Why salons are like tomato plants

What is the best way to help ensure a great crop from your salon? And why are you feeling the pinch from your competition?

"Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD".

Wise words to live by.  And words that I utter when I see certain "fashion technique" hair colours, some types of nail art, particular kinds of lash extensions.  We love to push the boundaries of what we do in your salons.  And that extends to our businesses too.

Why can't I remember those wise words in the garden?  You see, I hate tomatoes.

Cooked is a different matter - some of my favourite dishes are tomato-based.  But raw they just smell too green and their slimy little seeds make me want to run.

So why, every year, do I grow them?  I spend so much money on seeds, compost and organic plant food that it would be cheaper to buy the tomatoes from a farm shop.  Plus every time I brush past their stinky, hairy leaves the smell turns my stomach.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.   

I'm writing this following a few days away with my Darling Husband.  We actually managed to persuade Supergran to look after the kids to allow DH and me to recharge and reconnect before the madness of school holidays gets underway.

And Supergran watered the tomatoes religiously.  What she didn't do was pinch out the side shoots.  These are the tomato plant's attempt to take over the world in a triffid-like frenzy of growth.  They are essentially little branches that push out from the main stem.  And they have to go.

Because they take a lot of energy away from the main plant, away from the infant tomatoes that are staring poisonously at me from across the patio.  The side shoots harm your harvest.  And same is true in your business too.

I see so many salons adding more services, more expensive machines, more retail products, more side shoots to the business.  I understand why - they are trying to compete.  Let me explain why that is probably not working for you.

Imagine you have a waxing salon.  In your town, there's a fair amount of competition - maybe 4 other salons offer waxing services.  Though other types of competition exist, essentially there are 5 salons competing for waxing business in that town.

Then imagine in an effort to stand out and move the business forward you want to add, say, facials to your price card.  Your research tells you that 2 of those other 4 salons offer facials too.  So as the salon owner you might imagine you've reduced the number of direct competitors from 4 to 2.  Wrong!

In fact, in our imaginary town there might be 3 others salons offering facial services - but they don't offer waxing.  Instead of reducing your competition to 2, you've increased it to 7.  Plus you've also lost your crown as the super-specialist waxing guru along the way.

By appearing in more categories, you increase your competition.  Plus the REALLY profitable customers want someone who specialises in their particular needs too.  Specialists get to charge more than generalists - fact.

My challenge to you this week is to take a long, hard look at your salon business.  Be brutally honest about the areas that are core to your business, those that are 'nice-to-haves' and those where the competition is kicking your ass.

Then prune.