By Laurel Nelson, contributing writer with Salon Today
Every January, Salon Today magazine honors elite salons across North America in the annual Salon Today 200. The competition features a variety of categories salons can enter, including growth, customer service, education and technology, to name a few.
Nuovo Salon Group in Sarasota, Florida, and Redbloom Salons in Calgary, Alberta, were both named to the 2019 list in the technology category for their incorporation and adoption of technology in their salons.
Here are a few key areas where their use of technology landed them on the Salon Today 200 and complemented the guest experience.
Terry McKee, co-owner of Nuovo and Jodi Ohama co-owner of Redbloom, both use SalonBiz to keep their businesses on the cutting edge of technology.
“It’s all encompassing,” McKee says. “We use it as a multi-spoked wheel for the client experience from check in to check out.”
McKee says they also use the software to keep staff motivated with key benchmarks and goals that are easily accessed via the software.
“Our leadership team meets every two weeks for a long working lunch,” McKee says. “We use SalonBiz metrics to discuss everything, including prebooking, productivity, retention, color vs. cutting ratios, add-ons and upgrades.
Ohama says she also uses SalonBiz to keep the salon running smoothly and stylists on track with benchmarks, but also loves to utilize the Client Notes.
“We put formulas, personal notes and any other pertinent information about the client there that both the frontline staff and stylists use,” Ohama says. “It heightens the guest experience.”
But Ohama feels there’s still a lot she can tap into in SalonBiz, and she’s looking forward to integrating Central, which launched earlier this year.
Central will become the hub of SalonBiz and will make everything mobile. By the end of 2019, Central will be rolled out to almost all SalonBiz salons.
One piece of technology Ohama is most looking forward to implementing in the coming months is the Pocket Salon app for clients. Giving clients the ability to check themselves in and out of the salon and purchase retail via their phones will be a game changer.
Currently, her staff uses the SalonBiz app so they can check to see how their day looks, see if they are hitting benchmarks, book appointments and more.
McKee says the SalonBiz app is also integral to his business.
“If I’m at a party and meet someone who needs a stylist, I can recommend one and book the appointment right there in front of them,” he says.
He also loves being able to check not just his own day, but also his stylists’ schedules.
“When I’m behind the chair, I get a buzz on my Apple watch from SalonBiz that discreetly lets me know my guest has checked in,” he says. “I can also look up formulas on my phone anywhere at anytime, which is helpful if I run into a guest who asks for a specific formula her friend had. I can tell her right then and there if it will work for her.”
In addition to SalonBiz, Ohama uses the Slack app for internal communication, and requires Redbloom stylists to check it twice a day.
“We have four locations and it provides consistent communication across all the salons,” she says. “We use it to post education, for brainstorming, to get feedback on new ideas and for the stylists to get feedback from each other.
“We can organize it in private channels, public channels or one-on-one, and we don’t have to worry about texting someone on their day off,” Ohama adds. “They can look at it when they want, and we can see if someone is an inactive user.”
Tablets abound in tech-savvy salons, and Nuovo and Redbloom are no exception. McKee uses SureTint, a color management system, and his colorists enter formulas into tablets before mixing.
“Every formula gets entered and properly recorded for consistency or changeability—whatever the client wants,” he says.
At Redbloom, stylists use tablets to book clients from the chair and show them online portfolios or look books.
“Soon we’ll use the tablets for checking in and checking out, too,” she says.
Flipping SalonBiz software into the kiosk mode allows clients to check themselves in on a tablet as well.
Website and Social Media
Maximizing your website is key to a great client experience. McKee uses online booking for his guests’ convenience and recently launched A-commerce, Aveda’s online retail sales.
A feature he’s excited to launch in the next few months is Meet Your Stylists. This online matchmaking service between clients and stylists requires a new guest to take a short survey. The survey results in three stylists who match the guest’s needs. Then the guest can view those stylists’ profiles on the website and choose which one to see.
McKee also uses a marketing firm to facilitate regular blog postings and social media campaigns.
“Everyone watches us in our local market,” he says. “So we recently mirrored the Aveda ‘What You’re Made of Campaign’ and did our own. We took photos of all our team members and had them come up with a word to describe themselves with descriptors. For example, mine was ‘Innovator: creative, insightful, fearless.’”
The campaign gave guests a glimpse of their stylists’ personal sides and created conversation.
Redbloom did a similar social media campaign where managers asked team members: “Why do you love what you do?”
They took answers from 75 employees and painted them in the windows of the four salons.
“We had them on the windows for a couple weeks and posted it all over social media to engage our guests,” Ohama says. “It created so much great feeling, commentary and engagement.”
Ohama has found in addition to beautiful hair, focusing on interaction and conversations around guests and stylists is an effective way to use social media.
As social media has amped up, both McKee and Ohama have decreased the frequency of their digital newsletters, but still consistently deliver them. Nuovo sends one out every other month, and Redbloom sends it quarterly.
“We include updates and announcements,” Ohama says. “But we’re careful not to flood their inboxes. We do a lot of engagement with private messages on social media.”
This year, McKee launched Presence AI, which integrates with his POS and SalonBiz. With 24-7 availability, this artificial intelligence takes calls around the clock.
While AI has freed up his front desk, it has also presented some challenges in making detailed, multi-faceted appointments, and McKee is evaluating whether or not it’s the right technology for Nuovo.
ST 200 Tips
Want to enter the Salon Today 200 in the technology category this year?
Your essay should showcase how you’re using technology in every aspect of your business. Detail how you strategically use technology to increase revenue, motivate stylists, market, and recruit new clients.
Applications will be available at salontoday.com in June 2019 for the January 2020 edition of the Salon Today 200.