What Got Your Salon or Spa Here, Won’t Get You There

August 28, 2017 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

what got you here won't get you there

Remember the day you opened your salon/spa? You were filled with excitement and anticipation to bring your business vision to life. You were prepared to give all the blood, sweat and tears necessary to be successful.

Adapt and overcome is a rule that all entrepreneurs live by.


Because the road to success is not a straight line … and it definitely isn’t smoothly paved.

Achieving business success is more like very few big wins, lots of little wins (all separated by setbacks, decisions that went sideways, financial gut punches) and endless lessons that come from managing employees.

The other rule that all entrepreneurs must live by, but too often don’t, is that as the dynamics of business and the marketplace change, so must the business. More importantly, to be a true market leader, your business must operate at the leading edge of change.

The best example of the need to adapt to change is Amazon’s ever-increasing ability to disrupt entire market segments, including its invasion into the selling of the once sacred “professional-only product” market. Simply put, if you have a product on your retail shelves, Amazon is probably selling it direct to the consumer.

In the early 70’s, the precision haircut and blow dry became the new business model, quickly turning wash and set “beauty” salons into relics of the past. It did the same to barbershops. Now, almost 50 years later, barbershops are the new niche market.

I started Strategies in 1993 to publish a monthly no-advertising salon business magazine, and to produce business seminars. Back then, email and the internet were unknowns. Well, the internet exploded, and its impact on printed ANYTHING is still being felt.

As much as I loved Strategies magazine, in 2007 I made the tough decision to stop publishing it and replace it with my Monday Morning Wake-Up emails that reach tens of thousands of owners worldwide.

In 24 years, my team and I completely changed the Strategies business model four times. Had we not changed, what got us into business 24 years ago would have killed the company I love.

Here are my four No-Compromise Leadership rules to keep your salon/spa business on the cutting edge of change:

  1. Cracks never fix themselves: When a crack appears in your company’s foundation, it will expand and multiply if not repaired quickly. When salon/spa owners become Strategies Coaching clients, the first thing we do is search for cracks in its foundation. In business, cracks take the form of excessive payroll costs, too much debt, lack of systems, toxic cultures and more. Any attempt to grow the business on a crack-ridden foundation will eventually fail and collapse. FACT: Cracks in your business foundation are the result of stress caused by a flaw in your business model. In business, patching the crack doesn’t work. You have to find and fix the flaw in order to fix the crack.
  2. Never buy into your own hype: Of course you’re proud of your business and what you built. But getting caught in your own “we’re great / we’re the best” hype is inherently dangerous. It prevents you from truly seeing the internal and external challenges that can threaten your company if ignored too long. FACT: Just because you think your company is great today, it’s no guarantee that it will be great tomorrow.
  3. Big change wrecks companies that fail at small change: We’ve seen salons/spas fail at implementing daily huddles. We’ve seen salons/spas fail at delivering retail recommendations to every client on every visit. We’ve seen salons/spas fail at dress codes, nametags, working within time standards and more. We’ve seen owners fail at controlling their spending. The preceding are best described as small incremental changes. FACT: If your salon/spa has a track record of failing at the small changes, it is going to seriously struggle when it’s time to make the inevitable big changes. A leader’s most important job is to lead his or her company through consistent incremental change. It’s the only way to prepare your team and culture to tackle big change.
  4. Being first is risky … being last is too late: There’s truth in the old saying, “You can always tell who the pioneers are … they’re the ones with all the arrows in their back.” Being first to introduce a new business model, service or product is risky, because being first means you have to prove that your idea or model is right and works. If you do, you’re a business genius. If you don’t, you’re irrelevant. Being second gives you the chance to improve on and perfect what the pioneer failed at. FACT: If you’re the one that keeps saying, “It won’t work,” while others are proving it does, you’re last and too late.

Here’s my challenge to you: Success is never described as being the caboose on the train. It’s more akin to being the engine that pulls the train forward to new destinations.

  • It means being bold enough to see opportunities that others do not.
  • It means recognizing and addressing the flaws and problems that are creating cracks in your company’s foundation.
  • It means creating a culture that embraces incremental change so it can achieve the inevitable big changes that must be made.
  • It means relentlessly recreating your company to be a market leader and not a caboose.

So, if you truly want to “get there,” you have to go beyond what got you here.

Categories: Leadership

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