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What's your niche?

February 4, 2019

 

When we're a small business, we want to cater to everyone.  We're hungry, we say yes, and we are willing to do what ever it takes!  It's what gets us through our first years in business.  This is how I started and I eventually came to an identity crisis.  I was lost in a sea of every other salon.  

 

70% of my clientele were male from the beginning of my career, I was teaching men's hair around the country, and I was the men's specialist at the salon I was working at. Yet when I opened mine, I was afraid to put "Men's salon" on the door in fear that women might not come in and I couldn't afford to turn away any business.  But it wasn't until I put "Men's Salon" on the door that my business started becoming specialized and I attracted specific people who loved the same thing that I did.  Oddly, we didn't lose any of our women clientele and we started becoming the best in our city in men's hair.  Duh.  It was fear that made me think that I couldn't hone in on a niche.  

 

Doctors are probably the most famous for specializing.  They have the general doctor in small towns that you go to for common ailments, much how my mom did hair, catering to entire families.  Then when something bad happened, you would visit a specialist.  As doctors become more and more specific in their field, they gain expertise and move up the pay scale along with it. Once they create their own thesis in an area, they're making more and when they move to celebrity status is when they make the MOST!  Our industry tends to follow that premiss.  

 

In the beauty industry, nail salons were the first one's to branch off to specialize in one area.  It was the beginning of a trend.  We're now seeing specialties in waxing, men's hair, tanning, blow dry bars and even eyelash specialists.  Is this a good thing?  From my perspective as a salon owner, it took YEARS to train people to get them good at everything.  With higher turnover and employees leaving faster than ever, I found it's easier to train with one speciality.  I have moved my training program from 6 months to 6 weeks, only cutting men's hair.  I get them great at what they do much faster, and don't train on much less frequented services such as brow waxes or facials and let the employees who are attracted to these services can test out in them.  This has allowed us to become the specialists in an area and grow with purpose. 

 

Salons that specialize have also taken this approach.  Train someone to get really good at one thing versus someone to be okay at a lot of things.  Here is the reality though, just because you become an expert in one area, doesn't mean you can't practice another thing.  You need to be known for something in this day of social media.  Become an EXPERT in an area.  Draw people in for what you love to do and then you can still sell them on something once they're in the door.  For example if you visit someone's Instagram and they have a picture of nails, eyelashes, a blonde hair color, a brunette bob, and then an up-do, you wouldn't think of them on your wedding day.  You wouldn't think - I MUST go to this person to get my hair done who does everything.  You would go to someone who's Instagram is filled with stylish up-dos of all kinds and you can tell this is where there passion lies.    

 

Brand power is meaningless if you do everything average!  Become a specialist to drive business into your door.  Become an expert in your area and become known for something.  Drive 1 - 2 services that you do really well on your website, your keywords, and your social media platforms and you will see that you'll bring in the customers that already prefer doing.  In order to be the greatest, you have to be bad at something, such as Ikea sacrificing convenience for price.  So try it, become the GREATEST in something that you already love to do!   

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