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If you’ve been hanging with me for a while you’ve probably heard me say that there are a ton of benefits to owning your own salon and big, fat profit margins aren’t generally one of them.

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of salon owners out there doing really well for themselves, but there are easily 10x as many who are barely getting by and wondering why the heck they put it all on the line to run this thing anyway.

So what is it that makes the difference between healthy profit margins and scraping by month after month?

Here are 8 strategies that successful salon owners are following today to keep their head above water and turn profits:

CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN

I remember when I was about to open my salon I spent hours on Pintrest picking out cute coffee mugs for our beverage station and researching salon stations.  What a waste of time that was in the end.

Trust me, I know that when you decide to open a salon the most fun part is looking at paint colors and choosing cute accent pillows, but I challenge you to set that all aside and create a real business plan.

I used the SBA Business Plan Builder Tool (click here to access it) to create my business plan and it was the best thing I could have ever done.  I realized my break even point was way further down the line than I had anticipated, that I would have had to secure $200K in financing just to keep the doors open and take home a modest paycheck myself and that all of my cute furnishing ideas were the least of my concerns because paying the bills was going to be tight.

If you’re thinking about opening even a small salon, take the time to work out your business plan so that you know what you’re getting yourself in to.

CONSIDER LEASING YOUR SALON EQUIPMENT INSTEAD OF PURCHASING IT OUTRIGHT

Does dropping $10,000 on new stations and chairs make you want to throw up a little bit?  I know, it's a ton of money.  Want to know what's awesome, there is actually a better way.

When you buy the salon equipment outright, you'll be entitled to a depreciation tax deduction, meaning you'll get to write off a little bit each year for the lifespan of the furnishings (here is an official article from the IRS on that and here is one that is a bit more simple to understand).   In our industry the lifespan is almost always considered to be 7 years.

There are some major tax benefits to leasing your chairs, stations, shampoo bowls, dispensary equipment, retail shelves and more instead of purchasing them upfront.  The IRS will allow you to fully deduct the payments you throughout each year as equipment rental which could be a pretty sweet annual deduction for you instead of a fairly small depreciation deduction depending on what your payments look like. (Here is an article from the IRS on that).  

For example, if you purchase $2,000 worth of salon furnishings upfront, on an accelerated depreciation schedule your annual deduction could only be $286 (no, you can't deduct the full $2,000).  If you had leased the same furnishings let's say using a 3 year lease with interest and you paid $686 in payments through the year, the entire $686 could be the deduction instead**.

This is a popular company offering salon equipment leases, however I've never worked for them nor am I affiliated with them.  I can't vouch for their services personally, but they do know our industry and I know they are a common choice for leasing.

BE PATIENT

It takes an average of 1,000 days for a new small business to turn a profit*.  That means that for 3 years you’ll either just be earning the income you produce behind the chair or even less than that because you’ll likely be needing to put more of your hard earned money back in to the business.

Remember, you’re in this for the long haul so while the first few years might be tough, you did this for a long term gain.  Like any investment, results will take time.

Don’t be tempted to just throw in the towel.  Success is reserved for those who are willing to fight through the tough years to achieve greatness.  If salon ownership was an instant slam dunk, everybody would have done it already.

WATCH YOUR FINANCES

Your business plan will help with this for sure, but it’s really important that you’re well aware of the money coming in and money going out every month.

It is still shocking to me when I hear how many small business owners are just depositing money in the bank through the week, paying their bills (hopefully on time) and praying that there is enough money in the account each month for everything to clear.

I know every month EXACTLY how much money I’ll be paying out, projections of how much I’ll be bringing in and what my budget will be.  You should know this too and it hardly takes any extra effort on your part.

Using my favorite tool (click here to check it out) you can see exactly where your money is going every month, where you’re overspending, how much you’re projecting to take home, a daily update on your estimated quarterly taxes and more without any extra work on your part.

The awesome part is that it syncs right to your bank account AND you can screen shot receipts in to the app so that when it’s time to file your taxes you can just send a quick report from the system to your CPA and there is zero extra work on your part.

