Serious Business 2018 Helps Salons to Pivot in an Ever-Changing World

  • Edwin Debra
    Rembering the late Edwin Neill II, Edwin Neill III and Debra Neill Baker welcome nearly 1,900 salon owners, managers and stylists to Serious Business 2018.

A dynamic lineup of speakers at Serious Business 2018, held January 14-15 in New Orleans, helped salon owners, managers and stylists deal with a rapidly changing world by learning how to make their move, while keeping their center. Neill’s Debra Neill BakerEdwin Neill III and Carol Augusto welcomed nearly 1,900 attendees to the historic city’s Saenger Theatre, explaining how this year’s theme “Pivot” is a necessity in today’s business environment.

“You have to be flexible and strong, and be able to adapt to new realities quickly and with confidence,” said Neill Baker, who went on to outline steps for bolstering resiliency. “You have to stay optimistic, be open to learning, open your heart, take care of yourself, use humor to decrease tension, and be willing.”

Kim Scott, author of the best-selling business book, Radical Candor, was the first speaker to take the stage. Through her personal examples of working at Apple University and Google, Scott taught leaders how to communicate to their team members with conversation that is a blend of fierce and compassionate. “You have the moral obligation to tell people when their work is not good enough,” she says. “You must have the emotional courage to tell people directly, but do it in a compassionate way.”

In giving radical candor, Scott recommended establishing regular 1-3 minute impromptu talks that combine praise with candor, making sure each is sincere. “Radical candor is a gift,” she says. “It’s not mean, it’s clear.”

Scott continued, “Give radical candor in person, keeping in mind that 85 percent of communication is non-verbal. Don’t give feedback over text message. Criticize in private, praise in public. And, remember it’s not about personality. Give radical candor about things they can change, like the situation, their behavior or the impact.”

Next, Blogger Gina Pell, internet pioneer and chief of content for The What, shared her story of coining the term ‘Perennial’ as a mindset instead of a generation.

“Perennials are ever blooming, always growing,” she stressed. “They are creative, curious, and proactive—they get out of their comfort zone and push themselves up against the growing edge.”

She encouraged the attendees to activate their perennial mindset by being passionate, curious, and willing to learn something new and learn from each other.

Health and nutrition expert Donna Gates was up next, helping attendees live better lives through better nutrition. She described the body as a microbiom, full of important microorganisms that help it function.

To create energy, correct digestion, conquer infections and cleanse out toxins, she recommended three simple changes: 1) Change your oils, 2) Cut out sugar, and 3) Add the right fermented foods to your diet.

Barbara De Laere, general manager of Aveda, rounded out the first day of main stage speakers by encouraging the salon owners, managers and stylists in the audience to realize the unique power they have to deliver exactly what today’s consumers crave. “Today’s consumer recognizes that hairdressers have a skill set, and they believe a visit to the salon is a necessity, not just a moment of pleasure,” she said.

According to De Laere, hairdressers need to solicit and listen to feedback from their guests and give every guest a consultation with hair design and color options every time they come in. They want to understand the options and what they cost, how much time they’ll take and what the end result will be. Stylists need to customize their offering in every situation. They already have an emotional connection to their clients, and they are gifted to be able to spend so much one-on-one time with them.

“You have all the elements in your DNA to deliver what today’s clients want—experience, consultation and personalization, expertise and connection,” she stressed.

On the second day of Serious Business, Haircolorist and Social Media Guru Patrick McIvor expanded on his TEDx talk, ‘The Power of Touch.’ “Beauty is delivered through the vehicle of touch, and hairdressers have a license to touch,” he said. “The difference in having your roots done and getting your hair colored is the experience, and often that comes down to touch.”

McIvor went on to explain the four steps in creating a culture of touch. 1) Make a commitment to touch. 2) Ask permission and give touch with authenticity. 3) Look for touch points, including with your team. 4) Increase touch education and experiences.

Next, Winn Claybaugh, dean and co-owner of Paul Mitchell Schools and author of the book, Be Nice or Else, helped attendees build a culture that prioritizes kindness, passion and acts of service.

Claybaugh challenged the owners in the audience, asking them if their culture is attractive. “Up to 50 percent of people quit to get away from a bad boss,” he explained. “Leadership is not a position—it’s a mindset, an attitude.”

Then, Robert Cialdini, a influence researcher and author, unveiled the six principles of social influence that helps leaders persuade people in a way they feel good about: commitment and consistency, reciprocity, authority, liking/rapport and scarcity.

“For example, people want more of what they can’t have, so design your promotions with ‘limited access’ or ‘limited time available,” he suggested. “When they have the perception that they can’t have something or it will run out, they want it more than ever.”

Cialdini also showed salons how they could get a significant reduction in no-shows by getting a client commitment. “Add the words ‘Will You’ to your request, as in ‘Will you please call us if you have to change or cancel your appointment?’ Then, wait for their verbal confirmation,” Cialdini advised. “Restaurants that have done that have seen no-shows drop by 60%.”

Following the law of reciprocity, Cialdini also proved, “Whatever you want you can get by giving it first,” he says. “The simplest example of this is a smile.”

Another gem of Cialdini wisdom is to compliment your team members on the behaviors you want to produce more of—“Give people compliments to live up to, such as ‘I always appreciate that you are never late.’”

In addition, “Get your clients to like you by liking them,” he shared. “Find something that you sincerely like about them and say it.”

When building credibility, Cialdini encouraged attendees to present the pros and cons of a situation. “Showing a willingness to talk about the negative first, builds your credibility on your positive,” he shared. “The two most successful ad campaigns of all time did this—Avis’ ‘We’re number two, but we try harder’ and L’Oreal’s ‘We’re expensive, but you’re worth it.’ They both pivoted on the word but, making a connection to their greatest strength.”

To close out Serious Business, Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto welcomed to the stage Tom Bilyeu, founder of Quest Nutrition. Bilyeu showed the entrepreneurs in the audience how to hone in on their differences and their driving purpose to help make their mark.

“What is your goal?” he asked. “Start with your goal and work backwards. Mind the gap between where you are today and where you want to be. Show up and outwork everyone. People will want to connect with you and be inspired. Know what you want and make it a reality.”

Attendees could design their own Serious Business experience by choosing three breakouts to attend from a wide assortment of speakers. The Retail Doctor Bob Phibbs showed attendees how to harness their natural strengths to boost retail and make it feel effortless; Strategies’ Neil Ducoff showed salons how to update their thinking with straight talk; Lance Courtney helped owners revamp their front-desk strategies; Gerard Scarpaci showed salons how to use Facebook promotions to attract new clients; Kurt Kueffner demonstrated how to build a strong men’s business; and a training panel session featuring Karie Bennett, Tatum Neill, Brandon Hensley and Timothy Belcher shared how they create winning strategies for sustainable success.


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