As the new year has commenced, salon owners are reflecting on 2022 to see what changes need to be made and what can be improved for a successful 2023. Although I look forward to a new year with excitement, I cannot ignore the issues that salons face come 2023 so I have put together my top four issues affecting salons and how to manage them successfully.  

Market competition

In the UAE, the salon business is flourishing, with more than 5000 salons. So much so, that the UAE cosmetics market is one of the largest in the region, with Dubai leading the way. With more and more salons continuously opening, this is an incredibly competitive market, making it challenging for salon owners to keep their doors open for business. The solution here is to make your salon stand out from the rest, which will create loyalty and encourage new faces. With the level of competition and the sheer number of beauty salons that consumers have access to, knowing what makes you different and sets you apart from the rest is key.

This can include having the most well-trained staff and providing the best treatments and level of service. This could also include creating a beautiful salon, that is Instagrammable as well as sanitary and comfortable for your clients, and lastly, providing competitive pricing that makes it affordable for clients, yet still fruitful for the salon.

KSA salon industry growth

With the KSA salon industry rapidly growing, we are predicting a significant drop in the number of KSA residents traveling to the UAE for their hair, nail, and beauty services. KSA consumers will now be able to choose from the increasingly competitive local salons available to them right on their doorstep. The only way for this to not impact salons in the UAE too drastically is to get more UAE residents through the salon doors and spending money to compensate for any client loss. One of the best tools that you have access to is social media. A strategic approach to your social channels will ensure consistent messaging, create interest and generate footfall through the door.  

The global economic crisis

With the global economic crisis in our midst, an increase in product costs and potentially a reduction in client spending, there are a few things that can be done to save money and cut costs which makes for better, wiser decisions during this time.

Once again, sufficient training of your team is something that will benefit you here massively. Focusing attention on training will result in the optimization of the operations and efficiencies of the salon. Staff should focus on areas such as reducing product waste and upselling where possible.

In an environment where clients are reducing their spending costs, it will be very difficult to increase their spend per visit every time; however, offering bundles or packages to clients is a great strategic method to get clients to pay more than they initially intended to. Things like a manicure and pedicure bundle or a balayage and blow-dry package are a couple of the favourites.

Labour law changes in the UAE

With the labour law change made in the UAE last year, it is now easier for staff to leave for a job at another salon. The aim here is to build a salon culture whereby your staff are loyal and want to continue working for you. Losing staff regularly has a major impact on businesses when you consider the investment required to recruit and train staff. My advice is to always do all you can as a salon owner to retain the staff you have. For any business to be successful, you need to invest in your people. And nowhere is this more important than in salons because your members of staff are the key to happy clients. Become an employer of choice by investing in the ongoing professional and personal development of your team members. Know that the younger generation of salon employees is looking for inclusion, empathy, and empowerment.

The above are very real and present issues that salon owners could be facing in the UAE during 2023 and could have some negative effects on the growth and success of salons; but with enough preparation and forward-thinking, there are solutions to these problems and your salon can have a very successful year ahead.

With 2022 about to become a distant memory and the prospect of another exciting and successful year approaching, VR Beauty Consulting (VRBC) has much to be grateful for and I am thrilled and proud of our achievements this past year.

In 2022, VRBC embarked on its third year of existence, emerging from the start-up phase and confidently entering the scale-up phase, in a marketplace that has been rapidly rebounding from the previous two years and returning to growth. It has been a joy to work with so many new and existing salon owners who have decided to invest in their future and position their businesses for rates of growth that have already surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

We took the exciting first steps of entering the Saudi Arabian market. It has been a true honour to see the dynamic businesswomen of Saudi Arabia set up their own businesses. I am proud to support this emerging movement, walking alongside them and assisting and motivating them through the setting up and development of their salon businesses. I have been in awe by the passion, drive and determination of the female entrepreneurs I have engaged with in Saudi Arabia, and have no doubt of the success they will achieve as a result.

This year I have fulfilled a very special dream that I have carried in my heart for years. We launched our Nepal partnership, through which we identify new beauty industry talent from South Asia and enable them to secure employment with salons in the Middle East. This was a goal I had in mind right at the start of VRBC, and in 2022 it became a reality. I could not be prouder of this work. In addition to this, we are in the process of launching our talent gateway, which will create a dynamic network of candidates and salons, and enhance the accessibility to talent in the Middle East.

