Expert Advice

Idea Exchange

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 7:09 PM

When small salons adapt big-business practices and mega corporations act neighborly, sound financial practices and down-home friendliness converge. For David Orio, co-owner of Casa Urbana Apothecary and Salon in Hudson, New York, that meant cribbing a retail-destination concept for his 1,800 square-foot salon.

“We only carry unique lines that tell a strong story and allow higher margins,” he says, explaining how he developed his boutique area. “Now, we’re cross-promoting salon services with a $25 ‘passport’ that allows our shoppers to get half-off up to $600 worth of services, as long as they’ve never tried those services before.”

With little room for cosmetics, he forged a corporate alliance with a nearby Face Stockholm store by developing a facial based on the store’s products and inviting the make-up artists to do professional applications in the salon, in return for the store referring its shoppers for hair and skin care services.

At the behemoth Charles Penzone Family of Salons based in Powell, Ohio, COO Mary-Lynn Foster “fosters” a friendly, local-business atmosphere by reaching out to guests several times a year, thanking them for their loyalty. For the operation’s upcoming 40th anniversary, Penzone salons sent its most loyal clients a gift card, thanking them for contributing to the company’s success. Additionally, last Thanksgiving, guests were given a $20 “Bonus Card” with every $100 in gift card purchases they made.

“We add special service touches; for example, during our manicures and pedicures, we offer a hot towel service that is a wonderful, inexpensive way to make a difference,” adds Foster, who says despite size, large salons can achieve a “homey” feeling by focusing on a personalized experience.

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