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'Would You Like Fries with That?' Part 3


When choosing a retail brand for a salon, the first thing you should do is ask for the brand strategy.


That’s because the brand strategy will:

  • Provide evidence that there is a plan in place to achieve growth

  • Indicate how invested the distributor or supplier is in achieving success

  • Provide some measure for the level of support you can expect for stocking the brand.

If it’s a long-term relationship you want, then you need to be confident of the sales $turnover you can expect to generate, starting with the first 12 months. Any brand worth its salt will require its sales force to submit sales targets for each account. So, it’s therefore in your best interest to know this figure. It’s most likely that this figure will be based on wholesale purchases and not retail sales, but it’s easy to calculate one from the other. It’s also important to remember the first 12 months target will include the opening order and you will need to set your budget based on the estimated sell-through per month.

As explained in Part 2, retail products don’t sell themselves, so when considering your expected sales turnover, you need to examine the brand strategy to ensure you have the necessary tools to achieve it. You should check for the following:

  • New Product Launches

  • Product Promotions

  • Marketing Campaigns

  • Print and Digital Advertising

  • Co-operative Advertising

If it’s not covered in the brand strategy, then ask specifically for the distribution strategy. The last thing you need is to put a whole lot of effort into a brand only to find it’s now being sold by your competitors. When reviewing the distribution strategy, pay attention to the following:

  • The account criteria

  • Who makes the final decision?

  • Current places where the brand is sold? (distribution network and types of retailers)

  • What geographical rules apply to stockists?

  • Is there a minimum turnover requirement?

  • Order shipping costs (order value for free delivery)

You should also enquire about the order supply rate and check if there’s anything to suggest a possible difficult in getting stock of best sellers.

I also recommend that you find out how your Sales Representative is remunerated (commission Vs base salary). This can have a significant effect on how they behave and the level of support you can expect as a stockist. If their income is based purely on commission or sales turnover, then you should be alert for aggressive sales tactics and ensure all returns and credits are processed promptly and keep a close I on the age of your inventory.

The process of choosing a brand when there are many on offer can be overwhelming. This needs a cool head, pragmatic thinking and an objective view. To help with your decision making it’s best to identify the top 10 critical factors you want from a brand and rate each candidate out of 10 for each of the criteria you’ve set. Here are some of the issues you might wish to consider.

  • Point of sale and display material supplied along with the opening order.

  • How and when will product training, sales education be provided.

  • Advice and tools relating to inventory management and ordering procedures.

  • In the case where a new brand is to replace an existing one, you can always request the new brand to help to clear the discontinued stock of the old. It's not uncommon for new brands to purchase what remains of the competitors’ stock or provide a mark down subsidy to help clear it in order to fast track the opening order.

  • Price position and level of exclusivity.

  • Return of aged stock/ mark-down subsidy of slow sellers.

Regardless of the selection process you follow or the criteria you apply in making your decision - There are 5 Golden Rules you should follow:


  1. Choose your brands carefully and think about long-term benefit.

  2. Make an informed decision and that can include getting some independent advice.

  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  4. Appoint a member if the team as the champion to oversee this part of your business and rewards them for it.

  5. Have an exit strategy if it fails.

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