In 2022, we took the bold step to expand VRBC’s services to include support and assistance on the sale of fully fledged salon businesses. This is an exciting new area for VRBC and one which we believe will grow in importance in the coming years.

As for my aspirations for 2023, there are so many — and through the process of looking back on 2022, I am becoming more confident that they can all be achieved!

I want to continue to build a business that is forward-thinking and that helps salon owners and the industry to evolve to new levels of success and profitability.   

I look forward to working with new clients and helping them to achieve their dreams and goals, helping them to secure the best talent and thereby raising their standard of service delivery overall. Most of all, I want to do all I can to help people to achieve their maximum potential.

I look forward to embarking on this new chapter with all of you bearing witness. Happy festive period and I wish you all the very best for the new year!

The festive season is in full swing and you there’s a buzz in the air with Christmas celebrations and decorations galore. Competition in the beauty industry heats up at this time of year as clients prepare for year-end parties, vacations and New Year celebrations. There can be a lot of pressure to embrace the season and create a celebratory atmosphere in your salon, but there is also a fine line between ‘festive’ and ‘tacky’ when it comes to decorating one’s salon; but there’s no need to panic! Here are some of my top tips.

Deck the halls

…but keep it elegant. There is no need to buy every Christmas decoration in sight in order to make the salon a happy and festive space. A classic Christmas tree, simply decorated, along with some festive feel around each service station is perfect. It will add a festive touch for the clients without making them feel like they need to leave as soon as possible for fear of festive overload.

Festive packages

Your clients are likely to want to make sure they are party-ready for all the year-end celebrations with their friends and family. Why not save them the time of booking multiple slots for different services with the help of a ‘Festive Party Package’. This can include all the key services to look and feel their best this festive season, all bundled into one simple package.

Don’t forget your team

The festive time is a very busy one for salons, which means your team is going to be run off their feet. So don’t forget to give them a little cheer along the way. You can do this very simply by arranging secret Santa with a small budget or, if costs allow, you could treat them to an end-of-year party to say thank you for all their hard work in 2022. This also provides an opportunity to set the tone for the year ahead.

Added extras, with a festive twist

There are several ways to add a subtle festive spirit throughout the day. Why not offer a festive-inspired beverage or festive nail art and hairstyles. Another option is to offer festive gift boxes and wrapping within your retail section. Save your clients’ time from having to think about gifts for others while increasing your revenue this December. This is a win-win for both the client and the salon!

Scale back on social

By all means, post about your festive packages and what you have going on in the salon but remember your overall brand image and message. The festive season will be over before we know it, so you want potential new clients to understand what you do on a day-to-day basis and not be overwhelmed by countless pictures of Santa and his reindeer.

The last quarter of the year is an important time for salon owners. It is a time to reflect on the year that has passed, taking stock of the lessons learned, then looking ahead and setting goals and plans for the following year. Ultimately, it all comes down to this: how do you grow your business profitably? This is an important question to ask and there is no time like the present to start planning. To help you do so, I have put together my top five tips that can help improve profitability in your salon.

Increase your client base

One of the easiest ways to generate more profit is to grow your client base. This is done by reaching a new audience and encouraging them to try your services. In this area, word-of-mouth referrals from existing clients can be a very powerful source of new clients, so simply ask them to refer a friend or family member and then reward them for doing so.

Social media advertising is another effective way to reach a new client base. These days, with social media being at the forefront of everything we do, creating a salon that is pleasing to the eye and ‘Instagrammable’ can create the opportunity to reach new clients.

In addition,focus on providing good training to your staff, which, in turn, will improve the experience for your clients. Make sure your staff understand your brand message and encourage them to talk about it as well as other services you offer to clients, which should help to encourage them to re-visit.

Increasing spend per visit

You can encourage clients to spend more money per visit by selling products within the salon. Salons are often focused on services, but the most successful salons drive retail sales as well. When I conduct training, I often say that every client should leave the salon with at least one product to take home. Doing so can add significant revenue to your bottom line that would otherwise be lost. If these tactics are used correctly, you can unlock additional profit from your existing client base without additional investment.

