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My Salon Business Success

Tamara Forrest-Smith

It feels a long time ago now but in 1989 I had to decide to get my new salon business ready to launch to the public.

I had a few things to chew over.

The first thing was my new salon premises.

I had almost no cash in those days to spare, had also just had a new baby, just bought a new house and now was thinking about my first shop.

Cash was very, very tight to say the least!

How would it look?

What would my salon clients think?

Would it attract hair salon clients?

Why would they want to come in?

This first steps was all very external of course and surface but I also knew in the salon business it was the fashion world and it had to look very cool or it just wouldn’t be right from the clients mind.

Also in the village I was opening my first salon there were another seven salons. Not a lot I know but I had to remember that those salons had been there for over 30 years so in a village of just 3,000 population, competition per head would be fierce.

I had to break the loyalties of the clients to the other salons. Do-able but all of this depended on steps I would take with my business and it all started with the image from the outside.


Think of it; walking past creates an impression. The way the name outside is created, spoken, said, even the font would make a difference. The furniture, the shelves, the sinks, towels, gowns, even the way the desk would be on entrance or the staff were to dress – it would all make a difference from the outside looking in.

So how would my salon look, its perception to the outside world or – potential buyer, customer, client?

The step beyond would be my salon structure. What would I be selling? Of course we’d be doing haircuts, colors and all the other stuff that salons do but what would my services actually be?

If I named the services the same as all the other salons I thought at the time, that would then put us into a price war. That was the very last thing I wanted after all I knew I was good and my staff would be good so I wanted good prices.

The truth is at this time I have no idea what I was doing so it was a little hit and miss. However I eventually discovered that I have to sell packages of some kind. It wasn’t as easy as opening the door and saying, ‘ we do hairdressing’, no we had to open the door and say to them, ‘this is EXACTLY’ what we do in detail.

So now I had to sit and think about my services as I couldn’t start a salon business unless the clients knew exactly what they would be getting from myself and my new salon.

This is where I had to sit, take time, do a little research and then create my packages, products or services that I wanted potential clients to pay for.

Now when that was all ready to go the next step of course was marketing or taking my salon to market.


I always think there are two options here.

  1. We expect the clients to come to us
  2. We go to the clients

I took option two and went to the clients.

I never for one minute believed I had time to sit and wait for clients to find us, to book us, to enquire about us.

If I took no money, I couldn’t pay my bills or feed my new baby and look after my wife, it was that simple! It had to work!

I took a very big, very full approach to marketing especially now that I had armed myself with a book called, ‘Guerilla Marketing’ by Jay Conrad Levinson.

To get ready for market I have always believed in a strong blanket approach after all you’ll catch more fish with more than one hook right?

So to pull this all together.

I knew I wanted  21-35 year olds as my first and main client base.

I knew how they thought and what they were thinking as far as har after doing lots of research.

I knew they wanted to hang out in a cool place so the salon had to look cool.

I knew they would look for services that were different arther than chasing the same old services as they other salons were offering in the town.

Once the package was placed together I took it all to market or did my marketing.

I can tell you this right now…

I had at least 12 things DAILY that we did to market my salons.

  1. Reception script
  2. Referral flyers
  3. Special offer flyers
  4. New stylist promotions
  5. New service promotions
  6. A-boards
  7. Shop window displays
  8. Tent cards
  9. Direct mail
  10. Piggy-back marketing
  11. Telephone marketing
  12. Upsell training and script
  13. Street selling
  14. PR
  15. Car park marketing
  16. Carrier bag marketing
  17. Evangelical marketing
  18. FREE newspaper marketing
  19. Stunt marketing
  20. Floor rental marketing
  21. Changing room marketing
  22. Pub marketing
  23. Toilet marketing (true)

And frankly; a ton more that we put into place.

But the bottom line was this.

Within 18 months we went from new salon to NUMBER ONE salon. That helped me go from ONE salon to THREE salons. I also went from 250 square feet to 2,000 square foot salon.

Bottom line is this… getting well known, getting clients through the door isn’t about doing great hairdressing.

Yes great hairdressing is essential to building your brand but here’s the thing… great hairdressing with ZERO or bad marketing results in one thing… debt and a closed shop!

It never happens by accident.

Alan, the Head Punk

Alan's book The Salon Punk Book is now out and can be ordered HERE 

The Salon Punk Book

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