Accidental Entrepreneur

A sore thumb, a golf ball and an oven…what do they have in common? Heather Karr!

Licensed Massage Therapist, Heather Karr didn’t set out to be an inventor  and product developer. She really just wanted to solve a problem she was experiencing with thumb and finger fatigue after deep tissue massage for her clients. Read how her adventure has unfolded and take inspiration for your own journey.

KH: Tell me what your inspiration was for this product….several clients with the same issue? Your own pain? How did you conceive this?

HK: Oddly enough, I didn’t intend on “inventing” anything to be sold. I had a problem and made something for myself to solve my problem. Quite honestly, I ended up pretty lucky that it was something that could help other people too and that it hadn’t already been done. The part that wasn’t just luck was all the hard work (and money) that it took to get it to market. It was way more work and money than I thought. And the time. Oh, Lordy, the time!

This is how it happened: I love to perform deep, therapeutic work, and was especially loving the trigger point work, but if I did it for very long it really hurt my thumbs and fingers. Being the giver that all therapists are, we tend to risk hurting ourselves to help make our clients feel better, so I tried using the hot stones. The stones were a bit of work to grasp, and I didn’t have good control over them, so a client (John Schneider, the actor, actually!) suggested I try a golf ball. He told me he lays on the floor on them on his back to get into his knots. I tried massaging the golf ball on his back and he loved it. It was so fabulous that I looked online and it seemed no one was using a golf ball for massage so I registered “golfballmassage.com” and figured I would rock this massage! Over the next few days I realized why no one was doing it for deep massage. The golf ball used alone was hurting my hand and it was really hard to control, like the stones. But I loved the size and hardness, so I thought if only there was something out there that would control it AND disperse the pressure on my palm AND be small enough so my hand was gliding on the client at the same time, then that would solve ALL my problems! I molded my idea out of Sculpey® clay and baked it in my oven. After several versions, I finally came up with one that worked really well. (You should see the first ones—they’re hysterical!)

After using it for a long time, it became obvious that it was something that would be great for other therapists. A friend helped me get a provisional patent and another friend loaned me some money to get it manufactured but I had no idea what to do to get it to market.

KH: Did you write up a formal business plan? How did you do that? Do you have business training or education? Did you seek a mentor?

HK: At first I didn’t have any sort of plan other than knowing that it was a great tool and a lot of people could benefit. I’m lucky to have a lot of really smart and talented friends who gave me good advice (and bad advice too, hah hah). Before I was a massage therapist, I was a graphic designer/art director and had planned and designed marketing materials for other businesses so I was able to put together packaging, promos, and what-not. My experience was in the automotive and motorcycle industry (oddly enough) so this particular industry was new territory for me. I have MANY friends of a variety of expertise that I am eternally grateful to.

Since I had a web presence with the “golf ball massage” before the SPABALLTM was manufactured my information popped up on the radar of the producer of the CBS show “The Doctors”. They were doing a segment on “unusual massage modalities” and he ran across my website. I thought it was a joke at first! They wanted me on the show! After he talked to me they decided to do the whole segment on just my massage instead of the three they had chosen. By the time the show aired I barely had the website and products up to sell. That show pretty much launched my business.

KH: Did you set a detailed budget for your launch?  And if so, how have you done with it? Are there some areas you went over? Some you didn’t need as much as you thought?

HK: Between the free publicity I got with this unusual modality, and the fact that it is truly a useful tool, the word of mouth within the spa industry really launched it quite organically. Because of the appearance on the show it exposed the SPABALLTM internationally and is literally sold all over the world now. I wish I could take credit for being a genius business woman but I’m not. It was really just a combination of luck, persistence, getting good advice, having smart and giving friends, a design and marketing background, optimism, and willingness to work 24/7 for years with little play time and no spare money. I’ve learned a lot along the way.

KH: Do you have a favorite ball?

HK: Man you ask good questions! Yes, the soft cover balls need lots of lotion to roll well. Hard cover balls roll better. Once in a while I run into a ball that is a tad too big for the holder–you would think they are all exactly the same size. I may be the only person who knows they aren’t!

