Key Takeaways from the 2018 Salon Summit

A lovely day out with lots of valuable learning and insights

The Araya Beauty team were fortunate enough to have attended Europe’s leading salon owners conference, the Salon Owners’ Summit, hosted by leading salon software providers Phorest at Dublin’s Convention Centre on Monday, January 8th. We were blown away with the professionalism of the well-run event and the crowd looked simply stunning on the day!

Here’s our lowdown on the day itself and some of the key nuggets of wisdom from the gifted mix of keynote speakers at the event which we’ll be adopting to help make our beauty salon a nicer place to be for both our clients and staff.

Registration and Welcome Talk

The registration process was friendly and straight-forward, we rocked up to the registration desk and were handed colour-coded lanyards, with pink, grey and purple strings denoting which of the rotational workshop sessions (covered later) we’d be attending; it was at that moment it dawned on us that military planning must’ve went into this event and we were impressed from the off!

Phorest CEO Ronan Perceval commenced proceeding on the main stage, welcoming all 500 of us from various professions; beauty, hairdressing, spas, tattoo parlours, you name it! There were people visiting from as far afield as the States, Finland, Germany and the UK for the event so it was a really multicultural and super-stylish vibe in the room.

We were surprised to learn that Ronan himself had started out his career working reception in a salon environment and had spotted a gap in the market to deliver a cutting-edge service to help make salon owners’ lives that little bit easier, and we’re eternally grateful for that!


Here’s a run-through of each of the talks and workshops in running order throughout the day!

Gavin Hoare – ‘Act Like the Expert You Are’

The first talk saw the high-octane, super energetic Gavin Hoare of London-based hairdressing salon Richard Ward imparting his wisdom acquired over 30 years managing the affairs of over 120 staff and you could tell he just lived and breathed enthusiasm for the industry, his job and the people he works with and serves on a daily basis.

beauty statistics

We learnt from Gavin that the average ago of an Irish salon client is 36.9 years old and that just about fits in line with our own clientele base here in our salon! We were also informed that there are over 4000 salons here in Ireland; that came as a bit of a surprise to us as we know we’re operating in a competitive space but that stat really puts it into perspective for what is ultimately just a tiny island in the grand scheme of things!

Workshop Rotation 1

The first Workshop session on our ‘grey lanyards’ saw the room split into three, with groups being brought to one of three workshop sessions in smaller side rooms within the labyrinthine Convention Centre. GDPR (which stands for ‘General Data Protection Regulations’) was the topic and Paddy Monaghan was presenting it, outlining how on May 25th this year, new regulations will come into play ensuring all businesses – and we as salon owners – are legally obliged to apply more stringent guidelines around protecting our clients data or run the risk of receiving a hefty penalty for non-compliance, up to 4% of turnover not exceeding a €20,000,000 fine.

Naturally, the crowd were intrigued and horrified in equal measures at the prospect of this and it’s probably the most important takeaway we took from the day with a firm plan in place to transform our current paper-based consultation forms into secure and compliant digital assets.

Steve Martin – Small Changes that Spark Big Influence

The next speaker was perhaps the star of the show for us, with a track record and has published acclaimed books on the principles of ethical influence in the workplace, Steve Martin blew us a way with some really practical advice on how to grow our bottom line in a mutually-beneficial manner for our clients and our workforce. His witty charm and mannerisms added to the experience and we’d happily pay good money to see him again and again as we feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of this man’s wonderful brain!

steve martin ethical influence

Steve’s talk was followed by a networking lunch where we were sat with some very interesting fellow attendees, many of whom were over from the UK for the event, some nursing a slight hangover from the pre-party the night before! The food was delicious, with beef bourguignon and chicken casseroles served in a buffet-style with oodles of side-salad and delicious desserts, none of us left hungry!

At our dining table, we struck up a conversation with the endearing Adele Bradbury of the renowned waxing salon Madame Wax in Cardiff and we shared ideas and tips on how to manage the daily struggles of growing a salon business; it seems the same challenges are mirrored on either side of the Irish channel!

Workshop Rotation 2

Our second workshop of the afternoon saw the charming Chris Brennan wonderfully overcoming some slide trouble in style by talking us through a light-hearted and informative session on we, as beauty professionals, need to approach our work in a slow, methodical and balanced approach in order to free up time to cherish the vital things in life such as quality family time and  to enhance your mental wellbeing.

worklife balance in salons

As all of our readers and clients will know well by now, we’re huge advocates of mental health, wellbeing and a solid work/life balance here at Araya Beauty so everything Chris said during this session not only resonated but helped reinforce some of the initiatives we constantly drive home to our team; that ‘me time’ really counts and should not be neglected in favour of any other life routine.

Workshop Rotation 3

The third and final workshop of the day on our rotational track was an inspiring collection of ideas, thoughts and advice around the topic of Salon Visual Merchandising from the lovely Rowena Doyle, Managing & Creative Director of Dublin design house, Visual Sense.

Rowena talked us through some upcoming visual trends to expect in 2018, it’s all about more visuals and less text to help tell a compelling story of our work, she tells us, and we agree! What’s more, we also got some really practical advise on how to decorate our salon premises with simple yet aesthetically-pleasing decor and welcoming, subtle colours and tones – we like to think we do a pretty good job of that too but there’s always room for progress!

Valerie Delforge – Managing & Motivating Staff for Success

The mighty Valerie Delforge is a prime example of a no-nonsense, well-organised, self-made and hugely self-confident beauty professional who’s forged a hugely successful career for herself though hard work, grit and determination – just our kinda gal! With a keen sense of style and a sharp wit about her, she took us through what her idea of business excellence looks like having been in the game for over four decades.

beauty business leadership

Valerie is renowned for her famous L.E.A.D.E.R. strategy and it was a true pleasure to learn from her. We were really glad to learn that she even offers Skype-based business coaching so we may well be in touch if ever we’re in doubt or second-guessing any leadership decisions within our growing organisation.

Tabatha Coffey – Rules for Good Business

Last, by by no means least, headlining this year’s Salon Summit was the effervescent Tabatha Coffey of Bravo hit-TV-series fame ‘Tabatha Takes Over‘ – a kind of ‘Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares’ for struggling salon businesses! She know how to get stuff done and improve business efficiency as a natural instinct. Importantly, she made a huge success of her true passion of a career within the hair industry long before the cameras started rolling.

In our very generous goodie bag when leaving the Convention Centre, we were handed a cool Phorest-branded selection of treats, the jewel among them a copy of Tabatha’s bestselling novel Own It, which we’re looking forward to getting stuck into over the coming weeks once we can find that all-important ‘me time’!

Final Thoughts

All-in-all, it was a highly liberating experience attending a summit filled to the brim with like-minded fellow professional from all walks of life. Our team spent the day scribbling down notes, chatting with some fantastic people and soaking up the wealth of great information being delivered to us from the stage.

We’d highly recommend attending the summit and soaking up the glamour and insight for yourself if ever you’re feeling inclined, hats off to the Phorest team for what was clearly a huge effort on their part to bring this all together and keep us salon owners up to date on all that’s bright and fascinating within our industry!

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