Most people tend to stick to the services they know and rarely move away or expand on them. You’ve got the client through the door, which is the hardest first step. The next step is to keep them coming back and encourage them to try other services. Upselling can come across as pushy and annoying if done incorrectly. Your staff should be trained on how best to put this forward to clients. Teach them to communicate other service offerings that are either related to what the client is having or encourage them to get to know their client a little better, which will allow them to recommend services in a friendly and helpful manner.

Repeat business

Another way to grow your profitability is to encourage repeat salon visits or incentivise more services in one visit. Make your salon a luxurious, friendly and professional space that people enjoy spending time in. Make multiple services possible at one time, for example, enjoying a mani/pedi while having your hair blow-dried. Achieving this comes down to how productive and efficient your salon team are, so create a focus on training your staff and enhancing the experience for your clients.

Ultimately, clients are looking for a good experience, excellent customer service, top-quality results and a friendly environment.

Another simple but effective way to encourage them to come back is to ask if they would like to book their next service, which works well for regular services, such as manicures, pedicures and haircuts.

Reduce overheads

This step is a challenging one, yet as any business owner will tell you, it is also a necessary one. Review your operating expenses and make cuts where possible. Operating expenses can easily get out of hand, driving up business costs that negatively impact your profitability. Operating costs should be regularly scrutinised and understood, and I often find that they can be corrected simply with training or by providing operational enhancements.

Another key area to look at is staff training; productivity and staff retention both go towards reducing costs. Make sure that they are given the correct training and encouragement to meet service timelines. You can also look at cross-training to increase revenue, which reduces the overhead of employing further staff members.

The importance of marketing

Lastly, we should never underestimate the power of marketing to drive profitability. Whether you are recruiting new clients, launching new services, selling new products or announcing new staff or locations, marketing is how you will convey that message to your clients and generate revenue from that announcement. If you fall short on your marketing activities, you limit the profit potential of your business. Use ‘free’ channels, such as social media and email marketing, to regularly communicate with your clients. Use ‘paid’ channels, such as advertisements, to reach a new client base. The marketing opportunities are endless, and the rewards are significant, so ensure you have a plan for marketing to drive your profitability.

Increasing salon profits is not always easy but is totally possible with some consistency and clear goals in place. The key is to remember to keep your salon culture and values at the forefront of everything you do.

Can you remember a day in which you did not read or hear anything about sustainability? I suspect that just like me, you will have a difficult time in doing so.

Over the past decade sustainability has increasingly become part of our lives, our shopping behaviour, our home lives and our conversations. Without a second thought we now sort our recycled items from our garbage, drink our coffee from recycled paper cups and take our own shopping bags to the grocery store. We wear clothes made of recycled plastic bottles and ask if the salad is organic at our local restaurant.

As consumers, our behaviour shifted when we became aware of the impact of plastic in our oceans and the environmental benefits of reusing materials such as paper and plastic bottles. Personally, I was made especially aware of this when I volunteered at an ocean conservation program in Mexico, where the impact of plastic and waste in our beautiful oceans brought me to tears.

The coffee, fashion and jewellery industries globally have been focusing on sustainability for over a decade. The beauty industry however has been slow to adopt sustainable practices. I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for salons to connect with their clients and in doing so, can even provide a growth opportunity for salons who incorporate sustainable practices into their offering.

Cosmetics Business reports that in a poll conducted by weDo/ Professional, the sustainable professional arm of hair care brand Wella, 2,000 adults were asked about sustainability and beauty. The findings were eye-opening.

They found that 54% of consumers said they consider sustainability a key factor when buying beauty, hair and skin care products, with more than half (56%) believing it is important to look for products with recyclable packaging and 44% concerned about choosing products that are cruelty-free. However, 64% of these consumers say they found it difficult to buy sustainable beauty products.

Is your salon addressing any of these opportunities? It may be simpler than you think to start to incorporate sustainable practices into your salon operations. To help you start the journey, here are some ‘easy-to-implement’ strategies for your salon.

1. Just like at home, sort your salon waste for recycling

Sort foils, paper, plastic and hair. Yes, even hair can be recycled! Create sorting stations in your salon and encourage staff and clients to use them.

