With consumers increasingly expecting more from their salon visits, how are some of our most successful salons meeting the needs of today’s clients and delivering a more personalised experience?Consumers have moved forward from simply wanting a great cut and colour from their salon. Recent research by L’Oréal indicates the full salon experience is becoming increasingly important. The report shows Kiwi women are spending more on their hair per visit as ‘pampering services’ become increasingly popular. And while savvy stylists are adapting to meet the new client expectations, some salons are falling short.
“It seems women now view visiting the salon as more of a necessity than a pleasure,”says L’Oréal Professional Product Division General Manager, Gary Marshall. “The upshot is that, when they do visit the salon, they want something a little extra, a bliss factor that lifts their day. That is now reflected in the services salons are bringing to market. And that in turn is lifting the average spend a little which has helped counter the drop in visit frequency.”
So just how are salons tailoring their services to meet consumers’ changing demands? We chat to several successful salon owners and stylists to establish what they’re doing to make clients experience more memorable.
Amy Sznicer & Louise Pilkington – Dry & Tea, Auckland
Dry & Tea owner Amy Sznicer and stylist Louise Pilkington talk to us about the Dry & Tea ethos, environment and how they provide clients that perfect ‘moment’.
Amy: Being a blow dry bar and tea house, our core business is express beauty and session styling which lends itself perfectly to allowing women to be pampered. The experience of selecting and sampling beautiful teas adds to the relaxation experience, allowing clients a moment away from the bustle of everyday life. On arrival, clients are treated to a sample of our ‘Tea of the Week’, after which they select a tea from our extensive menu. They’re able to watch this brew in front of them, and we find this act alone takes them to a ‘happy place’.
Lou: The whole philosophy of Dry & Tea is having a ‘moment’. When we started the brand, the idea was not just to deliver a great colour or blow-wave, it was ensuring clients could enjoy some time out, leaving feeling invigorated, beautiful and rested.
Amy: The essence Dry & Tea focuses on offering affordable luxury that is more in line with a day spa than a traditional hair salon. The business is still relatively young but the response to our formula has been well-received. The Dry & Tea format provides a point of difference, and clients say they love the concept. Additional services such as our “Quick Lick Nail” paint service or the “Window to your Soul” false eyelash application, are added touches. We want to spoil our clients so they walk out party-ready, happy and feeling beautiful.
Lou: Opening Dry & Tea focused around this experience of delivering care to clients. The whole culture is to engage with, and train staff, to ensure clients feel cared for. Gone are the days of the cool, removed, egotistical hairdresser. Instead we’ve entered into an era of caring, engaging, compassionate hairdressing where it’s important to make a connection with the client to ensure they feel special.
Amy: Our salons ooze natural light and plant life, giving the spaces a holistic, relaxing vibe. We take enormous pride in the visual appearance, cleanliness and decorative detail to ensure this complements the treatments on offer. We stay away from a clinical environment and strive to provide an inviting space with a casual ‘escape’ element.
Social media is a great way for us to engage with our clientele and broader audience. It also provides a great platform to hear their feedback. When any new team member joins Dry & Tea, they are inducted into our philosophy of delivering the Dry & Tea ‘moment’. Consistency in delivering this is key to driving a reputation that will continue to set us apart. We focus on two types of training – technical and cultural/behavioural training that must be there from day one. The business is now in a growth phase, meaning it’s more important than ever to ensure consistency in our recruitment process.
Lou: From a business point of view, when you open a salon you’d be crazy to think you’d do it for the money – you do it for the love. Caring for people and making them feel better about themselves is part of being in a salon culture. If a beautiful blow-wave or gorgeous haircut can make their day, then we’ve done our job. It’s all about making people feel special.
Jacqui Victor – True Grit Hair Spa, Christchurch
Jacqui Victor, owner and director of True Grit Hair Spa in Christchurch, talks about the personalised client experience her salon is renowned for, the hardships faced in the wake of the earthquakes and her vision for the future.
One of the most important parts of True Grit is how we look at the client experience as a whole service, not just cut and colour. It’s so important to address client’s needs; it’s about caring and making guests look the best they can. The more I mentor my staff and train them to understand client care, the better the service extends into our clients’ lives. We always incorporate retail sales in the service when necessary and in time, this homecare can change their lives. A great example of this is Kérastase Densifique – we’re not just selling the product, we’re prescribing a life-changing treatment which will raise the individual’s confidence and change their perspective.
The change for True Grit is an evolving process. We’re looking at building a new salon to include all the things we haven’t got now. It’s about being more in tune with your clients. The people of Christchurch have gone through so much, and we have much more empathy for each other. There is a huge amount of comradery within the team and community, which has inspired us to create the Ruby Club. 35 of our most loyal, special clients are rewarded in ways unique to them. It was hard to narrow down, but these clients always find new recruits for us, and are always popping in to say hello. The rewards vary, but include free rituals, retail goodies and complimentary blow-waves. We also have a loyalty programme for our full portfolio of clients to ensure no one feels excluded.
We lost the whole salon during the first earthquake, and have moved sites eight times since then. I bought the current salon space in October 2010, straight after the first earthquake and it was like moving from a mansion to a caravan. It’s a very small space to fit 24 staff and clients, but we do everything possible to cater for the clients despite the hardships we’ve faced. Lots of staff and clients relocated from the area since the quakes, but our remaining clients have gone through a lot with us and their loyalty is incredible.
We have plans for the future and I’ve already designed the new space we’re looking to build. It’s designed in different zones – the reception zone, ‘engine’ zone where cutting and blow-waves happen, and the spa zone that’s closed off and is a tranquil area, focusing on welbeing. Our dream is to have lots of space so our clients and staff can truly relax.
Look out for part 2 next week where Headway Magazine talk to Belinda Robb from Biba and Robert Rogers from Haight Ashbury about what they’re doing to make their clients experience more memorable.