TIPS, TRICKS, AND TRENDS FROM SALON EXPERTS
A trip to the salon is necessary from time to time to relax, unwind, and simply escape. From beauty bars to unique salon suite concepts, each and every salon has something different and exciting to offer. In fact, people are spending more on beauty than ever before. According to SBDCNet, people ages 35 to 64 spend 10 to 14 percent above average on beauty products and services. To meet demand, the salon industry is expanding and we would like to recognize some tenants who have found success. We spoke with representatives from three salons at Kimco properties around the country to hear their stories and gather advice on how to stand out in the salon industry today. Our salon panel includes:
Fantastic Sams, founded in July 1974 in Memphis, Tennessee by Sam Ross. Sam wanted to create an affordable salon experience that is accessible to everyone. Today, Fantastic Sams has 1,100 locations across the country, one being in our Shops at Santa Barbara in Cape Coral, Florida.
Ella Bliss Beauty Bar was founded by sisters Brooke and Kelly Huelsing in 2013 in Greenwood Village, Colorado. They had a vision for a high-quality salon at affordable prices, complete with a bar so clients can enjoy a cocktail while getting pampered. Ella Bliss has three locations in Colorado: Denver, Greenwood Village, and Highland Ranch at our Village Center West.
Phenix Salon Suites, owned by Gina and Jason Rivera, expanded to a “booth rental” model in 2003 when the Rivera’s realized the profitability of letting freelance stylists lease and design private booths for their clients, eliminating the open-floor model found in most salons. Phenix Salon Suites now has over 200 locations nationwide from Florida to Washington State, and is a tenant at multiple Kimco properties, one being Sodo Shopping Center in Orlando, Florida.
Tell us about your salon.
Scott Brown, Fantastic Sams: Our goal is to make each customer look and feel fantastic! Our stylists are professionals who are always up-to-date on the latest styles and trends. To get that fresh-from-the-salon look every day, Fantastic Sams carries a full line of FS Hair Care Products specially formulated for Fantastic Sams’ guests. We also have partnered with the best brands that focus on hair health first. We carry CHI Products, DS Laboratories, Peter Coppola Keratin Concept, Malibu C, Color Wow, American Crew, Avlon Relaxers, and Euro-SoCap Extensions.
Kelly Huelsing, Ella Bliss Beauty Bar: One of our tag lines is “not a spa, not a salon, a way of life.” We try to not be your typical salon or spa. We offer massages, facials, waxing services, eye lash extensions, nail services, and makeup services. Alongside the services we offer, we also have a bar and party lounge at each location. So that’s what really makes us different and stand out - we’re very social compared to your local salon.
Sherrie Wilson, Phenix Salon Suites: Phenix Salon Suites is changing the salon industry. Founded by a family of salon professionals with over 85 years of salon industry experience, Phenix Salon Suites is poised to be the premier provider of salon suite concepts throughout the United States and internationally. With over two dozen salon professionals within the family, Phenix Salon Suites has a first-hand understanding of the salon industry. We are not a company that was founded by people that had a “business idea” but a family that has been in the salon industry for many decades.
How do you promote your services?
Brown, Fantastic Sams: We utilize social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. We also use direct mail through Valpak and Better Coupon Book, as well as TV commercials.
Huelsing, Ella Bliss Beauty Bar: We do a lot of promotion digitally. Social is a big thing for us. We’re very active on social media, digitally we do a lot of PPC. We really focus on our SEO. Also, word of mouth and referrals are really huge for us as well. We try to focus on ways we can get our name out. We found that typically, digital is really where we see the best returns for our advertising.
Wilson, Phenix Salon Suites: We focus on several online platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In addition, our founder Gina Rivera appeared on the CBS Emmy winning show Undercover Boss in 2015. This was significant since the show airs in nine nations and throughout the United States. Also, Gina is a frequent contributor at the Huffington Post where she writes mainly about haircare, event hosting, and running her salon business.
How do you differentiate yourself from other salons?
Brown, Fantastic Sams: We are a full-service family salon, offering all services any family would need for a great value. We also offer a rewards program that offers points when purchases are made and they, in turn, offer a five percent cash back to our guest. We also have an app that can be downloaded on Google or iTunes.
Huelsing, Ella Bliss Beauty Bar: We truly brand ourselves as a beauty bar. There are other places out there that have the membership, but there are really not a lot of places that have all of the services that we do that can be included in your membership. Our membership is very flexible, very low commitment, that’s something that was important to us when we designed it. It’s $58 a month and that gets you one of our signature services, however you can basically use that $58 however you would like towards any of our services. I think that’s definitely something that really sets us apart is how flexible our membership is. Also our branding and how we focus on the affordable luxury aspect, where we want everyone to feel like they’re in a high-end salon but not paying those high-end prices.
Wilson, Phenix Salon Suites: The Phenix Salon Suites difference is in truly understanding the salon professional and what they go through on a daily basis. The suite concept offers salon professionals the opportunity to own their own business at a fraction of the cost. Salon professionals may decorate their suites any way that they would like to. They may also set their own hours and select their own products to use.
What are the benefits of having a hair salon in a shopping center?
Brown, Fantastic Sams: We’re in a central location, and frequent guests visit the center for various services.
Huelsing, Ella Bliss Beauty Bar: We like the location. Personally, I don’t believe that you can find a better central location than Highlands Ranch. Village Center West is in the center of Highlands Ranch and it’s a very active area. Also, a bunch of the other tenants increase traffic to Ella Bliss as well.
Wilson, Phenix Salon Suites: Not all of our salons are in a shopping center, however, many are. The primary benefit is the convenience for the clients. Clients are able to access our salons easily because they are usually in well-traveled areas near major streets. Additionally, being in a shopping center provides high visibility for the salon which equates to more walk-in clients and an atmosphere where it’s easy to build a business.
What advice would you have for other salon owners?
Brown, Fantastic Sams: The best advice is to learn the salon business first and learn why stylists get into the industry.
Huelsing, Ella Bliss Beauty Bar: I think the best advice is be passionate about what you do and be passionate about your business. Also being passionate about your employees. I think all salon owners would agree that the employees are the most important, and so making sure that we’re taking care of them as our number one priority, alongside our customers.
Wilson, Phenix Salon Suites: I think it’s important to keep salon professionalism at the core of your business.
Are you a salon owner? Share with us your tips for success in the comments below.
This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.