Nina Kovner people passion podcast Passion Squared hd

Nina Kovner On Perseverance + Comparison + Social Media

In this What’s On My Mind episode Nina shares the truth behind her current state of mind, why it’s so important to acknowledge the lows as well as the highs and how to pull through it all. She also shares a little riff on comparison, knowing your brand, finding time for social and content creation. You can find Nina on the gram @passionsquared

You can also listen + subscribe to our podcast on;

Google Play

Your experience matters. We would be so grateful if you shared your experience with our podcast by leaving a review. It matters to us, and so do you. Thank you- Nina

Education and Change in the salon industry blog Passion Squared

So Much Education So Little Change

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Robert Frost

(This post was originally written on June 3, 2013. It has been updated, but the issue, sadly, is still real for many.)

When will you decide to take action on all that education you are consuming? Because the truth is, until you do, please do not expect any changes to occur. Change the system, change the result.

So many professionals arrive to education classes each day with the hopes of getting info on the latest and greatest products, tools, programs, and being inspired and motivated. And of course, grab a selfie with their hair heroes and sheroes. We’ve all been there. And it can be some of the best experiences of our lives.

My career began when I first attended the International Beauty Show in New York. The moment I stepped foot into the door, I knew my life would never be the same. Many of us have stories like that, and I never tire of hearing them.

Everyday in the pro beauty biz, there are shows, classes, workshops, academies, webinars, DVD’s and books to purchase. And everyday, beauty professionals from around the globe consume these educational opportunities.

But here is the dilemma. Not much has changed. After 30 years, I still see and hear so much of the same narrative, the same struggles, the same resentment.

Why are you investing so much in education and not seeing significant changes consistently? Why do hairdressers still struggle to make a living? Why do salons open with fanfare and close in silence and shame? It breaks my heart. But it is also why Passion Squared exists.

While the answers are not as simple as a blog post, here are some of the reasons I believe this cycle continues and what we can do to change it…

1. You Have A Taking Action Problem

As one that has worked in this beautiful biz my entire adult life, 30 years, is see a huge problem with owners and hairdressers actually taking action and following through. Yep, I said it. It’s quite common for us creative types, to be addicted to the inspiration and info, but not taking action on much of what we learn.

You have become addicted to obtaining knowledge, not to executing on the knowledge you are receiving. In order to change that, you must begin to fall in love with taking action. Or finding a partner in your biz that is in love with taking action. There is no way around it. Awesome businesses execute. They are consistent. They are in love with the fundamentals of what makes a business awesome. Period.

2. The Truth Is Technical Skills Include Business

Speaking of addictions, many are addicted to learning how to be better cutters, colorists and stylists and almost adverse to being better leaders, managers, business owners and brand developers. Being an awesome haircutter does not automatically make you an awesome biz owner (have you read the E Myth?). Having a big Instagram following does not mean you can build and grow a team, or coach others on how to build and grow. And if you are an independent artist, you are a business owner too. Drop the ego, stop thinking you know it all, and commit to learning what it takes to build and grow a business. If you are not into improving your business skills, don’t own a business.

3. Don’t Buy Into The Hype 

Many are in love and enamored with our product lines, manufacturers, distributors and those with big social media followings. You worship them. You spend thousands of dollars supporting them. How are they supporting you? How are they helping you increase traffic to grow your business? And let me remind you, just because someone can collect followers on social platforms does not mean they are a good business person, or have a good business. It simply means they have learned how to build followers. It’s not the same. Some actually do have an awesome business, but many do not. Don’t buy into the hype.

4. Get Focused AF

As a group, we are a fairly unfocused bunch. I include myself in all of this as I will only speak from my own experiences. We are so addicted to what’s next, we miss the opportunity to actually learn something, implement it, measure it, learn from it, and adjust it.

We move towards what we focus on and we can only focus on one thing at a time. Something to think about next time you sign up for a class, workshop and webinar. What is your plan for taking action on the ideas you learned? To measure the results? To adjust as you measure?

There is no getting around doing the work. And if you want to see a change, a real change in the results of your business, your skills and your life, there’s gotta be some type of plan and commitment to get focused. The first step to this is taking a shit ton of meaningless stuff off your to-do list. Just let it go. It’s not helping you.

5. Real Education Empowers

Education should empower the educated. It should awaken the student. It should create real change. Both the educator and the educated share responsibility for this.

This is why I created membership programs like A School and Social Beauty Intelligence.

I understand that all the problems above exist, and my solution it to not just inspire you for an hour or a day, but for the lifetime of your career.

