Your Salon/Spa — Where to Go From Here?

September 28, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

Much has changed since March 2020.

Before we can discuss where to go from here, we have to understand where we are today.

In so many ways, it’s a blur of COVID-19 fears, the shutdown, unemployment, PPP/EIDL, sanitizing protocols, reopening, staffing issues, occupancy restrictions, and clients stretching out appointments.

And then there’s the social/racial unrest, forest fires, hurricanes, and a divisive presidential election.

The pandemic’s impact on the economy has been devastating, especially to small businesses with limited resources.

  • We hear the news of large business bankruptcies including Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, Pier 1, Gold’s Gym, Hertz, and most recently Sizzler Steakhouse.

What we don’t hear much about are the owners of small businesses that made the painful decision to close their doors.

When a small business, like a salon, spa or barbershop, closes its doors, it’s a quiet death. Years of hard work, hopes and dreams crumble into a pile of debt that won’t easily disappear.... Read More

Much has changed since March 2020. Before we can discuss where to go from here, we have to understand where we are today. In so many ways, it’s a blur of COVID-19 fears, the shutdown, unemployment, PPP/EIDL, sanitizing protocols, reopening, staffing issues, occupancy restrictions, and clients stretching out appointments. And then there’s the social/racial unrest, forest fires, hurricanes, and a divisive presidential election. The pandemic’s impact on the economy has…
Read More

Categories: Coronavirus , Leadership

Why Numbers Are the Wrong Thing to Focus On

September 20, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Imagine you’re at your salon/spa’s morning huddle.

You bring out your scoreboard to show your team if you’re ahead or behind goal.

You then dive right into productivity rate, prebook, retail and other numbers.

Your team is a collection of blank stares hoping the daily numbers spew ends soon.

Or…

Imagine it’s performance review time. You’ve spent days printing reams of reports so you can show each employee what numbers are good and which numbers need to improve.

Employees know it’s going to be another episode of, “You need to get this [number] up.”

In the days before computers, everything had to be recorded and calculated by hand. Service and retail sales were obviously easy. Productivity rate, prebook, client retention rates and other critical numbers were difficult or near impossible.... Read More

Imagine you’re at your salon/spa’s morning huddle. You bring out your scoreboard to show your team if you’re ahead or behind goal. You then dive right into productivity rate, prebook, retail and other numbers. Your team is a collection of blank stares hoping the daily numbers spew ends soon. Or… Imagine it’s performance review time. You’ve spent days printing reams of reports so you can show each employee what numbers…
Read More

Categories: Financial Literacy , Leadership

27 Years of Making a Difference

September 14, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 8 Comments

On September 13, 1993, I moved into a first-floor office at 40 Main Street, Centerbrook, CT. All I had was some office furniture, a few Mac computers, and a ton of determination to make a difference in the industry I love and have served since 1970.

My passion is for business and for all the dynamics that make a salon/spa business successful. This passion is the core of Strategies’ culture.

Long before starting Strategies, I studied compensation systems and the drivers of performance-based behaviors. Commission, the prevailing industry pay method, never made sense to me because it fed “I/me/mine” thinking and a multitude of financial challenges.

A truly successful salon/spa means more than filling columns on the appointment book. It’s about building a sustainable brand. Brand building takes a level of teamwork that commission compensation cannot achieve. Teamwork means “everyone pushing and pulling in the same direction to achieve team goals — not just individual goals.... Read More

On September 13, 1993, I moved into a first-floor office at 40 Main Street, Centerbrook, CT. All I had was some office furniture, a few Mac computers, and a ton of determination to make a difference in the industry I love and have served since 1970. My passion is for business and for all the dynamics that make a salon/spa business successful. This passion is the core of Strategies’ culture.…
Read More

Categories: Uncategorized

Being a Salon/Spa Owner is Still One Hell of an Opportunity

September 7, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

Like you, I am a business owner. After 27 years of owning Strategies, the first eight months of 2020 will go down as the most surreal I have ever experienced.

Without a doubt, witnessing 100% of our coaching clients shut down was scary to say the least. The challenge for all owners was simple — figure it out, and figure it out fast. That’s what we did so we could help our clients do the same.

For all owners, this year definitely gave new meaning to the term “hard work.” Throw in a few helpings of fear and frustration, and you could be asking yourself, “Is ownership really worth it?”

The answer is simple. Hell YES it’s worth being a business owner.

So much so, that I took some time to reflect on these past eight months. Here’s what that reflection told me:

  • Pride in my company and team: We work really hard on our systems and culture. That hard work definitely pays off in good times, but it truly pays off big time in bad times. We didn’t realize we were preparing to survive a pandemic and an economic meltdown, but that’s exactly what we were doing. Systems are nothing without teamwork. Teamwork doesn’t exist without the right culture. That’s why our coaching is so focused on systems and culture. We practice what we preach. You can’t put a price on pride and teamwork.
  • Pride in my leadership: Being an entrepreneur for almost 50 years, I take my role as leader seriously. The moment it was clear that this crisis was going bad fast, I knew my team would look to my leadership to get us through it. Everything I wrote in my No-Compromise Leadership book is how I show up as a leader. Open and honest communication and full transparency was a must. Showing my team the path to daylight created energy and momentum. In the most humblest of ways, I am proud how I stepped up as the leader of my company. You can’t put a price on personal pride.
  • Pride in the tough decisions I made: Most often, the toughest decisions a leader makes have to do with money (cash flow) and people. I was very open with my team that I was determined to get every employee and coach through this crisis. I shared exactly what we had to do financially to protect the company and our livelihoods. Just like we coach, each and every tough decision was addressed openly and expeditiously. You can’t put a price on the pride of doing what needs to be done.

