It’s a time of evolution for the salon industry as both technology and human behavior are going through massive changes. Let’s dive into SalonScale’s CEO, Alicia Soulier's mind and hear her four predictions for 2024.

Prediction 1: Urgent need for technical literacy

There is no doubt that technology that supports emotional and human behavior will be a necessity in the future. Industries based on human interaction, which require emotional intelligence and social interaction are going to need this type of knowledge going forward as there will be very few industries left that cannot be replaced by autonomous solutions such as AI. What does this mean? This means the business’ remaining will need to deeply understand their customers' behavior.

Surprisingly, not only does the salon industry lack this type of information, it isn’t properly storing and recording the information it does have. For instance, websites aren’t being indexed properly by search engines. Why? Because they are optimized. Softwares such as AI aren’t able to analyze, study or search to understand the salon industry as a whole which, therefore, provides zero information on consumer behavior. Of course there are pros and cons to this but one of the biggest factors to consider is how fast our industry is advancing. 

What will customers be expecting out of a business? 

  • Convenience
  • Quick service
  • Advanced Technology

Think of it this way… consumers of 2024 operate 24 hours a day. They want to plan when they have the time, not just when you, the business, is free. If salons aren’t offering these advanced technologies, they're going to be fighting a rising tide.

Prediction 2: The rise of the hybrid salon

Gone are the days of full-time, in-office days. Any industry that has the capability of going remote or hybrid, has. The complexities of people's lives are not being better represented at work, and the salon industry is no different.  However, now people are lacking the  “connected” feeling that often came naturally with in-person work. So, when I look into the future, I see salons as the perfect breeding ground for social connection.

Imagine a world where you can come in for your blowout, grab a coffee, and then sit down to get your work done. This is our future - transforming salons into a lifestyle area. Perhaps even implementing a secondary business! Tapping into modern trends such as juice bars, cocktail lounges, etc.

Newsflash!😉 Starbucks is no longer the go-to work location. The market is ripe for picking for those brave enough to seize it.

Prediction 3: Leveraging umbrella companies

It’s no secret that in most cities, rent is rising and businesses are struggling. Because of this, I believe we’re going to see a big development in franchises and umbrella companies. 

How will an umbrella company help?

  • You will be able to join forces with like-minded businesses in cities across the country
  • You can create a franchise
  • You’re able to build stronger brand recognition

In turn, you’ll be able to leverage operations, pool resources, and be able to grow immensley. Let’s take a look at a simple example! 🔽

Say there is a salon in Salt Lake City, Utah, which has certain products and a strong aesthetic. Now, let’s take a salon in Boulder, Colorado and another in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who all use similar products and have the same “look”. If all three of these salons worked together and joined under one umbrella company, they could then approach a private equity, asking for debt lending in exchange for a portion of the business. I.e. “We need five million dollars to be able to build this business”. 

Now, they are not only leveraging, but they're starting to franchise in a different way. This also benefits the stylist by offering something we are all familiar with - “remote” work. Remote and hybrid opportunities are being offered all over the world but in 2024, I’m positive we will see it work its way into the salon industry. How, you may ask? With technology.

Prediction 4: Birth of Salon Agencies

The need for niche-based salons will continue to be important, but I predict a ton of change is going to happen in the way that salons operate in order to serve their stylists moving forward. The “suite life” is fading, and so is independence. 

With every evolution, there is always a revelation.

I believe we are in the revelation, right now. Evolution was women empowerment and independence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “alone”. What we’re starting to see now is stylists reinventing the way they work with one another. People are craving to regain the social aspect of their lives at work in order to share their beliefs, goals and energy.

To meet such a need, we are going to see the rise in a hybrid salon system. Commission based salon owners will leverage their locations AND supply… the two biggest assets of a salon. If done properly, salon owners will be able to offer so much more than just a chair rental. And, guess what! It doesn’t stop there. Some stylists may still work on a commission based structure while others will be excited to leverage operations through a “package”. 

What would the “package” look like?

  • Use of the salon
  • Covering operational expenses
  • Access to software (materials, training, bookkeeping, accounting)
  • Social media & marketing support

To sum it up, I see salon owners adopting more of an agency mindset versus trying to control their employees. The future is going to revolve around transitioning into an operational mindset and leveraging operations.

What are your predictions for the salon industry in 2024?