To run a successful salon, you need an effective strategy. But how can you tell if yours is actually working—or if it's time to pivot? Below, we address this important question by providing five signs it's time to reassess your salon business strategy.

Before we dive in, however, let's define what we mean by a business strategy.  You have goals for your salon, right? The strategy is the action plan that will help you achieve those goals.

For example, if one of your goals is to increase revenue by 20% this year, the strategy for achieving that goal might involve various marketing campaigns, like running Facebook/Instagram ads, developing a refer-a-friend program, and providing incentives to employees who bring in new customers.

Make sense? Good! Now, let's talk about signs it’s time to reassess your strategy.

1. You haven't reviewed your salon's business strategy in the last twelve months.

As we go to press with this article, we're (finally) emerging from a pandemic. So, if you're reading our article in 2021, this sign might not apply to you since you've likely been thinking about your salon business strategy more, not less, over the last twelve months.

That said, in our experience, one of the biggest signs it's time to revisit your salon business strategy is the fact you've been ignoring it for a long, long time.

At the very least, you should be reviewing your business strategy every year. Many people do this at the end of the calendar year or the end of their fiscal year. The "when" matters less than the consistency. And ideally, you should be reviewing your business plan more often than annually—think quarterly or even monthly if you can swing it. Remember, serious business owners take their businesses seriously.

Keep in mind that revisiting your salon's business strategy doesn't have to be some long, drawn out, daunting task, either. Sometimes simply asking yourself two essential questions is enough to get the proverbial ball rolling:

  • Are you where you expected to be in terms of revenue and/or growth?
  • Do you feel good about the business and the direction the salon is headed?

Most of the time, your gut will tell you when you’re heading in the wrong direction or if things aren't working out. It's up to you to listen to these gut-checks—and respond appropriately.

PRO TIP: If you find you're not good about regularly reviewing your salon's business strategy, consider teaming up with a fellow business owner who can hold you accountable. (This person doesn't have to be someone from the beauty industry, either.) Meet every quarter to discuss each other's business. (Or, again, more often if you can swing it.)

As Entrepreneur.com explains, "An accountability partner is a business peer who helps you grow your company by offering guidance and by holding you to your commitments. While it's similar to a mentor relationship, both partners work on bettering their businesses with the feedback and support of each other."

Where can you find an accountability partner? Consider networking groups (like Business Networking International or your local Chamber of Commerce), Facebook industry groups, and/or your beauty school's alumni network. Even friends and family can introduce you to other like-minded small business owners.

2. Your salon is consistently receiving poor reviews.

As the saying goes, perception is reality. Sure, every salon gets the occasional bad review. That's life. But if your salon is consistently getting poor reviews, pay attention to what the reviewers are saying. They’re likely pointing out something that you can and should address from a business strategy standpoint.

For example, maybe reviewers are saying they love the people in your salon, but scheduling is a nightmare. Revisit your business strategy. Perhaps you've been putting too much money towards marketing campaigns instead of earmarking dollars for infrastructure upgrades like scheduling software. Adjust accordingly and see if the reviews improve.

PRO TIP: Identify the common theme and trends in the negative reviews. The themes/trends likely derive from two areas—issues with the salon itself and issues with the employees. (And if you're really having problems, it could be both.)

Address the issues. Here's where having an accountability partner can help. You can discuss the issue and your plan of attack. And your partner can check in to make sure you're staying on track with the fixes.

3. Something unexpected happens.

Even if your salon was doing well in early 2020 thanks to a solid business strategy, everything likely came to a halt once COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns hit. No doubt, you—and your business strategy—hadn't accounted for something so epic.

In some ways, the pandemic served as an important reminder to always be prepared for the unexpected. Because it's not just pandemics that can disrupt your salon business. Any time there's a life-altering event—think natural disasters, long-term illnesses, economic recessions—you'll need to revisit your salon’s business strategy and adjust accordingly.

In fact, you’ll need to adjust not only the strategy itself, but also your bigger goals—at least, in the short term.

PRO TIP: For this tip, let's use an example to demonstrate our point. Pretend that going into 2020, you hoped to increase revenue by 20% compared to 2019. As part of the business strategy to support this goal, you developed a marketing plan and hired two new employees. But once the pandemic hit and you were forced to close your doors, those revenue projections needed to be adjusted along with the short-term strategy. Not to mention, other "pivots" needed to happen, such as focusing on/reinvesting in infection control protocols in your salon.

All of this is OK. That's precisely why you have a salon business strategy in the first place. It should be dynamic. It should change over time. (Which is why you need to regularly revisit it.)

4. You dread going into work and "facing" things.

For the first three signs listed above, we can point to something concrete to guide you—e.g., you haven't looked at your strategy in over 12 months, you're racking up poor reviews, or you're experiencing an unexpected event like a pandemic.

But this sign requires some soul-searching. Not every day at work is going to be rainbows and puppy dogs. Managing a beauty business will have its challenges. But a strong business strategy should make you feel positive overall. It should inspire excitement about the road ahead. It should make you eager to tackle each day, or, at least, most days.

If that's not the case—and you need to be honest with yourself if it's not—then taking a second look at your business strategy and your larger goals is critical. Adjust the strategy, as needed. Remember, you don't need to accomplish everything at once. Implementing a simpler business strategy that focuses on one goal at a time is certainly OK and possibly even preferable.

PRO TIP: In addition to an accountability partner, a mentor can be invaluable for situations like this. A mentor is someone who will coach, encourage, and offer invaluable wisdom while you do the work needed to accomplish your goals. Learn more about what to expect out of a mentoring relationship.

5. You're ready to take your salon to the next level.

Not all signs are negative, and this one is an example of a positive. You've done the hard work. You've implemented a strong business strategy, and you're seeing the results.

Now what?

Now, you develop new goals and adjust your business strategy so you can achieve these goals and take your salon to the next level.

PRO TIP: You're probably sensing a theme with these pro tips, and that theme is this: You don't have to go it alone. We've already mentioned accountability partners and mentors. Another great way to push yourself when you want to take things to the next level (or when you're feeling stuck) is through continuing education. Whether you opt for a business class in your local community or for online continuing education through Milady Training, many opportunities exist. Take advantage of them!

Remember, your salon business strategy should remain flexible.

Strategies will—and should—change over time. Learn to recognize the signs when it's time to reassess yours. Be willing to adjust and pivot. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has famously said, "Be stubborn on the long-term vision, but flexible on the details." That's excellent advice for all of us.

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