With all the distraction over professional products being sold on Amazon, and Bumble and Bumble’s announcement that it’s going into Ulta Beauty, a vital message is being heard by salon and spa owners:
“Your brand is defined by service excellence … not the products on your shelves.”
The simple truth is, because you’re a service business first, professional product manufacturers need you more than you need them. No disrespect to any manufacturer, it’s simply the truth.
Today, more than ever, every salon/spa owner must answer this question: Is your salon/spa consistently delivering service excellence to every client?
If your instant response is, “Yes, definitely,” you need a reality wake-up call.
- “Consistently delivering service excellence” means that every system and every employee is dialed in and committed to your vision for your salon/spa.
- It means the teamwork that goes into creating service excellence appears seamless and effortless … even though it required relentlessly hard work to achieve.
Here’s the truth that every owner must digest and respond to: No matter how damn good you think your business is today at creating those extraordinary customer service experiences, you can do better … a lot better.
- You can lead at a higher level.
- You can dial in your systems better.
- You can hold yourself and your employees to a higher standard.
- You can massively differentiate your salon/spa from the competition that doesn’t get it.
- You can take your employees to a place of higher earnings, real benefits and secure futures.
Simply put, you can, and must, build your own service excellence brand.
Service excellence doesn’t occur in a vacuum or by chance. Service excellence is vision and leadership driven. Always has been. Always will be.
Follow this 10-point hit list to create a salon/spa brand built on relentless and consistent service excellence:
- Decide how bad you really want it: Talking about excellence doesn’t make it happen. Promising service excellence and delivering average is breaking your promise to your customer. Excellence is the end result of the relentlessly hard work it takes to lift your salon/spa out of the crowded ocean of average. There will be gains and setbacks. Change resistant employees will push back until you coach them up or cut them loose. Delivering service excellence is a journey worth taking for those leaders inspired and committed to go the distance. Are you ready to decide on excellence, average or something less?
- Set your service excellence bar seriously high: If you can accept that your salon/spa has only scratched the surface of consistently delivering service excellence, than you’re ready to reset the bar. If you want to capture the imagination of your team and challenge them to part of something truly special, set your service excellence bar high enough to force your company to stretch the limits of its abilities. That’s a professional industry challenge worth going for. That’s nothing but pure opportunity for all that take the journey. That’s what makes your salon/spa stand out above all competitors. Are you willing to set your service excellence bar seriously high?
- Staff buy-in takes more than a meeting: Your business has a problem it needs to address, so you have a meeting. You want to reconnect your team to your vision of the future, so you have a meeting. Guess what? Meetings are nothing more than sound bites that quickly dissipate. Achieving company wide buy-in is no different than winning a sports championship. The destination of everything. The planning, training, practicing, wins, losses, relentless communication, and the right team players are all essential elements. Are you ready to lead your team beyond the meeting?
- Better systems create better outcomes: The essence of Total Quality Management is to eliminate the variables in order to achieve consistent quality results. As a service business, you can’t tweak a machine or computer to get quality results. You need to systematize service and technical processes. The challenge is that the so-called “free-spirited” nature of many service providers misinterprets the power and growth opportunities that embracing systems can create. Service excellence demands the systemization of damn near everything you do. Are you ready to embrace systems as never before?
- Front Desk/Guest Services overhaul: You know exactly what it’s going to take … and now it’s time to do it. If consistent service excellence is truly your goal, than every point of customer contact demands a script. Customer engagement and anticipating needs to be effortless and customer-first focused. Eye contact is everything. Accuracy is non-negotiable. Appearance must mirror your brand identity. Technology will play a bigger role to blend service excellence and convenience. Are you ready to reengineer your front desk?
- Technical training is one thing … Service training is everything: If clients were mannequins you could skip this step. But salon/spa clients are not mannequins. Great technical work delivered by service providers that can’t relate and engage with clients will never achieve service excellence. Proper handshakes, thorough consultations, understanding body language, and knowing when to ask for help are all integral elements of delivering service excellence. Are you committed to advance your team’s customer service expertise?
- Everything must speak “service excellence”: You spend a fortune on build-out, equipment and decor. But all it takes is a little unsightly dirt, a service provider reeking of cigarette smoke or dress that’s too casual to knock your brand out of “excellence” contention. Stylists, much more than spas techs, have been resisting dress codes seemingly forever. What appearance parameters does your brand require? Define it. Explain the what and why of it. Etch it stone. Implement it. Live it every day. Done. Are you ready to do all that and nothing less?
- Social media … figure it out: No question about it, social media is a ton of damn near everyday work. It’s not just about how many “likes” your page has … it’s about engagement. Social media has become a sophisticated marketing platform to deliver meaningful content to your target audience, establish credibility and to convert digital leads into loyal customers. It’s also understood that “pay to play” is now a social media fact of life. Are you truly prepared to communicate your company’s ability to deliver service excellence through social media?
- A “We” not “Me” culture: For employee-based salons and spas, delivering service excellence is a team sport. Just like any great Broadway show, everyone has a role and script to follow. When properly executed, team-service is a beautiful process to observe. Why? Because it’s real. It’s obvious to all that witness it. It appears seamless and effortless. Booth rental and suites cannot duplicate this. Commission can try, but its inherent “I/me/mine” nature falls short. Are you ready to take “We/Us/the Company/the Client” to the pinnacle of service excellence?
- A service excellence culture ALWAYS reflects leadership: The quote, “Culture reflects leadership,” came from Strategies president, Bruce Hourigan. It has become my company’s battle cry internally and how we coach owners to lead their companies. Leading at this level makes “hostage management” a thing of the past. Leading at this level creates value to your company and justifies all the sacrifices you had to make to achieve it. Are you ready to become the No-Compromise Leader your company has been waiting for?
Here’s my challenge to you: The time to build YOUR brand has come for all employee-based salons and spas. It’s time to blend your technical skills and ability to consistently deliver service excellence to create your own brand that is second to none. The products you use and sell are only tools that support your brand. As a service business, products are not and cannot be your brand.