KH: Any take away tips for other who might have a product development idea?

HK: If you have a good product idea (and it’s a marketable and profitable item) be prepared to give up weekends, sleep, money, and time. I think people think that all you need is a good idea to be a success. The easy part is the invention … the hard part is everything else! Also, you can’t do it all by yourself. Sometimes you have to take other’s expert advice and other times you need to trust your gut. The hard part is knowing which to do when! I highly recommend working with your local SCORE mentoring organization as a starting place.

KH:  Do you have distributor (wholesale) prices for your fellow salon/spa owners?

 Yes! Therapists can find information about carrying the SPABALLTM and the KADDYBACKTM for their clients at www.golfballmassage.com  and click here to see the SPABALL Wholesale Order Form.

Ed. Note: $2 for every kit sold on the website goes to Our Community House of Hope, a hospice organization that is near and dear to Heather’s heart.

Watch Heather’s story here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeFnqPBUv1w

Don’t Cave to Threats of Bad Reviews – Part 1 of 3

Everyone who checks out the reviews before spending their money knows that there’s always “that” one…

Maybe when giving online reviews was a relatively new thing a decade or so ago, it was taken pretty seriously and companies would strive to avoid anything less than top-notch reviews. There has evolved, however, a culture of bad-review guerrillas who threaten and attack your business if they don’t get their way. Now, don’t mistake it, we’re all for clients getting the good services they’ve been promised, but unfortunately there are some who take advantage of providers by threatening to trash their reputation…or [gasp] “take down your business.”  They go online and cyber-attack you in every venue they can think of, demanding their money back. They hurl unfounded accusations and stomp their tiny feet until the owner caves in and gives them the money. Then they leave their negative posts in place and brag on social media how they got their new brows “for free!”   The client got your excellent work, but not only did you not get paid, you now have negative reviews besmirching your good name! This needs to stop!

Don’t be Afraid

One bad review in dozens of good ones simply cannot ruin your business! People understand and have no expectations of good providers being able to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. So why should YOU have that expectation? You shouldn’t! You should do your very best with every client who pays for your skill and remember, sometimes, life happens.  If you’ve done your best, then you can sleep at night knowing that to be true. So don’t be afraid to stand by that good work.

You should get it out of your head that you even want a string of perfect 5-star reviews.  Potential new clients who see only a perfect 5.0 rating immediately take a mental step back–no one is that perfect. It’s more authentic if your average is high…but you have an occasional “opportunity for improvement” which you’ve dealt with in a positive way.

Realize Times Have Changed

You may not have seen this viral post about “that one guy” but there are now many examples of this situation out in the world. Just one of many internet outlets sharing this event, Huffington Post states:

We all know that Yelp can sometimes be a fair-weather friend to restaurants. One day you’re riding high, earning serious praise from citizen reviewers — and then just as fast, your restaurant’s reputation can get hammered by one unhappy customer. We think the tactic employed by Joe Dough Sandwich Shop’s sign-writer is pretty fantastic. Way to make lemonade out of lemons, you guys.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/yelp-worst-meatball-sandwich_n_1633755.html

So instead of worrying about the odd less-than-stellar review, own it! Times have changed and no one takes an online review so seriously these days.

Fight Back!

One of the best things about online reviews is that most of them allow comments to be made on the review. You have the right of rebuttal and to tell your side (aka, “the truth”!) When done skillfully, this can actually make you look better than ever. How? Your polished, well-written reply can emphasize your customer service expertise and make your reputation sparkle and shine! Bad reviews, when handled correctly can actually be golden marketing opportunities!

