Whether you own a salon suite or a traditional salon, recruiting top talent hasn’t changed much—the Internet just makes it easier.
For decades, salons that needed staff have bought lists of licensed cosmetologists from their State Boards and sent out recruitment letters. Today, salon suites are doing the same. What’s changed: The suite model means doing this during build-out, and the Internet has made it cheap and easy to download a local list by zip code or specialty.
Megan O’Connor, owner of a Salons by JC facility in Highland Park, IL, says State Board lists are a great way to reach your target without much waste. “Direct mail can be pretty expensive but to date, this is has been our best performer for prospecting,” she says.
Some states make it easier than others. At Michigan’s licensing website, it costs a flat fee of $25 for a list of 1,000, plus 2.5-cents per name. You can narrow parameters by zip code or county. In TX, lists are free. Additionally, many marketing websites sell lists with opt-in emails and will even do e-mail blasts and targeted social posts for a fee. Naturally, salons don’t like this and it can cause community rifts, something to keep in mind with the tone of recruitment letters.
Other top tactics include posting on job sites like Craigslist, running local ads and holding open houses. “Never discount the value of working with your local Chamber of Commerce!” adds O’Connor.
Potential renters are looking for you as well, which makes a top-notch website that shows your facility and details all you provide crucial. Just as chair renters look for a local salon with a good reputation, suite renters do, too, but there’s an important distinction.
Facebook pages dedicated to renters show that both types of renters ask stylist friends for salon referrals but that suite renters also rely on Google searches to find local salon suites.
Sarah Marchant, owner of Lera Salon Suites in Davenport, IA, found many of her initial renters through geographically targeted Facebook ads. Now, she’s opening a second location.
“When you set up a Facebook business page, you add many keywords,” explains Marchant. “Then, when you run an ad, even if someone searched for a keyword you used like ‘barber’ a year ago, he sees your ad in his news feed. When I ran my ads, I also regularly updated photos on my business page, showing the build-out progress of what was formerly a flower shop.”
Once potential renters took tours, they told friends, who also took tours. The day Marchant opened, her first renter moved in. Now, her 20 suites are completely full and she has a waiting list for her second location.
After the Hook
After your first renters to take tours or sign up, build business the same way stylists build theirs: through referrals. Marchant gave everyone who referred another renter who signed up a week’s free rent to use at his or her discretion. She also allows sub-leasing and provides a sublease for the primary renter’s protection. Now, her renters can get a friend who may want to work evenings only to pay a share of—or even all—their rent!
Specific lures get stylists talking and referring other professionals even more. To stay competitive, research what other suites offer. Most operations offer a signing bonus, such as a week’s free rent or significant money toward product inventory to use with manufacturer partners. Including things like liability insurance is also a winner. O’Connor offers a Build Your Business package that eases start-up costs.
“It provides a significantly discounted rent for the first eight weeks, so instead of spending on rent, suite owners can buy products and tools,” she says. “We also have free, quarterly in-house training and offer referrals for business start-up and tax-accounting services.”
Closing the referral circle goes back to business partners and community tie-ins. While many product reps’ contracts forbid them from referring stylists to salons, other distributors and beauty supply store owners can help you spread the word, and chair renters often ask them about suites. Also reach out to cosmetology schools that keep in touch with grads, local photographers and the pros they work with. Local distributor shows are another place to “soft” recruit. Get known in local professional networks; just remember to maintain integrity.
Says Marchant, “We all have an agreement to never discuss anyone who was seen touring the suite. Additionally, we have a private Facebook page for inter-suite communication—we’re very discreet.”
Community events get renters bragging to potential-renter friends, help them recruit clients and get you local press.
“We host events and sponsor important charities in our community,” comments O’Connor. “For example, we did a month-long beauty-product drive that collected baskets and boxes full of unused beauty products, and then delivered them to a shelter for women who have been victims of domestic violence. We invited the women from the shelter and the community to an open house, where the pros offered a little bit of pampering for all attendees. This helped our suite owners get exposure to new clients.” (Renters can opt-in to such events or not.)
Finally, remember that finding renters means thinking local. Renters prefer a suite within 5 miles of where they live or used to work; 10 miles is the upper limit. That’s what they need for the client retention that keeps your business strong.