There are, a plethora of salon exclusive products on the market for salon owners to choose from and it seems every time I turn around there is another new name in the marketplace. On one hand this is good because you can easily find high quality, effective skin care ranges for your salon, on the other, it makes the process of choosing all the more difficult.
Here are just a few of the considerations that I discuss with my clients before they take on a new range.
- Every product range has something they can claim to be the best at. Quite often our decision making in this area is not wholly about the product, but rather about service, marketing and training. So, my first point is be careful, choosing simply because of claims that the product is the best, highest potency, household name, favourite or latest in skin science.
- Ask about the extent of the range. Does it cover the key areas of our business including hydrators, antioxidants and vitamins, AHA’s and BHA’s or even enzyme peels, a men’s range, body products for both retail sales and professional use, problem skin products specific to concerns such as acne, an anti-aging line, products that can be used in conjunction with mechanical services such as skin needling, IPL or laser, gift lines for events such as Christmas and Mother’s Day….My point is where do you need the new range to fit into your client’s needs. We need to offer as full a spectrum of services as we can in order to capture the most market and therefore need a product range or ranges to provide wide coverage of these services.
- For many salons the size and value of the opening order can be an obstacle. Whilst opening orders are intended to provide the salon with the full extent of the range, many product companies are now flexible with opening orders to suit either retail space or budget. Also make sure that the recommended opening order covers your needs for professional as well as retail stock.
- Point of sale materials can be expensive if you have to purchase them. Most leading brands offer a wide range of point of sale posters, bags, flyers, price lists, social media content, window displays and stands with their products. Some of these items will be free to you, some will not. It is always a good idea to qualify what you will receive for free to your salon long term. Also, what are the ongoing cost of items such as bags and flyers if you have to pay for them. A number of companies now supply these important items dependant on the size of your order or at a subsidised rate.
- Delivery times and costs are another factor that should be considered when choosing a product company. Just how quickly can they have product to you if you need it urgently? Similarly, what are the costs involved in shipping orders to you. Many companies offer free delivery if the value of the order exceeds a certain amount. This is important because freight costs can quickly eat away profits on low margin products. Another factor to consider is that of supply. What is the company’s record like on out of stocks?
- You need to calculate both the mark up and margin of the products when comparing different product companies. You are in business to make profit, so profit margins for both retail products and the cost of performing services is vital information. Ask the product companies to provide profit reports on their recommended retail prices as well as their professional product use as a cost per treatment.
- Payment terms are also a consideration. Payment terms can vary from payment on delivery, to 7, 14 or 30 day accounts. Some companies offer credit card facilities, some require direct deposits, some pass on their EFTPOS and credit card charges. For many salon owners a 30 day account means that you can turn over your stock and have the money in the bank before you have to pay for it.
- How experienced and knowledgeable is the product company representative that will be servicing your salon? What assistance will they be providing you with? Have they worked in a busy salon? Have they ever owned or managed a salon? These are important questions if you want to gain the maximum assistance from a product representative. Ask how often they will visit your salon. This is especially important in rural areas where salons are often forgotten because of their distance from major cities. Will this person be able to help conduct staff training, staff meetings, one on one meetings with owners and managers, provide marketing ideas, assist with promotional days, product launches and VIP nights? Often these sorts of activities need to be conducted after normal business hours for your salon to run smoothly for your customers. Is your product representative going to be available at times to suit you?
- What product price point does your salon need to meet? Different areas attract different sorts of customers. Understanding the demographics of your local area can help you to determine the price points that you want your services and retail products to sell at. Quite often two or more price points need to be met in order to adequately cater for the different socio-economic needs of your customers. Often having ranges that cover both a high and low price point allows you to cater for those who enjoy the results of serious skin care ranges whilst still offering a viable, salon exclusive alternative to those who would normally walk out and purchase from a pharmacy or supermarket.
- Knowing what the products contain is another factor in choosing the right product for your salon. The initial choice will be between different products by their major ingredients. Aromatherapy based, marine algae formulations, all natural ingredients, vitamin and antioxidant focussed, plant extracts, AHA’s…Which of these fits your salon philosophy or compliments / contrasts an existing range. Underpinning this is the full ingredients list of the products you will want to use and sell. As a professional it is very important you study the ingredients of products to be sure that what you are using will only have a positive long – term effect on your client’s skin.
- Some product houses provide public advertising in various forms. This can be of great benefit to your salon providing public awareness of the brand you will be stocking. Check who is advertising on social media, woman’s and men’s magazines, newspapers and at the various expos and conferences. Some of this advertising can even list your salon location or offer special offers to bring customers into your salon. Some brands are also well recognised in their support for charities and community events. Again, this can be wonderful brand awareness and attract extra customers to your business.
- Product and post graduate training schools are now offered by many product houses. These schools should be an integral part of your staff training in an industry where product development and techniques are changing so quickly. When choosing a new product range consider the frequency, timing and length of the various training schools offered by the company. Also consider where these schools are held. Often, they are only available in the capital cities and travelling expenses can be costly in both, time away from the salon and travel costs. A number of companies also provide non product related training in salon management, staff management, retail selling, advertising and marketing, business coaching, motivation and financial management. Having regular access to training professionals such as myself through the product company you are working with can be a huge advantage to your business.
- Always consider how proactive a product company is. Check their schedule for new product launches, what products are being withdrawn from sale, special deals and promotional activities. There should be a promotional calendar gazetted well ahead that will allow you to plan your own marketing including seasonal promotions to fit with different climatic conditions and events. Ask about the advertising collateral such as stands, posters, sign writing, newspaper advertisements and flyers that accompany these promotions.
- Accessory products such as testers and samples are also an important consideration. Similarly, incentives or rewards for staff can sometimes be provided by some companies. The number, cost, value and frequency of these items should be considered when choosing your next range.
- Consider whether the range is included in the product training at your local colleges. If it is, then students graduating or even doing work experience are familiar with the range and quicker to train to your salon standards.
As you can see there are many considerations in choosing your next product range and this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, I have left the most important consideration to last. You have got to enjoy the product yourself. It is so much easier to sell a product and feel confident in your treatments when you enjoy using the products yourself. Ask the representative to leave you samples and to give you a treatment. If you enjoy the product, like the results and get positive answers to the considerations listed above, then it is probably a safe bet that the product is right for your salon.