Marketing Betty Girls

Marketing a Lease-based Salon (Post #8)
March 5, 2012, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Management, marketing, Salon, Television | Tags:

My Dream of Ownership

I dream about starting my own business and I have thought a lot about opening a hair salon.  For one thing, I am interested in the beauty industry.  For another, I want to make money and small businesses in the service industry tend to be more stable.  Because I am not a stylist, if I were to open a salon, I would act as the manager.  I’ve considered both traditional and lease-based salons.  I lean towards lease-based  salon ownership because the start up costs and risk are lower.

Types of salons: In case you don’t know the difference, a traditional salon hires stylists and pays them a base salary and a commission.  They also provide all the products that the stylists use.  With a traditional salon, there is more continuity of service and brand because the stylists are the salon’s employees, motivating them to follow the rules, and the products used and sold are chosen by the salon owner.  The downside of opening a traditional salon is the overhead (i.e. stylist salaries and product inventory) and the risk (i.e. no guaranteed profit).  The upside of a traditional salon is that the owner has unlimited earning potential if they market well and get the right talent in the salon, since the owner makes the majority of the profits from clients.  An owner of a lease-based salon rents a chair/station to a stylist.  The stylist is self-employed and provides their own coloring products and cutting supplies.  The upside for the lease-based salon owner is that they have a guaranteed/stable income if all of their chairs are leased.  Another upside for the lease-based salon is that they don’t have to maintain much inventory since the stylist brings in their own products, unless they want to sell shampoos and styling products at the front desk.  A downside for a lease-based salon owner is that they aren’t going to see increased profits when the stylists are bringing in a lot of business, unless they are successfully selling products up front or raise the rent.  The stylists get all of their clients’ service fees and tips.  Therefore, a lease-based salon is primarily marketing to stylists, since they are the salon’s clients.  However, the salon does have motivation to market to potential clients on behalf of the stylists, so the stylists continue to pay their rent.

My Experience with a Lease-based Salon

Bad Customer Service:  I followed my stylist from a traditional salon to a lease-based salon.  While she is great, I’ve had some disappointing interactions with the employees at the front desk.  I once called and asked if there was anyone good working during my scheduled appointment, who could cut my sister’s hair.  The front desk woman actually said, “No one I’d recommend,” implying that there were stylists there who weren’t very good.  Another time, my stylist asked me to wait in the waiting room with foils in my hair.  I sat in a seat for 10 mins or so before a front desk woman asked me, in a short manner, to move to a leather chair, so I didn’t stain the upholstered chair.  I felt like I was being scolded, which was annoying considering the amount of money I spend there.  My foils were above the back of the chair and well wrapped.  If they were leaking, that would be a problem for my hair.  If she would have asked politely, I wouldn’t have felt insulted.  The front desk also has trouble taking appointments because they have a physical book for each stylist, rather than a computer system.  If you don’t know who you want to see, all hell breaks loose.  Perhaps most of these bad experiences are caused by bad employees, i.e. bad hiring decisions.  However, the owner may need to put focus training/retraining employees regarding customer service and allocate some of their budget to a convenient scheduling system.

Lack of Referral Incentives: I’ve brought the salon a lot of business, referring two people to my stylist, bringing in a wedding party to their nail salon, and referring my husband to another stylist.  All of this amounts to nothing because no one is keeping track or cares how much business I’m bringing in as a whole.  My stylist does give me $10 off when I bring clients to her, though.

Marketing: The salon does have a website that includes all the information one needs to make an appointment, but it would be nice if one could make appointments online.  There is also a link to “specials,” which give incentive for the public to try some of the new stylists.  Therefore, the salon is making some effort to promote the stylists and keep them renting their chairs.  However, that is the only effort I’ve seen.

Lack of Continuity/Brand: I’ve also noticed there isn’t a lot of team spirit or continuity of brand.  The stylists all use their own dyes and supplies, some of which could be lower quality than others, so clients are not getting consistent results.  There are shampoos and products for sale up front, but there are too many brands and the stylists and front desk employees must not have any incentive to sell the products, because no one has ever made a pitch to me.

