I recently heard that in Canada last year, over 600 salons had to close their doors. On one hand, this makes me very sad but I have to say that it didn’t surprise me.

Now although there can be numerous reasons a salon cannot sustain itself in a recession, the fact is that problems that seem insignificant in strong economic times become the straw that broke the camels back in weak economic times.

All too often salon owners fail to see how a small issue can impact their future success. For example, a stylist that runs 15 minutes behind on a consistent basis doesn’t seem like a big deal to the salon owner because she is good at what she does, the clients seem to love her and she’s been at the salon a long time so you don’t want to rock the boat and risk upsetting her. After all, it’s hard to get people to change and sometimes we just have to take the good with the bad, right?

Normally this may not bother the clients but if they now have to work a little longer to make extra cash or maybe they have chosen to pick up their kids from daycare a little sooner to save a few dollars, the fact that they are sitting in the waiting room wasting time and money becomes annoying. Now let’s also say that on this same visit the receptionist was a bit rude on the phone and there were no clean hand towels in the washroom. Even though you may think it is not a major issue, it can cause this client to rethink their loyalty. Maybe they start to ask their friends about their salons, maybe they take stock of just how happy they really are with their haircut and maybe they remember that gift certificate they got for Christmas from the salon just down the road. Now what happens if this new salon delivered a great haircut, the receptionist greeted her with a handshake and hung her jacket, there were a stack of scented hand towels in the washroom and she got an incentive to schedule her next appointment?

So what can a salon do to secure itself in an ever-changing economy? Unfortunately we have no control over what happens in the economy so the only thing we can control is what happens in the salon. We do know that the foundation of every service industry is the client and that the amount of success a business has is directly related to the return of happy clients. The following is a basic fundamental salon success formula:

 Know your brand. Know who you are and what you do best. (Your vision and mission.) Do it better than anyone else, perfect it, become the masters.

Turn this brand into a client experience. This is best described as the process, procedure and even scripts you use with your clients from the moment they call your salon right through to the check out. It is your service guarantee.  

Train each and every person who works in your spa or salon to implement this client experience with no fail…consistently. Your clients need to feel confident that every person they come in contact with is capable of taking care of them. To best demonstrate this I will share my experience. For my yearly visit at my doctors I was lead into a room, asked to change into a paper gown and have a seat up on the bench. After about 15 minutes I began to wonder if the doctor had forgotten about me or if the receptionist ever told her. Thank goodness she came in just before I was forced out of that room to inquire in my paper gown! Every conversation should inform your clients of what will happen next so they never experience that feeling.

Monitor this process diligently so you know for sure that your client experience and brand is being implemented. If you do not have a system to train, monitor and measure employee performance you will be creating a weak link making your business susceptible to outside circumstances.

Take a proactive stand to the challenges your salon is having and correct them when they happen rather than waiting till you have to make tough decisions.

For more great business ideas and inspiration please visit  Salon Operating System