DON'T STOCK TO FILL

What you’ll find once you start watching your finances is that you’re likely spending way more than you should be, or even than you really need to be.  

Most salons run on a stock to fill system meaning if I use one tube of 5N color today, I buy one tube of 5N tomorrow or if I sell one bottle of shampoo, I buy one bottle of shampoo to restock my shelf.  Yeah, that actually isn’t an effective model and here’s why:

Let’s say you sell a bottle of shampoo for $30 and it cost you $15 to buy it initially.  When you sell it, you’ve made $15 profit.  Awesome! Except for that you take that profit and use it to buy another $15 bottle of shampoo, so there goes your profit and now you’re back at zero.  

Same with the color, if you’re doing a stock to fill system but you’re already over stocked, you could have hundreds or even thousands of dollars tied up in inventory expiring or going to waste on your shelf.

We talk about a more effective way in my Thrivers Society system, but I challenge you to start thinking about ordering based on budget vs stock to fill.

HIRE A TRIBE THAT GOES WITH YOUR VIBE

I often hear salon owners complaining that finding good people is hard, but I just can't agree.  I mean, even just looking at Instagram, there are thousands of insanely talented stylists in small towns and big cities across the world who would make amazing team members.

So then the real issue is that you aren't attracting these awesome stylists doing big things to your business, right?

Stylists today want to be a part of something and if you create a true salon culture (beyond we are happy people who do good hair.  That worked ten years ago, not anymore) great stylists will be lining up outside your door begging for the chance to work for you.

Remember, culture isn't fancy furnishings or high priced services.  It is the common cause and belief system that your entire team is working within.

DON'T OVER PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES & BE SURE YOU'RE CHARGING ENOUGH RENT

This is the big one and it’s generally where most salons go broke.

Having commission or hourly stylists really freaking expensive.  You’ve got to pay half of their taxes, stock their color, support them with an hourly wage whether they seeing a single guest or not (click here to read the FLSA guidelines on this), bonuses to keep them motivated, some salons like to offer benefits like vacation pay and insurance.  This adds up quick!  

I see most salons today starting their new stylists off at 35% commission and most commissions topping out at 45%-50% maximum for top performers where a bit more margin exists due to higher price points.

I remember one of the first salons I ever coached was paying 60% commission to “motivate their staff” yet their staff was MISERABLE, demanding and the salon owner was losing about $5,000 a month.  

I could share dozens of studies about how employees today aren’t motivated by money, but for now I just want you to know that it’s crucial you watch your bottom line and only payout what you can afford.  Back to the business plan, spend some time looking at what your breakeven is for each employee and be sure you aren’t overpaying.  

I was coaching a salon owner before the holidays who knew it was time to raise the rent she charged to her team, but she was nervous.  She's in Thrivers and knew that her salon was unique for her area, she offered top amenities and that working in her salon was basically like hitting the lottery, yet by raising the rent she'd be charging more than all other salon owners in her city.  I told her that for all of us the cost of business increases and if she knew it was time, she had to pull the trigger.  Guess what, she explained to her team that the rent was going up January 1, they all knew that she was an exceptional salon owner to work for, she retained her whole team and nobody complained even a bit.  

Note: In California a bill was passed in 2015 making commission pay for stylists EXTREMELY difficult to do legally, so most salons in California running their business legally are paying stylists an hourly wage or salary with bonuses instead of traditional commission.  Stay tuned to my podcast for an upcoming episode about this.
 

INVEST IN MARKETING & EDUCATION

Having a small business costs two things: time and money.  It takes money to make money and if you’re saying “I don’t even have the money to market myself” you’re essentially cutting off any hope of survival.  You don’t have to spend a lot.  A solid budget of $500 a year if you’re willing to put in the time to learn to leverage online marketing is all you’ll need.

Marketing is your lifeline.   It makes me crazy when I see advice like “don’t worry, word of mouth will start to kick in”.  No, it won’t, that isn’t how business works anymore thanks to the internet.  You need to put yourself out there if you’re going to survive.  We are living in a fast paced world where your online presence isn’t important, it’s crucial.

