Learning how to make numbers work for himBy Marge C. Enriquez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Before he wielded scissors and makeup brushes, Lourd Ramos started from the ranks assisting celebrity hairdresser Vicente “Teng” Roma.
After a decade, Ramos himself became a celebrity, touting the latest hair and makeup trends and spreading the gospel of well-known brands.
When he opened his salon Creations by Lourd Ramos at Glorietta 5 in 2010, he received a lot of media hype that had the Go Negosyo team checking his background and his bank accounts. Last year, he received the Go Negosyo Starpreneur award.
The Go Negosyo research team asked him everything from debts, manpower, and allocation distribution to income and his personal possessions, which include three cars, a condominium unit and a townhouse in Cavite for his father and brothers. Ramos added that he also shares his blessings by supporting two scholars.
“The beauty business can be profitable for as long as you know the pattern and the route. I’m a risk taker,” says Ramos.
Doubling as regional training manager for Smashbox Cosmetics, Ramos learned how to make numbers work for him. “The IPT (item per transaction) can buy you a house or a car,” he says. In a department store, the makeup artist on the counter is motivated to push the products to customers. “If I sell five IPT’s to each of the seven customers in a day and multiply that in a week and in a month, there’s an incentive. If you accumulate the commissions in a year, you can afford beautiful things. I learned my math from there,” he says.
Ramos put his experience to good use by setting up Creations by Lourd Ramos at Glorietta 5. Despite the modest 60-square meter space, the salon was always booked with walk-ins and his loyal clients. How did he build his clientele? Ramos charmed people with his agreeable disposition and impressed them with his precise skills. But beneath the cheerful countenance was an astute businessman.
The salon’s success posed a challenge as it became too cramped. Still, the salon had its high points. “I’ve given their bonuses. We were able to pay half of the debts,” says Ramos.
Online retail also contributed to the salon’s marketability. In Cash Cash Pinoy, Creations coupons are always sold out. People are swayed by the 50 percent off the salon services. Ramos trained his staffers that when customers bring their coupons, the staffers should give more than hundred percent of their effort.
“The customers try out the services and they end up liking us. We profit from their repeat visits,” says Ramos. “Our success was also born out of trust, a reputation built from word of mouth and support from our suppliers.”
Last February, Ramos opened another Creations salon at Cedar Building on Arnaiz Avenue, Makati “It took a risk and some prayers,” he says.
Although the 200-sq m space was more than triple the size of the original Creations, the business was still thriving. Called Creations Cedar, it positions itself as a purveyor of organic hair care services provided by Davines, an Italian hair care brand made of natural ingredients.
“The salon can make money just on haircut and color because hair care is a necessity,” says Ramos. “People will spend for their hair more than other personal care products. You look good because your hair looks so nice. If you’re down or if the economy is down, a good hairstyle can make you feel that life is a little better. ”
Barely four months into its new home, Creations Cedar is packing up a wallop. Ramos is confident that it can post easily seven figures a month, as many popular salons would.
Ramos motivates his people to earn more. “In Glorietta 5, the target is P15,000 a day. Here at Creations Cedar, it is P30,000 to P70,000 on a weekend. We meet our targets all the time.”
Although the salon’s image is aspirational, the service rates are reasonable.
“I’m practical. Even if our salon has private rooms, we charge the same amount and use the same products. We’re a ‘masstige’ business, a combination of mass and prestige. A haircut is P300, hair color is P1,200. Our foremost service is hair color because it’s organic and, our products bring results. All the things we use come from Parma, Italy not China,” he says.
By yearend, Ramos will be integrating his Glorietta 5 staff into Creations Cedar. He has big dreams for his staffers. “I run my salon like a family business. We explain everything to them. There are quarterly meetings about taxes, incentives and their growth.”
Ramos coined terms such as “salon specialists” (“I don’t want to call them ‘assistant’ because the Tagalog translation is katulong.”) and “creative artist” (“‘Stylist’ is an overused word that could mean anything from putting clothes together to hair”). Manicurists are called “nail technicians.” “Our distributors will educate them on nail art and science,” he says.
Ramos also delves into the potentials his 40 staffers to see if they are cut out for the job and to ensure that they’re happy in their positions. “I might be forcing a person to do office work when he should be in styling.” Every month, some staffers are rotated to try out other jobs.
Asked how he would advise entrepreneurs who want to put up a salon, Ramos explains, “You need solid background in the salon business. Hire the right people if you don’t want to be harassed. Don’t get people who think they know everything. If you ask them to do something, they decline because in reality they don’t know how to do it. I prefer to get raw talents so I can train them according to my standards. Get a good administrative staff. They look at the bottom line and hire a good lawyer to protect your business. It’s not always about beautification.”
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