R+Co President since 2018, Daniel Langer is responsible for overall brand strategy and global development and sales, in addition to enhancing education worldwide. Prior to being named President of R+Co, he was the President of E-Commerce and Chief Marketing Officer for Luxury Brand Partners, which owns R+Co, among other brands. There, he conceived and developed the strategies for the company, as well as each of the corporation’s brands, including Oribe, where he was Chief Marketing Officer, R+Co, IGK, Smith and Cult and V76 by Vaughn. Here, Daniel discusses how salons have been impacted due to the coronavirus, navigating the new normal, and how R+Co’s affiliate program is helping local salon owners “go from IRL to URL.”
R+Co is weathering the storm in strangely, the most normal way — by continuing to support the community of salon owners and retailers as we always have. We have incredible partnerships with the people and teams that we have known for decades. Together, this industry can weather this — and reinvent itself so it comes out of it even stronger. The reality is that when our cities reopen, salons will be busier than ever as people rush to have their hair done.
The most obvious changes in our operations is that salons and offices are closed, but the day-to-day is busier than ever. There are Zoom and High Five meetings, FaceTime calls, team chats, texts, calls… I even had an impromptu meeting over the app Houseparty the other day. We have been working very closely with salons and retailers to ensure that they are still able to service their clients with home delivery and curbside pickup. Many salons have even launched virtual menus that range from FaceTime consultations to Zoom styling makeovers. That has kept us busy as we help support all of their efforts and ideas.
Despite our teams working remotely, the communication and productivity is at an all-time high. It is as if the entire organization got energized by the challenge. We start the week with a video conference to discuss the current global situation and then end the week with a town hall where everyone dials in to hear a different team talk about their successes. There is also a virtual happy hour hosted every few days by a different team member, and a whole host of group chats and calls. We also remember to ensure that humor and fun stay part of our day-to-day. It is super important to both laugh together and celebrate the wins together. The tech team deserves a big shout out as they have been incredible, working 24 hours a day supporting programs, setting up systems and teaching us all along the way.
We put all kinds of contingency plans into place, but our primary cost saving is actually a complete reduction of travel and events. By moving everything virtual, our whole cost structure changed.
We launched an affiliate program when salons started to close around the country in order to allow them to easily provide home delivery for their customers. We gave each salon in our network a custom URL that they could give their clients to shop R+Co. Each salon received 40 percent of each sale — R+Co covered all the other costs like inventory, warehousing and handling. We also accelerated the payments to be every Friday, so that we could keep income coming into salons. Our goal was to payout $500,000 in commission by the end of April. I am happy to say that we did it.
We really wanted salon owners to be able to continue to offer great products and service albeit virtually. To that end, every single person on our team turned into e-commerce consultants, social media influencers and content creators. We hosted online seminars, held strategy sessions with salons, did Instagram takeovers and more as salons owners went from IRL to URL.
R+Co is fortunate that we have two warehouses on two sides of the country that are set up as duplicate facilities — so we can balance order flow and have redundancy. We also have been preparing contingency plans for what the pandemic has evolved into since early in the year, so we ramped up our inventory levels to be able to continue to supply our customers without any disruption. Bright Shadows Root Touch-Up Sprays and Dry Shampoo are more popular than ever.
As a result of COVID-19 we cancelled all our in-person education. Even before there were state lockdowns, we made a conscious decision to protect the safety of our clients and employees. It was at that point we turned our digital education on overdrive. In addition to offering virtual hair education, we wanted to make sure that we were also maintaining our culture and community.
Our movie night concept was born out of one of our podcasts, R+Co Talk Radio, where the co-founders were talking about the importance of film as references for editorial work. Howard, Garren and Thom were talking about the films that influenced them from “Blade Runner” to “Studio 54.” We thought, why not host a weekly online movie screening with one of the co-founders narrating via group chat, discussing the importance of the film? Almost like a director’s cut through the eyes of a hairstylist.
The R+Co Edu. Wellness Series evolved from discussions with dozens of hairdressers and salon owners. Each was going through an unprecedented situation but there were a few that looked at this as an opportunity to focus on self. We reached out to yoga teachers, stretch instructors, breathing coaches and meditation experts and launched a series of digital shorts focused on wellness for hairdressers and their clients.
The incredible part of this pandemic is the way communities are rallying. Social distancing is a misnomer – we may be physically distant, but the social aspect of our lives has ramped up tremendously.
This is a crazy time for the world, but the human spirit is amazing. The levels of creativity I have witnessed over the last couple of months eclipses anything I have seen before. Salons and hairdressers are reimagining their businesses as virtual ones and are producing ideas, concepts and content that is going to unlock this industry well into the future.