Salon industry professionals are going back to school under a program with the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Beginning this year, the 2 to 10 Project — a name that reflects the number of doors owned by a participating salon owner, a nationwide group of privately owned multilocation salons and spas — has partnered with the university’s College of Management’s Entrepreneurship Center, on two courses that engage students in professional-level consulting projects.

“This is a true partnership to bring these members of the salon industry right into the education industry,” said Tom Kuhn, founder of the 2 to 10 Project and Qnity Inc., which was founded in 2011. “This category of two to 10 is very interesting not just for salons and spas, but also for other industries,” he said, referring to small business models.

From April 12 to 14, students will present key learnings from their classes, which end in May, at the 2 to 10 Conference in Boston, to be attended by 180 industry thinkers from the U.S. and Canada. According to 2 to 10, findings will center on “integrated understanding of small business growth and change,  teach leading-edge consulting and management skills, and offer practical tools for identifying ways to support their 2 to 10 company clients.”

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Among the most interesting tidbits are that referrals are the most successful tool driving new clients and that hair-color services showed the largest growth for the second year in a row, while spa services are on the decline. Another interesting finding: More than 70 percent of salons that post on social media either are not sure if it makes a difference in sales or see no difference in sales.

“There is strength in numbers,” said Kuhn, adding that the organization, which has about 50 members, is in growth mode, and looking to expand strategically into new regions, like Canada. “2 to 10 started out with a study, with numbers. There is also strength in networking.”

According to Kuhn, the “two to 10” salon industry includes more than 200,000 companies in the U.S. with combined revenues of more than $70 billion annually.

He punctuated his point that the small salon business sector represents where the rubber meets the road.

“It’s the sweet spot of the salon industry, it’s where the innovation is coming from,” he said. “These are the ones who worked hard, innovated and scaled themselves.”

The invitation-only organization is based around an annual study of profit-and-loss statements and operating practices from 2 to 10 member companies. Members also receive a confidential business scorecard, which compares their business to the 2 to 10 membership at large.

“For this category of salons, the average salon owner has 4.3 locations and average revenue is $8 million.”

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