Donna Kerkvliet - Barneys Salon Supplies
Tell us why you set up Barneys Salon Supplies?
“The idea began when I owned a salon, it was frustrating and time consuming placing my consumable orders each month. Quality issues, value for money and inflexibility were just some of the annoying issues I dealt with. Having run a salon for 12+ years I know firsthand the pressures salon owners struggle with including staff issues, client satisfaction, book-keeping and trying to maintain a work life balance. So, we started an online website with the idea orders could be placed when it suited salons and not when it suited the distributor. Ron my husband and business partner, was importing items at the time (in a different field) and assisted me with logistics and warehousing .”
You have extensive experience in the beauty industry leading a successful franchise salon such as Ella Baché – what is the biggest lesson you have learnt in running a business?
“A happy and motivated team can make you or break you! While this takes time and patience, this is a crucial part of running a successful salon. Therapists need and want to be kept updated with industry insights and product knowledge, this helps them become more confident when dealing with their clients for re-booking and retail sales. Keep staff up to date with upcoming marketing promotions! This way they can extend their customer service to their clients, pre-book treatments and plan an achievable and attractive commission structure. This approach is imperative, so owners can create an engaged workplace and reward staff when they make their targets.”
How has the beauty market changed?
“The beauty landscape has changed dramatically. Tanning, nails, and laser clinics have redefined “normal” in the beauty therapy world. These businesses have broken away to specialise in segmented areas of what was part of a normal beauty salon business, and in many cases, have created a competitive pricing market. If clients receive a professional service that exceeds their expectations, price will not be a consideration, however, often a client is not aware of the differences in a quick service and a quality service. Salons are now faced with the new aspect of promotions, client education and in creating a customer journey and to communicate to clients why they should use their services rather than a low-cost alternative. Now more than ever it’s about creating an experience that sets you apart from the rest. Your focus should be on good salon hygiene practice (disposable methods whenever possible), amazing customer service including pre and post service touch-points, a good service menu and the latest in service and product education.”
What sets Barneys apart as a business?
“We pride ourselves on our exceptional customer service, involving them at every opportunity. Our goal is to go on their journey with them and make managing their salon, easier. We do this by engaging feedback via our surveys and asking customers what they need from us so we can better help them. This feedback helps us immensely with our product mix, product education and training. We try to bring our customers education with a difference by showing them how to perform the service, use the products, then go over some marketing tips helping promote and encourage more bookings. We have recently introduced our “Beauty Box” to deliver product information, industry insights and address questions on our customers lips.”
What products do you stock?
“As well as a large range of consumable products, we also stock ranges from suppliers we trust and those who offer a distinct point of difference. We have Caronlab, Mancine, Lycon, Refectocil, Elleebana, Long Lashes and Voesh just to name a few.”
Tell us your plans for the future...
“Starting in a couple of months we are launching our “Salon Owners Hub”. This hub will not only deliver workshop information and webinars, it will feature industry leaders and resident experts. There will be great tips from our experts as they share their knowledge on running a successful and profitable business, industry trends and product knowledge. We are very excited about the launch of this new hub and look forward to its development and growth in the coming months and years.”
How do you choose the products for your portfolio?
“Global industry trade shows, customer feedback and our core focus on consumables.
We scale the major trade shows worldwide to see what’s new, what’s innovative and what will create a point of difference for our customers. These trade shows give us an insight as to where our industry is heading and helps us plan the growth of our range and what we should introduce back home. These shows also gives us a chance to offer products salons may not be aware of, or not been able to find anywhere else.
Feedback from our customers about new products is encouraged and appreciated. When we understand what our customers need and what their customers are after, we seek to source solutions where we can.
The fact our focus has always been on consumable products is also a player in our portfolio growth. We will continue to grow and update our “Barneys Salon Supplies” range of consumable products based on what our customers ask for. We choose these products based on quality and nothing but that.”
What has been one stand out moment in your career?
“Winning the Ella Bachè Award for Franchise Salon of the Year was certainly a big moment professionally. To be acknowledged like this, within the biggest franchise group in the industry, was a big pat on the back for all the hard work our team had put in over a long period of time. However, I would have to say that the stand-out moment was handing over the business to my long-term manager. To see her development and ambition to take over the business made me very proud. It also represented the official start of Barneys, allowing me to work with hundreds of salon owners all over the country, assisting in their success.”
Do you have any business mentors?
“We have a selection of “mentors” and we have regular meetings with these amazing people. Not all of them are in the beauty industry but share our passion for providing a solution for salon purchasing, training and profitability.
It is great speaking to people from outside the industry as it shines a different light to situations, we may not have thought about. Their experience is profound and broad, bringing solutions that can adapt to any business and help us help our customers move forward.”
How can salon owners continue to thrive in such a competitive environment?
“You must stand out from the crowd, there are salons in every shopping strip and shopping centre. A knowledgeable team, hygienic salon practice and customer service is a non-negotiable! Continually updating your salon is crucial, we often get ‘salon blind’ and think our salons look fine. However, new salons are opening all the time, they are slick and clean and offer something fresh. It’s important to remain up to date in order to remain relevant in this market. Clients get bored! A fresh and clean salon is imperative to attract and retain clients, so consider new services, new equipment and certainly point of sale. The little things count…good quality tea/coffee cups, a big friendly smile when they arrive, refreshments after a treatment, opening the door for clients when they leave… it all makes a difference in creating a satisfied client and more importantly, a returning client.”
What are some of the most important aspects salons need to be aware of to ensure return clientele?
“Without a doubt customer service and a knowledgeable and happy team. Ensure your team is confident with services and product, this will pay off in so many ways. Make your clients feel special and do the little things that set you apart from other salons. Many new clients book in for a treatment either to feel better about their skin or they’ve been unimpressed or had bad experience elsewhere.”
Tell us how your passion for beauty developed?
“When I received my first pay cheque, I couldn’t wait to go to my local beauty salon and purchase a mask believe it or not! Not sure why it was a mask, maybe it was a magazine article or a TV commercial, but I loved the experience of the therapist recommending the correct mask and I used it religiously. The feeling you get when you receive a beautiful facial or even an amazing eyebrow wax is something that never leaves you. I think I always knew that I would do something in the beauty industry field from a very young age.”
What is it you love most about the industry?
“Over my years in the industry, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing women who are building amazing salons that provide high quality client experiences. The passion that they have for their profession and their openness in sharing knowledge is incredibly empowering.
With people like that running the industry, it’s no surprise that we see so much innovation and change!”
How do you see the beauty industry evolving in the next decade?
“Customers want to see a quick solution to their concerns and solutions which enhance their performance. One major category evolving is equipment. More salons are specializing in new innovative services for face and body, and this will continue to grow! Therefore, innovations in equipment will continue to be popular with more salons adding new service categories to their menus.
Another will be the continuing demand for “Green and Vegan” products. Consumers are more aware than ever what is going on their skin and want different options or a choice. Recyclable packaging and cruelty free products are also in demand from both clients and therapists.”