Beauty Store Business

AUG 2017

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18 August 2017 | beautystorebusiness.com As with any growing or established relationship, there are standards you must uphold to get the most out of it. The following practices are the top five investments that you can make in your partnerships with reps to contribute to the success of your store. 1. KEEP AN OPEN MIND One thing that both manufacturers reps and beauty retailers can agree on is that to have a mutually successful partner- ship, storeowners must keep an open mind. They must be open to their manu- facturers reps' ideas and suggestions, and since the reps' jobs depend on how well they keep their fingers on the pulse of the industry, their inside knowledge and experience can usually be relied on by the busy storeowner who spends his or her days steeped in the daily grind of retail. After all, if the retailer doesn't make money, neither do the reps. And yet, in 2017, there are still retailers who are reluctant to try out new ideas and, subsequently, are still running their beauty stores the way they did in the last century. As Trish Walker, general manager of Essence Beauty Supply, put it, 10 years ago, beauty supply stores weren't bigger than 5,000 square feet, and sold only relevant beauty products. Today, they're 15,000 square feet and have added clothes and accessories beyond typical makeup items. Walker, whose Essence Beauty Supply boasts seven locations based in the Atlanta area and works with 10 or more manufacturers reps at a time, says, "Our stores are innovative, and we try to do different things. We understand that things have changed a lot. A lot of beauty suppliers are stuck in old ways. You've got to balance, whether you're a new business or old business. Be open to hearing about what's going on. [Manufacturers reps] can give you a lot of insight as to what is going on in your industry." Being open to new ideas in the retail space can include trying out the lat- est apps, tapping into social media and beauty influencers, and so forth. "If you want to grow your business, you're going to have to get on board using technology to showcase your store. There are a lot of tools that you can use to increase your sales and promote your store; you need to reach out to the young consumers to grow your business," says Sam Ennon, presi- dent and CEO of BOBSA (the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association), which works to establish African American-owned beauty supply stores worldwide. 2. SPEAK UP: YOUR INSIGHT MATTERS On the other end of the spectrum, man- ufacturers reps sometimes encounter retailers that aren't quite as assertive as they need to be in a business partner- ship. Some retailers will allow a rep's ideas to trump their own and not speak up when an idea is simply not a good fit for their store. It is true that manufactur- ers reps are a wealth of knowledge and industry experience; but their know-how and savvy must be paired with your intimate understanding of your customer and the vision you have for your store. You've got to be forthcoming in helping your reps understand your unique cus- tomers and store position. Manufacturers reps need to understand that your store isn't like any other store. "The first thing I ask every manu- facturers rep is, 'Have you been to our stores? Do you know what we do for a living? Have you done your home- work? Do you think we're the same as Joe's Beauty Store down the street?'" says Rick Freeman, owner of 2nd Street Beauty based in Long Beach, California. "You really need to make sure the rep knows what they're talking about as far as your store is concerned." Freeman adds, "I believe the manu- facturers reps are our eyes and ears out in the field. We should listen to what they say, but if it isn't going to work for you, tell the truth. [For instance], 'I hear everything you're saying, but how is this going to sell [in my store]?' We all approach things dif- ferently. We have to be in tune with our customers. Before I was a storeowner, I was a manufacturers rep, two different times, with my father and brother, and then with my son, and I owned Freeman Cosmetics Corporation. I know both sides of the fence." Let your intimate knowledge of your store and customers enhance your reps' judgment and recommendations. 3. NEGOTIATE FOR A WIN-WIN One of the benefits of working with manufacturers reps is the opportunity for better pricing. The rep, essentially, serves as the middleman between the retailer and manufacturer, and it's in his or her best interest to get results for all parties involved. So, ask for pricing that's going to be worthwhile for your store, so that you both reap the benefits— and give something in return. Industry experts say that you can "give some- thing in return" in a variety of ways, such as by creating promotions, buying more than one product in a line, purchasing in bulk or making a legitimate case for the expectation of generating high sales volume and repeat orders. "Great entrepreneurs don't blindly negotiate. They bring some form of leverage to the table," says professor Devin Robinson with Beauty Supply Institute, which offers beauty supply stores a variety of support to help their "The relationships with your reps are probably the most important in this business. Treat them the way you would your best customer." –Janice Fredericks, CEO and founder, Fabulous Freddy's Fabulous FreddyÕs Beauty Supply Boutique in Queens, New York Courtesy of Fabulous FreddyÕs Beauty Supply

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