Last week I was asked to join Killian & Zoe on the  Phorest Salon Software podcast to discuss the impact of GDPR within the business.  To be asked to do this was a huge honour & achievement.  Although I was nervous as it was something completely new to what I do…I absolutely loved it!

Here’s how it went…

Before we get into the nitty-gritty part of the episode, would you mind sharing a bit about your background in the industry? Before Enhance Beauty opened in 2001, I believe you were running a mobile type salon?

So I worked in a salon straight out of college.  I had carried out my work experience here and really enjoyed it.  I was then offered my first full time position. Within a matter of months I got my first mortgage & flat not far from where I worked.  Then on Christmas Eve I was made redundant!  The salon had went bankrupt.  So I went home and thought…what do I do now?

So I interviewed for other beauty jobs but nothing seemed the right fit.  I even considered cruise ships but now know that would not have been right!

I then worked mobile while trying to figure out my next step & also trying to hold onto client relationships that I had built up whilst working in the salon.

I was then encouraged by my step mum to take on the previous salon’s lease short term much to my Dad’s horror!  I was only 21 & obviously now had a mortgage to pay for.  It took me time to convince the landlord ( and my dad) to give me a chance, but he did & it worked.  My step mum worked on reception & I worked hard building my client base.  I had no idea how to run a business or what it even meant, but I worked hard and everything I know has pretty much been self taught or saught out.

Fast forward 17 years, I’m now married with 3 young boys and my business is still growing.  I’ve just employed my 9th member of staff.

Enhance Beauty’s mission is all about salon experience. Why was that something so important to you? And would you have an example or two of things you guys do, and that are unique to you – I was reading about the soothing & refreshing foot bathing experience you give to your clients before treatments… that sounds very inviting!!

The overall salon experience is hugely important within my business because it is something that makes us stand out from the crowd.

This is where we knew that we could add small things within our treatments to make the client experience different to other salons that they had visited before.

  • We do a foot ritual before every facial or body treatment. This involves the client having their feet bathed in warm water then scrubbed and dried by the therapist.  In doing this, the client feels refreshed before getting into the bed and it gives our therapists time to have that personal catch up with the client before the treatment starts and not during it.
  • We use a specific oil throughout the salon so that when clients return and smells the same scent it reminds them it’s time to relax. We’ve had clients tell us that whenever they smell that scent elsewhere they instantly chill out.
  • One thing that we do that enhances the overall client experience is that we add on 20 mins to every facial or massage. This is so that the client has time to prepare in the room for their treatment and never feels rushed when the treatment ends.  I’m a firm believer that if a treatment on a treatment menu states 60 mins….then hands on it should be 60 mins.  Don’t tell me that my massage was only 50 mins because of dressing time etc.  Give me 60 mins.  This time is also used for discussing aftercare, skin education & retailing.

We love to add little touches & surprises.  Within each eyelash tint we carry out a hand or neck massage so the client gets extra treatment time within a treatment.

We often give little gifts to clients just as a random act of kindness to show that we really value that they choose us. We know that nowadays clients have many choices in such a saturated market…we are grateful when we become one of them.

I am proud to say that a lot of our clients today are clients that visited me 17 years ago.  This isn’t a fluke.  I’m so heavily involved with how the business interacts with our clients and this is now a huge part of what I do on a daily basis.

Back when I started the business, social media didn’t exist!  It was back in the days where if you needed a trade you picked up the yellow pages! I remember licking & sticking 600 envelopes to mail to clients for a Christmas event that we had coming up.  Knowing that I’d only get around a 10% return on that mail out, I could’ve cried when I realised that the letters didn’t have our address or date of the event on!  Nowadays with social media, any mistakes can be quickly rectified & boost events or sales.

I answer all of our social media comments, reviews & google reviews, because I want that personal connection to our clients.  I love the fact that some of our clients feel part of our team or even refer to us a family.  This adds to their salon experience and ours.

Potential clients will follow us on social media for months before they step through our door.  We need to meet all their expectations when they do, so what you see from us online is exactly how the business is when you walk in.  It’s great if a client feels like they know us before we even sit down to that first consultation.