The Experts

I’ve watched Tabatha’s Salon Takeover on Bravo several times.  Most of her advice is common sense.  For example, a salon should be clean and free of clutter; the front desk should be accommodating; and the stylists should have updated training and good manners.  I looked to her  blog, but didn’t find anything specifically related to lease-based salons.  I found that several people have asked Tabatha if she’d consider visiting one.  One salon owner/manager of a lease-based salon commented on Tabatha’s Blog, indicating that,

“I manage a lease-based salon and find it hard to keep everyone on task with the salon rules as well as creating new ideas to promote the salon. I understand that everyone is their own boss and that you can’t make them do anything… it treads a very fine line. How do you deal with people that rent a station and don’t seem interested in new ideas for the salon or constantly complains about having to attend salon meetings, but still want things done their way. I can’t force them to stay for walk-ins either… howerver, I do let them know that by not sticking around I will not be able to help build a clientel. It is very hard for me to understand and to deal with them sometimes. I am receptionist, cleaner, manager so I wear many hats in the salon. I love my job but find that I run into too many dead ends and frustrations because I am not at all sure on the do’s and donts. Please, please…. any advice would be great.”

Tabatha has not addressed the above comment, but this comment only confirmed to me that lease-based salon ownership is not something to jump into.


Does anyone have any suggestions regarding how a lease-based salon could be successfully managed and marketed?

UPDATED: Andy Cohen is a Marketing Genius (Post #6)
February 25, 2012, 2:54 pm
Filed under: marketing, social networking, Television | Tags: , ,

Many people were first introduced to Andy Cohen when he started hosting the Real Housewives Reunion Shows on Bravo Television.  However, before Cohen was a TV personality, he was a Producer for CBS and later and currently the Senior Vice President of Original Programming & Development at Bravo Television.  He is responsible for several popular reality television shows, like The Real Housewives, and some award-winning shows, such as Project Runway and Top Chef.  Andy directed brazen questions at cast members of the Real Housewives and gained favoritism with Bravo audiences with his wit, sense of humor, and charm.  He doesn’t seem to be afraid to ask tough questions of Bravo celebrities, a.k.a. “bravolebrities,” which is probably because he is also their boss.

Cohen left viewers wanting more, which is when he became the “King of Midnight Fun.”  Watch What’s Happening Live (WWHL) was born, which is a live show that starts with a theme song rapped by a bravolebrity that boasts, “Andy Cohen’s got the 411… He’s the king of late night fun.”  Cohen hosts WWHL at “The Clubhouse” Sun-Thurs at 11 pm Central before a studio audience.  The Clubhouse is a studio with a small stage featuring 60’s decor, a few chairs, shelves full of gifts from fans and guests, and a bar in the corner.  On a typical night on WWHL, Andy interviews one or two celebrity guests, who are often bravolebrities, but are sometimes A-list celebrities that Cohen happens to be friends with.  A bartender, which is sometimes also a bravolebrity from a show like Top Chef, serves Andy and the guests drinks.  During the show, Andy also takes calls from viewers and reads questions from Twitter users tweeted in real time.  He is constantly reminding audience members to, “Tweet me @bravoandy.”  Cohen also takes a poll during every show, inviting viewers to text their vote.  The guests also play silly games, like “Weave or Wig.”  By “silly,” I mean gloriously ridiculous.  For instance, during “Weave or Wig,” guests view photos of stars and try to determine whether they are wearing a weave or wig.  Often the intent is to get guests to poke fun at bravolebrities, which is all in good fun.

What I love about Andy Cohen is his personality, which is a combination of humor, wit, mischievousness, honesty, and charm.  He makes being bad feel good.  By “being bad,” I mean enjoying some light ridicule and gossip, usually directed at Bravo reality stars, which really doesn’t count as being mean-spirited since they signed up for it, at least that’s what I tell myself.  Andy will say something snarky or ask a leading question, but then he smiles and all is forgiven because he has that innocent boyish smile on his face.  It’s as if he just said something shocking to get a reaction out of his mother and he is reveling in the moment just before her reaction.  It’s no surprise that Cohen was voted most talkative and biggest gossip in high school.

