Emma Hellier has been in the salon industry now for over 15 years, with over a decade as salon owner of Emma Hellier LTD on the South Coast of England.
Her passion is in creativity and development in business, both in her own salon; where she provides a friendly, collaborative working environment for her team and luxurious, high standards for her guests, and for other salon owners too
Fellow salon owners now have the opportunity to benefit from her first hand knowledge and experience, of creating a functional, profitable Salon Membership manually, but with the software developed to easily build and grow a successful blowdry club in any salon.
So, Emma; tell me a little about yourself…
I have been in the salon industry now for over 15 years, for 5 of those I worked in Salons as a stylist, working my way up the ranks, doing everything I could to promote myself and get noticed.
Before the days of Social Media, I was emailing and phoning all the big names in hairdressing every week to see if I could assist them, join their creative teams - carry their bags!
At the time I was working in a salon where the other members of the team and owner had no aspirations to do the same, and so they thought I was mad to be spending all my free time doing this - but hairdressing for me was far more than a day job, it was my passion and as with everything I do in life I wanted to be the best hairdresser I could be.
Soon though I realised that part of being the best hairdresser I could be, included working in the best hair salon, and at that moment in time that meant opening my own business.
So a little over 10 years ago I opened my first salon called The Retreat, and with no real idea of what I was doing, I am sure I did a lot of things wrong; but through hard work and perseverance, just 3 years down the line we needed a bigger property, and this time we wanted to own it - to have more control.
So we bought a much bigger property in town, over two floors and re branded to Emma Hellier Ltd.
Emma worked with Irregular Choice, among other fashion brands.
Emma's first hair salon, The Retreat Hair and Beauty Salon, became synonymous with eco-friendly hair and beauty services.
Tell us about Emma Hellier Ltd…
The EhSalon 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.
I have also always been keen to bring in professionals, to support our own vision for Emma Hellier; through the years this has come in the form of business coaches, marketing assistants, designers and of course the likes of accountants, financial advisers etc.
By bringing in professionals with a unique knowledge and understanding of a specific business need I have been able to leverage their support and compound the advantages they bring.
I think that this and our acceptance for change and development has been the core reason for the salon's success.
Emma finished top 10 in the UK Goldwell ColorZoom.
What challenges have you faced as a salon owner?
Oh….many! Salons owners, no matter how large or small, well established or not; I think all face similar dilemmas. Filling seats, attracting not only clients, but loyal clients and creating repeat business – to name just a few.
I think of myself as a very lucky person, but in business have done all that I can to create my own luck by constantly developing the way we work to best suit the needs of my team and clients at that time.
Around 5 years ago I faced one of my biggest challenges in my career, when my son came along.
With a strong team behind me though I made the decision to step away from the salon floor and "just" manage the business.
Ultimately though, it was an advantage to be able to oversee the whole business without being "in it", that year we brought in a new team management plan and went on to win Creative Head Magazines "Best Salon Team" at the Most Wanted Awards.
At this time I was looking to grow further, but noticed that although we were a very busy salon, we couldn't rely on this to be consistent, which in turn meant taking on new team members was big financial burden
A few hours after being released from hospital after a premature labour, Emma and Matthew are awarded Best Salon Team at the Creative Head Most Wanted Awards.
Emma stepped back from the salon floor before her son was born, to focus on management instead.
What caused the inconsistency?
Well, I spent a lot of time looking into the next development 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 it 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.
Emma still takes part in fashion and photo work but mainly in an advisory role and attends educational seminars regularly .
So, how did you overcome these challenges?
We worked on a solution.
Something 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, how we could use that knowledge to introduce a new service or structure, and how we make that new element both attractive to the clients and lucrative to the salon
And the answer?
What we realised was that the weekly blowdry appointments had disappeared entirely. We don't provide cutting or colouring services without a wash and finish so although we were still providing the service, somewhere along the line the standalone wash and blowdry had fallen out of favor.
Yet with the technical colour creations we were performing now on a daily basis, it was the perfect service to bring back.
Why is the blowdry so important?
The blowdry's important because for the salon, it costs little more but time, and yet can compliment colours, reducing complaints, can be performed by any members of the team (even support staff) and produces little to no uncertainty, unlike cuts and colours (in a time when consistency is key)
The biggest reason why the blowdry is so important; excluding gents - its the only service that can be completed in thirty minutes.
Thirty minutes is the time that is always left over in a salon's diary, no matter how you pack the appointments there is forever, thirty minute blocks left available , scattered around any given week.
Filling those awkward spaces - turned our busy salon, into a consistently busy salon.
But how did you convince your clients to start having blowdrys again?
With a blowdry club.
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.
Now Blowdry clubs and dry bars are more common but then it was a new concept, and both then and now it's all about the details that make it work.
The way we ran our club was popular instantly, but more importantly accomplished what we needed from it - it gave the right amount of value to the client whilst being lucrative for us.
This is whats key; there is no secret formula to just running a salon membership, but there is to running a profitable salon membership.
What affect did the membership have on your business?
To say it was popular is actually 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 recommendations 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 up-selling.
Was it all smooth sailing?
Of course not, business never is.
Part of the reason the club was so successful was controlling the appointments that the members could book.
When our membership number went up it took a lot of management time; and once we hit 60 members we had to scale back the numbers.
This is when my husband and co-owner of the business, Matthew, came up with BLOCS.
Tell us a little about Matthew?
Matthew is my husband and co-owner of Emma Hellier Ltd; he has over a decade of experience marketing digital and B&M brands nationally and internationally.
He's developed expertise in areas ranging from Consultancy, and Entrepreneurship, to Brand Creation and marketing, as a professional graphic designer and web developer, and also has unique experience in sales and operations.
We now work alongside each other under the BLOCS umbrella, with Matthew developing our software business and creating the Marketing content.
Ok, so what is BLOCS?
So BLOCS stands for Business Leverage Of Core Services and is our 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. Think of it as a tool to run a Salon Membership, and as with many tools, the job can be done without it (and we can show you how) but the software makes it a whole lot easier.
So can you run a Salon Membership without the software?
The short answer is yes! Just like most tools the software is only there to make things a whole lot easier, less time consuming and therefore cost effective.
We ran our own salon membership, blowdry club without any software for almost a year before we got BLOCS up and running, so it can be done and will bring additional income as well as other benefits to any salon business. BLOCS however transformed our blowdry club, through automation. My time now managing the club is less than one hour a week, and this is allowing us to increase our membership and profits - scaling the club with no more work.
So, apart from the software; what else does a salon owner get for joining BLOCS?
Well apart from award winning, amazing software - everything else there is to know about running a blowdry club or any other salon membership, and more. Here's what Salon Owners have access to after signing up:
Training Videos - Video training guides, on how to run a successful salon membership.
Launch Guide - Step by step plan, on how to launch your salon membership.
Marketing Plan - Easy to follow weekly marketing plan for all media channels.
Marketing Images - Gallery of marketing images specially chosen to download and use.
Marketing Resources - Printed marketing resources to promote your club in person..
Software Manual - Easy to follow Video tutorials, on how to do anything with our software.