Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a series of articles that are a collaborative effort between Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice president of OPI Products, and the staff at Secrets Salon in Long Beach, Calif. NAILS has been following the salon since it began OPI’s The Edge business training program. Previous articles are in the April, July, September, and November 1999, and January 2000 issues
One year ago, Lynn Kogle and her staff at Secrets Salon in Long Beach, Calif., took on the challenge of revamping their business systems using the strategies taught in OPI’s business management program, The Edge - Standards & Systems for Success. We recently checked in on the progress at Secrets. Here’s what Kogle and Cheryl McCowan, Secrets’ spokesperson had to say about their successes, and their shortfalls.
When we first met the staff at Secrets, the salon did not offer products for retail sale. However, the addition of OPI’s Hand & Nail Care Center Wall Retail display provided an instant, and steadily growing, profit center. The staff soon learned to capitalize on their best sellers: nail lacquer, lip colors, and nail treatments. Weekly promotions featuring favorite colors and products used in the salon placed an emphasis on retailing. According to McCowan,“We found that it is easy to retail what you use and believe in. It feels more like prescribing than selling.”
Adding the retail center and regularly changing the window displays also brought unexpected benefits. “Our walk-in traffic increased as a result of the attractive displays in our salon,” comments Kogle. “Potential clients who might not have stopped in previously came in because they saw a product brand they recognized from consumer magazines. Some scheduled appointments for services and have now become regular clients. Selling a nationally advertised brand definitely helps.”
McCowan’s primary goal was to increase her clientele. Through client-building strategies like “Friendly Money,” a program that offers an existing client $5 off her service for every new client she sends to the salon, McCowan increased her clientele by 40%. Offering gift certificates and consistently sending service reminders and Thank You cards helped to promote better client retention as well.
The Secrets staff also looks to community events to help them build their client base, participating in silent auctions supporting a variety of local charities. The salon donates gift certificates for salon services, and last year donated all of its unwanted nail polishes to a charity for the homeless. “Even though we are promoting our business, the real reward is the great feeling we get by giving back to our community through charity work,” said McCowan. An added business plus is the fact that all charitable contributions are tax-deductible.
Business and Financial Tracking
Speaking of taxes, how did the staff at Secrets fare with the tracking systems they implemented at the beginning of the program? says McCowan, “At first, we were all good about keeping up with tracking our business numbers. But then most of us slipped back into old habits. Now that it is tax time, we’re all wishing we had stuck with the program. Sometimes it takes a situation like this to prove that adopting better habits really pays off. It’s sort of like dieting. In the end, you always wish you had stuck with the program.”
Tracking their tips is another area in which the group wishes they had been more consistent. According to McCowan, if she saved just half the money she earned in tips annually, her entire family could take a terrific vacation every summer. “It’s so easy to let that money slip through your hands on a daily basis,” adds Kogle.
Why is it hard to develop new habits? McCowan’s theory is that if good business principles were taught in school, nail technicians would graduate with the proper skills and habits they need to be successful. “It’s always harder to retrain after learning something the wrong way. Business training is an important part of any medical training. It should be the same in our profession,” she says. To help get back on track both Kogle and McCowan agree that keeping their weekly business tracking form in their appointment book will provide a daily reminder to take a few moments to do the paperwork.
Says McCowan, “In retrospect, we are glad we began this program in our salon. It’s been an extremely enlightening and educational process. We’ve seen the benefit of our success both in service and retail growth. Even our shortfalls taught us valuable lessons from which we will continue to grow.”
After a year of putting the principles of The Edge training program into practice, the entire Secrets staff has learned how to incorporate retailing into their daily activities.