2. Reduce water and energy consumption in your salon

This is probably the easiest to implement and will add money to your bottom line in savings. Using efficient water shower heads at your basins and training staff not to leave water running while they mix or apply product will help to save water. Install energy efficient light bulbs, or even motion detecting lighting, that switches off when there is no movement, will reduce your electricity bill. Winters in the Middle East bring beautiful temperatures and breezes, so opt to switch off the AC’s and open the windows or doors where possible.

3. Incorporate organic or vegan products into your offering

Several salon beauty brands now offer organic or vegan options in their hair and skincare ranges, as well as reuse and refill product lines. These can be a key point of differentiation for a younger clientele and provides an opportunity for clients to return to your salon on a regular basis.

4. Use sustainable and eco-friendly hair tools

Exchange hair foils (that can take up to 400 years to decompose) for biodegradable paper sheets. Consider buying your scissors from suppliers who actively give back such as Leaf Scissors, who plant a tree for every pair of scissors sold.

5. Source ethically

Source high volume salon consumables like cotton wool, cotton buds, tissue and couch roll from manufacturers that use ethical employment practices and sustainable farming methods. Whenever possible, source biodegradable consumables.

6. Use non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products in your salon

We can now choose from a wide selection of natural and effective cleaning products that are effective, smell incredible and are good for the environment. Try to replace some of the harsher chemical cleaning products you use in your salon with a biodegradable and sustainably sourced product instead.

7. Offer fair-trade tea and coffee, water in recycled bottles or filtered tap water.

Delight your clients with a tea or coffee that is good for society and the planet! With several suppliers of fair-trade tea and coffee in the Middle East, it’s an easy switch to make. Encourage your clients to bring their own bottles of water, or offer to fill up their bottles with fresh, filtered water, reminding them why you are doing so will help to gain their support.

8. Provide staff training on the importance of sustainability and better consumption habits.

It is vital that you bring your team onboard with any strategy you wish to implement, but it is especially important with a sustainability strategy, which has a much better chance of succeeding if they are onboard and supportive of the concept.

9. Bring plenty of oxygen releasing plants into your salon or plant an insect or bee friendly garden.

Lush, healthy plants bring a special touch to any space but be sure to select plants that release oxygen during the day such as Aloe Vera, Snake Plant, Orchids and Peace Lily.

If your salon is located in a villa, plant insect friendly plants in the garden and opt for a biodegradable and bee friendly insect spray.

10. Tell your clients about what you are doing to support the environment and society as a whole!

Tell your clients what you are doing to be more sustainable and why you are doing it. Ask them for ideas and suggestions, and encourage them to take this journey with you. Your clients will appreciate your efforts and the opportunity to contribute to something that improves the world for us all.

11. Collaborate with competitors

This may sound counter intuitive, however, as with coffee growers and fashion retailers, the beauty industry has an opportunity to collaborate with competitors to shift the industry as a whole towards a more sustainable future. Opportunities for collaboration can be combining recycling waste and contracting an industry recycling partner, coming together as an industry to shift policies at a local and government level or simply sharing of knowledge and experience of our individual journeys towards a more sustainable future.

The list of opportunities to enhance your salon’s sustainability credentials is vast and exciting. On the supply side, salon beauty brands are developing products, packaging and systems that are sustainable and good for the environment. On the demand side, salon clients have already adopted a wide variety of sustainable practices into other areas of their lifestyle. As an industry we just need to step into the gap this has created. There is no need to worry about or delay implementing sustainability practices into your salon business. In fact, I suspect that in doing so, you will find a new and wonderful way to engage with your staff and clients, and the benefits of doing so will soon be seen in your business and our environment.

