Seeking Green Solutions to Make Business Easier

November 15, 2017 | 7:54 AM
Interior shots of Suki's.
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Mark from Green Circle Salons with the Suki's team.
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There is a reason that Suki’s Salons in Vancouver, Canada, is celebrating 45 years of success and growth this year. Opened in 1972 by Suki Takagi and compromising six salons and an academy in the greater Vancouver area, the business has a track record of facing seemingly intractable challenges head-on and finding solutions. So it was that five years ago, after the city tightened its waste disposal procedures, Suki’s went looking for the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to get rid of its salon trash. It found Green Circle Salons, a Toronto-based company with a mission to massively reduce waste coming from beauty salons and guide the industry towards more sustainable habits.

Nowadays Green Circle, which partners with Shortcuts, has a network of more than 1,500 salons stretching across North America, reaching into every post (and zip) code. But in 2012 the organization was still in its infancy and solely focused on the Canadian east coast. That did not deter the team at Suki’s.

"Vancouver is a beautiful city and it’s very eco-conscious, and so is Suki’s,’ says Britney Reid, personal assistant to Suki’s president, Ken Takagi. "We wanted to find an environmentally appropriate way to dispose of the waste that the city wouldn’t deal with: hair, chemicals and foils with chemicals on them. We found Green Circle Salons. The only problem was they didn’t cover Vancouver. But we didn’t let that stop us. We just kept calling and calling. We can be very persuasive, and now they look after us and many other salons in the region."

Green Circle collects the waste from hundreds of salons in the Vancouver area, including all chemicals, foil and hair. It recycles, reuses or re-positions the waste in highly creative ways, leaving Suki’s and other salons with around five per cent of its waste to deal with.

The salons fund the service by adding a small surcharge of between $1.50 and $2 to every client’s bill, known officially as the Environmental Stewardship Fee but more often as the Green Fee. Suki’s has found almost all clients are happy to pay this, although it does remove the fee from services that don’t create waste such as up-dos and blow-dries.

Such a flexible approach to the Green Fee could be difficult to manage, but true to Suki’s way of doing things, the management team went straight for the simplest solution – they approached Shortcuts Software – its business management software provider – and suggested Shortcuts add the feature to the checkout process. Shortcuts jumped at the opportunity, making it automatic, but also super easy to remove. Five years later and now hundreds of other Shortcuts clients around the globe were using programs as innovative as Green Circle, so Suki’s found itself in good company.

Environmental concern is in the very DNA of Suki’s and Shortcuts. Collaborating with our partner salons on tech functionality is also in Shortcuts’ DNA, so it’s been exciting to see hundreds of our salons across America embrace our Green Fee functionality. Making it simple for our partner salons to be eco-friendly is as important to us as it is to every salon, and we are grateful to Suki’s to coming to us to make it as simple as possible.

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