Fast-Paced Growth in a Small Southern Salon
The population of Hartselle, Alabama, is only about 15,000 people. Birmingham is an hour away and the next largest town is a half-hour drive.
But size didn’t stop Hartselle native Kayla Byford from opening her salon right in her hometown. But first, she had to go to beauty school. She chose the Aveda Institute in Birmingham and knew an Aveda salon was in her future.
Upon graduation, Byford went to work in her mom’s salon for a year, which was part commission and part independent contractors. After a year of working there, Byford made the decision to open her own business so she could implement everything she learned in school.
Five years ago, she opened Silver Stone Salon and Spa, an Aveda Concept salon.
“I had a vision of what I wanted to do with Aveda that was different from my mom’s business,” she says. “But she and my father backed me and helped get it started and she guided me and helped me make decisions.”
One Stop Shop
Byford, two stylists, one esthetician, a nail tech, two massage therapists and a front desk person make up the salon staff at Silver Stone.
The clientele ranges from young children coming in for their first hair cut to 80-year-old women. However, Byford says the majority of clients are women in the 20s to 50s range.
“We do everything and we definitely have a small-town feel, but we also provide high-fashion looks and color that are in demand,” Byford says. “We offer all services and stay up to date on all the latest trends from Aveda through education. Everyone thinks they have to drive somewhere far away, but we’re letting them know they can get current styles right here in Hartselle.”
Byford describes the space as modern, but homey, and says clients find the space beautiful, as many of her competitors’ salons look dated.
“There’s only one other spa in town, so ours was needed,” she says. “Clients love the Aveda experience.”
In the past year, Byford’s dedication to keeping her staff educated and providing her clients with a unique experience has resulted in big growth.
Her retail has grown 21 percent and services 9.75 percent. At monthly and weekly meetings—the monthly with her SDP—Byford has focused on motivating her staff to stay focused on benchmarks.
“I give them 10 percent commission on everything they sell (on top of their regular 40 percent commission) and I reward gift cards and/or spa services when they hit goals, win a retail competition or even just have a good week,” she says.
Contests can revolve around a new line launch or a seasonal promotion. Byford just wants her staff to keep retail a part of the conversation with their guests, which is why she also rewards the person with the highest retail sales at the end of each month with a massage, free hair color or gift card. And if she felt the whole team worked hard, she’ll reward them with a luncheon.
“I try to really stay engaged and let them know I care. I know they don’t always feel appreciated, and need the extra congratulations,” she says.
Once stylists start hitting benchmarks and goals, Byford bumps them up to 45 percent commission. They also raise their prices as they complete more classes.
At Silver Stone, Byford has set a $13.50 per client retail goal for stylists, which they must achieve regularly for at least six months before having their commission bumped up.
In addition, prebooking must be at 80 percent, which usually takes at least one year. Average service tickets are $70-80, and Byford is encouraging her staff to sell add-ons to increase tickets.
Tracking all this is simple for Byford and her staff through the SalonBiz mobile app, a tech tool her staff loves.
“They can see daily, weekly, monthly and yearly numbers, and compare what they were doing last year to this year at the same time,” she says. “They get excited by seeing this and it has really motivated them.
“My favorite feature is the service ticket year-to-date,” she adds. “I love to compare and see how I’ve grown. Sometimes I may feel like it’s a little slower than the previous year, and then I go back and see I’m actually doing better. As stylists grow, we do things more quickly without realizing it—we’re more educated, do a faster consultation, etc.”
Byford also attributes her growth to a new referral program that cross promotes the salon and spa. Spa guests get a bag with goodies including a $10 coupon off their first salon visit. Salon guests receive the same for the spa. Sometimes the bag includes a $20 gift towards products, too.
“We introduced it at our anniversary celebration in March and it has helped a lot,” Byford says. “We also reward our loyal guests with free sample Aveda products for referrals,” she adds.
A Bright Future
Byford and her team have been hitting benchmarks so consistently that the time has come to add another stylist.
“The last time I talked to my SDP, she agreed it was time, and her advice has always kept me on track,” she says. “I’m currently managing everything, but I have a stylist in mind to promote when it’s time to grow—she’s right there with me.”
Byford maintains she had to learn a lot the hard way due to her inexperience as a stylist and owner, but her drive and grit have resulted in success.
“I knew I could do it,” she says. “The Aveda Institute in Birmingham gave me great training and I continue to attend classes for technical and business skills.
“I have had some hard times, but everything has fallen into place.”