Guest blog: how to become an award-winning salon within two years
Natalie Vo, owner of White Nails in London, which won PB’s Nail Salon of the Year 2016 Award, reveals how you can become an award-winning salon within two years and five ways you can make your entry form for any competition stand out.
We were ecstatic to win Professional Beauty’s Nail Salon of the Year 2016 title at a glittering awards ceremony in London in February. Hearing my salon’s name called out was an incredible feeling and a night none of the team, or I, will ever forget.
Who would have guessed that after only two years of opening the business, a small team of five staff could accomplish such an amazing achievement? I knew I didn’t want to create just another nail bar, I wanted my business to be the best and that’s what made my salon stand out.
Here’s five ways I made my nail salon outshine the competition:
1. Make sure your team have your values
My business wouldn’t exist if I didn’t have the right people working for me – my employees all share the same goals. If you don’t have staff who care about the business, then it’s unlikely they will demonstrate real passion when a mystery shopper visits. Take your time looking for the “right” people.
2. Check out the competition
I looked into previous Professional Beauty winners to see if there was anything I could learn from them to help improve my own business. I was looking for inspiration on everything from marketing strategy and salon design to the simple touches, such as offering biscuits with a cup of tea. Looking at the competition is a fantastic way to benchmark yourself. However, you also need try and think outside the box in order to be one step ahead – don’t copy, be inspired.
Image: Natalie Vo (middle) and her team at the Professional Beauty Awards in February
3. Read the rules
Your application form for any competition must answer every question clearly and concisely and should demonstrate your passion. It’s wise to have a friend check it over before you submit it and hiring a photographer to take professional snaps of your salon will help you stand out. Competing in any competition costs money so expect to pay out, but just think about what it’ll do for your business. For example, the pictures will be useful for marketing purposes and for making your website look professional.
The judges only have your application form and pictures to look at, which isn’t much when trying to pick you out from all the applications they receive. If you get through as a finalist make sure to have all the boxes ticked before your official visit. For example, Professional Beauty require you to have one year’s worth of annual accounts before you can enter and be prepared to have a financially viable business before applying as the judges do scrutinise this.
And don’t forget your red tape like first aid, fire drills, training records and accident books. You must make sure these are up to date at all times.
4. Think like a judge
Why should a panel of judges pick your salon? Are you spot on in every respect of your business? Is every call answered professionally and knowledgeably? Is your branding and marketing strong? Do your treatments make clients feel like they are floating on air?
At the end of the day if your clients are leaving you rave reviews then a judge is likely to take notice. Ask satisfied clients to leave online reviews on Trip Advisor and pick their brains at every opportunity available to see what would they like to see new in the business. It’s invaluable advice.
5. Don’t be afraid
It’s daunting to put yourself out there to be judged but going through a competition can do wonders for your business. It gives you a new lease of energy to spring clean and think your business model through, but most importantly, the feedback you get back from the judges can only help your application next year.
You can also read Vo's piece on how your nail salon can compete with budget nails bars here.