Are Your Salon Suppliers Looking After Your Best Interests?

Are your suppliers looking after you?

by Pam Stellema

in Salon and Spa Business Development

More than ever, as a salon owner, you are now having to compete with the internet for your retail sales.

What makes this even worse, is that often your competitors are the very businesses that you are buying your products from in the first place.  They obviously have an unfair advantage and I have seen, on more than one occasion, a product supplier special-ing out their products on their website for less than salons can actually purchase them.

Given this scenario, how are you, the salon owner, going to compete for retail sales?

Generally, clients become aware of these products through the education of their therapist or stylist, with valuable time being spent on exploring what are the right products and then explaining how to use them to gain maximum benefit.

After all this effort, it is a shame to think that any repeat sales generated may not come to the salon.

Instead, suppliers directly competing online or other distributors who have the advantage of lower overheads can take advantage.

I was approached on one occasion by a very distraught salon owner who was carrying a range of products being offered on-line by her supplier.

She wanted my advice on how she should handle the situation when her clients were now buying their products on-line and then coming to her for advice on usage.

This was the last straw for her!  After all, she had invested thousands of dollars in her opening order, developed all of her services around these products and spent considerable sums of money on staff training.  She believed that this should have entitled her to some protection and I agree with her absolutely!

Let’s face it – the internet is here to stay and no amount of wishing or hoping is going to remove these product competitors from your universe, so it all comes down to the actions you take to protect your business income.

Here are some steps that you might like to try to resolve this issue in your salon:

  • First, you need to do your research.  Jump onto the internet and enter the name of your product range into your search engine.  Don’t limit yourself just to the country you live in as it is often possible to purchase products from overseas at even cheaper prices than you can locally.
  • Check out your product supplier’s website to see if they are selling directly and have become your competitors as well as your suppliers.
  • If you find out that you have direct competition for your products that are cheaper or even equal to the prices you are asking, then consider changing your product range to one that does not compete with your salon for retail sales.  They do exist.
  • When you are looking at introducing a new retail product range into your salon, don’t be frightened to ask the hard questions.  You need to know that your investment with these companies to going to protect you from losing sales to online distributors.
  • Ask to speak to other salon owners who are dealing with this company to find out if they are happy not only with the products themselves but also with the service that they have received.
  • And finally, I suggest you create a paid service in your salon or spa that allocates 10 or 15 minutes to giving advice on products purchased elsewhere.

There are, most definitely, suppliers out there who do not compete for your sales and it is up to you to find them and explore what they have to offer to you and your salon.

It can make a huge difference to your profitability both in retail and services if your clients need to come back to you to buy their products.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon McKenney

Hi Pam,
I am a Sales Rep with a Distributor. We are pulling our hair as to how to handle on-line sales of our products. We’re very selective in our vendors just trying to do ethical business. It is so frustrating though!!!



Hi Shannon, Thank you for taking the time to comment.

It must be extremely frustrating from your perspective.

As a business coach,I have to look after the best interests of my clients and that means protecting their ongoing sales as much as possible. It is not only about the actual loss of sales but also about losing clients permanently because they feel guiltly for purchasing elsewhere.

I don’t have a major problem with salons selling to clients online as long as they are not undercutting prices.

More and more salons are moving away from product lines that can be purchased online. I believe eventually there will be products that can be purchased online and products that will never be online and then it will be up to salons to make an educated choice.



So true and well written Pam!!!


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