FRONT DESK-LESS FUTURE
John Robert’s bold move further enhances the guest experience.
The John Robert’s Spa, with four locations in the Cleveland area, is well known for its outstanding customer service. Owner John DiJulius consults with Fortue 500 companies and regularly speaks to business owners in and out of the salon and spa industry about taking service to the next level to create loyal guests.
So when DiJulius and his managing partner, Eric Hammond, opened their fourth location in Strongsville, Ohio, they saw an opportunity to enhance their customer service even more.
Hammond says once they figured out the logistics of a salon without a reception desk, it was full speed ahead.
“When you go into an Apple store, it’s experience-based shopping,” Hammond says. “We wanted to do the same thing, and the technology was in place to do it.”
First, they figured out the physical logistics of the space, ironing out details like where to hide the cash drawer, product bags, gift cards and even a printer.
“If you pay cash in an Apple store, a cash drawer pops out of the table where iPads and computers are on display,” Hammond says. “We mimicked that with a community table where we have some products displayed, but also an iPad guests can use to check out the Aveda.com app or recharge their devices.”
To maximize the space even more, a coffee area and flat-panel TV with seasonal marketing initiatives are placed above the table.
Next, they focused on freeing their guest service coordinators from standing behind a computer all day.
Eliminating the phone was simple, thanks to a call center. However, coordinators wear Bluetooth ear pieces to take calls from the center when needed.
Hammond found a Windows-based tablet that could run all components of their salon software, SalonBiz, as it was formerly running on their old front desk computer, and now they use this tablet as the primary tool for the guest care coordinators in the salon. iPads loaded with the SalonBiz™, app are also scattered around the space for them (and stylists) to use as well.
“The coordinators service anyone who needs anything,” Hammond explains.
In fact, retail in Strongsville is 30% higher than the previous best John Robert’s Spa.
MORE MOBILITY = BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE
“Clients aren’t as hesitant to ask questions,” he says. “They don’t want to impose on someone sitting at the front desk, but when someone is standing right in front of them, they recognize that person is there to service them.”
The mobility of the guest service coordinator is key. Not only is there someone to help guests with retail, the coordinator can also walk through the salon to see if stylists are running over on time or need help.
“It allows the team to have more freedom for interactions with the guest,” Hammond says. “The ease of technology frees up time and more relationship building can happen.”
The retail experience is enhanced as well.
“Guests can select retail while they are waiting for their stylist, and we can just add it to their ticket for later,” Hammond says. “We’ve set the space up with less seating so guests spend more time browsing retail instead of grabbing a magazine.”
The SalonBiz™ tablet app has been a key component to guest satisfaction with the new setup. It has helped eliminate the process of formally approaching a front desk and creating a more personal environment.
“When a guest comes in, they are greeted by the guest care coordinator, who confirms check in,” Hammond says.
Checking out is even better for the guests—they don’t ever have to leave their chair. “Guests have the option of checking out right from the chair or seeing a coordinator in the retail area,” he adds.
THE STYLIST’S ASSISTANT
The app has streamlined the check-in process for stylists, too. They get all the information about the guest, when she has arrived, delivered directly to their phone—instantly.
“The Salon Biz stylist app has been ideal for eliminating the huddle of stylists around the computers in the salon,” Hammond says. “They can do everything from their phone, which is way more efficient.”
And because the guest care coordinator isn’t tied to her desk, a lot more communication, including non-verbal cues, happen between her and the stylists.
“The coordinator makes her rounds every two or three minutes through the salon, and a stylist can give her a head nod or look to let her know a client is running over or they are ready for the next guest.”
Feedback from staff on the SalonBiz stylist app has been nothing but positive so far. “I’ve never implemented a system in the salon that took off as quickly as this,” Hammond says. “Within 48 hours, everyone had downloaded it. They love to see their book on their phone when they aren’t at work.
“They can see what their day looks like, run reports and generally have access to information they used to only be able to retrieve in the salon while they were standing in line behind another stylist trying to get access to a computer,” he adds.
A MORE GOAL-ORIENTED TEAM
Hammond says stylists who previously didn’t pay attention to their numbers are now fully in tune with all their stats.
“Now, when they have down time, they’ll pull up the SalonBiz™ app on their phone and are intrigued by their retail increasing and start a conversation about it with other stylists,” he says.
“The information they now have access to has made them better designers because they’re starting to understand the impact of numbers on their careers.”
The implementation of no front desk and the Salon Biz tablet app has been so successful in the Strongsville location that Hammond says every John Robert’s salon and spa will do the same in the future.
“The growth has exceeded our expectations,” says Hammond. “We’re looking to remodel two locations soon and neither will have a front desk. We feel this is the future.”