If it’s possible to predict the future of professional beauty, Bob Myers is in the catbird seat. With more than 30 years experience working for companies like Kenra, Joico, Framesi and Aveda, Myers is now General Manager, Membership for the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) where he defines his role as “setting strategy and having a vision of where we need to go to connect better with our membership.” Aside from cosmetologists who work behind the chair, PBA is targeting what Myers calls visionary members—companies as diverse as Henkel, Salon Centric, Coty, L’Oreal, Paul Mitchell and Revlon. “We’re trying to create synergy with them so we’re not just touching their staff and employees but also their customer base,” he says. “That’s who we want to engage.”
Myers allows that technology is not only driving professional beauty today but also reshaping the way salon owners do business—from social media to software like Phorest and Tippy (a disruptive tipping system) to apps like ZeeZor, which offers real-time data analytics and employee engagement, and LaRu from SureTint, which accurately captures, sizes and records color formulas for every client.
Myers points out that we’re still in a people-to-people business and that “technology can be a lubricant for that.” Take social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, for example. For Myers, they are simply the cost of entry, the anti in the game. “If you don’t have a social media presence, you don’t exist,” he says. ‘They allow the salon community or customer base to talk about you, and to refer their friends to your salon, plus they’re a great tool for gathering data about your guests.” The bottom line: Salons that use that data to make the guest experience better are ahead of the game.
Myers is excited about technology that doesn’t just create a better guest experience, but also provides a more simplified life for the customer, who comes into the salon and leaves with an experience. ‘If that experience is in any way unpleasant, they aren’t likely to come back” says Myers, who doesn’t see technology having any value in the long run unless it supports a more robust and more convenient guest experience.
“I was truly impressed with SureTint, which was one of the first companies to offer solutions for salon owners looking to manage their hair color business,” he says. “LaRu is a perfect example of how technology ties into a better guest experience, completely eliminating the need to record formulas on index cards and squeezing out what you hope is the right amount of color each time. Guests get a more consistent service, and you get an automatic database. It’s a win-win.”
So what’s on the horizon? Myers mentions Phorest, a fairly new salon software system that is taking a more integrated approach to salon management. “It pulls together marketing components that involve social media and also takes communication packages you’d have to buy and includes them in their system so it’s easier to send out emails or text notifications,” he explains. “It’s a start.”
So if Myers could gaze into a crystal ball, what would he see? “For me, software integration is the next level of development so my point-of-sale integrates with my color scaling and my database interfaces with my tipping system, which interfaces with my retail customer profiles,” he says. “That’s where the big opportunities are for a tech company that can leverage its technologies into a turnkey system that can improve business for the salon owner and the client.” Right now, he says, all of these technologies are siloed, but it will be a whole new ballgame if someone can bring them together in a way that will make every salon owner say, “I want that.”
It’s a tall order, but it’s the future Myers envisions when he looks into his imaginary crystal ball. Still, it all comes back to the guest for Myers, who finds it worth repeating that “all of the pieces have to enhance the guest experience or they aren’t worth much.”
The hurdle we have to clear, he says, is how to service all these new components without creating new revenue streams to pay for it, and that may mean a wave of mergers and acquisitions down the road. “Each company has its own technical support group, it’s own R&D, its own expenses tied up in their operations,” he says, “but if they merge they’ll create economies of scale.” And that is what may create a more compelling software solution in the future.