By Sue Davies
Gorgeous Nail & Beauty Emporium

When I was at school all I ever wanted to do was be a beauty therapist, but the boyfriend (now husband), parental point of view and desire to earn money changed my pathway temporarily. I ended up working as a PA and Office Manager for most of my career until I stopped to have my children. I then revisited the idea of my earlier career choice and in 2002 I retrained as a nail technician, followed shortly after by holistic therapy and more recently by beauty services. Now 15 years on and a successful award-winning salon (Gorgeous Nail & Beauty Emporium) under my belt, my life has changed massively.

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Most recently I had the great honour of joining a veritable hall of fame by being awarded the Services to the Nail Industry in the Scratch Stars 2017 Awards. It was an amazing evening and my salon was also finalist in its own category, reaching the top 5 in the UK for the 4th time, having been crowned the Scratch Stars Salon of the Year once along the way. This year we’ve also been awarded salon and individual awards from the English Hair & Beauty Awards, British Hair & Beauty Awards and the Kent Health & Beauty Awards. It’s been a big year!!

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It's been a huge journey and that 11-year-old young girl who wanted to do facials and put make up on people could never foresee the wonder of these nights and the honour of receiving awards such as the ones we and I have achieved. I just wanted to make people feel better.

What led me to the world of awards? I suppose it was opening the Pandora’s Box in the world of Nail Competitions. Before I worked in the competition environment, I’d not really been active in competitive events since school and to see nail techs striving for perfection and eventually becoming a judge of their work gives you a desire to reach similar levels in your own work. When I opened my salon in 2011 I wanted to be the best I could in my area, second best was not an option for me, I researched all my competitors and set my standards high to make sure we stood out as a desirable location for clients and when an opportunity to enter the salon into a new awards scheme came along I decided to enter and we reached the UK finals.

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I’ve entered the salon and myself into different awards regularly since and this process makes you look closely at how you run your business on so many levels. After each award I’ve asked for feedback and worked on improving our systems until we won and even then, still took the feedback. Mostly we were hitting the right buttons but for most of the criteria you need to show how you recruit and retain clients and we’d always just used traditional routes for this. We’d never gone out of the Facebook and regular social media methods and still just communicated with a hopeful email to our clients with no way of seeing how they’d interacted or switched off.

In 2015 I had joined a social media group of salon owners and a regular topic was online booking systems and although I’d looked enviously at other salons with online booking systems that did wonders, I’d always hit a brick wall on the setup costs. I was a one-man band for a long time working from a home salon and prior to that as a freelancer and my biggest technological advance was moving from my beloved Filofax to a palm pilot many years ago. In 2011 when I’d opened the salon I dropped the palm pilot and moved back to paper. Reading some of the comments about different systems got my mind working on how this would advance my business. I had a chat with the UK representative and a great business relationship began due to the low set up costs and the great advice.

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In July 2015 we went live with Ovatu and we have never looked back. After a couple of technologically challenging moments for the salon team and with the support of the UK team we got the hang of it and clients started to use it for booking online. Online booking for us is a major advantage as we are a small team with no regular receptionist and cannot always answer the phone, but our voicemail directs people to the website where they can use Ovatu to book. Many clients have now downloaded the Ovatu You app and love the accessibility they can now have to manage their own appointments.

The marketing options for email have enabled me, as a business owner, to assess how well received our mail is and the way we can tailor to specific areas of our client base means we aren’t bothering the wrong type of client.

The client review option is also a huge benefit for the business as it’s linked through to our website so that potential clients can see real testimonials from real clients. This makes us a more viable option to other salons who have not discovered the wonders of Ovatu.

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My personal favourite on Ovatu is the reporting. Apart from being able to work out how hard we are all working and having a bit of rivalry over our time productivity ratios the reporting has turned my book-keeping around. As most of us that run our own business find, we end up run ragged and trying to get our accounts fitted in at weekends and evenings before deadlines, taking hours and hours to enter daily revenues. Now with a click of a button Ovatu tells me every possible figure you’d need to know. My last business accounts without Ovatu, it took me probably 2-3 days of logging daily takings. This year with the first full set of accounts using Ovatu reporting it’s probably taken about 30 mins to get the monthly reports and extract what I need.

All these benefits free up management time and make us stand out from the crowd amongst our competitors locally, but also within the awards systems we enter giving us a better platform for our marketing and client management allowing us insights into our business that other salons may not have.

Sue Davies
Gorgeous Nail & Beauty Emporium