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So, you’re new to Sola, and you want to grow your career? Let’s face it: When it comes to business, learning lessons the hard way stinks. That’s why a few of Sola’s esteemed and seasoned stylists were excited to share their best business tips—benefit from their tribulations and get ready to take your salon business to the next level.

#1: Invest in Salon Software and Track Your Numbers

Stylist Mindy Rodriguez of The Lather Lounge at the Brentwood Sola in Los Angeles thinks it’s important—no, critical—to be organized. “When you work on your own, there are added responsibilities,” she explains. “You become a bookkeeper and the accountant.” That’s why Mindy invested in business management software, which, among other things, “takes care of all transactions and provides online booking.”

Mindy likes Envision Salon Software because it offers a Sola-specific system for singletons and integrates with QuickBooks, a popular small-business software program. Make sure to track your ongoing income and expenses to help you understand when and where your business comes from. This will also help you to compare successful months to slow months as well as year-to-year income.

#2: Get to Know Your Clients

Kim Bennett Horvath of Kim Bennett Studios at Sola in Denver recommends that new stylists use client information cards. And, while the cards are “nice for referencing the last service,” Kim recommends that stylists “always treat the clients as if it’s their first time in chair” to help with client retention. “Never assume that you should do the same thing as last time,” she continues. “They will get bored, and there will be no room for upgrades.” You always want your clients to enjoy a salon experience that they can’t get anywhere else. By spending a few extra minutes with your clients at the beginning of an appointment, you will show that you are willing to invest time in them at that you care about their experience.

#3: Advertise Like a Small Business and Get Your Clients Involved

To put it simply, your clients know you and they trust you. So why not develop incentives for them to tell their friends and family about you? Kim Bennett encourages stylists to “invest in business cards!” She isn’t afraid to hand out her card and ask clients for referrals. Abby Clemens, who owns The Strand at Sola’s Beaverton, Colorado, location, encourages newbies to set up a Yelp page and gently encourage their clients to submit reviews. “Positive Yelp reviews have hugely increased my business,” adds Abby. Remember, the more reviews you have, the higher your SEO rating will be, which means the more likely you are to pop up in a random Google search. An endorsement from a current client adds so much value to your business and costs a lot less than other traditional marketing and advertising techniques.

#4: Build a Website

And speaking of the Internet, Mindy thinks all stylists should have their own website. One client, in fact, told her that the only reason she called to book an appointment was because Mindy has a website! If you don’t have your own website yet and you aren’t a computer whiz, don’t worry: Sola allows stylists to add contact information, biography, testimonials and gallery photos to their personal Sola page. There’s even a “Book Now” button for fast and easy booking.

#5: Know Your Value

According to Kim, you should never put a price list up for clients to see. “You know how much you want to make per hour,” she says, encouraging stylists to discuss budget during the initial consultation instead. “Short haircuts that are done in half an hour,” Kim continues, “are a lot cheaper than Chewbacca-long Victoria’s Secret haircuts with blowouts.” Remember: Time is money! Why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to? Use these tips to help grow, organize and revitalize your salon, and say hello to a year full of thriving business.

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