Wanting to create a customer-friendly and hygienic establishment devoted to hair removal, founder and CEO Shobha Tummala opened Shobha SoHo, a New York City threading, sugaring, and waxing salon, in 2001. Catering to beauty editors, A-list celebrities, and busy New Yorkers, the company has since expanded to include Shobha Madison in 2003, Shobha Columbus Circle in 2007, and earlier this year, Shobha Financial District. According to Tummala, the lower Manhattan location was one whose time had come. “With our growing clientele, we wanted to make our services more accessible for those downtown who find it hard to sneak away from their hectic days at the office,” she says. In addition to the four locations, the brand also uses and retails its own Shobha product line. Here, Tummala shares how she has been able to grow the company during a difficult economy.
How has Shobha continued to succeed in these trying times?
A. We focus on client care and education, providing not only a quality service technically but our team also specializes in the smaller details that make up the Shobha experience, setting our salons apart from competitors. Included in this client care is our responsiveness to client feedback—really listening to what our clients want and providing them with effective solutions for those wants and needs.
Why do you think the locations have been able to succeed where others have failed?
A. If our success can be attributed to one thing, it would be our team’s drive to constantly improve. Whether that be the safety of the ingredients we choose to use in our products or the multiple ways we offer our clients to schedule, we are constantly looking for ways to make our processes as effortless as possible for our clients so that they receive consistent quality each and every time they interact with us. If we discover hiccups along the way, we address them and figure out how to prevent them from happening in the future.
How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?
A. We are forever thankful for our loyal clients who help spread the word about us and offer them rewards for new clients that they refer to us.
How do you use digital marketing and social media to boost business?
A. We utilize social media to help continue the conversation with our clients beyond the walls of our salons. We ‘chat’ about a bunch of various topics with our clients online, from hair removal questions and product recommendations to celebrity brows and the latest trends.
What steps and cost-cutting measures did you employ to offset the recession?
A. While we don’t skimp on quality, we live by the rule of five when it comes to sourcing raw materials and supplies. All team members are required to research at least five vendors for price comparisons prior to making a purchase.
Did you change your menu of offerings? If so, what effect did that have on the business?
A. After the success of our Shobha Six-Packs, packages of six services at a discounted rate, we have added Shobha Three-Packs for clients who are looking to save on treatments that they get on a regular basis but are on a tighter budget and are not able to pay for six treatments up front. We also offer complimentary treatments for hairy models who participate in our training program, as well as 20 percent off visits with our newest specialists upon completing their 100-plus hours of training with us.
Have you had to let any employees go?
A. Our strategy has always been to be smart about our schedule in a way that is not only fair to our team but also convenient for our clients. We constantly analyze our schedules for when our clients prefer to come in for treatments and for staffing efficiency, adding extra hours and team members to our schedules during peak times of the week and around holidays.
What have you learned from surviving the recent recession, and how do you plan to incorporate those lessons in the future?
A. The challenges of the recession have really taught us to value our ability to provide great customer service at a time when so many others are deeply discounting their comparable services.