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Innovative ways to grow your salon and spa business in 2024 – from the experts

Between 2019 and 2022, more than half of all beauty and wellness brands experienced growth of 20% or greater. But recently, overall growth has slowed in our industry – not a surprise considering the challenges: Growing competition. Unpredictable economic conditions. Staffing speed bumps.  

Whether you market your business as a must-have service or a lavish luxury, growth requires creativity and, as data shows, reliable technology.

Beauty and wellness businesses who invested in online booking in 2022 saw 59% of their bookings occur online – and 33% revenue growth.

At Innergize 2023, the premier industry event presented by Zenoti, three leading executives shared innovative programs they’ve enacted to drive growth for their brands. We’ve summarized their expert insights as The Four E’s:

Examine Covid strategies that can pay dividends today

Extend your brand’s reach by choosing the right partners

Expand your revenue streams

Empower your customers to lead the way

The experts:‍Clint Carnell, Founder, OrangeTwist; former CEO, Hydrafacial

Jo Kelton, COO, Removery

Sachin Kamat, former director, Enrich Salon

Here are real-life strategies designed to drive growth, with some originated during the most difficult time of the industry’s recent history.

1. Examine Covid strategies that can pay dividends today

There’s no bigger challenge to a touch-centric business than a complete halt to personal contact. The Covid pandemic drove the most innovative leaders to create inventions borne of necessity – and then realize which were valuable enough to carry over to today.  

Strengthen relationships

Clint Carnell had Hydrafacial focus on relationships as the brand was forced to reduce staff size from about 900 to 70. After widespread layoffs, Carnell and team vowed to bring every staff member back. “By November 2020, we were able to do that,” he says. “I think the communication and relationships were incredibly important.”Take time to make changes

Jo Kelton and the Removery team also prioritized communication with their employees – across four different brands – with weekly phone calls to every staff member. After shutting down the four brands, the company reopened as a single business under a new brand. “Zenoti did some great work for us at that point, merging the databases into one,” says Kelton.

“With every sort of situation, every economic situation, every dragon that you encounter, you have to sit back and say, ‘how can I use this to my advantage?’”- Jo Kelton, COO, Removery

Think outside the retail box

Undaunted by store closures, Sachin Kamat and the Enrich Salon team ran “a social commerce pilot to sell products.” The strategy paid off and continues to yield positive results, thanks in part to the salon chain staying engaged with customers throughout the pandemic, even seeking their input to co-create a post-lockdown protocol.

2. Extend your brand’s reach by choosing the right partners

Businesses keen on expanding their footprint should consider profit sharing and complementary approaches to marketing. Partnerships come in different shapes and sizes, with successful brands thinking beyond conventional vendor and supplier relationships to amplify their scope.  

Dive into the community

Two-thirds of new business for OrangeTwist comes from walk-ins and referrals (and only a third from marketing). Being able to industrialize or scale your business is important, but you must “have that intimacy that drives referrals,” says OrangeTwist founder Clint Carnell. “Are you in the soccer moms’ club? Are you in the book club? Are you part of whatever’s important to that community?”

Identify your allies

Removery specializes in tattoo removal, yet the company is “very, very pro tattoo,” says Jo Kelton. “We have a team member that specifically develops relationships with tattoo artists. We attend conventions, we have programs to treat tattoo artists free of charge. They then refer their clients to us.” Removery gets social mentions from about 50 artists, with a reach of a few thousand followers each, helping spread brand awareness through “a counterintuitive partnership.”

Think missionary, not mercenary

When Hydrafacial was still small and unknown, Clint Carnell and team partnered with medical-grade skincare companies instead of viewing them as competitors. They created brand boosters in what Carnell calls a “simple Keurig type of concept”: Hydrafacial provided the machine, and skincare companies supplied the ingredients. “All of a sudden, we had hundreds of representatives talking about us,” says Carnell. “We had both sales forces sell, we split the profits, and it really amplified Hydrafacial.”

3. Expand your revenue streams

Beauty and wellness businesses often rely solely on a calendar-driven revenue model (funds collected for services rendered), with retail sales helping boost the bottom line. But additional earning opportunities abound when viewing customers and employees as integral to business growth. Conveying empathy and a sense of service along social media channels provides an excellent starting point.

Empower your brand ambassadors

Word-of-mouth remains a powerful guest-acquisition tool, helping drive beauty and wellness business growth. Clint Carnell says 85% of social media marketing and hashtags for Hydrafacial and GLO2Facial come from customers who promote the brands for free. “Most of us don’t have $100 million-marketing campaigns, so you’ve got to find organic ones to put your customers and your employees to work for you,” says Carnell.

“Make sure all your branding can be used by your customers and your employees. They’re your least expensive, most efficient way to market.”- Clint Carnell, Founder, OrangeTwist; former CEO, Hydrafacial

Maintain a strong brand focus

Strengthening the brand will protect and even boost revenue generation. Sachin Kamat of Enrich Salons explains that, while there’s value in short-term efforts that are contextual and competitive, it’s important to view every tactic “through the lens of positioning the brand.” Taking this approach not only supports immediate initiatives, but also helps each effort become a multiplier for the brand.

Try a radical approach to service delivery

Faced with low brand awareness, Hydrafacial toured the U.S. in a branded 18-wheeler, giving free 30-minute treatments. “That sounds crazy,” says Clint Carnell, “but we made the backdrop social media-friendly, camera-ready. Our customers worked it for free… 85% of the postings today are still those same folks.”

4. Empower your customers to lead the way

The internet has made it easier than ever for customers to have a say, and businesses that actively listen position themselves to succeed. Active listening also empowers you to improve all touchpoints in the client journey, leading to business improvements that best serve the customer.

Create a framework to listen to customers

Clint Carnell suggests building and engaging with communities to learn what customers want. “Just hang out at the coffee shop with young people and listen to what they want, or just watch what people are buying… I love focus group research, but it’s more about rolling up your sleeves and really getting in there and talking to your customers about what they want.”

Deviate from the script when needed

Sensing customer eagerness for salon re-openings during Covid, the Enrich Salon team stepped up. Stylists across 80 locations made 120,000 phone calls to help customers achieve professional results at home. “About 20% of those calls went through a video system where they actually helped their customers do stuff for themselves using another family member’s help,” says Sachin Kamat from Enrich.

Take a guest-centric approach to all operations

“We absolutely obsess about our customers,” says Removery COO Jo Kelton. Her team conducted a six-month survey to identify customer likes, dislikes, and buyer intent. “We built up a whole library of customer insights and information and spent the next six months really putting those into action as we rebranded,” Kelton explains.

“Build your business on what the customer wants rather than what the people sitting in the boardroom want.”- Jo Kelton, COO, Removery

-Gita Mani

Senior Content Specialist

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