Three secrets to salon success: surveying our contest entries

Thanks to our Salon Secrets contest, we’ve spent the last few months learning how salons from across the country build successful businesses. The entries spanned a wide range of ideas for finding success in a competitive industry. With so many different salons built on so many different “secrets,” there have to be some threads that tie their achievements together. Three common practices seem to have driven these successful salons: Serving the community, exceptional staff training and creating a unique experience for the customer.

Our contest winner, Finally Lisa’s Hair & Nail Salon, is dedicated to fundraising for cancer-related causes and other charitable involvement in the community. Spoiled Spa and Salon carries handmade products and art from local vendors. The Ritz Inc. partnered with a local bakery to create a branded cookie. All of these salons have found success by actively engaging—in different ways—the people and businesses that make up their community. Working closely with the community allows salon staff not only to embody their values and support causes about which they care, but also allows them to meet new clients, grow their brand and build a reputation so potential customers feel comfortable spending their money there.

Another secret that has helped these businesses grow is developing a skilled staff and providing quality training to each and every employee. Clients expect that salon staff will skillfully perform exactly the treatment or style that they’ve been promised in a way that does not jeopardize their health or safety. That means many successful salons focus on training and ongoing education, like Elaine Travis from Luxe Color Lounge. She was quickly developing associates “because I am so passionate about education,” she said. By providing employees with sound training and continuing to educate them throughout their careers, salons ensure the services they provide will keep customers coming back.

The final common theme among contest entries was creating a comforting environment and providing a unique experience for the customers. Many successful salons go above and beyond their service offerings to enhance the overall customer experience with amenities or ambiance. The Mistress and Her Tinkerman Salon offers coffee, drinks and other snacks to customers. Steel 110 offers Netflix and locally brewed beer. As entrant Debra Becker said, “Do passionate work with a little fun and understanding of [the customers’] needs.” Finding the right balance between providing quality service while giving your customer an enjoyable experience is a recipe for success.

The Salon Secrets Competition taught us there’s no exact formula that promises to make your business a fixture of the community. But paying attention to these three areas—community, training and customer experience—may guide a salon down the path to creating a success story.