(Click here to view the 2009 Top 250 Salons by state.)
For the past decade, Looking Fit has honored some of the nation’s finest salons through the annual Top 250 issue. This year is no exception. In fact, the competition was tougher than ever in our silver-anniversary celebration of America’s elite.
Our judging panel considered many variables when reviewing the confidential application information submitted by individual salons. The winning businesses shared a variety of traits, such as:
A thoroughly completed application, including an answer to the final question, “Explain in 50 words or less why you are one of the top salons.” The selection committee wasn’t overly impressed if a salon boasted about cleanliness as its strongest quality (shouldn’t that be a given?!); however, cleanliness always won out over a blank answer space.
A salon that is computerized, participates in ongoing education, provides educational materials to clients, skin-types clients prior to initial exposure, requires parental consent for youngsters, carries liability insurance and is involved in community activities.
An owner who has been at the helm of the salon for more than one full year. On that note, the amount of young salons that applied was surprising. In a year that featured a rollercoaster economy and many small-business closures, we were encouraged to discover so many operators launching new salon ventures. Some of those green owners have actually been in the industry for years, and fell in love with it working behind the counter. Although salons need several years to become established, we did invite a small percentage of enthusiastic, impressive young salons onto the list. After all, if they successfully made it through the 2007-2008 season, they’re already showing potential for longevity. By contrast, we’ve got other winning owners who have been in the industry for upwards of three decades.
Experience was no protection from the negative effects of 2008’s economic woes, though. Based on our applicants’ responses, the economy was the No. 1 factor that threatened business—coming in at more than five times as much of a concern as other factors. The next three business deterrents were weather, anti-tanning campaigns and competition.
As a whole, Top 250 applicants cited extremely conservative growth estimates throughout 2008, with the majority citing expectations of a 10 percent or less increase in profits compared to the previous year. However, the high number of owners planning to expand their businesses in the near future is definitely a cause for optimism.
Congratulations to 2009’s Top 250 Salons winners. May your commitment to excellence continue to shine forth as you uphold the standards which earned you this recognition.