Taking Care of Business

In 2004, salon consumers spent $11.4 billion on haircolor services. Haircolor is the largest product category salons purchase, representing 23.4 percent of total product purchases. Those numbers say a lot about the potential for color in our business. Is your salon doing the most it can to maximize the impact of this critical market?

David Adams
David Adams

In my 20 years as a colorist, I've gained valuable insight into the way our industry works, and I'm happy to share some of it with you. For example, take a look at your local competitors: What's your point of difference? Departmentalization—specializing in coloring or cutting, not both—could be it.

From dermatologists to dentists, people go to specialists for everything. Specialists have extremely focused knowledge, training and education. Patients trust that and are willing to pay for it. And when it comes to the salon industry, so are clients.

Your clients trust you as a specialist, so why not offer them a specialized service?
Your clients trust you as a specialist, so why not offer them a specialized service?

From the business owner's point of view, there are huge benefits to departmentalization. Think about how much more smoothly your salon timetable could run: With one person cutting and another doing color, the day could flow much more easily and be less fragmented. As a result, you'll be able to service more clients—and as you well know, clients don't have the time to take four hours to get their services done. It's convenient for them to be able to get their cut and color separately.

Haircolor retail sales currently comprise 19 percent of total haircare sales in the mass market. There's huge opportunity for you there. Since haircolor is a premium service, customers want to do all they can to preserve their new investment.

Of course, some people will always love both cutting and coloring, and some clients like having one person take care of all of their hair needs. But don't be afraid to make a change. Look at it as simply a case of educating your clients about how your business runs. You don't have to do it overnight: Start with one person, introduce him or her to your clients as your color specialist, and begin their path of specialist training. Market your new "color department" to your clients. If you don't have the space to set up a separate color area, begin with one station. Be inventive with your space. To select that first specialist, ask your stylists if there's one area of the business they're more interested in. You might even have a trainee who's really not working out as a stylist but whose potential might be in haircolor. (That's how I got my start—I was such a bad stylist that my boss sent me to a color course. It clicked!)

And if you are already departmentalized, take this time to have a look at how you could make it better. Are your colorists getting the most out of their education? Are you marketing your specialties to your clients? Do you have a strong profile within your local market?

A new year, a new start. Why not look at your color department with new eyes? You'll be amazed where it could take you.