Being home to millions of beauty-conscious individuals who take great pride in their appearance, Dubai is the ideal place to open a salon. So much so, that the UAE cosmetics market is one of the largest in the region, with Dubai leading the way. Now, with all these salons, is it really possible to open yet another one and make a profit simultaneously? I have been asked this question many times throughout my VR Beauty Consulting journey and my answer is YES, but only if you do it the right way! In all my 20 years of experience in the beauty industry and working in Dubai, never have I seen so many salons opening at once; therefore, doing all the groundwork and preparing yourself for every curve ball is the only way it can work. Anyone can open a salon at any location but opening a salon that can generate a profit is a whole other ball game. At this time, there are about 5,000 salons in the UAE but unfortunately the majority of them are not running at a profit nor are they managed in a professional manner. In 2017, according to the Dubai Municipality, 10,815 inspections were carried out throughout the year, which resulted in the closing of 107 salons due to unhygienic working environments and practices. So, if you are looking to open a salon in Dubai, yes, there is space for it but if you have no background in running a salon business, or no beauty industry experience at all, I highly recommend that you work with a professional. This expert will be able to guide you through the process, help you build strong foundations, and set up the business properly, helping to prevent any mistakes that could ultimately ruin your venture. Knowledge is power, and in this case having knowledge about what it really takes to set up a beauty salon in the region is the key to success. Should you not want to work with a professional, the next best step is do extensive research yourself to really understand the industry and what to expect.

A big misconception about running a salon is that it is purely about customers having their hair and nails done, therefore it can’t be too difficult to set up. The fact is that it is difficult; very difficult, in fact! The hiring of a strong team of well-skilled and trained employees who are able to deliver a five-star service to your clients is one very difficult task to fulfil. It takes much time and effort that most salon owners don’t want to invest. However, having great staff is what ultimately encourages clients to return. In addition, dealing with clients on a daily basis and keeping them happy is yet another very challenging job in itself and it is important for salon owners to realize that investing time and money into hiring the right team who have people skills and can communicate well with these clients is fundamental to the success of the business. Many of the salons’ employees will come from different parts of the world where things may be done differently to what is expected in the UAE, and this is something that needs to be kept in mind and where strong training can help in the uniformity of customer service.

Understanding the financial side of the business and creating a financial plan before opening the business will greatly help in the future profitability of the business. How much is the initial investment? The last thing you want is to start running out of money before the business has even started operating. And finally, what can you expect from the business? Make sure you know exactly how much the business needs to make in order to generate a profit.

So, as I have said to many of my clients, if the research, effort, and preparation have been done beforehand, and you really are dedicated to making your salon a success, whether it be with the guidance of a professional or not, there really is no reason why it shouldn’t work! I wish you the best of luck!

I am often asked the question ‘How long does it take for a salon to become profitable?’ My answer is always ‘4 to 5 months’, which sounds surprising to many. But yes, it is absolutely possible to break even in month 4 and I have personally succeeded many times in my previous roles of managing and expanding salon chains. I have also successfully assisted my clients in achieving their own ‘month 4’ goals. The good news is you can too!

My motto is very much ‘break even month 4, make profit from month 5’ – and here’s how…

Building solid foundations for your business and making sure those foundations are there upon opening your salon is key. Building solid foundations includes all things from knowing what your business stands for, who your target market is, where the best location to cater to your target market is, the pricing of your products and services, and lastly, the work environment that you create for your employees—not forgetting your dedication and eagerness to make it a success.

One of the most important things that must be completed before opening any sort of business is creating your financial plan. This will show you exactly how many sales to generate, how to control your expenses and how to become profitable as soon as possible. Since starting VR Beauty Consulting, it has been proven that a Feasibility Study, which includes a 3-year financial plan, is one of the key factors to success. The key is not to just open and see what the business will bring or wait until there is a financial problem within the business; it’s important to be prepared and look so far forward that you eliminate any risk altogether. Know every detail of your salon, including the number of employees you need to hire. Do not simply hire without a plan in place. It is far more beneficial to start with a smaller team and build the team as and when the business requires it.

To prepare your financial plan, you need to know what your business stands for, its key message and positioning. Where will your salon be located? Once you have figured out who your target audience is, and where they are located, only then can you decide where your salon is best situated. Location is key! Following this, a competitor analysis should be established where you should decide on your pricing according to your fellow competitors in the area. Once you have decided on your pricing then you can create your financial plan.

As the saying goes, ‘content is king’ – and marketing is queen! It is crucial to have your social media pages set up well in advance of opening your salon, particularly Instagram and TikTok for the Middle East region. Creating buzz, awareness and excitement for your impending opening is key to driving footfall to your salon. Think about opening offers and aspirational posts, showcase your knowledge and educate your followers to solidify you as experts in your field. Think about working with relevant influencers to create beautiful content that can be reshared and bring potential new clients to your salon.

