From A Struggling Salon To The Hottest Spot In Town
Kez and Gareth Broad became the owners of Noggins Salon in Ridgeland, Mississippi, in a rather unusual way.
The salon has been open since 2004, but was sold by its original owner a few years ago to an investor. This investor decided to let his preacher’s daughter, who had just graduated beauty school, run the business on his behalf.
When Kez came to work for Noggins after returning home from studying with TONI&GUY in London, she and her husband, Gareth decided to divide and conquer.
“He went and ran 10 Trade Secrets salons while I built up a clientele behind the chair at Noggins,” says Kez. “During this time, the investor noticed a rapid growth from me while the rest of his stylists were barely making anything.”
The investor invited the Broads to lunch one day and proposed they help him build his business. But the Broads wanted more.
“We declined because we wanted to run our own salon,” says Kez. “I told him to give me half the business while I fix it, and the other half when it was fixed.”
A New Boss in Town
The Broads took over the ownership of Noggins in 2010. When the deal was done, Gareth left his job at 10 Trade Secrets and the Broads went to their staff and explained that education was now mandatory.
Before Kez went to London to further her education with Toni&Guy, she had been a hairdresser for 15 years. But she knew there were others out there who were better. And she knew she could improve. So with a passion for learning, she set out to become the best. She believes in the point of difference great education gives hairdressers and wanted Noggins to have a reputation as the cream of the crop.
“The announcement wasn’t received so well,” she says. “Only two out of 10 stylists stayed to do our education program.”
To make a tough situation even more awkward, people who had been co-workers were now Kez’s understudies.
“It was hard for them, but they did fantastic and stuck with it,” she says.
Through her own education and experience, Kez knew a profitable business doesn’t happen by accident. So she and Gareth created a program to set their stylists up for success.
“We taught them a formula,” says Kez. “It starts with marketability: how you talk, your facial expressions, what you’re wearing, etc. Next, we teach business sense: the consultation and the art of conversation. Finally, we talk about the medical side of hairdressing.”
This is where Noggins truly differentiates itself from the competition, especially in the central Mississippi suburb where they are located.
“I have a friend who’s a holistic doctor,” she says. “She took us to her practice to look at scalps under a microscope so we could better understand top hair complaints.”
These complaints are: shedding, dryness, damage, oiliness at roots, and hair that won’t hold a style. Next, they taught the staff about Aveda products. They learned how the shampoos deep clean the scalp on a level other products cannot.
“Clients see their hair staying cleaner longer, growing faster and shedding less,” says Kez. “We take our stylists through the whole process about how emotional medical side effects can be.”
The medical approach Noggins uses on their clients is unique and effective. “We explain to them how we can work on their issues topically with Aveda products, and then, if they need it, refer them to a wellness specialist who can look at vitamins, and/or any other issues like thyroid or hormones,” she says.
Kez maintains it’s only about 15 percent of customers whose hair problems can’t be fixed by Aveda products. But first, the stylist needs to figure out what the problems are.
“We sit new clients down and ask them what they want, then look at their hair to see what we have to work with. Then we tell them what their realistic options are,” she says.
“The next thing we do is a nutrition test at the shampoo bowl. The doctor taught us how to diagnose what is going on with hair health by watching how the shampoo and conditioner chemically react to the hair. This helps troubleshoot problems like breakage and shedding.”
Most clients have a lot of issues, so the first thing Noggins stylists do is get them on a regimen of Shampure to get the petrochemicals found in other shampoos and products out of their hair.
“We treat the customer like a patient. We prescribe a series of Aveda products in a certain order, which lets us know what’s going on with the client’s health.”
There’s a lot of cross-referral with the holistic doctor and clients eventually see improvement not just in hair, skin, and nails, but in energy and weight loss.
In addition to a lot of product education, Noggins stylists do a practical application as well.
“They do a series of 14 haircuts that encompass everything you could ever do,” says Kez. “Then they can mix and match techniques to create their own styles. They learn mathematical dissection of the hair and can calculate angles in a photograph to recreate the picture,” she adds.
The Secret to Success
The Broads recognize Noggins is not for everyone. But setting themselves apart with highly educated stylists who take a medical, natural approach has yielded big business.
“Being the only natural salon with precision cutters within a six-hour radius gives us an advantage,” she says. “When you’re the salon that finally helps someone get the length they want or stop shedding their hair—that’s big.”
Noggins has seven stylists who do $100,000/year each. How do they grow? A lot of education and retention.
“We can afford to pay them better to make sure they don’t head down the road,” says Kez. “But it has taken a tremendous amount of patience. We are nerdy about hair at Noggins and recruiting hairdressers like us isn’t always easy.”
So when it comes to interviewing, Kez explains up front that they’re looking for six-figure hairdressers who want to be part of the Noggins culture.
The Broads are also very open with their staff about the salon’s numbers. “They are allowed in our system at any time,” says Kez. “And if they have a bit of a backslide, we go back to basics and ask how they’re doing with marketability, consultations and the medical approach.
The Broads biggest problem? “We end up with more clients than stylists who can do them because we have to sit and wait for the next ‘nerd’ to interview with us.”
Kez adds, “You must be really, really driven to work here. You can’t be wishy-washy or unprofessional when you have six figures on your books. You must come to work, even if you don’t feel good.”
Know Your Audience
The Broads also attribute their popularity and business success to really knowing their clientele.
“Once you understand what you’re selling to people, then you have to understand who you’re selling to,” says Kez. “I’m selling a wellness approach, so I’ve moved my salon to our hoity-toity wellness shopping center. Not your business model? Go to an area of town where people are more laid back and not thinking about the wellness approach.”
After advertising in traditional methods over the years, the Broads learned something else about their clients: word-of-mouth is their most effective marketing strategy.
“We offered a special with referrals and new stylists: three referred people get a free haircut. We believe in our technique so much that if we can get people in the door, they will come back—we just need to get them in the chair,” says Kez.
The Broads have also begun communicating with their customers through Demandforce with great results.
“We’ve ended up with a crazy amount of reviews on Google and Demandforce,” she says. “Those 485 reviews have brought us a new client or two per week. It helps that other salons in our area haven’t done this yet.”
And, once a person has been introduced to a precision cut, the Broads believe they won’t go anywhere else.
“The consumer getting smarter has helped us,” says Kez. “People from around here are traveling and maybe had a great haircut or spa experience in New York City or abroad. Now they can have that experience here, too.”