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Big Fish in a Small Pond

May 03, 2019

Jyl and Jason Craven, co-owners of the upscale Jyl Craven Hair Design in Canton, Georgia, have debunked the myth that hairdressers have to work in a big city to make a lot of money. Their salon is about a 45-minute drive from Atlanta, but that hasn’t stopped the Cravens—Jason is General Manager, while Jyl is the gifted hairdresser whose name is on the shingle out front—from operating one of the most successful businesses in the area.

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“We are not departmentalized,” says Jason, who manages a staff of 30, including 17 hairdressers. “Everyone who works here does it all—cuts, color and other chemical services. The only things we don’t offer are nails and spa services.” 

So what sets Jyl Craven Hair Design apart from the competition? “Technical ability and customer service,” says Jason. “Education is really important to us, and everything we do is tied to the guest experience, and LaRu by SureTint plays a strong part in that relative to hair color.”

The Cravens discovered SureTint a few years ago and, while they were impressed with its capabilities, they worried about possible pushback from the staff. The team was used to the old way of doing things and there was a concern they might balk at the idea of inputting color formulas, following the recommended amount and, frankly, being held accountable for their dispenses. They needn’t have worried.

“For us, it’s been somewhat of a game changer in the sense that we rely on it now,” says Jason. “If the system goes down—which rarely happens and it’s always due to our WiFi or something—it’s like a sense of panic sets in: Help, I can’t put my formulas in.”

Both Jason and Jyl were shocked by how the staff embraced the new technology from day one.

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“It’s really helped with inventory. We used to spend so much time creating flawed reports, but with LaRu by SureTint we can print out accurate reports in a few minutes,” says Jason, who remembers when he’d be in the dispensary counting boxes while the sales rep from Salon Centric (Jyl Craven is a L’Oreal salon) would be in the reception area waiting for him to finish. “It was quite a laborious task. But this has really streamlined the process. Now we hand her the report, and she goes on her way.”

Another plus is that the dispensary doesn’t look like the receiving department at Overstock.com. “Ordering product used to be a complete guessing game, what I called 80% art and 20% science, and we’d end up with a lot of overstock, but now we order nearly everything—as much as 95%—based off the usage reports the system generates for us.  I might add a few random colors, but for the most part I depend on LaRu to tell me what I need each week.”

The color usage reports have also helped him identify situations in which the staff isn’t charging enough for the services they’re providing. “We’ve been able to set some parameters that are easy for everyone to follow, which has been very helpful,” he says, “and I think it’s added an element of comfort for our guests, especially first-time clients. Not only are we dispensing their color in the most precise way possible, but we’re also capturing data successfully so their results will be consistent over time. That’s been huge for us.”

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So, did the Cravens worry that the staff might think that all this new technology would infringe on their artistry? “Actually, we’ve found that the opposite is true because it allows them to record the formula they created as an artist and duplicate those results each and every time,” says Jason. “They can also make notes that they can reference on future visits.” For example, they might label a formula that reflects a seasonal change, Summer Balayage.  

Ultimately, he says, LaRu gives more freedom when it comes to managing their business. “No more handing a ticket or traveler to the front desk and relying on someone else to input the information you provided,” he says. “With LaRu, we’ve given our hairdressers complete control of their own formulas and notes, which is a win-win if you ask me.”

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