You need to be networking locally, using social media correctly and not discounting to get guests through the door.  We cover all of this in Thrivers Society, but in the meantime, skip the magazine ads (waste of money), passing out brochures (waste of time and money) and flyers (when is the last time you did anything you learned about on a flyer) and get strategic with your efforts.

DON'T DO IT FOR THE MONEY

The most successful salon owners I know today aren’t money hungry at all.  They are inspired, passionate, focused on staying current and fighting to be cutting edge.  Their passion and drive push them to do incredible things and then the money comes as a result of the way they do things differently than the rest.

The best part of being is a salon owner is that you get to shape a new direction of the future of the industry.  Today’s stylists don’t want just any chair to cut hair behind and today’s clients don’t want to go to just any salon.  Click here to read my article on what makes today’s hottest salons as successful as they are.

 

Happy business building salon owners.  You’ve got this.   If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hopeless or defeated, please know that every business is savable and has the potential to be successful.  It’s up to you how hard you’re willing to work to make it happen.

 

*source: Entrepreneur.com

**note: I am not a CPA nor am I offering any legal or financial advice.  I suggest you do your own research to find the laws and best practices for your business by speaking directly to a certified tax professional, lawyer or other professional service provider.

15 of the BEST Salon and Hair Stylist Websites PLUS The 5 Major Mistakes Most Stylists Make On Their Websites

updated 1/15/18

f you've been following me for a while, you know I'm always talking about what I call The Hair Stylists Marketing Funnel.  It is the path that every single client today travels before they land in your chair.  Every.......single.......one.  

Any guesses as to where that funnel leads?  Yep, straight to your website.

I know we are all super focussed on social media right now and that is a good thing.  Making your Instagram beautiful and your Facebook page functional is important and I offer tons of trainings on both, but gone are the days when just having solid social media is enough.

Do this....check out any stylist that you admire on Instagram.  See that link in her bio?  It clicks through to a gorgeous website, right?  Right, because websites are still a crucial part of any successful business.

Think about it...when is the last time you tried any new business of any kind before looking them up online first?

The future of both Instagram and Facebook is uncertain.  Remember when Myspace was the big social media platform?  How about when we all thought Snapchat was the next big thing and now their average daily use is down 30%.  Instagram and Facebook are changing their rules constantly.

Your website is the one piece of online real estate that you are in complete control of, always.

Having a beautiful, functioning website with all of the features that clients are looking for and none of the ones that can harm your image is crucial. The problem is that most stylists don't have a website that is working to grow their business for a few reasons; they don't realize what should be included on that site (it's not what you think), they don't realize the major flaws their site contains and how they are harming their brand or they simply don't know how to build their site.

We're going to tackle ALL of those issues today!

There is a huge difference between just having a website and having a great website that actually generates business for you. 

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite websites that I've seen around the industry lately. Over half have been built by members of my Thrivers Society and Website Academy programs, but I've included some incredible websites from other big-name salons too that I know you'll love.

Before looking at the website "dos", let's take a look at the 5 big website don'ts:

  1. Don't make your website pretty, make it branded- There is nothing worse than a website full of generic photos with information, but no true brand.  Your website is like an online brochure for your business.  Who is your ideal client?  What appeals to that person?  Your website needs to ooze branding or it will never help you to grow your business.  A potential new client should be able to look at your site and tell instantly if this is the place for them or not.  
  2. Don't use the free "website" that is included with your online booking system-I think that it's awesome that a lot of the online booking platforms are offering free websites included with your package.  I have yet to see one of these sites look decent enough to be considered a website that would increase your business or improve your image.  At best, they look amateur and basic.  Having a website doesn't have to be expensive and just getting one new client from your professional site would make the site pay for itself.
  3. Don't write a novel- Your website can be jam packed full of information and that is nice, but a new client is going to skim the words, be 100% drawn to the images and will decide within the first 10 seconds if this could be a potential match or not.  Clients do want to learn a little about you from your site, however their main concern right now is seeing your work and getting a sense of your brand.   A well designed site for our industry is image heavy and text light...always.
  4. Don't use generic images-It is very important to use unique and well branded images.  The vast majority of hairstylist or salon websites I come across are incredibly generic.  In fact, I see some of the same pictures used over and over and over.  Don't Google search things like "hairstylist pictures" or "beautiful hair" and expect to find good pictures for your site.  Instead, choose photos that are a fantastic representation of the brand you're building.  Now, this doesn't mean you can't use stock images, we'll cover what images to use and which to skip in this free online class I'm hosting this week.
  5. Don't let your website become static-Your website should be updated quarterly (Every 3 months) at the very least.  You want your website to be a resource that clients use to access information about you regularly.  SEO isn't based on keywords or a submission to Google anymore.  Having a high number of monthly website visitors is what pushes you to the front page of Google which is where we all want to be. The more monthly viewers you have on your site each month, the higher you'll rank in local Google searches. Post special offers, keep a blog and provide other features to keep your clients coming back for more, sharing your site with their friends and boosting your site right to the top of local search.

Okay, so now that we know what you shouldn't do, what SHOULD you do if you want to build an awesome website as a hairstylist?

I do teach a free online class just for hair stylists about what you've got to include in order to have a kick-ass website, but I want to share a gallery of my favorite websites for hair salons and stylists here.

To be fair, I've included a mix of professional sites, likely built by web designers with a price tag somewhere between $10,000-$20,000 and then some really awesome site that those in my Thrivers Society and Website Academy courses have created by themselves.  

Take your time going through each site!! I think I've included a little something for everybody here...

All but 3 of those sites were built by stylists, most of which would tell you they aren't techy at all!

Having your own website doesn't have to be complicated.  You don't need to hire a professional web designer or pay thousands of dollars to have a great website.  Some of the worst salon sites Ive seen were built by web designers who don't understand the needs of our industry and some of the best websites I've seen in my salon travels are gorgeous, simple, well branded and created by stylists and salon owners.

If you want to learn more about building a gorgeous website yourself, linking to Style Seat or another online booking system, creating a website that truly builds your business or just creating a site that can stand up against the ones you've seen here today, click here join me for my new free master class!  

As always, feel free to send me links to your site so I can add my favorites to a future feature!

XOXO

Britt

If you know this is the year you are ready to take your business to the next level and would rather build your own incredible site rather than spend thousands on a web designer, you can do it just like the stylists I showcased today have done!

 Click here to register for my free master class 7 Days To A Perfect Website.

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While everybody else in the world is having a major freak out over the changes announced to the Facebook algorithm, I’m over here doing a happy dance in the middle of my Kitchen.

Listen, I know that as humans we panic every time we hear anybody say “changes are coming”, but if you ask me, this change is exactly what the platform has been craving for 2+ years.

One of my favorite things to do as a coach is to take the fear out of the dirty little word “change”, so let’s take a look at Facebook’s most recent big announcement and what it really means for small business.

MEANINGFUL SOCIAL MEDIA INTERACTIONS WILL TAKE PRIORITY

Mark Zuckerberg said “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

MEANINGFUL social media interactions.  Isn’t that what I’ve been talking about for years?

The days when you could just post a pretty picture of hair with a caption like “loving this gorgeous blonde” or “which haircut do you like better” died a really long time ago, and not just on Facebook, but on Instagram too.

To be successful on any social media platform today you’re going to actually have to make an attempt to connect with your audience.  Talking WITH them instead of AT them is the priority now more than ever.

The boost button can't save you now! You're going to actually have to pay attention to the content you post and have a true social media strategy.

POSTS FROM PERSONAL PROFILES WILL RANK HIGHER THAN THOSE FROM BUSINESS PAGES

Now, the thing that scares most of us is that it was announced that posts from profiles will rank higher than posts from business pages.

Wait...you guys know that’s ALWAYS been the case, right?!?!