Okay, back to “Andy Cohen is a Marketing Genius.”  He is such because he uses his greatest strength, his magnetic personality, to market his product, reality television shows.  He markets his product through hosting WWHL and reunion shows, which are products in themselves.  It’s a cyclical money-making machine.  He also uses social media like no one else on television.  Since Andy’s known for being a little naughty, managing his image may not be as difficult as it is for a politician.  He is expected to say controversial things.  As a TV personality, Cohen is also open about who he is.  For instance, everyone knows Andy is Jewish, hence his “Mazel of the Week” segment on WWHL.  They also know he is a homosexual.  Cohen is not necessarily a topic of the shows he hosts, but who he is comes out in conversation.  For instance,  during a reunion, Cohen criticized a New Jersey housewife’s husband for using the word “gay” as an insult.  Regardless of his sexuality, Cohen had a right to criticize the homophobic behavior of the cast member’s husband.  Nonetheless, since Cohen’s sexuality was known, it made the moment seem more personal to the audience.  Cohen also jokes about his sexuality (in a non-derogatory way) the same way he jokes about everything else.  He might ask aloud, “Am I straight today?,” after commenting on the attractiveness of a female guest.  The fact that Cohen knows when to be serious and when not to take life so seriously is part of his appeal.

Although Cohen is not shy about telling people who he is, he doesn’t reveal a lot about his private life, understandably so considering that his job is to market the private lives of his employees.  However, that may change since he now has a book deal.  It seems that there is truly no end to Cohen’s potential in the entertainment industry.  There is no doubt that there is pure genius behind his happy-go-lucky personality.  I believe Andy Cohen will continue to entertain us through multiple mediums and have success for years to come.

UPDATE: My blogs automatically get tweeted, but I also “paged” Andy Cohen and let him know I blogged about him.  He tweeted me back below 🙂  Love him even more now.

Pomp and Circumstance (Post #5)
February 13, 2012, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Television | Tags: , , ,

My husband and I have felt lost ever since our favorite television show Lost ended.  That is, until now.  We finally have another show that we can get excited about watching TOGETHER.  That television show is the British drama Downton Abbey, which airs on Sundays at 8 pm Central on PBS, so we also feel smart watching it.  The show features the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants, who live in a huge country home in the town of Grantham, which is located in Yorkshire, England during the late 1910s. 

Personally, I love a good period piece, but they’re not always my husbands cup of tea because they are often slow-moving.  That is not the case with Downton Abbey.  There is always drama in the lives of the Crawley family, their guests, and their servants.  They don’t just lounge around the sitting room drinking tea while wearing fancy outfits, although they do that a lot.  There are so many tiers of the hierarchy, even among the servants, that it’s difficult to keep track of them.  The characters’ lives are full of secret scandals, back stabbings, positioning, and love affairs… and that’s just inside the house.  The First World War begins in the first season and continues into the second, which eventually turns Downton Abbey into a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.

There are many interesting characters on the show.  Mary, or Lady Crawley, seems to be the main character.  Her love interest and cousin, Matthew Crawley, is a lawyer with a good heart, who did not grow up with a lavish lifestyle.  In fact, the idea that he had a profession was at first shocking to the Crawleys.  Matthew became the heir to the Downton estate when two potential heirs drowned on the Titanic.  At first, Mary detests Matthew and his low-brow ways.  Matthew thinks Mary is a brat, but he falls in love with her soon after they meet.  By the time Mary falls for him, he has slipped out of her reach.  Side Note: Matthew just so happens to look like my husband and shares the same profession, which makes me like the show even more.  My husband would roll his eyes if he knew I put this in my blog, as he does every time I bring up his and Matthew Crawley’s similarities.  Now, if only my husband had a British accent… KIDDING! 

To tie this blog in with marketing, according to TravelTrade Magazine, the show has revived tourism to the United Kingdom.  Fans of the show are inspired by the show to seek more information regarding the United Kingdom and their heritage.  I am not surprised.  Watching the show makes me want to go to the United Kingdom and pretend to be a Crawley sister.  Their clothes are breathtakingly beautiful and they live such a decadent lifestyle.  However, although the Crawley women are powerful within their homes and in society, they still struggle for equality and with finding purpose in their lives.  Regardless, their privilege and misfortune are fascinating to watch.  Downton Abbey offers the pomp and circumstance that the modern world seems to have lost.  Now I have to have it.