You see, the more we can stay connected, the better chance you have of staying on track and reaching your goals. It’s really that simple. Each day I am so proud of the decisions my clients are making, because they have simply decided they want to make an impact by focusing on what matters and investing in long term growth.

My purpose is to empower the people that I love. That is the also the purpose of Passion Squared. I have a dream that one day, in my lifetime, beauty professionals will be awakened and empowered to make good decisions about their career and business, and earn a good living, consistently. Sadly, if we get honest with ourselves, this is just not the reality of our biz. It’s time to change that.

With love + truth- Nina @passionsquared

11 Steps To Take Before Discounting Your Salon Services Passion Squared (1)

11 Steps To Take Before Discounting Your Services

 “Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. It is the art of creating genuine customer value.” Philip Kotler

This post was originally written in February 2015, but is oh so relevant to the questions I still get asked, so I did a little update! 

Daily deals and excessive discounting tells me two things: you are desperate and do not have a clear plan or point of difference for growing your business.

Discounting your services can be so tempting and can drive a ton of traffic and short term sales. But my question to you is at what cost?

Discounting erodes brand equity aka value
Discounting attracts discount shoppers, which is only awesome if you are a discount brand. And if you are, you can stop reading this
Discounting tells me your only point of difference is price
Discounting trains people to ask for discounts
Discounting tells me the value of the service is actually the discounted price, not the actual price
Discounting tells me you do not have a clear understanding of how to build your business or the value that you offer your clients
Depending on your business model, your brand purpose, promise and people and how you generate revenue, discounting can permanently damage your business.

Instead of discounting, here are some simple strategies (not easy!) that can help you grow a business for the long term…

1. Implementing a referral/rewards program, communicating about it and executing on it consistently
This rewards loyal clients for sharing their experience

2. Getting your pre-book % to at least 80%, using consistent dialogue and systems
This ensures existing clients are happy by getting their preferred day/time

3. Training your entire team to ask clients to share their experience on YELP, and ensure they are doing it consistently
Yelp is a BIG referral driver, love it or not. 

4. Ensuring your team is delivering a quality experience that is aligned with your brand promise, consistently
This is the most important really. If you experience sucks, nothing else will help you

5. Working with each team member individually to devise a plan for how they are going to grow their business including referrals, pre-booking, upgrading (only with the clients true needs are in mind), and recommending the products necessary for clients to care for their hair at home
We focus on what we value. Is your team aligned with your brand promise?

6. Getting serious about a social strategy; content creation, curation, consistent engagement which is proven to increase word of mouth if done well

7. Committing to an email marketing strategy, consistently, which delivers value as well as calls to action
Email is not dead, in fact, it’s one of the best ways to stay engaged with existing clients

8. Creating a system for client check in’s to see how their experience was
Let’s bring back thank you note, or at least, post experience check in’s

9. Creating a system to connect with clients who have not been back in a while. You can learn a ton and most likely will get some of your clients back into the salon
Where did they go? Why did they leave?

10. Are you delivering more value than the price you are charging? Or less value for the price? Is your pricing strategy consistent with your brand promise and people?
If your promise is to deliver a luxury experience but you are marketing to discount shoppers, that right there is a disconnect. If you prices are high, but your experience is low, that is a disconnect too!

11. Taking a look at your retention rate. How many new clients are you seeing? More importantly, how many are you actually keeping?
This will tell you a lot about your experience and if it is valued. If your retention rate is low, something is broken. The good news, you have resources to help you fix it.

All of the above actions will contribute to long term, sustainable, healthy growth.

Deals and excessive discounting will contribute to short-term sales, brand erosion and unsustainable growth.

Your choice. Choose wisely.

Love + Awesomeness-

PS: As with anything, pricing strategies are NOT black and white and one size does not fit all. You must decide what is best for you and the outcome you are seeking.

How A barista made my day Passion Squared blog

How A Barista Made My Day

“Customer service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job.” Unknown

A barista at Starbucks made my day.

She surprised and delighted me. She did something unexpected.

What did she do?
She offered me a free beverage.

Well that seems like no big deal.
It was a big deal.

Because it was simple, unexpected and it made me feel valued and happy.

My loves, at the end of the day, all of the marketing programs, fancy Instagram posts, Workshops and Classes don’t matter if we do not remember what matters most, a happy client.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Nina, we cannot give stuff away”. I get it, but that’s not the point. I am a regular customer who came in to purchase a pound of espresso, which I do about every 10 days. She did not know me. She did not need to. She just felt like and had the autonomy to do something special.

And that is all.

Surprise. Delight. And make me feel valued and happy. Be a day maker. And give your team permission to be one too.

