This year's SALON TODAY 200 cover. Who will grace the cover next year?

This year's SALON TODAY 200 cover. Who will grace the cover next year?

Celebrate your team, honor your clients, recognize your business!

Enter SALON TODAY 200, the leading competition for salon business excellence. Now in its 27th year, the SALON TODAY 200 helps gather data and establish important salon business benchmarks, recognize owners and their teams for their business acumen, and creates a forum for sharing proven business strategies. Each year, profiles on the selected 200 are published in our Spring Issue, as well as celebrated on and through our social pages.

On May 5, the 2024 Class of the SALON TODAY 200 will be honored at a celebratory dinner and award program at the Grand Hyatt in Denver, Colorado, during our Data-Driven Salon Summit. For more information and tickets, visit

As salon business begins to return to its normal day-to-day rhythm after the pandemic, our SALON TODAY 200 competition will once again examine growth in total overall gross sales between 2021 and 2022, as well as study 10 different best business practices. For our sake and for yours, we are continuing to simplify the program, making both entering and judging less time-consuming and a bit easier.

This year, we’re inviting anyone interested to enter growth, and then encouraging each entrant to select ONE Best Practice category and write an essay about their work in that area. We also are asking each applicant to write an overall essay that shares their success in growing their business in 2022, as well as any challenges their business is currently facing. These essays are important, because not only do they help us select the 200 each year, but they provide rich detail that help us provide great content throughout the year and know what areas to focus on when planning Data-Driven.

The SALON TODAY 200 issue will be published in Spring 2024, and the new extended deadline is November 15. If you have questions, please reach out to Stacey Soble at [email protected] or at 805-709-1837.

Open the SALON TODAY 200 application.

To help you getting started on your essays, following are the questions from the application. These should be drafted in a Word Doc and uploaded to the application where prompted.

SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES ESSAY Looking back at 2022, list three things that drove your growth over the year and fueled your success. If you can share how an idea contributed to the overall bottom line, please share. As you look at 2023 and into the future, what unique challenges are you and your team facing and what changes are you making to try to tackle those challenges. Your essay should not exceed 1000 words.)

THE BEST PRACTICES ESSAY Review the 10 different best practices and pick ONE in which your salon/spa/barbershop excels. This section will be judged strictly on the strength of your essay. The questions in each category are intended as prompts to get you thinking in the right direction. You do not have to answer every question. You also can add something additional about that best practice that you do, even if it isn’t an answer to one of the questions. Your essay should not exceed 1000 words.

The Best Practices Categories: 

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITSExplain your compensation plan for your team members. What do they need to achieve to grow to the next level? How do you track and communicate their progress? When a stylist is promoted, how is that communicated to the team/guests? How have your practices changed regarding schedule flexibility? In addition to salary, what other benefits or creative opportunities do you offer employees.

CLIENT RETENTION AND REFERRAL PROGRAMSDo you have a loyalty program for established clients? If so, how does it work? How do you encourage both clients and team members to pre-book future appointments? Do you have an active referral program, and how does it work? How have any of these programs shifted retention or new client numbers? List specific measurement if you have them. What kind of employee or client competitions have you hosted to encourage growth in retention, pre-booking or referral numbers?

CUSTOMER SERVICEFrom check in to check out, describe the expected guest experience at your salon/spa in terms of customer service. What specific things do you and your team do to enhance the guest experience? What’s your procedure for training service standards? How do you ensure that customer service is consistent form visit to visit? How often do you reevaluate your standard customer experience and look for ways to add more value? How do you test your team on guest service standards?

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITYWhat specific actions do you take to make your salon, spa or barbershop more environmentally sustainable? Do you participate in philanthropies that benefit the environment? How do you involve/educate the team about environmental sustainability? How do you involve/educate clients about environmental sustainability? In what ways does taking a stance on environmental sustainability positively impact your salon?

EMPLOYEE EDUCATIONDescribe your education program for new hires, including who does the training and how long it lasts, how trainees are evaluated throughout the program and how they are introduced onto the floor. Describe your education program for all employees, including how often you meet, how do you encourage attendance, and who teaches the classes. How do you bring outside educators into the salon if you do, and how do you encourage/support team members to see outside education?

SALON CULTUREAs the owner, how do you establish the desired culture for your salon? How do you ensure that new hires match this culture? Do you have a team mission, vision or culture statement? If so, please share them. What specific activities have you established to encourage your culture? How do you evaluate that employee attitudes and actions are in line with your culture, and what steps do you take when they are not? What is the last culture-building idea that you implemented into your company?

SALON LEADERSHIPWhat kind of characteristics do you possess that makes you a strong leader? What do you do to help you continue to grow and develop as a leader? How do you hold your team accountable? How do you keep your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles? What’s an important risk you took and how did it pay off? How do you measure success for yourself as a leader? Where or whom do you turn to for inspiration on leadership?

PHILANTHROPYDescribe your salon’s philanthropic activities? Do you partner with a particular charity? How do you raise funds, assistance or awareness for this cause? If you have developed your own philanthropy or program, please explain in detail. How do you encourage team participation? How do you encourage your clients to support or participate? What is your system for donating services/products to organizations who ask for your help? How do you let your community know about your philanthropic activities? How has the philanthropic work you do helped your salon grow?

TECHNOLOGYWhat are the most important technology tools you use to manage and grow your business every day? How do you educate yourself and your team about new technology and what is your adoption process? How do you use technology to recruit new team members? How do you use it to attract new clients? How does technology enhance growth in your business? How do you use it to market to existing clients? What technology tool or idea have you borrowed from another business and how did you implement it?

RETAIL AND MERCHANDISINGHow do you educate and encourage team members to retail to clients? What are the different ways that clients are educated about your retail offerings? Who manages retail displays throughout the salon and how often are these changed? Describe a successful retail competition or merchandising display, and how did it fuel sales? (Specific results are always appreciated.) What is the last retail idea that you borrowed from another business and how was it implemented? 

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