Assistants Drive Profit. Period.
In 1958, Ricky Blount’s father opened a barbershop in the tiny town of Joaquin, Texas (current population: 819). And when the time came, Ricky went to barber school before joining his dad in the family business.
Eventually, he took over the shop, turned it into a traditional salon, and has been running it with his wife, Ginny, for 40 years.
The Blounts are the only two stylists in their 1,500-square-foot salon, with three assistants. It may be a small business, but the Ricky Blount Salon is mighty, and grosses between $550,000-$600,000 yearly.
Structuring for Success
In their early years, the Blounts found stylists wanted to come work for them to learn and leave. Their salon was the only one in the area with owners who received high-end training (the Blounts are Sassoon-trained), and stylists wanted to benefit from that.
“After training with us, they could move on to the county seat with 16,000 people rather than stay here in a town with 800 people,” Ricky says.
The solution to their problem came via an education event.
Shortly before the salon became Aveda, the Blounts saw Jameson Shaw at a show and were inspired by his use of assistants in the salon.
They were so intrigued, that they came home and changed the structure of their business.
“When we heard Jameson Shaw talk about using assistants for everything, we came home and immediately trained an assistant.”
For years now, Ricky and Ginny have been profitably running the salon with one assistant each and a general assistant for both of them.
Ricky finds assistants at local beauty schools, where he has developed strong relationships (there are no nearby Aveda Institutes), and has been fortunate to maintain assistants for a few years at a time. His current assistant has been with him for five years.
“I don’t offer them a spot in the salon—we don’t have one to offer—but they get training, a good salary, money paid into a retirement account, and a bonus at the end of the year.”
Another big benefit to the assistant is the amount of experience they get in all aspects of hair care.
“When Ginny starts a highlight in front, they start in back,” Ricky says. “My assistant blow-dries and also helps with highlighting and color. Our general assistant is at the shampoo bowl all day shampooing and doing single-application tints.”
With this system, the Blounts see 30-32 clients per day, five days a week between the hours of 7:45am-6:30pm.
So where are all these clients coming from? There are three nearby cities, including Longview, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, each 50 to 60 miles away. Some clients come from these cities or communities in between them and Joaquin.
“It’s an hour drive to go anywhere with a Starbucks,” Ricky says. “When we first started, we were the poorest county in Texas, but that’s no longer the case and there’s some wealth in east Texas and across the river in Louisiana.”
The Blounts charge $45 for a hair cut, and full highlights are $100. The average client who gets cut and color spends $160-$220 with an average ticket price of $97.
While they rely on word-of-mouth for most of their new clientele, the Blounts have recently started using social media to market the salon.
“My daughter and son-in-law do it for us,” Ricky says. “I don’t have time and they’re more tech-savvy.”
The salon’s reputation remains solid—every day they’re open, there are clients there from 30 to 60 miles away.
In the early years, Ricky says he didn’t have much of a vision for his business, but he did know one thing—he craved education.
This passion for education has been paramount in the Blounts’ success. Ricky says continual learning is key to staying in business for 40 years.
When the Blounts became Aveda 20 years ago, they began attending Aveda classes, and still do—Ricky has been to seven hands-on classes this year.
“There have been so many developments through the years,” he says. “I’ve had to work hard, but the investment is minor because I enjoy the education so much. I’m a hair nerd. It’s my only hobby. I’m not any happier than when I’m in a training somewhere.”
When asked what he attributes his salon’s success and growth to over the decades, Ricky says it’s simple: “Hard work, an understanding of our craft, and an understanding of people.
“You have to feel something for your client, have empathy for them,” he says. “And you have to mean it and appreciate them.”
He adds, “Our clientele has been built up because of our skills, but we also treat people really well and never tolerate ego or any kind of rudeness in our salon.
“It takes being a servant and being good at your job.”