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This year's SALON TODAY 200 application includes two essay questions. While the essays have always been important for giving our judges an inside look at the management practices of the ST200 applicants, they are particularly critical this year when we can't look at sales growth statistics.

Why? This year's competition evaluates metrics from the year 2020, a year when the pandemic forced salons to close from six weeks to ten months and more, creating a vary unlevel palying field when trying to compare sales figures. 

This year's essays focus on Recovery and Rebuilding, specifically what strategies salons employed in 2020 to recover business after reopening, and what specific actions owners and their team took in 2021 to rebuild and grow their business. 

Looking for a winning essay? Here's some tips to alleviate writer's block and get you going: 

Ideas Over Grammar
The essays are the part of the SALON TODAY 200 that cause applicants the most anxiety. To ease the stress, keep in mind our judges are looking for impactful ideas, we are not judging on the quality of your writing, grammar or punctuation. Focus on the quality of your ideas. If you still want to have your essays proofed, ask you team members or your clients to give them a read before you attach them to your application. 

Get to the Point
When writing their essays, many owners wax poetic for many paragraphs before getting to the unveiling of their key ideas. Keep in mind, our judges spend several weeks painstakingly reading each essay and reading similar flowery prose gets tedious very quickly. Get into your ideas quickly--you can even use bullet points if it helps you organize your thoughts. We added the maximium word count to help owners get to the point more quickly. 

Pick and Choose
Within each of the two questions, there are several sub-questions. You don't have to answer every question within the essay question. Those are intended as prompts to get you thinking in the right direction. Read them and allow them to guide you to the best ideas you want to put forth in your essay.

Focus on What Makes You Unique
Because of the nature of the SALON TODAY 200 competition, entries are compared to each other and they are scored and ranked, helping us identify the 200 honorees. When you focus on something new, unique or different, it gets noticed. For example, if you implemented an idea from your manaufacturer, but hundreds of others write about the same program, it doesn't stand out from the crowd. But if you focus on how you took that great program and made it your own, it gets more notice. If you and you team came up with an original idea and employed it for business success, that's a winning idea.  

Don't Forget the Fun
Make your essays more colorful with short anecdotes that illustrate why your ideas were successful.

To get a jump-start on your thinking, here are this year's essay questions:

RECOVERY ESSAY: Looking back over 2020, what particularly strategies did you take to recover your business after reopening from the pandemic? How long were social distancing requirements in place and how did they impact business? If you lost team members, how did you recruit and retain? If you lost clients, how did you gain new ones? Maximum Word Count: 1000

REBUILDING ESSAY: Looking back over 2021, what specific actions did you and your team take to rebuild and grow your business? For example, share any cost management systems you put in place, any marketing programs to rebuild, any new services added, and efforts to recruit and retain employees. Talk about how you kept your culture and education systems strong, share any philanthropic activities you participated in or any strategies to keep your salon sustainable--either environmentally or financially. Did you take any actions to strengthen customer service? Maximum Word Count: 1000

Applications are due October 31! Download your application and get started today!

 

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Originally posted on Salon Today

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