Interview with Emma Hellier

Emma Hellier Headshot square

Tell me about yourself…

I have been in the salon industry now for 15years, for 5 of those I worked in Salons as a stylist then 10 years ago I opened my own salon – Emma Hellier.

 

Tell me about your salon…

Emma Hellier is an Eco friendly luxury salon based on the South Coast of England, we currently have 9 members to our team and specialise in environmentally friendly approaches to traditional salon services.

My focus when opening the salon was to create a retreat for both our guests and our team, a place where they can relax and enjoy the experience – even if they are at work.

We have been very lucky to achieve many awards for our innovative approach to hairdressing and of course this has propelled our business.

 

What challenges do you face as a salon owner?

Oh….many! Salons owners, no matter how large or small, I think all face similar dilemmas; like filling seats, attracting not only clients, but loyal clients and creating repeat business – to name just a few.

There have been patterns with our salon, where we found ourselves really busy but not consistently, which in turn meant growing our business and taking on new team members was big financial commitment.

About a 2 years ago I spent a lot of time looking into the next step, and what bothered me was the changing trends in customer spending habits.

Flashback to 15 years ago when I first started hairdressing, we had a regular footfall of weekly clients. In fact, every Friday in our salon looked exactly the same.

The same clients in every week, whether it was December or June and these clients became like family because you saw them so regularly and the salons bottom line was predictable!

Now though our guests visit an average maybe 4 times a year! Granted the spend is higher on those visits but still doesn’t equate to a weekly visitor nor does it embed that loyalty. Also, between visits we have no idea how that guest is wandering around, with frizzy hair, bad roots, and maybe using non-professional products.

 

How did you overcome these challenges?

So we worked on a solution that without devaluing our service would bring back the repeat, loyal clients.

To do this we had to look at what had changed in those 15 years, and realised that weekly blowdry appointments had disappeared entirely – this is when I invented my EHBlowdry Club.

Blowdry clubs and dry bars are common now but 18 months ago it as a new concept, and for us it was all about the details that made it work.

For a flat monthly fee our clients could join a salon members scheme entitling them to totally unlimited Blowdry appointments.

Although we made it extremely good value for money – these were short and sweet, 30-minute appointments only, filling just the dead times we found difficult to fill otherwise. And because we didn’t have any weekly Blowdry appointments it didn’t take any current work away from my team.

 

What affect did this have on your business?

To say it was popular is an understatement – in the first month we offered only 10 memberships, by the next month we increased this to 30.

When we reached 40 members we took on more staff and after just 6 months of running the club we were at 60 monthly members, had a waiting list and about to add our next new member to the team.

Through the EHBlowdryClub  I was able to double my staff and business in less than a year.

A unique positive to the scheme was something we didn’t predict – we now had 60 loyal clients who on average visited the salon 1.25 times per week and they weren’t just loyal – they were like super fans.

Our members were posting 5 star reviews weekly, and promoting us to their friends.

Even taking away the direct income from the members subscription fee we were up over £5000 per month on our regular services through converting and upselling.

 

Was it all smooth sailing?

No it wasn’t always that easy, part of reason the club was so successful was controlling the appointments that the members could book.

As to make the scheme profitable it would be no good giving away all your prime slots or too many slots each month.

At this time we were using facebook chat as our communication, paypal for the invoicing and manually managing the book.

This took a lot of management time; I’m talking 2 -3 hours per day for one person – on top of the normal daily salon tasks, and once we hit 60 members that time went up significantly and meant we had to scale back the numbers.

We also found very quickly that we had to introduce cancellation fees, and no show penalties, which again added to time it was taking to control the club.

This is when my husband and co-owner of the business, Matthew, came up with BLOCS.

 

Tell me about BLOCS?

So BLOCS stands for business leverage of core services and is a web based application, that we now use to manage our blowdry club.

We have taken everything we have learnt from running a manual club for a year and packaged it up into a single piece of software.

All our communications with the club members, automatic payments processing, and scheduling of the salon appointment book is now done through this software alone.

 

How has it helped your business?

This has transformed our blowdry club, through complete automation.

My time now managing it is less than 30 minutes a day, and this is allowing us to increase our membership back up.

I can’t tell you the amount of stress that this one piece of software has taken away from me

 

What are the software’s main features and how have they helped you?

The software is awesome – firstly it’s so simple to use, setting up available slots is just a couple of clicks we even have ours synced to our salon software to the two books are always connected.

Its web based so I can access it anywhere from my phone or tablet and so can our clients, and it sends both of us alerts for when someone cancels or if there is a last minute space available.

One of the fundamental features is the control we now have; we set out the bookable slots and the club members can only book those, without being able to see which team member they are actually booking – so I can fill up my least popular times of the day, days of the week and members of the team.

The reason we think that our blowdry club was so successful was because of using facebook chat to coordinate the appointments so when it came to designing the software we had to keep it. So within BLOCS all the members can chat to each other and with us in an instant group chat messenger.

This is an invaluable tool – when we first started using the software we had more tech savvy members instructing other members how to use it without us needing to get involved!

 

Who could the software help?

After using it for some time we realised that it was a tool that other salons could benefit so much from too.

It would make starting a blowdry club so easy now and for any salons already running one would drastically reduce the labour and increase the profits.

Just about any salon that wants to create a reliable consistent income with little work would benefit from BLOCS.

 

How much does it cost?

It doesn’t cost a thing. The salon pays absolutely nothing to start using BLOCS and there’s no “free trial” like other software – it’s just free.

As a salon owner I know that cash flow is something that’s difficult to preserve and I don’t want to add to the stress of others so we instead have made BLOCS percentage based at the client end.

So when a client joins they begin paying their monthly subscription to the salon, BLOCS takes 10% of what the client pays and the other 90% goes directly to the business.

 

Based on your experience, using the software what benefits can other user expect?

From our experience of running a blowdry club for the last year I would say that the biggest benefit to joining BLOCS is the increase in new clientele that it brings in because of the value for money and it will just snowball from there, so through the use of BLOCS you can expect to fill up otherwise dead spaces, breed loyalty you have never experienced before, expand your team and take the existing members downtime to under 10%, and bring in an additional consistent income on top of your normal profits.

 

How do we find the software?

Salon owners or hairdressers can visit our website at www.salonblocs.com or can email with any questions to emma@salonblocs.com