Retail Therapy

While most people go to the grocery store simply to pick up necessities for the week, Mark Goodman, the owner of The Hair-Designers in Hilton Head Island, SC, turns every trip to the supermarket into an educational experience. The salon owner studies the shelves and organization of the store intently, applying what he notices to his salon. To be sure, retail accounts for 20 percent of Goodman's gross sales, indicating he is clearly taking good notes.

"Grocery stores are all about the senses—the music, the colors and the smells," he says. "Most of them put the baked goods up front because the smell is enticing. I took this idea and applied it to my salon."


At the front desk, the salon offers small impulse buys, including travel-size bottles of shampoos, skincare and lip balms. On the shelves, Goodman places easy-to-sell items higher up and leaves less popular items at eye level to motivate customers to explore products they don't know as much about.


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To keep the displays attractive and fresh, Goodman exhibits art pieces by local artists in the salon. "I also change the displays so repeat customers will always have something new to indulge in," he says. "Most people come in, on average, once every four to six weeks. So every two months or so I try to change out the display."

The retail area at The Hair-Designers
The retail area at The Hair-Designers

Besides smart product placement, Goodman also applies a bit of psychoanalysis to his retail strategy. He categorizes his clients into four personality types: the cooperator, the analyzer, the regulator and the energizer. "For example, I have products with bright colors for the energetic personality," he says, "natural, basic essentials for the regulator and then some items in between."

Goodman finds that many hairdressers stick to recommending only one or two products that they personally like and forget to fulfill the needs of their clients. "Hairdressers are artists," he says. "They aren't exactly sales people, and we're all creatures of habit." To help his staff grow accustomed to the products the salon carries, Goodman asks them to use and learn about what they offer. "This way, my staff can better recommend what clients may need."

To further motivate his staff to drive retail sales, Goodman mandates that they all work on commission and encourages his stylists to always talk about the products to their clients. "Even handing the client the product after we use it, just so they get the feeling of the bottle in their hands, drives them closer to buying it," he says.

Goodman will be teaching a retail class called Ten Steps to Successful Retailing at IBS New York this month. Two sessions delving into the keys of power retailing will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In his class, Goodman will cover client personality types and help determine which products will be more attractive to the different types. "If you get a customer interested in a product, a lot of times he or she will stick with the product for a lifetime," he says. "And that customer will come to you for it."

The National Cosmetology Association (NCA) has launched an aggressive campaign to help salons increase retail sales by $50 per day. That's a $600 million infusion of cash into salons in 2009 if just 25 percent of the 50,000 salons in the United States participate. Visit for more information.