Data, Innovation, Leadership and More: 5 Key Takeaways from the 2019 2 to 10 Conference

The ninth annual 2 to 10 conference, recently held in Scottsdale, started off as a simple conversation 10 years ago when Tom Kuhn, CEO of Qnity, had a conversation with a frustrated salon owner during a different event.

“She felt much of the conversation at the event we were attending didn’t apply to her because she was a multi-location business,” Kuhn says. “She wanted an event where there were benchmarks and practices that applied to her.”

So 2 to 10 was born, the name encompassing the purpose—providing data and community for leaders of salons with between two to 10 locations. It started as a data-sharing collaborative with 14 companies sending Kuhn their P&Ls. The event was—and still is—brand neutral (unaffiliated with and without sponsorships by product manufacturers).

Over the years, 2 to 10 has continued to evolve and grow, and in 2019, there were 130 attendees who learned from their multi-location peers and applied ideas from other industries. Here are five key takeaways from the event.

#1 Diving into Data

“2 to 10 has been the leader in data collection since its’ inception 9 years ago,” Kuhn says. “This year we decided to do a deep dive in one single metric—revenue per square foot—and figured out what benchmarks would look like based on data points from previous years. ”

Kuhn and his team have multiple years’ worth of data from 2 to 10 salons so they used an analyst to look at 489 different data points over three years.

“We then created a calculator to help salons calculate their revenue per square foot,” he says. “After salons enter their own data, the calculator automatically shows where they stand in the 2 to 10 database.”

Two top performers—Heath Smith from Ruiz Salons in Austin, Texas, and Van Council of Van Michael Salons in Atlanta—also did segments based on their success.

And to bring it full circle, there was a lively debate on maximizing revenue per square foot.

“Two members debated the merits of going deep in your business—maximizing revenue per square foot—or going wide—adding locations,” Kuhn says.

#2 Roundtables

At each 2 to 10 roundtable, there is a featured topic and moderator. Topics this year were marketing, finance/strategy, education/human capital and operations.

Industry leaders moderated, and attendees walked away with information they could immediately apply to their businesses.

“There was a segment on tax that saved our participants a ton of money,” Kuhn says. “We gave tax tips regarding deductions that many owners didn’t know about.”

There are no power points or handouts at the roundtables—just conversation, questions, debate and feedback from peers.

“We spend the first 25 minutes on our conversation starter,” Kuhn says. “Then people are invited to verbalize an issue they have in their salons. They have three minutes to explain it and then they must be totally silent while the group gives their feedback.”

This honest advice and the connection to other owners and leaders has made roundtables a favorite of attendees.

#3 Innovation

Every year, 2 to 10 brings in a speaker outside the salon industry to offer a new perspective.

This year, Luke Carlson, owner of Discover Strength, spoke to the group about the fitness industry.

“He shared six highly practical customer service tips,” Kuhn says. “And then we created eight teams and assigned each team an industry to look at, ranging from hotels to vet clinics to grocery stores.”

Carlson’s six tips:

  • Give a warm welcome and fond farewell, always including the customer’s name.
  • Greet each client professionally with a smile and introduction before proceeding to conversation.
  • If a mistake is made, make it right immediately–not the next day or even a few hours later. Correct it in the moment.
  • Anticipate and fulfill both spoken and unspoken needs.
  • Always maintain a professional appearance.
  • Use positive language always. Example: thank you, my pleasure, certainly, our records show, etc.


Next, the teams, which consisted of people who hadn’t worked together before, had to innovate the salon industry based on their assigned industry.

Each team assigned a member to do a pitch to the rest of the group, and the winning team got a pretty amazing award—a free ticket to Serious Business for every member of the team.

#4 Identifying Emerging Leaders and Owners

To stay relevant to the next generation, four years ago last year 2 to 10 launched an Emerging LEADERS Competition to focus on the managers, stylists and others in salon leadership positions who are under the age of 35.

The winners of that competition were invited back this year to speak, and presented a unique way to market hair extensions.

In addition, there was an Emerging OWNERS Workshop, which started the day before the official conference, and attendees learned what it’s like to be a partner in a business and how to bring on partners.

“We had about 50 people attend,” Kuhn says. “We had a panel of owners, and through an interactive game, our future owners learned what various scenarios, like a walk out, feel like.”

Attendees also learned that leaving your salon for greener pastures isn’t always the best option, and opportunities may exist in your current environment if you pursue them.

#5 Claim Your Client Experience

SalonBiz Director of Sales Denise Boudreaux asked 2 to 10 attendees to take a hard look at their guest experience.

While 80 percent of salons polled believe they deliver a super customer experience, only 8 percent of clients agree.

Customer satisfaction results in client retention, which everyone wants. So how do we achieve it?

Boudreaux put the spotlight on 20 Volume Salon and Spa from Phoenix, Arizona,  noting their recent increases in retail and client retention, which directly correlates to a decreased call volume.

Why aren’t clients calling? Because they’re booking online or via the salon’s app. This convenience for clients translates to better customer service, which leads to higher client retention.

Today’s consumer is used to the convenience of technology in all they do from banking to booking a table at a restaurant to buying clothing online. Why should their salon experience be any different?

To learn more about becoming a member of 2 to 10, visit or