What does it take to be a Strategies coach?
Ducoff: “Strategies’ coaching team is a group of exceptional business professionals who were either former salon owners or are active salon owners with multiple locations. Unlike coaching franchises where all it takes to become a coach is the ability to pay the fee, each Strategies coach must complete an extensive three-year training program, during which they must demonstrate their command for business by opening up their own companies to close monitoring and coaching by Strategies. And that’s what makes Strategies coaches unique: They are all business owners and each of them experiences the same challenges that any owner faces every day.”
Your role offers you a unique vantage point. How has the professional salon industry changed over the past 20 years?
Ducoff: “I am really surprised how much the booth rental/independent contractor business has grown. Products and distribution have grown to accommodate the independent contractor. Because of the growth in this category, lots of independent salon owners have told me they are very wary about investing in people.
“The fact is you will always have people that will stay and then leave, or take their business down the street. You just have to be savvier as an owner, and as a company to retain people. Owners need to prepare themselves and seek out the right education to build their companies in order to compete in this very different climate. People have the choice to rent a chair or stay in a salon. It’s the difference between having a team around you or competitors around you.
“On the manufacturer side, I have noticed they are becoming more protective of their networks. Large manufacturers have their own communities, their own events. The flow of information becomes difficult with this kind of structure, and the salons sometimes become sheltered with what else is occurring in the industry.
“We service a lot of manufacturer customers. Yes, they want stronger businesses, but are the salons really getting all of the business education they need? Are they creating the businesses that are going to sustain the manufacturer long-term?”
What are some common business mistakes salon owners make?
Ducoff: “There are three primary areas that owner mistakes fall into:
Not paying attention to the numbers. A salon’s financial reports are a numeric readout of its vital signs with respect to performance and health. Too many owners don’t understand the reports and, therefore, are unable to read the warning signs. Even fewer owners practice the discipline of building and living a cash-flow plan that projects monthly revenues and anticipated expenses. Over the years, I’ve seen countless owners fall into one cash-flow crisis after another and run up scary amounts of credit card debt in the process. The financial stress is unbearable and takes a toll on owners and their families. With the right training, coaching and systems, these situations are most curable. Owners must make peace with their numbers and learn how to take control of them.