Kim Kimble has carved out a name for herself in the beauty industry, and beyond, for her versatile styling skills seen in magazines and movies, serving as a TV personality and beauty authority, manufacturing her own product line, and owning a bustling full-service salon that caters to the entertainment industry’s top-billed performers including Beyonce, Zendaya, Shakira and Rihanna, among others.
Yet no matter how filled her books are, and how much success she’s found in her career, the reality is that the pandemic is impacting everyone — especially small-business owners. Extended lockdowns in the state of California, mixed with an unpredictable economy, pushed Kimble to reimagine the way she services her clientele, unlocking a digital revenue stream while building shop-small loyalty.
“When COVID-19 hit, we, like so many others, had to close our salon and immediately start thinking about how to continue business,” Kimble says. “Customers were still desperate for services, so finding a way to safely pivot my business was vital.”
In the early days of lockdown, Kimble turned to e-commerce and live virtual consultations, classes and digital services to remain nimble.
“We also offered at-home hair color and extension kits to serve our customers while we couldn’t do so in person,” she says. “I invested more time and effort into my retail beauty lines including wet goods and hot tools. It is important for our industry to adapt quickly and effectively during difficult times such as this.”
Once again, Kimble found success and has now partnered with American Express to share her story and help salon owners adapt to a changing world by saving time and money on solutions to move their businesses forward and welcome new regulars.
“I’m proud to partner with American Express to help bring business back to local salons throughout the recovery period and am doing so by offering my guidance to other salon owners and spotlighting the importance of supporting independent salons,” Kimble says. “The pandemic was devastating to salon owners, as in-person services came to a halt; and local salons continue to need our help to recover as they reopen.”
As a third-generation hairdresser, Kimble has a native understanding of the client/stylist relationship, and the importance of “meeting them where they are," which includes making sure they’re comfortable in your chair and all throughout the salon experience.
“Customers are excited to come back to their favorite salons and I am dedicated to serving them as safely as possible,” she says, suggesting bulking up retail sales to help to offset the inability to book as many guests as before. “The pandemic really opened our eyes to the growth possibilities we had for our business. The need for hair services was overwhelming, but some people are still not 100% comfortable with in-person services. This gave us the opportunity to expand our business from just service-based to product-oriented as well.”
Kimble says being able to pivot your business is vital in growing it. “My relationships with my clients are so important to me, and their support is appreciated now more than ever.”
Kimble and team also tapped into technology, offering online services for her clientele including online consultations and offering video lessons to build her clients’ at-home hair skills.
“Being able to pivot your business is vital in growing it,” she says. “My relationships with my clients are so important to me, and their support is appreciated now more than ever.”
Some good news in the forecast: A recent Amex Trendex study showed that 84% of adults surveyed said they are planning to purchase a salon treatment in the next six months.1
The Amex Trendex study also showed that 55% of adults surveyed said it is important that businesses accept contactless methods of payment, while 53% of adults surveyed said, when relevant, it's important for businesses to give them a way to tip without needing to handle cash.
“As we open our doors, it’s important to give our customers a welcoming experience that will ensure they keep coming back,” says Kimble, who shares that the Amex Trendex study also found that 84% of adults surveyed say that when deciding to shop at a business, it’s important that they can pay the way they want to pay — and that includes offering contactless payments for touchless transactions.
“Not only is it important to stay up to date with the changing regulations such as social distancing guidelines, PPE and capacity limits but allowing clients to checkout with their preferred payment will help them feel more comfortable and that their preferences are welcomed,” Kimble says.
One of the biggest game-changers in smooth salon operations can come from assessing your team’s skills, potential and productivity.
“My customers are eager to spend on beauty services because they want to look and feel their best as they return to their routines,” Kimble says. “Natural hair styling, hair color, braids, extensions and wigs are growing in popularity and it’s really important to have a staff that knows what they are doing. Salon owners are challenged with hiring more staff who can work quicker than ever before. My advice to other salon professionals is to understand that great staff is key and to invest in educating their staff. You can do this through digital classes and mentoring sessions so that they have real one-on-one experiences.
“I’m proud to partner with American Express to help bring business back to local salons,” Kimble says. “The pandemic was devastating to salon owners, as in-person services came to a halt; and local salons continue to need our help throughout recovery."
Kimble says a key to unlocking success in your salon, spa or barbershop recovery plan, whenever encountering tough times, is to always be flexible.
“Learn to adjust the way you operate, Kimble says. “You have to be open to expanding your business into fields you may not have expected you would.”
To learn more about Kimble’s partnership with American Express, and how American Express can support your salon in its recovery plan, visit https://www.americanexpress.com/us/merchant/salon-support.html.
1This Morning Consult poll was conducted between June 2-14, 2021, among a national sample of 2,000 general population adults with a household income of $50k+, defined as consumers. Results from the overall survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
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