Last, but most certainly not least, an inspiring work environment and impeccable customer service is fundamental in order to run a successful and profitable business – essentially this is what keeps your clients coming back. A well-respected team who feels valued, with their management taking an active interest in their personal and professional development, equals a happy team. A happy team in turn makes for happy clients! I strongly recommend putting a customised client journey in place so that the team are clear on what to deliver. It also ensures that clients feel pampered and taken care of throughout their whole salon experience.

Taking these key points into account will help lead your salon to success and ensure a quicker break-even point. It is worth noting that a salon should not be breaking even any later than 8 months into operation. This is a big red flag, and your business should be analysed in depth to ascertain what is going wrong. A new strategy can urgently be put in place to help lead your salon to profitability.

Starting any business comes with its trials and tribulations, but the good news is that if you’re motivated and dedicated to opening your new salon, it’s more than possible to have a successful business using these few helpful tips and tricks. Opening your own business is tough but do not be disheartened – you’ve got this!

You may be contemplating the idea of opening your own salon business in the UAE, and why not? Although, from my experience things can easily start derailing if your priorities are not in order. With 20 years of industry experience and helping brands and individuals set up their own salons, the five questions below are a great starting point to ask yourself before opening your doors for business.

Why do I want to start a salon business? Sounds obvious, but every business owner needs to have a mission – what is the purpose of you starting your company and what problem are you solving for people. Envisioning how you see your salon and how it operates is key to success. This stage is where you establish your business values, what is important to you and how you would like your customers and competitors to view your salon and the way in which it is run.

What is my USP? Knowing your unique selling point is imperative and especially in the GCC region. With the level of competition and the sheer amount of beauty salons that consumers have access to, knowing what makes you different, special and what sets you apart from the rest is key. Is it the quality of your services? Is it customer service, or unique product offerings? Is it the design and interiors of your salon or is it all of them combined?

Who is my target audience? Who is going to buy your product or use your services? Your target demographic needs to be established right from the start and let me tell you that it should not be ‘everyone’. In the salon industry, most of your income, if not all, will be generated from women. Questions like “What type of women will use my salon?” and “Where are these women based?” should be on your radar. Once this is known, the location of the salon can be determined which ultimately will help in the success of your salon.

Do I have the funds to start this business? This question is probably the scariest of them all but one that requires much research and forward planning. Creating a Feasibility Study is key to knowing what the initial required capital is to set up your business, and what cashflow and profit/loss to expect in the first year. This process is crucial before you start the entire business setup as there is nothing worse than running out of money before the business even had the chance to succeed.

How will I market my business? Marketing your business is obviously so important but may not work if the incorrect channels are used. Once the target market is determined, it then becomes a lot easier to decide which channel of marketing would best suit your business. Is it Instagram, Facebook and TikTok? Or is it PR and marketing where an agency or freelancer can help you establish your broadcasting, print and online presence? Let’s also not forget the importance of good old-fashioned word of mouth marketing. In the salon and beauty industry, this is still the most powerful form of marketing but only works if the quality of your business is top notch, which would then naturally encourage and inspire clients to speak highly of your salon.

Asking yourselves these five basic questions, right at the start of your journey, may not guarantee the opening of a successful and flourishing salon business, but it will ensure you start your exciting new business venture on the right foot!

This video is based on a presentation I recently shared at Professional Beauty GCC 2022. It is based on research conducted on the salon and spa industry post-Covid. The industry has changed and shifted and this presentation provides you with key action points that will allow you to future-proof your businesses. Understanding these shifts hold the key to being able to hold your ground in a very competitive market and if you think strategically, they will enable to reach even higher levels of success!

Valerie Reynaert is the Founder of VR Beauty Consulting, a consultancy that helps aspiring and current beauty salon owners to create breakthrough success in the industry by leveraging best practices.

With a career that started in beauty therapy and then saw her working as a Brand Director and Managing Director for leading beauty salon chains in the region, Valerie has 20 years’ experience in writing training programs and manuals, setting up salons, expanding existing ones, growing brands, setting up franchising opportunities and managing operations and recruitment.

