ESP and Sorbet

Sorbet Success

Throughout South Africa many salons have had dreams of launching either a breakthrough loyalty scheme or a successful franchise operation. However, there have been very few that have made a significant impact in either of these areas let alone both.

With 40 stores throughout major centres in South Africa and over 60000 loyalty members (and counting) in just 7 years, it can hardly be disputed that Sorbet is the market leader in both franchising and loyalty (amongst other things) in South Africa’s beauty industry.

Sorbet has managed to gain recognition not only amongst the public (even many of those who do not even frequent beauty salons) but also amongst their peers as many a salon group aspires to follow in their footsteps. Even non-salon publications like Entrepreneur and Success magazines have recognised Sorbet’s success with feature articles focussing on the growth of the Sorbet brand.

Even Clicks has recognised the value in the Sorbet brand and partnered with Sorbet so that Clicks Club clients can earn Clicks Club points when they shop at Sorbet and can redeem these points at Clicks as they would their normal Clicks Club points making Sorbet one of only nine other businesses in South Africa to partner with Clicks in this way and the only one in the beauty industry.

Sorbet’s Key Ingredients

Loyalty Scheme

From the clients point of view Sorbet has many brand and service attributes that set them apart but most significant is their loyalty scheme. This loyalty scheme has been well thought out, well executed and most importantly it has been sustained with loyalty numbers growing every week.

Loyalty clients sign up at no cost and receive a loyalty card with a unique loyalty number. Every Rand that is spent goes towards a spend threshold, which when reached earns the loyalty client a free treatment.

Loyalty clients are notified upon reaching their threshold and can redeem their free treatment at any Sorbet store. Loyalty clients can also log in online to view their available free treatments, spend towards their next threshold and a detailed history of their visits to each Sorbet branch.

Role as Franchisor

Another key ingredient in Sorbet’s success is their role as franchisor.

Franchising may seem fairly straight forward, ie open a successful salon, make a blueprint of this salon and sell it on to new franchisees. However, this is easier said than done and the roll the franchisor plays in ensuring the success of its franchisees cannot be overstated.

Sorbet’s attitude towards its franchisees is very much the same as to their clients. Sorbet takes every step possible to ensure that the franchisees have the infrastructural, promotional, branding, location, product, treatment, training, feedback and business information to ensure the security and success of the franchisees investment in the Sorbet brand.

On top of all of this there is a very distinct culture within the Sorbet group born out of Ian Fuhr’s vision, who as founder and CEO of the group still does all of the new staff induction training himself to ensure that Sorbet culture does not get diluted over time and each Sorbet staff member buys in to the same vision.

The Sorbet vision is not limited to franchisees and salon staff but is also shared by a head office operations team who is passionate about their brand, their franchisees and their clients. This passion is evident in their no compromise approach to the success of their brand.

All of these elements ensure consistent thinking within the group, resulting in consistent presentation of the Sorbet brand.

Why Sorbet chose ESP

What attracted Sorbet to ESP was the ability to take the Sorbet brand to the next level. ESP’s ability to combine all of the Sorbet business processes into one system would bring about the automation required to deal with the increasing administration requirements that could only otherwise be met by hiring more staff members to meet the increasing needs of the growing Sorbet brand.

Because ESP could offer more specialised salon functionality, automated data centralisation to head office as well as group loyalty, group gift cards and access to information via the web for both Sorbet head office staff, Sorbet Franchisees and Sorbet loyalty clients it meant that Sorbet would not only get more control but would also get more automation thus reducing the need to hire more people to deal with higher administration volumes.

The change over period

The change over from Sorbets previous systems to ESP did not come without challenges as it could not be done gradually but rather need to happen from one day to the next. This was due to the fact that information like client loyalty balances and outstanding gift voucher balances all need to be carried over to the new system without interruption to the clients.

Therefore data had to be exported from the various previous systems and recreated within ESP. With much patience from everyone involved and both Sorbet and ESP teams going into overdrive with Gift Card balances and the Client Loyalty balances were accurately imported and normal operations on the new system could resume with all of the automated functionality now in place.

Some Before and After examples

Before implementing ESP Sorbet was using multiple systems to achieve its goals, this included a point of sale system (not salon specific), a different system for head office, another system for group gift cards and another system for SMS.

Here are some examples of the execution of Sorbet business processes before and after the implementation of ESP:

Data centralisation

Previously each salon would run a daily manual export procedure to send sales data to head office. A staff member at head office would then manually need to import the sales one branch at a time.

