Executives representing thousands of multi-unit salons gathered in San Antonio, Texas, in May for the 2013 International SalonSpa Business Network conference. On the agenda over the symposium’s two days was a roster of topics that promise to shape the future of the professional beauty industry, including technology, legislation, and growing consumer service expectations.
To kick off the event, ISBN President Jason Volk, CEO of Chatters Canada and Tommy Guns Original Barbershops, hosted a Texan-style welcoming reception under the oak trees Sunday evening, May 19. Celebrity Pamela Anderson, who was flown in by luxury hair brand Obliphica, surprised guests at the reception and posed for pictures.
The next morning Volk welcomed attendees by sharing his personal story of how much the association helped him grow his business. “We’ve grown from 20 salons to 115, and I attribute much of that to ISBN, its members and sponsors and their willingness to share,” he said. “You may not be expecting anything by coming to this conference but be surprised to walk away with something really profound.”
Next, Volk, along with JCPenney’s Paula Malloy and Gould’s Salon and Spas’ Philip Gould, presented the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Carlton Whitaker, vice president of Mitchell’s Spas and Hairstyling Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I accept this with a very humble heart,” Whitaker told the audience in a heartfelt speech. “I love people, and I love this organization and it’s always been so encouraging to me to be a part of it.”
Then, Keynote Speaker Andrew Ranson took the stage to talk to the group about the importance of technology-infused leadership. “Learning about technology today is as important as learning to read your balance sheet,” he warned the group. “As a set of tools that we can use to improve what humans can do, technology has become an X factor in organizational success—companies that use it well are prospering, while those that don’t are struggling.”
Ranson gave the group a look at the technologies coming down the road, such as Google glasses, cybernetic headbands, and implants, and the implications they have on business. He also showed the owners how to developed a ‘high-beam’ ability to identify technological trends that will shape the future.
Beauty First’s Pat Neville hosted the State of the Industry panel, which featured Reuben Carranza, CEO of Wella, The Salon Professional Division of P&G North America; Martin Flaherty, senior vice president of business development at Colomer Beauty Brands USA; and Kristin Firrell, vice president of product development and education at John Paul Mitchell Systems. The panel predicted the biggest trends to shape the beauty industry in the coming years to be the graying of America, significant regulatory changes in manufacturing and professional licensing, and the improved performance of styling products.
During the afternoon, attendees signed up for speed meetings, one-on-one meetings with vendors, who hosted small tables at the ISBN Linkup Lounge. Manufacturers donated fun prizes, such as iPad minis, Beats headphones by Dr. Dre, and $1,000 cash, and a new winner was drawn during each speed meeting round.
On the following morning, Speaker T. Scott Gross had the audience laughing out loud as he showed them how to deliver positively outrageous service in a digital age. “What customers want is to feel good and be pleasantly surprised,” he told the group. “If you can get a customer to say ‘Wow,’ it creates a halo effect around your business—the customer is psychologically compelled to tell your service story to others.”
In a special,“Keys to Success” session, ISBN members shared some of their best practices. Michael Portman of Bird’s Barbershops in Austin, Texas, shared how to turn local marketing into national buzz; Cory Anderson of Australia’s Price Attack shed some light on the salon business down under; Gary Reed Jr. of Hair Zoo in Rochester, New York, shared how they appreciate staff and hold them accountable; Debra Penzone of Charles Penzone Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, divulged their strategies for dealing with the financial implications brought on by the Health Care Reform Act; and Gordon Logan, CEO of Sport Clips, looked back on some of the milestones of growing one of the most successful franchises.
After lunch, Steve Overholser, CFO and Treasurer of Great Clips walked the audience through the impact of the Affordable Care Act on salon business. “Basically, this legislation is looking at a way to provide health insurance for 30-40 million who currently aren’t covered, and it resulted in about 15,000 new regulations,” he said. “The law will create significant changes in the way companies provide health care options for employees and in the way individuals purchase self coverage.”