How to Run A Beauty Salon

by Dawn Fotopulos on December 27, 2012

I'm in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida to attend a wedding at the Addison in Boca Raton.

It's a gorgeous place with tons of history and beauty. The Banyon Tree in the courtyard is over 150 years old. Very elegant.

I decided my hair needed remedial attention, so I asked the hair salon near the hotel if they were open on Sunday, the day of the wedding.

She said she was open just to do the hair of the bridal party and could squeeze me in.

The owner, Emma, did my hair. She's from Ukraine, and grew up very poor. Her father died when she and her siblings were small children.

When she was a teenager, she came to the U.S. and learned how to run a beauty salon working for others. 14 years ago, she took over a failing salon and turned it around. Her rent is $23,000 PER MONTH. She has 50 people working for her.

I asked her what she did differently than the owners before her; why she was successful and they weren't. Here's what she said:

Small Business Tip #1: Work When It's Convenient For the Customer.

She said there were more and more Sunday weddings so she accommodates these parties. She did 20 people's hair in three hours. Each head was worth $90. You do the math. She generated $1800 in three hours or $600 per hour.

Weddings have high margins. Women (including moi) will pay the frieght to look their best on a very special occassion. If Sundays bring in marginal revenues, maybe you close your business on Mondays instead. Pay attention to customer timing.

Small Business Tip #2: Leverage Your Collaborators

The Marriott Hotel was in the same vicinity as the salon. She can be in touch with the front desk to see what's on the calendar for destination weddings and market to those people from out of town who don't know the local resources.

Small inserts like index cards with services and contact information could be inserted into the welcome bags elegant brides always provide for out of town guests.

Small Business Tip #3: Don't Spend Revenues!

Emma said when you grow up in hard times, you don't take any cash you make for granted. She said previous owners would take their revenues and buy expensive cars, fancy houses, before they paid their bills and their taxes. It eventually caught up with them.

Revenues and profits are NOT the same. Revenues are top line BEFORE you account for all expenses. Profits are bottom line or what's left over after all your suppliers and tax obligations have been paid.

If you don't pay these expenses, you won't be able to stay in business. You'd be surprised how many people forget when revenues start pouring in….

Small Business Tip #4: Keep Your Best People

Emma, the salon owner,  had a makeup artist there who made me look ready for primetime. He was amazing. As soon as I have a picture of the finished product, I'll post it.

She said many makeup artists wanted to work with her salon and she said she only uses one makeup artist because he was the best.

She is very present in her business. She knows who is working hard and delivering great results for clients and who isn't. She said "hairdressers can be crazy people. I'm a tough Easter European. I don't tolerate laziness."

The best professionals appreciate that. They'll stay at a salon that's professionally run.

Small Business Tip #5: Set High Standards For Individuals And Teams

Everyone wants to work with a winning team. It's energizing. It builds confidence. Iron sharpens iron and it's easy to grow and flourish in a work environment that requires the best of our talents and skill.

Take pride in what you do. It's contagious. Publicly recognize your best performers. It will matter.

Get the wrong people off the bus as soon as possible. "Wrong" includes people who gossip, who think the world owes them something, people who  don't take initiative, who give only the minimum to "milk the system".

Hire attitude, train for aptititude. Emma conducts herself very professionally and all her employees take their cues from her.

The biggest message is what she doesn't tolerate. You'd be surprised. Employees step up. Customers will feel it. Your revenues will pour in. Take these cues from Miss Emma. And my hair and makeup?

One guest at the wedding said "hide your sons…."!

Thanks Emma!



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