Now an automated procedure is in place so that no exporting and importing needs to be done by salon or head office staff.

Clients throughout the group

Previously new clients that came in to a branch would get exported up to head office with the daily manual export process, but only if they signed up as members would they get exported down to other branches (the function of creating new members on the system was a centralised function at head office and required manual exporting down to the branches).

Now, with ESP replicate technology branches replicate with head office every 15 minutes and when a new client is added at a branch they will replicate automatically to all other branches regardless of whether they are members or not (this means the substantial elimination of duplicate client cards).

Now, when a client signs up as a member they can be issued their cards directly from the branch and do not need to wait for it to get posted to them.

Group Price List management

Previously price lists needed to be manually exported from head office and imported at each branch whenever changes were made, now the changes made to price lists replicate down automatically to the branches

Therapist Commissions

Previously, therapist commissions were calculated very manually using a combination of manipulated therapist turnover reports and Excel commission structures.

Now, therapist commission structures (including sliding scales and category commission variations) along with bonuses and other allowances and deductions can be set up for each therapist and no report manipulation or Excel calculations are required.

Automation of loyalty processes

Previously a daily report would need to be run at head office to list all the clients that had reached their threshold and needed to be awarded a free treatment. For each client a manual voucher would be produced and couriered down to the loyalty member’s home branch. A manual SMS would then be sent to the client to notify them that their loyalty reward voucher was ready for collection. They could then collect the voucher at the branch and present for their free treatment.

Now, when the client reaches their threshold the entire process is automated. The client is notified immediately (usually while they are still in the store) that they have just reached their threshold and have been allocated a free treatment. This means that the client does not need to go in to their home store to collect their loyalty rewards voucher. They don’t even need to produce the SMS that they received because their loyalty rewards are tracked online through the ESP Loyalty Server and loyalty rewards can only be redeemed if the loyalty member has them available.

Integration of Group Gift Cards

Previously Sorbet used a third party gift card system, which enabled you to purchase a gift card at one store and immediately redeem it at another store. Therefore the sale would be put through on the old point of sale system for the gift card and then an additional transaction would take place for the loading of the gift card. Reporting for monthly reconciliations between the franchisees would need to be requested from the third party provider.

Now, when the sale is put through on the ESP point of sale system the gift card details are entered directly into ESP and the gift card is immediately posted to the ESP Gift Card Server. This means that the client can immediately go to another Sorbet store and redeem their gift card in part or in full, or top it up if required.

SMS Communications

Previously if a bulk SMS needed to go out to Sorbet clients then a list of recipients would need to be exported to a file and then uploaded into a third party SMS system in order to be delivered.

Now bulk SMS can be created and sent directly from ESP software. Recipients can be targeted according to the branch they belong to, their membership status, their purchase history and other filtering capabilities.

Automated SMS Notifications

Part of the Sorbet loyalty offering is a substantially discounted treatment on your birthday.

Previously a list of all the upcoming loyalty birthdays for the month would need to be exported to file and uploaded to a third party SMS system in order to be delivered on the date of the clients birthday.

Now, a daily automated SMS goes out notifying the loyalty client of their discounted treatment. The message differs according to the type of loyalty member as different discounts apply based on your loyalty status.

Group Stock Ordering

Previously the group stock ordering process involved receiving a manual stock count sheet from each branch at head office on a weekly basis. The stock orders would be compared to sales reports from each branch and then a manual order would be generated in Excel and sent off to the supplier. When delivered to the branches the stock received was not entered into the point of sale system.

Now, head office can generate a group order per supplier which shows and integrated view of both the current on hand levels and the sales for the date range requested. The order quantities are inserted in the same page and when the order is processed it is exported to Excel for easily delivery to the supplier. At the same time the order is broken up into individual orders for each branch, which automatically replicate down to the branches. When the stock arrives at the salon they simply receive the pending order and this received order in turn replicates back up to head office to notify head office staff that the order has been received.

Along with this function goes all the other stock control functionality including Stock Valuations at head office and stock purchase reports amongst others.

Clicks Club Integration

When Sorbet introduced ESP into their group they also launched their new partnership with Clicks. This new partnership enabled Clicks Club members to swipe their cards whenever they visited a Sorbet store. Their sales information would then get exported to a Clicks file by ESP and Clicks would then allocate the points to their members.

At the branches the store administrator is prompted at the end of each sale to ask the client if they are a Clicks Club member and if so they will swipe their card. The rest of the process is automated and Sorbet is able to obtain reports to reconcile with clicks on a monthly basis.