. High Demand Hairdresser – Sometimes being a hairdresser is a part-time gig which is ideal for most booth renters. Communicate with your clients and let them know that you’re schedule is filling up faster than you ever thought. “I only work 3 days a week,” explains Brenda Bonnichsen, from Just for Looks Salon in Sturgis, SD. “My days are full and my clients know there is a high demand for my time, so they book ahead on a very consistent basis.”
- By Keri Lee for behindthechair.com. To see the original article by Keri, click here!