Just because they are now coming right out and saying it doesn’t mean they haven’t been dancing around it for years.  This is why so many stylists do funky things like share their business posts to their personal pages in an attempt to get more interactions.  We’ve all noticed that personal profile posts get preference in the feed and that’s why gaining traction through a business page has always been more challenging.
 

ADVERTISING SPACE WILL BE LIMITED SO THAT USERS AREN’T BOMBARDED WITH SO MANY ADS

This may be a new public announcement, but those of us who have been using Facebook ads for a while saw the shift happen last October when Facebook ads rates doubled for most of us.

Marketing is, has been and always will be about supply and demand.  In the last couple of years, demand for Facebook ads increased and now supply is low.  The only option Facebook has is to increase advertising rates (just like how I tell you guys to raise your prices when you can no longer fit clients in to your books).

So what do I see most people already doing on Facebook in reaction to the change?  They are saying things like

“Well forget it, now I can’t afford to advertise on Facebook at all anymore”

Or

“Great, now we’ll have to pay even more to reach new clients.  This is the worst”

And to that I say GOOD!  Wonderful, thank you so much.  This new policy is going to weed out those who aren’t seriously about business and who were cutting corners boosting posts or running terrible ads.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of seeing promoted political debates, random pre-recorded videos from advertisers tapping on their screen or waving trying to get my attention or  ads for coffee spoons in my feed.  None of those things are in line with my lifestyle and it’s irritating to be bombarded by things I’ve never expressed an interest in.  

It will be more expensive and complex to advertise on Facebook now.  There is no doubt about it, so you can either learn to use Facebook advertising correctly and quit boosting your posts or just stop advertising all together and start spending more time making real and genuine connections with your followers.

SO WHAT DO WE DO TO OVERCOME THE CHANGES

Time will tell and I will keep you updated as we see the changes roll out, but based on what Facebook has published, these are the new guidelines:

The algorithm is now based on two sets of criteria: The first set is still just as it’s always been.  The more likes, tags, comments and shares your post receives, the higher it will rank.  The second set will rank interactions person to person higher than person to page.  Can you try posting your professional work from your personal page?  You can try, but if your personal Facebook followers aren't highly engaged in pictures of your work, the posts will be an epic fail.  You can't fake engagement.  

Facebook will be prioritizing 4 types of content- The highest ranking posts will stem from live videos, celebrities’ posts, groups and highly interactive personal and brand posts

Content that is just passively consumed will not rank well in the feed- Pictures of your work that don’t spark conversation (shared from your professional or personal page) won’t perform well.  You need to really consider your captions, be sure you’re starting conversations and commenting back each time somebody interacts with your posts.

Pre-recorded video will no longer organically rank well- Choose live video and encourage your followers to ask questions through your video instead or be sure you film a VERY high quality video and run it as a local commercial ad.

Facebook is trying to create a “greater sense of well being”- Facebook will prioritize interactions that reflect more time and care.  Long and well thought out comments will help to boost engagement.  

Facebook expects overall time spent on the platform to decrease- Users will get more of what they are looking for faster instead of scrolling for 20 minutes just trying to get to the good stuff.  Again, quality over quantity.  Quit just posting to post and start using the platform properly.

 

The biggest losers are the big, fat brands with full pockets and no social skills.  The days where you could just show up on Facebook, throw money at the platform and never interact with your audience just died and I couldn’t be any happier.

Remember, our goal is not to have people randomly stumble across our page or to have 100% of our followers like all of our posts.  Facebook is simply a piece of your marketing funnel and the way we use the piece hasn't changed one bit.

You have two choices, give up or rise above.  Those who choose to give up will drop out of the race and that will help the algorithm to support those of us who prefer to shift and learn the new game.

 

Game on loves, game on.

 

XOXO

Britt

 

Ps. I will be hopping on Facebook live today (January 13, 2018 at 9AM PST to talk about what I'll be doing to adjust to these changes and elaborating more on social media shifts.  Join me here live or catch me on the replay.