• Graham Henrickson

Does Your Salon Offer Fries with That? (part 2)

It takes a lot more than ordering stock and putting it on shelf to be a good retailer and professional beauty or hair care products won’t sell themselves no matter how attractive the packaging.

But you could be forgiven for thinking that’s what many in the industry expect – both salons and their suppliers. Although there are exceptions and each year there might be more of them; salons are notoriously poor at retail. It was the case when I joined the industry in 1990 and I'm sure it's been that way forever. In my view, only one of two things can ever change this historical phenomenon and they are

  1. A miracle, or

  2. A new approach by suppliers.



A Solution Requires Consideration of the Following ‘General’ Observations:

  • The traditional pathway to salon ownership is through success as a therapist or stylist. They are technical experts in their field, not experience not retail management.

  • Owners are typically strong in technical expertise and are passionate about what they do with strong professional efficacy.

  • In starting their business, they have put everything on the line and every moment is spent ‘doing’ with little or no time left to consider ‘how’ they do business.

  • Salons need product knowledge, selling skills and coaching in effective sales techniques as well as an understanding of inventory management. Without this they will lack confidence and passion for selling.

  • They feel uncomfortable about selling – fear clients will think less of them and pressured to purchase – sending them into the arms of a competitor

  • The use different products that they sell.

  • A client consultation should be mandatory step in the process with every visit and take just 3 min.

  • They have strong relationship building skills but lack business acumen.

  • Decisions are often made based on emotion and gut feel rather than logic and reason.

  • Salons often lack in-depth product knowledge and have not received effective training or coaching on selling products and reviews with remedial training are non-existent.

  • Clients are most certainly buying skincare and haircare product from somewhere – perhaps on-line, department stores, pharmacies or even supermarkets.

  • Clients want to use the best products they can afford, so why shouldn’t that be from their salon?

Choose Your Product/Brand Wisely and Carefully

Your about to invest money, effort and your reputation in a brand so you need to take the time necessary and don’t be afraid to get independent advice.

Look for a brand that offers your business a long-term association, one you respect and trust.

To do so, prepare a set of decision-making criteria and apply them to every candidate brand. You can give a weighting to the criteria you consider critical and give each brand a score (say out of 10 for each issue) - this will help to be objective and consistent.


Here are some criteria to consider

  • Synergy with salon philosophy

  • Alignment to price positioning and affordability to your target market

  • Level of exclusivity with distribution – nearest alternative stockists

  • Level and methods of training and education

  • Margin/Gross Profit

  • Promotional opportunities and marketing support

  • Support – display, testers, salon product, POS and advertising subsidy

  • Stock return policy

  • Stock replenishment procedures

  • Order fulfilment rates

Plus, talk to some of their existing stockist and listen to what they say. Remember past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour and what a company has promised other stockists may not have been delivered, or they may have over delivered. Either way, this is important information you need to know, and it goes to how well you can trust the people you’re going to be dealing with.


..... Continues with part 3