This is a follow up story for Urban Betty. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, Chelle Neff here. I am the founder of Urban Betty, a salon that opened in 2005. In 2017 I successfully grew Urban Betty’s revenue and profit to a level where I could retire from doing hair and focus solely on the business.
Almost 18 years after opening, we now have two salon locations that house more than 80 employees. For four years consecutively, Inc. 5000 named Urban Betty as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies.
Due to its continued success, in 2021, I launched an Urban Betty product line, and the salon is expanding and opening a third location in 2023.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
Since we last talked, Urban Betty has grown significantly! In November of 2022, we launched a clean beauty line with two shampoos and conditioners and plans for more products. In March of 2022, we expanded our 38th Street location by adding a spa room, six chairs, and a new office with windows.
We now have 30 chairs at our flagship location, with 36 full-time stylists and two estheticians. This expansion will allow us to provide all sorts of new services, including facials, lash & brow, and body waxing.
Since last year, our revenue has grown 33%, and we are trending to hit 6 million in revenue for 2022.
Since last year, our revenue has grown 33%, and we are trending to hit 6 million in revenue for 2022. To help keep the momentum going, we will open a 2800 sq foot salon and spa in Round Rock, Texas, enabling us to bring on 50 new employees in 2023.
This year we launched a testimonial page, where guests can see other guests speak about their experience at Urban Betty and which stylist they recommend seeing. We also added videos of our staff giving testimonials about how much they love working at Urban Betty.
I've learned with social media and our website; that people want to see real people (behind the scenes or in the open). Our best-performing social media posts are our Betty of the Week posts. In the past, these posts featured a weekly employee who went above and beyond the call of duty.
This year we incorporated celebrating other salon owners in those posts. Our goal was to raise awareness about supporting not only our staff but others making a difference in the salon industry. Once a Betty of the Week is chosen, we choose a location to do a photo shoot, and then they are sent a series of questions to answer about their background, hobbies, and, most importantly, what superpower they would choose!
We also share these posts in our Instagram stories and our website blog. These posts get THE MOST engagement for us, which honestly surprised us. Our audience doesn't want to see post after post with the back of someone's head. They want to feel like they are part of the community and get to know us personally.
On average, our Betty of the Week post reaches 800 accounts and has over 1000 impressions.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
My biggest challenge has been trying to capture all of our systems and processes in one place so I can easily clone myself and have more downtime. Feeling overwhelmed with burnout has been a real struggle lately. I was beating myself up and wondering how I used to be able to do everything, and then it hit me. I wasn't a parent before. My time with my son is 1000x more important than work, and now I have to give myself breaks and downtime to be more present as a parent.
To help with the overwhelm and burnout, I hired an admin assistant to organize my Google docs and filter my emails. I didn't necessarily need a full-time person for the position, so it was a struggle to decide who to hire. I then realized that I'm surrounded by many brilliant women who are part of our front desk team.
That's when I had an a-ha moment and decided to ask someone that already worked for Urban Betty to help me! She works about 6 hours per week. I created a separate user profile on an iMac in our office with my email, calendar, and Google Drive. This option gives her access to what I need help with without having to provide access to my personal computer.
Another action I've taken to help with capturing and cloning myself (and am super excited about) is joining the Mike Michalowicz Clockwork Accelerator! I joined a couple of months ago and have already learned so much. If you don't know about it, look it up! It's a cure for overworked entrepreneurs that want a business to run itself. This is my literal dream, and the reward will be taking one month off. Let the countdown begin!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
My biggest lesson learned this year has been patience. We started an expansion on our flagship location (700 sq ft), which took over a year! It has taken a year to engineer plans for our 3rd location, which I have been paying for while not in use. I humbly say that while both of these projects are worth it, they've taken twice the amount of time and a much more considerable amount of money than I expected. I've learned that during this pandemic, processes are bottlenecked, and supplies are expensive. If you plan any business opening or construction, be ready to wait and pay more.
The best decision I made was to hire a designer to help with these projects. She was a lifeline that kept some stresses out of my way. In my first few buildouts, I could not afford to have a designer, and I went for it once I could budget that. Not only do designers make your space look good, they run the construction project and help you stay within budget.
My last piece of advice is to BUY commercial real estate. Don't rent. My first store was a rental because I wasn't in a position to buy, but my second and third have been commercial purchases. Get a broker and see what's out there! It never hurts to look and set that intention. It's also an excellent investment for your future and retirement. If you sell the business, you can still own the real estate, get rental income, or sell it later.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year and the next five years?
My short-term one-year goal is to document and upload all of our salon systems and process so that we can create a blueprint for our business,
My 5-year plan is to have four locations-two in Austin, one in Roundrock, & San Antonio, grossing 10 million dollars annually with 150+ employees. To execute this, I aim to learn more about bringing on more shareholders and franchising.
I would also like to expand the Urban Betty product line in the next few years by finding an Urban Betty product investor and hiring an Urban Betty product developer/chemist.
Our mission statement is: "Here at Urban Betty, we empower each other to grow. We remain connected with each other and our guests while constantly evolving." What that means is that we always look to what's next. How do we become better while bringing others on that ride with us? Being open to change, growth, and innovation, keeps our salon company light years ahead in our industry!
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
The best thing I've read this year is Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz. It's helped me start designing my business to run itself and define the "Queen Bee Role." If you want to take more time off and empower the people that work in your company, this is the book for you! (I already took several weeks off this year, and it was smooth sailing-proof)
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I love the saying: "How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans." I think of that often. I would advise any entrepreneur to keep going no matter what and be flexible. Don't fret about when or where things will happen. To manifest something, you have to set a goal and get very specific. You also have to give up control over when and how it will manifest. What ends up manifesting can look very different than what you initially envision.
The biggest mistake we can make is putting a time frame around big goals we haven't met. I had to go through many steps of losing people, changing my business structure, and taking personal actions to be my best self. In 2005 when I started Urban Betty with one contractor, I was opening my salon company and not thinking about the longevity and where I would be 15-20 years later. It's great to set and have goals AND know that your life and experiences will change. Where you end up might be 1000 times better than expected. Be open and flexible to allow that to happen.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes, we are always hiring front desk staff and service providers. You can apply here.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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