  • Pride that not one employee or coach missed a paycheck: In business, financial discipline and accountability is a non-negotiable. There’s nothing scary or overly complicated in doing forecasts, budgets and managing cash flow. The end result is building a cash reserve to weather a storm or seize an opportunity. I’m proud that we never had to touch our cash reserve during this crisis. I’m more proud that no one on our team had to worry about getting paid. You can’t put a price on the pride of protecting those that believe in your dream.
  • Pride that we had each other’s back: Trust is earned through actions, deeds, honesty and transparency. Trust is earned by giving employees the opportunity, training, tools and confidence to achieve their full potential. In a high trust culture, you don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder. In a high trust culture, your team has your back because you have theirs. You can’t put a price on the pride to earn and have the trust of those you lead.
  • Pride how we helped so many owners through a nightmare: It’s one thing to have your team share your vision and passion. It’s a rare privilege to lead and be part of a team that draws its energy by helping owners thrive. In the case of COVID-19, the higher sense of purpose to help owners navigate through this crisis was empowering and inspiring. You can’t put a price on the pride of building a compassionate company.

Here’s my challenge to you: Business isn’t all about money, critical numbers, and productivity. Business is about people and building something special to share with other likeminded individuals.... Read More

Like you, I am a business owner. After 27 years of owning Strategies, the first eight months of 2020 will go down as the most surreal I have ever experienced. Without a doubt, witnessing 100% of our coaching clients shut down was scary to say the least. The challenge for all owners was simple — figure it out, and figure it out fast. That’s what we did so we could…
Read More

Categories: Leadership

Five Ways to Outsmart Today’s Business Unknowns

August 30, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it can hurl one humungous unknown after another at your salon/spa.

Just when you think one challenge is under control, another wrecking ball is coming at you. It’s scary, stressful and ultimately wears you down.

FACT: During this pandemic where uncertainty is a daily occurrence, the worst strategy is to hunker down, do nothing and wait for the storm to pass. The problem is that the COVID-19 storm is far from over.

The good news is that there is a way to outsmart the unknowns and be more in control of your business — and lower your stress levels in the process.

Here are five rock-solid ways to outsmart the onslaught of unknowns and get your business safely through this pandemic:

  1. Make WINNING your goal: For the past 12 years, at the end of June, I do the MS Cape Cod Getaway Ride (Covid canceled this year’s ride). It’s 150 miles from Boston to Provincetown in two days. I can’t just get on my bike the day of the ride and expect to finish. And if I could finish, the lack of training would hurt like hell. So, I train hard to finish and beat my personal record. Hunkering down and playing it safe is no way to lead a company through a crisis of today’s magnitude. You need to have a goal. KEY: Getting to the other side of this pandemic must be your company’s big hairy audacious goal (BHAG). Your team needs to hear this from you. They need to see your determination. They need to feel your passion and conviction. They need to know that winning takes hard work and commitment. It’s time to wake your team up and get them on the same winning page. Tell your team, “We’re going to beat this pandemic.”
  2. The momentum of Productivity: You know the productivity rate drill. You sell hours in exchange for salon/spa services. (Hours sold ÷ hours available = your company’s productivity rate.) In the days of COVID, if your productivity rate is below 80%, your team and company are not fighting to win. Below 70% productivity is lethargic. Below 60% is anemic. Below 50% is comatose. See where this is going? KEY: History has proven that trying to build one column on the appointment book at a time is an exercise in insanity. Teamwork drives productivity. Teamwork means, “Everyone is responsible for every hour the salon/spa has available for sale.” The more you educate and train clients that, “The skills of the entire salon/spa are available to each and every client,” the higher you drive productivity rates.
  3. Systems consistency: The salon/spa industry is known for its free spirit, creative abilities, and individuality. But, it’s impossible to build a viable service business and brand with everyone doing their own thing. That’s booth rental/suites. KEY: Systems create consistency. Consistency creates predictability. Predictability creates sustainability. Sustainability creates the business horsepower to get through this pandemic.
  4. The BEST Business Antibody: What is a business antibody? It’s called cash flow. That’s why Congress passed the CARES Act to quickly get 3.8 million loans totaling more than $500 billion to help small businesses. The EIDL loans, although off to a rocky start, brought $20 billion in emergency funding. That’s why cash-flow planning and financial literacy is the cornerstone of Strategies Coaching. KEY: If your approach to cash-flow planning is checking your bank balances multiple times a day, you’re no match for even the simplest unknown that COVID can throw at you. Monthly service and retail projections are non-negotiable. Monthly expense budgets are non-negotiable. Monthly cash and profit goals are non-negotiable. If you are failing in any of these non-negotiables — you need to schedule a coaching call with Strategies.
  5. What, Why, When and How: The last thing any owner should be asking during this pandemic is, “How do I get everyone on the same page?” This question means dysfunction, chaos and untold missed opportunities. KEY: Communication and information flow are the two most potent tools in a leader’s toolbox. WHAT defines the goal. WHY details the reason and the importance of achieving this goal. WHEN is the starting gun and establishes all of the timelines to achieving the goal. HOW: is all about the systems, training, and accountabilities to achieve the goal. Too many salons/spas are a conglomeration of conflicting and poorly defined goals. One company. One team. One goal. That’s how you beat the unknowns this pandemic will continue to throw at you.

Here’s my challenge to you: The only way to get through this pandemic is to be aggressive, systematized, coordinated, consistent, and relentless.... Read More

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it can hurl one humungous unknown after another at your salon/spa. Just when you think one challenge is under control, another wrecking ball is coming at you. It’s scary, stressful and ultimately wears you down. FACT: During this pandemic where uncertainty is a daily occurrence, the worst strategy is to hunker down, do nothing and wait for the storm to pass.…
Read More

Categories: Uncategorized

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