Square Case Study
How a popular multilocation salon supercharged its growth with data
Business Type: Salon, Barbershop, Retail
A new look for a community salon.
Casey Nickole opened BANG, a hair salon in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, to provide a place for a community to explore identity in a safe space with like-minded people.
“The best way to succeed is to find a missing market in your neighborhood and just fill that need. And the same need that I had for a great shop to work in, the community needed a place that was a local, comfortable place where their friends worked,” says Casey. She added, “We went from $300,000 in year one to over $1 million in year two. So it was really fast for us.”
Four years on, her multimillion-dollar business has forty employees split between three locations, was recently named one of Seattle’s top 25 most influential LGBT-owned businesses, and was a finalist for a Square BRASSY award.
As a multilocation, commission-based business, Casey knows she needs to keep customers coming through the doors at each of her three locations, even when she’s not there in person. She counts on a point-of-sale system that provides comprehensive analytics and allows her to manage everything from payments to payroll while she moves between branches.
Casey counts on Square.
Spending too much time on manual processes.
Roughly 95 percent of BANG’s clients pay by credit card, but BANG’s old payment system wasn’t integrated with its POS.
BANG was devoting too many resources and too much time to reconcile two sets of books and update manual systems, and still didn’t have the information and analytics it needed to make informed business decisions.
BANG’s payment system inhibited growth.
Payroll was time consuming with the old payment system. Unlike many salons that put emphasis on selling products, BANG uses a commission structure that encourages its stylists to hit certain goals each week to earn more commission. The old system did not give employees much visibility into what they were actually earning each month.
BANG’s traditional payment processor had a complex fee structure that made it difficult for Casey to estimate actual revenue. Ninety-five to 97 percent of BANG’s clients pay by credit card and use rewards cards, which charge at a higher rate. “I knew we needed to do more market analysis and research and look for the best rates.”
And the old POS meant Casey had to be in the salon to access information. This limited Casey’s ability to manage her business and keep tabs on sales remotely while moving from location to location.
Trying to manage her business while reconciling the credit card processor and POS left little time for other work, like streamlining daily operations, adding new employees, marketing to current and prospective clients, and running BANG’s nonprofit, VisibilityFoundation.org. By automating bookkeeping and payroll, among other tasks, Casey could free up more time to grow her business.
“We had a credit card processor and a POS system that did not communicate with each other. It created a lot of headaches for me.” - Casey Nickole, Owner
Before the switch
Time wasted with manual admin: The old credit card processor and POS were on different systems, and reconciling the two took at least five hours a week, plus additional help from an accountant for general ledger reconciliations. Additionally, there was no reliable system for tracking staff hours.
Lack of financial transparency: Hair stylists didn’t know how much they’d earned in wages, commissions, or tips until payday.
Unpredictable fees: Nearly every client pays by credit card and the old processing company charged higher rates for certain cards, creating unpredictable bills.
Not able to see data from anywhere: The old POS wasn’t online and data was only accessible from the salon’s computer.
Finding a solution in Square.
Casey knew the current system wasn’t meeting BANG’s needs. It went all in and switched to Square.
“When Square came out with [Square Point of Sale], we realized that we could have a point-of-sale system and merchant services support that also generated a perfect set of reports for us that are very detailed,” says Casey.
BANG got set up with Square’s hardware for taking credit card payments and Square’s point-of-sale app. The transition was easy and took “a day or two at most.”
Getting the staff up to speed was quick too, says Casey. “We had one one-hour training. It’s very super-simple. Less buttons to push, more streamlined. Our staff really enjoys Square because the user interface is so accessible.”
“Square Dashboard is great to really quickly access all the information that you need to know about sales.” - Casey Nickole, Owner
What happened next.
BANG signed up with Square to eliminate so much of the manual work associated with reconciling payment processing and its POS. It got that and a toolbox full of data and analytics.
“The more access you have to information, the better you can make decisions based on your daily operations and make sure that everything is being done in a really quick way that allows you to keep growing,” says Casey.
Now Casey makes staffing decisions based on the busiest times of day, tracks sales to know the health of the business, and monitors the number of new customers versus existing clients. BANG grossed $390,000 in its first year and, thanks in part to Square, hit over $1 million with two salons in its second year. It’s now a multimillion-dollar company with three locations.
BANG’s switch to Square has also led to:
More time and more flexibility
Casey values Square’s integrated point of sale and card processing hardware. Sales info from all three locations is always up to date so there’s nothing to reconcile at the end of the day. Noncommission employees (like receptionists) clock in and out through the POS, so all the information is in one place when it’s time to run payroll.
“The system is pretty flexible. It allows us to have a really seamless register situation.”
Because Square’s information is stored securely in the cloud, Casey can check sales, run payroll, or keep a finger on the pulse of her business from anywhere—in the salon, down the street at a coffee shop, or on the road at a trade show.
“Square actually gives me a lot of accessibility remotely,” says Casey. She adds, “I’m still the person who does most of the operations…. [Remote access] has been a game changer for me.”
BANG employees appreciate Square’s easy-to-use interface. They’re also more informed.
“The amount of information Square uses is really exceptional. In our company everyone has access to that information,” Casey says.
Hairdressers use Square Dashboard to track their weekly sales and make sure they’re on track to hit their service and product totals. And they can check their earnings whenever they like.
“For them it’s as easy as checking into Instagram. They can just sign in to the Square app from their phone and generate whatever information they need to know about what their week or their month looks like, and I think it allows them to plan their lives.”
More empowered customers
The streamlined system has allowed Casey to spend more time communicating and marketing to customers.
Casey now learns about issues directly from customers through Square Feedback and has the opportunity to make things right, instead of discovering problems through review sites. She uses Feedback to follow up with clients and also to reward employees who get good reviews.
And with Square Loyalty, BANG incentivizes its clients with discounted treatments or free products based on their purchase history.
After the switch
Integrated system: Square helps run the whole business, with seamless credit card processing integration and great sales analytics for all three locations. Staff clock in and out right on the POS and can check their hours, and running payroll is easy.
Sales data accessible remotely: Square’s POS lives in the cloud and the data is available from anywhere, on smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Transparent card processing: It’s just 2.75% per transaction for all swiped, dipped, and tapped cards. No monthly fees, contracts, or surprises.
Improved client communication: Square Feedback lets clients express concerns directly to Casey so she can resolve any issues. Square Email Marketing makes it easy to send beautifully designed email in moments and track results. Square Loyalty incentivizes clients to keep coming back, month after month, and results are easy to monitor.
Financial transparency: Hairstylists can track their hours and tips through Square Dashboard so there are no payday surprises.
Salons of all sizes can benefit from Square products and ultimately elevate their business. If you are just starting out, learn the various aspects of opening a salon and get a reliable payments system in place from the start. Established salons, like BANG, can transform their operations and create a more efficient ecosystem using Square.
Square products used:
- Square Stand
- Square Reader for contactless and chip
- Dashboard and Analytics
- Dashboard app
- Employee Management
- Square Capital
- Email Marketing
- Square Loyalty
- Close of Day deposits
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