ISBN Explores The Business of Being Social at Annual ConferenceThe attendees to the International Salon/Spa Business Network’s annual conference, held in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, May 3-5, derived double meaning from this year’s theme “The Business of Being Social.”

The owners of multi-location salon operations gathered for a lavish ocean-side President’s Reception, networking with one another, as well as with a vast array of sponsoring vendors. “I’m both humbled and honored to be the president of an association that has helped my own organization grow through the powerful relationships and friendships I’ve made by being part of it,” says Jason Volk, founder of Chatters Canada and Tommy Guns Original Barbershops at his welcome the following morning. “The brainpower that’s all gathered under one roof is powerful and profound. And, I know that without the support of our vendors that have keep this organization strong, my organization may not have grown from 14 salons to 125.”

ISBN Explores The Business of Being Social at Annual ConferenceOn Monday, a day of inspiring education kicked off as former ISBN presidents Paula Malloy and Phil Horvath presented the ISBN Legend Award to Pat Parenty, president, L’Oreal USA Professional Product Division and Salon Centric. “The relationship hairdressers have with their communities is a special one, and this business got into my blood the moment I started,” Parenty says. “I’ve always felt a responsibility to give back and try to positively shape the industry, and I am fortunate to work for a company that encourages me to pursue that passion.”

Attendees then focused on the topic of being social in the digital world as Keynote Speaker Chris Brogan showed owners how to cut through the clutter on digital channels by being helpful to consumers.

“When it comes to capturing your clients’ dollars, you aren’t just competing against other vendors, you’re competing for time, money, attention span, ease of use and a sense of belonging,” Brogan says. “People want to feel as though they belong, they want to feel they are understood. It’s really as easy as remembering your customer’s names and their personal preferences and delivering on them.”

As the morning’s second speaker, Merkle’s Mike Mojica built on the theme by illustrating the importance of a customer-centric, data-driven strategy in the digital world with CRM—Customer Relationship Management. “Allocate resources to optimize long-term customer value,” he says. “Customize and personalize your offerings. Engage, measure and react.”

Before breaking for lunch, Beauty First’s Pat Neville led a panel of industry leaders including  Parenty, John Paul Mitchell Systems’ Jason Yates, Sexy Hair’s Jennifer Parks and Revlon Professional Brands’ Marty Flaherty in a thought-provoking exploration of industry trends, challenges and opportunites. The panelists covered topics, including the shift from hairdresser-led manufacturing companies to corporate manufacturers, the growth of booth rental and its impact on the industry, and how salons will be affected by omni-channeled retailing.

Over lunch MODERN SALON Media’s Steve Reiss further highlighted risks and opportunities to attendees with a presentation that explored how the economy is shaping client behavior and driving trends. "Just like the Great Depression shaped the behavior of our parents or grandparents, the recent Recession is impacting the behavior of today's beauty consumer," Reiss said. "That is presenting some challenges to salons and spas, but there also are several opportunities."

In the afternoon, attendees further explored the morning topics in workshop with both Brogan and Mojica, before several rounds of one-on-one speed meetings with vendors.

On the following day, Dr. Shalom Saada Saar, a professor of business leadership on staff at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, walked the multi-location salon owners through the seven Cs of leadership: Conviction, Comprehension, Competence, Communication, Courage, Compassion, and Character. “More than the business of hair, you are in the business of people,” he told the group. “Once you understand that mindset, people become your asset, and you spend the money it takes to develop and grow that asset.”