Operation Get Profitable: Day 3 of 8

Yesterday was day 3 of Operation Get Profitable (OGP) where I visit 10 salons a day for 8 days.

The first salon I visited yesterday was kind of an interesting visit. I’ll call them Salon M. I had first visited Salon M two days ago, but they were busy at that time so they told me to come back the next day, which was yesterday. I talked for quite a while with the the owner who was using a product called StyleSeat, which basically does everything Snip does and more, except, strangely, it can only be used by one single stylist and not a whole salon, at least according to what this salon owner said. This was not ideal for this salon because they have two stylists. I usually don’t try to get salons that are already using software to try to switch from what they’re using to Snip, but in this case I asked them if the benefits of being able to have both stylists log into the same system would outweigh the inconvenience of switching, and they said probably yes. Unfortunately, as I talked to them more, I discovered that they’re pretty dependent on online booking (meaning the ability for clients to book their own appointments without the stylists’ involvement), and that’s not something Snip does yet. So I told them I’d come back when I had that feature.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. I visited a total of 12 salons and the responses I got were that they were busy, they were already using something, or they weren’t interested. I don’t view this as a negative thing, though. By the middle of yesterday something clicked and I felt like I finally understood what made people interested or not interested, and I feel now like I know who I should be going after. Here are the reasons I think people who aren’t interested aren’t interested:

  • We’re already using something. Finding salon software is one of those “important but not urgent” things, and if a salon is already using a product they don’t absolutely hate, it’s exceedingly unlikely that they’re going to be motivated to switch to some unfamiliar product. (Salon M from earlier was a rare and surprising exception.)
  • We’re too small, and therefore pen and paper isn’t too painful. I’ve learned that pen and paper seems to be a pain in the ass in proportion to the number of stylists who work at the salon. Each additional stylist is more administrative overhead; it’s one more stylist’s unique handwriting and shorthand in the book, one more stylist crowding over the appointment book, and one more stylist calling the salon to check her schedule. If the salon is just one or two people, they don’t feel that pain so much. It is true that Snip is still useful for those smaller salons (one of my customers works solo) but those smaller salons are less likely to believe they have a problem, and so less inclined to pay for a solution.
  • We’re too big, and our needs are too sophisticated. Salons are surprisingly complicated businesses, and the bigger the salon, the more demands they have out of the software they use, I think mainly when it comes to payroll, inventory and things like that. Snip only has rudimentary inventory capabilities, and no payroll capabilities yet, so big salons are usually not a good fit.
  • All our stylists are independent, so sharing a booking system wouldn’t make sense. This is kind of a variation on “we’re too small.” Some salons are commission, which means the stylists are actual employees. Other salons are chair rental or booth rental, meaning the salon owner is basically just a landlord and all the stylists are self-employed, meaning they handle all their own product inventory, accounting and booking. So a chair rental salon with 6 stylists is often really just 6 separate salons that happen to share a physical space.
  • We’re too old and not willing to use technology. This can be a legitimate reason. I visited a salon two days ago that had stylists in their SEVENTIES. I would feel about as comfortable asking these women to switch to Snip as I would asking them to help me carry my barbells up to the attic.

If those are the reasons salons are not interested, all I have to do is take the opposite of those to get what kind of salons would be interested. So the salon would be:

  • Not using software already.
  • Medium-sized (between 3 and 15 stylists).
  • Be commission as opposed to chair rental.
  • Have younger employees.

Fortunately I think plenty of the 500,000ish salons in the US fit those criteria. Even if OGP doesn’t get me the 2 additional customers I hope and expect that it will, this knowledge is very valuable. I can imagine a section on my website called “How to determine if Snip is right for you” or something, with these things listed.

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