So, Nicola, you’re based in the UK. And with the whole Brexit situation, what was your first reaction when hearing about GDPR?


How much is this going to cost my business, how much time will I need to invest in it & how will it affect our client experience?

In business you are constantly learning new things.  You can never think that because you dealt with something say 5 years ago ie maternity leave…that you know how to do that.  These things change all the time & I have to make sure that we are always informed.  GDPR was another thing to add to that list.

What made you realise this was something that needed to be taken seriously, even over in the UK?

I suppose when the information started flooding in from companies that support us, like Phorest, we started to research what our responsibilities were & what we needed to do to be fully GDPR compliant.

We attended the Phorest’s Salon Owners summit back in Janurary and after listening to Paddy’s talk regarding GDPR, we as a business started troubleshooting & asking lots of questions.

Do you see GDPR as a threat to your salon experience, or do you see it as an opportunity to set yourself apart from salons who aren’t perhaps taking it as seriously?

That all depends on what mind-set you adopt.  For me this is an opportunity to build more client trust.  For us just now GDPR is a on-going task within the business.  Everyday brings another question from my team.

Our aim is that by 25th May all our procedures are in place to make us GDPR compliant.  We want to confidently answer any questions that our clients may have about how we store their data.

I’d be naïve to think that our clients don’t already know about GDPR.  Some are dealing with it within their own business and workplace.  We want our clients to know that we are a credible business that they can trust with their personal information.

For us here in Ireland, GDPR has been mainly focussed around EU countries and there are obvious similarities in the UK, but have you seen anything that has stood out that’s different between the EU and UK when it comes to GDPR? Are you seeking any legal advice to ensure you’re fully compliant by May 25th?

Due to the volume of work that GDPR is creating within my business, honestly, I’ve only researched what we need to do with regards to UK regulations.

We’ve not sought any legal advice yet but within the coming months, this may be our next step.

Right now we are working on how to implement these new steps & policies within the business & gather as much information as we can before seeking any legal advice.

It may never come to that.

What have you done to learn more about GDPR? Has the journey been a solo one or have you been inviting your staff in the whole process?

I do a lot of online research and each year I attend a content marketing conference in Edinburgh.  Other business owners that I’ve met at these events have been holding webinars about GDPR which I actively attend.  These have been really informative & helped see things not just from a salon point of view.

I’m the type of person that needs to go into something armed with knowledge.

My team are fully up to date with where our responsibilities lie and what our next steps are.  My management team joined me in Dublin at the Summit so they heard the talks and discussions on GDPR.

How has Phorest helped your salon along this journey?

Phorest has been a huge asset!

80% of what I know about GDPR has come from you guys.  I am a keen listener of the Phorest podcast & often link into any live sessions on instagram or facebook.  This is where we ask a lot of our questions are asked and answered.

Do you still have any main concerns about the data protection law? Or is it now more just a question of getting used to operating in a slightly different way?

One of my concerns is ‘do we have to start our email lists from scratch or can we hold onto data that we collected before 25th May?’  We have over 5000 clients on our email list & this is value to the business.  Erasing this would be a massive hit.  Nobody has been able to answer this question yet.

It’s now more just getting used to operating in a different way.  To be honest we follow good practices within the business and have always used pin codes from day one of taking Phorest on.  For us it may just be adding more time onto that client visit so that treatment time is not affected.

This is a concern though as this will have a cost implication.

I think the first few months will a challenge but then very quickly it will just become a new way that we work.  I’m looking forward to saving money on paper & ink!

Would you have any recommendations for a salon owner who hasn’t yet looked into this?

Get busy researching and don’t think that it doesn’t affect you.  Whether a large salon or a mobile therapist, this affects us all. Not complying to GDPR regulations is like working without insurance.  You just don’t do it!  Seek out the right people to help & guide you & the companies that you have built personal relationships with.

I think moving forward…if we are seen to be trying to do the right thing and have sought out advice, taken the steps required and implemented a system and procedures…then that’s all we can do.  I think there will be a certain amount of time for a transition period & that time gives us time to learn & get better at what we do.  GDPR is there for client’s protection and our protection.

Listen to the podcast here