Experts recommend that you spruce up your salon every five to seven years in order to stay competitive, but with the economic downturn it's understandable if you're unwilling to forego making any capital investments right now. Still, Giampiero Stuani of Gamma & Bross believes that putting off a much-needed remodel is short-sighted and that this may actually be the best time to consider updating your salon. "Renovations generally account for a 20 percent increase in business, and if you remodel when everyone else is putting it off, it will be relatively easy to stand out from the competition and build a solid foundation for future growth when the economy rebounds," he says.
Larry Erikson, vice president of marketing at Takara Belmont, recommends leasing equipment if that's what it takes to remain competitive. "We lease anything from the sign in the front of your salon to work stations and shampoo units to washers and dryers," he says. Jeff Grissler, national sales manager at Takara Belmont, also helps salon owners arrange for traditional financing, which may take a little longer these days but is not as difficult to get as you might think. "I start out by asking a lot of questions. Is this a new salon? Is it an expansion? A remodel? Do you need construction money? Is the landlord giving you any build-out money?" Grissler says. "The more information I can get from a customer about what they're trying to accomplish, the easier it is for me to sell the loan to the bank."
Clockwise, from Above: Takara Belmont Sara Shuttle at Van Michael Salon in Atlanta; Takara Belmont First Class Shuttle at ANiU Salon & Spa in Middleton, WI; the Washlongue ME shampoo unit at Aerni Salon in Berna, Switzerland; the Celebritywash Shiatsu shampoo unit from Gamma & Bross at Carlos Pons Salon in Oviedo, Spain
If you decide to make just one change right now, you might want to start with the shampoo area, which has evolved more in the past 10 years than anything else. "It's become more important because of all the color work salons are doing, and it has to make a statement while offering comfort for both the stylist and the client," Erikson says. Stuani also points out that because equipment has become so technologically advanced, the shampoo area has been transformed into a profit center where stylists can offer services like scalp treatments and head massages. "We used to put the emphasis on work stations," Grissler says. "Now it's these beautiful backwash shuttles." Backwash shuttles? "It's what we call shampoo units," he explains. To take a closer look at the newest backwash shuttles on the market, see "Bowled Over". —Brett Vinovich, publisher, [email protected]