As the founder of her own start-up business Valerie understands the dynamics and pressures of being an entrepreneur and her extensive experience in the beauty industry enables her to develop expert strategies for salons wanting to rise up and take their place in the modern beauty landscape.

More than anything, Valerie is a Business Coach and Mentor who is driven by a passion for empowering women to reach new heights of success in the beauty industry.

“I have worked with numerous female brands in the Middle East – from smaller start-up businesses to rebranding of well-known industry players and have helped others turn their businesses around to become top-performing salons,” says Valerie.

“This has all been possible because of the core values that guide me when giving advice and an expert opinion. My work is deeply rooted in my values – they underpin my business and guide everything I do. These values are People, Processes and Performance.

According to Valerie, for any business to be successful, you need to invest in your people. This is even more important in salons and spas. Your people are the key to happy clients.

Secondly, focus on processes instead of outcomes and you can create a more efficient and effective business. Processes need to be simple and easy to understand and implement.

And lastly, performance – to be able to deliver consistent performance, you need to measure where you are and plan for where you want to be.

Through working with her clients in recent months, as well as through her personal research of the Middle East beauty industry, Valerie has highlighted that there are currently many opportunities for salon businesses to grow and reach higher levels of success.

“These shifts hold the key to being able to hold your ground in a very competitive market and if you think strategically, keys that will enable you to reach even higher levels of success. Things have changed and I believe that if you take the correct action in response, you can future-proof your businesses,” she said.

According to Valerie salon owners can do this by focusing on and improving three key areas – being employers of choice, being active in the phygital space and by becoming more sustainable.

“We have seen that closed borders, lockdowns and quarantine have had a significant impact on the industry’s talent pool. Not only are there less staff available but staff poaching has increased as a result. This trend has a major impact on businesses when you consider the investment required to recruit and train staff,” she said.

Her advice is to retain the staff you have by creating an environment that ticks the boxes of inclusion, empathy and empowerment as this is what the younger generation of salon employees are looking for. Staff want to feel included, heard and empowered and do not accept a micro-management leadership style. Do all of this and she believes that your existing staff will not be easily swayed by other offers.

“An employer of choice is one who values the individuals in their employ and one who is invested in offering ongoing professional and personal development. Attractive salaries and strong, achievable commission schemes are also as important as looking after the individual. Furthermore, keep your staff motivated through motivational and engaging weekly meetings, team building and quick and effective conflict resolution. All of these go a long way towards having happy employees and being known to be an Employer of Choice.”

With regards to being active in the Phygital space – this is about creating an experience that is as engaging and consistent in your physical environment as it is in your online environment i.e. social media channels and your website.

“It is about connecting your physical experience to your digital channels – the two worlds must connect. There are many ways to achieve this,” says Valerie.

She suggests leveraging your social media inside your salon by creating Instagrammable areas in your salon, rewarding those who tag you or by having live sessions in your salon with a hair stylist or makeup artist. Building an attractive website that is easy to navigate, shares all your major information with regards to pricing and loyalty programs, for example, and allows you to book online will also be effective.

“Be sure to drive engagement and new clients through your social media channels and implement eCommerce to drive your retail sales. Building an app that creates a one stop destination to provide convenience to your clients will be the ultimate step in going phygital,” she says.

The last area to focus on, but definitely not the least important is Sustainability. According to a report released by Euromonitor International in 2020, natural, sustainable and ethical beauty products are the main growth drivers in the Middle East’s beauty and personal care market. These products are estimated to reach a value of USD $32.2 billion by 2025.

“Recent research conducted with several hair and beauty salons has revealed that the pandemic gave people the time to reflect on their impact on the environment and time to research brands that help them to achieve this. This trend is taking place in skin care as well as hair care, with clients querying with salons about products that do not contain parabens and harsh sulphates in growing numbers. Vegan and products free from animal testing are surfacing across the industry. You must address Sustainability in all aspects of your business if you want to be a step ahead,” says Valerie.

“In conclusion, this is an exceptionally exciting time to be in this industry. By harnessing knowledge, reassessing your current practices and applying passion and creativity, there is no limit to what salon owners can achieve in the current market.”