From Fresno, California, Michael Blunt is the salon/bistro/boutique changing the game for what a salon should be. There is something rewarding about creating a relaxing space where not only can clients invest on the art of beauty, but also on the art of gastronomy with the in-house bistro and bar.
With such innovation comes an exquisite selection of products, so we sat down with our friends at Michael Blunt Salon for some details about how it is to run a salon/bistro/bar and how they keep up their excellence!
As America’s Prime Salons, we like to feature the reasons behind the success of the salon. As a bistro and salon, that makes you very special. When did you first see or come up with the idea of food/hair concept and why?
“I had experienced working at a salon in Beverly Hills that had similar concept. It wasn’t really a full bistro, but I liked the idea. When I moved back to Fresno, I wanted to take that idea with me, but make it more complete – with a full kitchen. I didn’t really want to do the salon/spa combination, so that’s where the idea of a full bistro/bar along with the salon came together.”
What do your offer in your Bistro and what is a customer favorite?
“We’re really big on farm to table. So everything is really fresh, nothing frozen. One of our favorites is called Not Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It’s made with amazing fresh bread, olive tapenade, Havarti cheese – it’s really Americana at its finest!“
On a day-to-day basis, how do you maintain the group aspect of traditional salons into the more individualized system of stations?
“Education and development are two key components that enable us to feel more like a traditional salon. While we have a lot of station rental stylists, we still support them in terms of advanced education, mentoring them in terms of developing an apprentice and even fostering opportunities for them to develop relationships with manufacturers to further their education or even their career. Even though they’re different structures –commission and rental– we treat them the same in terms of opportunities. We also sit down on a quarterly basis with them and go over their numbers, we help them with business coaching.”
With 40 hair stations, 4 barbering stations, a boutique, a make-up station, so on what do you base the selection of your team?
“They have to be extremely driven as far as education and their overall career – that’s non negotiable. They’re required to participate in at least 3 education events per year. With driven stylists, that’s never an issue – they always want more. I audition each potential member personally, to get a first hand look at their artistic and creative abilities. Personality is a huge part of it. I’ve seen hairdressers with amazing talent and no personality and that results in no clients. You can have a stylist with moderate talent but a great personality and they’re booked. With so much going on in the salon and bistro, we’re really creating an experience, and personality is a huge part of that.”
I see you offer a free app to your clients. In it your clients can earn tokens and redeem them for prizes, discounts, services, etc. How has this gone so far? Are customers responding the way you expected?
“Social media and the free app has been HUGE. I came from the generation where word of mouth drove business. Being active on social medial is really an extension of that. Utilizing social media effectively and participating in it the way we do to drive business, results in about 20-25 new clients per week.”
How do you use Facebook to grow the business? Are all of the stylists involved through the salon or do they help engage in the salon’s business digitally at all?
“All of the stylists are active in posting events and photos on Facebook. We use it on so many different levels –needing models for education events, creating momentum around community fund raising events, posting images of their work– all sorts of things. All of these posts and activities result in our clients and guests feeling more engaged with the salon. Our clients and guests also communicate with us through these channels. I’m surprised at how far our reach has become as a result of social media. Our Facebook page is a really a representation of who we are, internally, besides just hairdressing.”
What is your favorite Joico product to use at home/work and why?
“Hair Shake – I’m all about finishing. It allows me to change the canvas. I can have as much fun as I want, changing and creating as I go. I love it.“
What do you look for when selecting the brands that Michael Blunt Salon uses? Why did you select Joico?
“When we’re looking at products, I want to know what kind of commitment I’m going to receive from the vendor. I don’t see it as one-sided. The days of someone coming in and just taking orders are over. It’s a conversation about what we bring to the table as a salon and what the vendor can offer as support. With Joico, we were specifically looking at color, so education and support were key. We had to be sure it wasn’t just about the big shows and events, but what we could benefit from locally as well. Through our partnership, the talent and education we’ve been able to provide in the salon, the bar has been set very high. Because of our size, we’ve been able to host some amazing programs.”
See on your page that you are holding a Halloween Charity Ball. How does charity play a part in your business?
“Charity is a huge part of what we do, so much so that one of the key questions we ask when we’re interviewing stylists is how they feel about being out in their community, helping their neighbor, getting involved.”
In what other ways are you giving back to the community?
“We are partners with a community program. It’s a group home with troubled youth and we are very involved in them. That’s who the Halloween Charity ball was benefitting. We raise money for this group to expose them to things the world has to offer that they might not otherwise be exposed to –anything from deep sea fishing to snow boarding– things that will show them just how much there is out there in the world. We also display a Christmas tree for them, with tags describing their wish for Christmas. I am extremely blessed to have this salon and I feel that having the salon gives me the opportunity to help out wherever we’re needed. It’s not always big things, recently, we were able to help a woman with cancer have a glamour photo shoot for her children to have after she passed. I say this humbly, we love hair and hair dressing and beauty, but for so many of us, it is simply a vehicle that allows us to do so much more.”