Fifteen years as a hairdresser in Manhattan teaches you a few lessons about customer service. Beauty-savvy, urban clients expect stylists to be at the top of their game in service, technique and product education.
Janet St. Paul started her career in New York and worked at famed salons like Fekkai and Butterfly Studio before taking her experience and moving to Austin, Texas, to open her own business: Janet St. Paul Studio for Hair and Beauty.
“In Austin, salons are more boutique-y, and a la carte,” she says. “But when the city started to grow dramatically, we noticed a real need for clients to have a place to go for ALL their services. They were looking for a trusted professional for great hair, make-up, etc, for events and regular services—all in one spot.”
So after five years in her small, 600-square-foot studio, St. Paul left to build out 2,462 square feet of raw space. Now, with five stylists (four who have moved from NYC to work with her), business is booming, and St. Paul is filling a void in the Austin market for complete beauty in one salon.
But all this growth required the right technology to guide and enhance St. Paul’s business. “We had a software program we used for two or three years when we were still small, and it was OK, but it was all about their branding,” St. Paul says. “I wanted MY branding to be dominant—I wasn’t selling their software, I was selling my salon. I also needed more service and technical support, so I started asking around.”
It was a conversation with an industry consultant that led St. Paul to Rosy Salon Software. “I was so excited when I found out a hairstylist helped create the software,” she says. “Stylists have an understanding that’s not just about the numbers.”
Blending in Technology
As a 25-year veteran stylist, St. Paul is a firm believer in human interaction—especially in today’s world. “I’m so grateful for technology, but we don’t spend enough time connecting with people in a service-oriented business,” she says. “When you connect with a person during the day—whether it’s two minutes or 45 minutes—if it’s authentic and grounded, that moment of connection outweighs any other experience through the rest of the day.”
With Rosy, St. Paul has been able to blend that human connection with technology in ways that benefit both her clients and her staff. “My technicians all have the Rosy app on their phone,” she says. “So if they get a text from a client, they can look at their schedule and make the appointment, which is a huge convenience when they are out and about.”
Another big convenience is right in the salon: monitors stationed throughout the space for stylists to interact with. “They can do upsells on tickets, change pricing based on color use, add categories—anything,” St. Paul says. “Before, they would forget to add something on a ticket or tell the front desk, and now they can just do it on the touchscreen that hangs outside the dispensary. It’s easy to learn and they like to control their ticket by editing/changing the price if needed.
“We live in the south, and our clients are outside all the time. If we deem it necessary to do an add-on deep conditioning treatment, we talk about it in the moment, and then go for it,” St. Paul explains.
St. Paul says reviewing revenue on Rosy has been a game changer for her as well. “It’s so different than other software systems,” she says. “The dashboards are great because I’m able to look at service and product sales at a glance. I’m behind the chair five days a week, and running a business with 10 employees, so having a visual software I can quickly view and do breakouts of the data for my staff is huge.”
For marketing her business, St. Paul started using SalonInteractive, a new software from Rosy founders that provides marketing and e-commerce tools to work seamlessly with other platforms.
“SalonInteractive has been huge for us,” she says. “I like to communicate with the client as much as possible about any challenges outside the salon, so when I’m at the salon, all runs smoothly.” St. Paul uses SalonInteractive to e-mail and direct message clients about anything from parking to events in the salon.
“In my most recent client e-mail for a Mother’s Day event, our reach rate was 68 percent, then we had a 34 percent open and click-through rate,” St. Paul says. “I love that I can customize everything—even automated e-mails for complimentary birthday blowouts are customized with my logo. We’re a high-end salon, so I need to be able to use my specific language: ‘We would love to treat you, here’s a gift,’ NOT ‘Here’s a freebie!’”
The result is stand-out e-mail marketing with positive client feedback—St. Paul’s clients love getting the newsletter and e-mails. “We can customize our e-mails to go to all clients or just some, but the communication always aligns with the look and feel of our brand,” St. Paul says. “Some software has its branding on it, which means you’re sharing the page with someone else. My clients want to know what’s relative to them.”
St. Paul carefully analyzes the performance data of all her marketing through Salon Interactive as well. “When I can see how an e-mail performed, it makes a difference on how we’re going to move forward with the next e-mail,” she says. “It allows me to make more effective decisions based on open rates.”
Recently, St. Paul saw the fruits of her marketing labor in a local magazine’s “best of” contest. “Before, when we used other e-mail platforms like Mail Chimp, clients would unsubscribe after a bad experience,” she says. “But our open rate has doubled in the past couple years— people trust us since the e-mail is coming from the salon.”
St. Paul says clients feel an urgency to open the e-mail so they won’t miss out on anything. “In this campaign, we told clients how grateful we are for their patronage and asked them to show us their support by voting,” she says. “It was written in my voice and came with my branding/logo.”
Connecting Through Retail
Another avenue for connecting with clients at Janet St. Paul is through retail. The salon is Phyto’s U.S. flagship location and its highest producing salon in the nation. The average retail per client ticket ranges from $45 - $65, and St. Paul herself sells an average of three products per client.
“Retail is my sweet spot,” St. Paul says. “I know you have a more sustainable client if you educate her. If you don’t educate the client, you lose your stickiness to her. By selling product, the real connection happens by reaching her outside of the salon environment.”
St. Paul drills the importance of retailing into her staff and does product education monthly to achieve and maintain a high level of service. She uses Rosy to keep them all on track: “Our PPC (product per client) in our old space was about .9 (almost one) for every technician,” she says. “Now it’s 1.1 to 1.2 per technician. That’s a huge jump in less than a year. Using Rosy allows me to discuss challenges the team may have had the previous month and give them better support behind the chair on verbiage and education.”
At this time, Phyto isn’t available on Rosy’s e-commerce platform, but St. Paul says she wouldn’t hesitate to sell her products online if and when it’s a possibility. “Phyto is such a prescriptive line,” she says. “And I could educate and customize via the Salon Interactive e-commerce platform.”
As for other online sales platforms, like Amazon, St. Paul says they don’t affect her retail. “Everybody is online,” she says. “If you’re wasting your time worrying about something you can’t control, you have to figure out how you’re going to be more unique than Amazon.
“I know how my product was shipped, how it was treated during shipment, what temperature it was stored at and what temperature will ruin it,” she stresses. “I can guarantee it to my client. I can also explain to clients how they are flying blind online unless they know exactly what their stylist wants them to use every minute. At our salon, clients get a curated, personal experience with their stylist.”
To Infinity and Beyond
With a seasoned staff, a beautiful new space and the support of Rosy and SalonInteractive, St. Paul says the future feels limitless. “Human interaction combined with technology shows us where we’re strong and where we’re softer and can grow,” she says. “SalonInteractive has made us more nimble with our marketing. One of my earliest realizations was that as we added people, we got much slower on enacting policy and procedure.”
“But small businesses need to be quick and fast,” she says. “If something is not working, you have to change it fast. We know how expensive it is to operate per square foot, and can’t afford to waste a penny.”
St. Paul can see immediately if a marketing campaign isn’t working through SalonInteractive, so she pivots quickly to a new strategy. “We’ve also figured out the right presence with our client,” she says. “Our sweet spot is to reach her twice a month outside our salon unless it’s for a specific special event.”
“We have an e-mail calendar and know six months ahead of time what we’re doing, so we combine it with signage in the salon,” St. Paul continues. “We cherish our clients’ time and don’t want to bombard her, so we’ve figured out the right formula and timing.”
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Originally posted on Salon Today