Use the Review

When someone is the type who looks at the reviews, they’ll go by the overall trend. If the business has lots and lots of excellent reviews…they’ll scan a couple, but then scroll on by. All those kind words are never seen by anyone, in most real life cases. Review-checkers do look for the negative ones, and if they see a whole slew of them, the alarms go off. But if there is a single bad review (or even a handful of them, if the business has dozens of good ones) they might go check out that one out of curiosity.  That bad review becomes one that is seen by many more people than all the good ones. So, knowing this, your response should be carefully executed to shed the best possible light on you and your business. Think of it as a magnet, and your bad reviewer has set you up to get your message in front of more people than would normally pause to read about you.

Sometimes Thing Happen

First, we need to discuss when the client might have an appropriate issue with your work.  There are times when things just don’t go well. It happens to the best of us. When you simply did not complete the work as you promised, then there is only one thing to do:  OWN IT.  People often complain because their expectations were not met. Mostly, they just want to be “heard” and get an acknowledgement of “Yes, despite my best efforts, that did not go as we planned.”

The best legal beagles will tell you “never admit your fault” but clients–people you care about and hope to have a relationship with–hate being treated as “less than.”  Now, we are not saying if you have caused bodily damage to someone you should do anything other than completely follow your legal advisor’s gag order.  We are saying that if it’s a matter of taste or something that you can correct, then just say “Oops! I did my best and I’m happy to adjust the work.”  Telling someone their hair is damaged beyond all salvation or their eyebrows are naturally asymmetrical IN PUBLIC is not a good move.  Better to acknowledge their complaint, offer them some options right there in front of everyone to come in and allow you to work with them, and tell them you look forward to making their experience with your business a positive one.

No details should ever be discussed in a public forum. “Come in and we’ll work it out to your satisfaction” should be the only message.

The Response is Everything

Writing a killer response to a negative review is something you can learn to do. There are some techniques you can use in crafting a response that will put you and your business in the best possible light. The basic rules are “Short and sweet, do not air the dirty laundry, and always end on a positive note.”  To read in detail how to create good replies to bad reviews, go to Part 2 of this series.

Safe Salon Exam

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Safe Salon® Concept Module 2

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You may restart the exam one (1) time to try for a higher grade. If you did not pass after two tries, click on the Contact tab on the top menu to email us at info@salon-gurus.com or ask your instructor to contact us.

Good luck!!

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Safe Salon® Concept Module 1

This course is made up of two modules and a 25 question exam–you will need to achieve a grade of 75% in order to pass this exam. Plan on spending about an hour to complete the course.

Safe Salon® Concept Certification Course

The Safe Salon® Concept Certification Program is all encompassing–all professionals and support staff in the salon or spa can benefit from incorporating Safe Salon training.

This copyrighted course consists of two Modules of learning needed to properly establish a Safe Salon and then to market your new training in a way sure to attract a new clientele—clients who are searching for a safe place to have their salon services.

Module 1 covers the rationale behind a Safe Salon and why it is so urgently needed in America—information that will aid you in communicating with not only your clients, but the physicians with which you hope to create referral relationships. Also discussed are the components of a Safe Salon and the Principles upon which the professionals and the facility must stand in order to claim the status of a Certified Salon®.

Module 2 explains the steps needed to “Go Safe”, what you must do and in what order to successfully launch your new Safe Salon Concepts. It gives you specific tasks to perform to properly introduce your new concepts in a way that will maximize the momentum you will create as you share this new education training and certification with your community.

The 25-question exam covers important terms, concepts, techniques and facts you will need as you shift your focus on this next level of achievement. Upon successfully passing the exam and completing the Certification process you will receive materials you can display to proudly declare your status as a Certified Safe Salon®.

The Certificate Packet is an additional $17.95 purchased through PayPal and can only be purchased by those who have completed the course and submitted a Course Survey. The Certificate Packet will contain a numbered, high-quality displayable Certificate ready for framing, special offers from our participating industry partners, a window cling you can place on a window or your door and a frameable plaque containing the components of the Safe Salon Concept that you pledge to follow.

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Millie Haynam is a much sought-after beauty industry Guru who has helped many succeed in their salons through her classes, books, blogs and online educational programs. In this video she shares four concepts that will surely boost your bottom line…if you make the commitment to yourself to follow her lead. Read more