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A Wealth of Knowledge

It’s no surprise that since launching six years ago, Data Driven, the annual conference run by Salon Today Magazine, has doubled in size but still sells out well in advance. It’s exactly what serious salon owners are looking for  – a peer-led conference focused on using data to run an efficient salon business. As a company that thrives on data, trying to identify five eureka moments is almost impossible, as every speaker arrived with a wealth of knowledge. But if we really have to narrow it down, we’d say these five speakers sparked conversations that provided the most compelling insights, not to mention a new way of thinking about data that left us in awe long after they had left the stage.

Pivot or Plummet

Frank Gambuzza, owner of Salon Visage and Gambuzza’s Barbershops, has been in the business for nearly 50 years, but he’s far from complacent and his advice to others echoed that of something similar. He highlighted five key areas that are currently going through convulsive change: recruiting, compensation, training, ongoing education, and client expectations. What particularly resonated with Vish was his perspective on the types of conversations that you should be having with your team. We’ll paraphrase: Today’s most important conversation with our team is no longer about hair, but about saving and preparing for the future. Think 401ks, pensions, and benefits. We, as an industry, have destroyed ourselves with the conversation about commission. Let’s talk about money—W2s and how to retire. 

We embrace this thought-provoking sentiment for owners and stylists alike, as several other Vish users across North America have shared similar intentions. Many recount stories of how the additional revenue they acquired since using Vish has enabled them to reinvest in their team, providing employees with 401Ks, health care, education, and more. It’s helping owners and managers build strong, loyal teams.

Get Your Team Fighting Fit

Focusing on the team’s capacity to cope with change so they can effectively build their careers, and clientele was a constant message across the conference. Few delivered it more compellingly than Jen Groover, Chief Inspiration Officer at CanvasMe. Jen narrowed in on self-management as a core skill to maximize one’s potential. She provided actionable tips to increase energy and mental clarity, which promised to bolster productivity and efficiency, and ensure leaders exude an energy that will inspire others. It’s a mindset we strongly advocate; Vish gives everyone the power to own and take responsibility for their color management, protecting their profits and the planet by reducing waste, while many salon owners and managers are using the data from Vish to inform positive change and improved color management. 

Plan For Profit

Data speaks volumes, but so does money. Heather Yurko, owner of NeatBeat Salon, and Jen Baudier, owner of Bella Style Salon, delved into micro and macro-management of revenue and profit during their presentation. They opted to open a series of bank accounts and divide up revenue, allocating set percentages to profit, tax, operating costs, and more. This structure has given them profound clarity over their salon’s financial management. Similarly, Vish gives owners control over their color spend and color revenue by showing exact cost-per-service, along with other data that can be easily accessed to help make strategic financial decisions for the future.

Salon Culture Reimagined

There are few salons that actually have a waitlist of stylists desperate to join the team, so Daniel Mason-Jones, owner of Muse Salon and Spa, is almost in a class of his own. It’s the culture he’s developed in his Atlanta salon that has talent queuing up for a job. He began his captivating presentation by recalling the kid in school who is always tapping and fidgeting, and how the best teachers are those who find a way to engage that child in learning. In many ways, he’s taken the same approach with his team, identifying his employee’s individual strengths and positioning them so they can play to those talents. But, he explained, to do so effectively, he’s had to be willing to change and adapt himself, and create a culture of change in the salon.

Succession: Creating a Future for Your Business

For us, the panel discussions were a real highlight, and so for our last shout-out, we’d like to focus on the succession planning session. With a panel of six salon experts, the discussion about how to prepare for the future was fascinating. The key takeaway was not about being hugely profitable so that you are an attractive proposition to a new owner, but about creating a transparent business structure backed with consistent data that enables you to realize the true potential in any sale. 

Rebecca Ezolt from Lords and Ladies described the transformation of the group into a franchise network that enabled managers to become owners, while Chris Knudsen from Mane Attraction Salon talked about how he bought his salon in increments year by year. As he purchased a bigger share each year, he took on greater responsibility and control so, by the time he owned it outright, he had the knowledge and experience required, without the huge burden of debt.

Setting our Sights on 2023

As poignantly illustrated by several salon industry professionals, leveraging data to make educated and informed salon business decisions is no longer a progressive way of thinking, but rather the norm. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Data Driven 2023, as this event proves to be more successful and inspiring, each and every year. 

To learn more about past Data Driven events, click here.

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