And if you do, your clients may be inspired to share their experience with their friends. And on Yelp. And even, in a blog post like I did.

Love + Awesomeness-

PS: A big shout out to the Starbucks on Flower + 9th in DTLA. You made my day. Thank you.

3 Ways To Lose A Client Passion Squared blog

3 Ways To Lose An Awesome Client

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. ~ Jeff Bezos, Amazon 

We often hear talk about how to keep a client, but today, I am reminding you of how to lose one.

Why? Because sadly, I am seeing more and more the most simple things being overlooked when engaging with a business that I felt inspired to share this reminder with you.

First off, why do we lose clients? Several ways. It all comes down to broken promises, over time, which leads to diminishing trust, which ultimately makes a client decide to choose to go elsewhere.

Recently, I visited a service establishment that pretty much violated most of the reasons clients don’t stay. As I walked in, I was greeted, so yay! But from there, it all went downhill. For some context, there were 6 team members and 2 clients in the business when I arrived. They asked me sit down and wait for my service but never told me where to sit. Once I figured out for myself where to sit, I began to cough. And cough some more. Then some more. For over one minute, I coughed. Yet, it was not until over a minute of coughing that someone decided it was a good time to offer me a beverage.

When I sat for my experience, I was never offered another beverage, even though there were still only 2 clients in the business with idle team members watching TV and staring down at their phones. Really?

I requested a specific service be done, yet, I had to ask 3 times at which point the service provider finally heard me and did what I requested.

Upon checkout, which took WAY too long for no good reason, I was asked 3 times if I wanted a receipt. THREE times. I was never asked if I wanted to leave a tip, how my experience was, not was I asked when I wanted to pre book my next appointment. The fundamentals, forgotten or ignored.

1. Not Listening

This is the foundation of everything. Listening says so much. If we really listen, we can ensure our clients needs are being taken care of. When we listen we show we care. When we listen we deliver awesome experiences. When we deliver awesome experiences, clients are inspired to share them with their friends.

2. Not Providing An Awesome Experience

The client experience begins LONG before we walk through the door. It begins upon first contact. This could be our experience with your online platforms, how we book our appointments, how appointments are confirmed, how we are treated upon entering the business, during our service, checking out of our service, and any post service follow up. This can speak to the products you use, to the towel quality, the beverage service, the music being played, the energy in the space, and so on; experience matters.

3. Not Caring

How do we show we care? We pay attention, we listen, we respond, we engage, online and off, I can tell if you care, and I can tell if you do not. Do you care if I ever come back? If you do, one way to show me is to remind me to book my next experience before I leave. If you care about my experience as a client, you will do everything in your power to ensure my needs are being met, including offering me a beverage the first time you hear me cough. If you care, you will ask me to share my experience on Yelp. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Why does this happen?

Many reasons. Sometimes it may be lack of training, lack of systems, lack of expectations, lack of engagement in the business, a disgruntled team, lack of culture, or lack of leadership.

In this case, the owner was not present. But if leaders do their job, the owner should not have to be present for an awesome experience to be delivered consistently.

What can you do about it?

Take a good, objective look at your experience. The systems, the training, the team, the culture, your brand promise, and your ability to lead. Most likely, something is missing or broken. The good news? You can change it, if you really want to.

Start with brand purpose and promise. Are you clear and is your team clear? What do you stand for? Believe in? Who is your target client? Do you understand them and what they value? What specifically does your experience look and feel like? Is the team crystal clear on how to deliver that experience consistently and what it looks and feels like? What systems can you build to ensure the experience is delivered? How will the team be held accountable if the experience is not delivered consistently.

One last thing…

As I mentioned in the beginning, there were 2 clients in the salon and 6 service providers. What were the other 4 service providers doing? Nothing. In 2017, there is NO reason in the world to do nothing. If you want to build a clientele, the KEY word is “want”, then it’s your responsibility to build those relationships. One way to do that today is by engaging on social platforms. Create content that is of value to your client. Engage. Build relationships. Create content. Engage. Build relationships. For the one hour I was there, those 4 service providers could have done a mini photo shoot, created a video, done an Instagram or Facebook LIVE, written a blog, practiced their craft, etc.

If you don’t have the clients you dream of, the only place to look is in the mirror. Then at your phone, not to play games, but to create and share content, engage, deliver value and build relationships.

With love-

PS: Just after I finished writing this post, I saw this in my inbox from the awesome Seth Godin. Let it sink in and share it with your teams…

The best time to study for the test… is before it’s given.
The best time to campaign is before the election.
And the best time to keep a customer is before he leaves.- Seth Godin