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Most small business owners are afraid of what the competition is doing, especially if the competitor has a shop right around the corner from theirs. So rather than fear the competition, take control and become the epa center for hair extension expertise in your community.

Learn a lesson from Food Channel’s Bobby Flay, who has restaurants around the country with plenty of competition everywhere. Bobby stars in a Food Channel series known as Bobby Flay Throw Down. The theme of the show is simple. Try to upstage other great chefs who have specialized in a particular food dish.

Every challenge turns into a fun, light hearted event that endears Bobby to both competitors and fans. And Bobby is not afraid of losing. Notoriety is the goal.

So how do you create a Hair Extension Thrown Down in your market? Simple!

Test the idea with one challenger, perhaps you start with another hair extension specialist in your own salon. After completing your first throw down, go to your real world competition down the street with the idea. It’s your event. Don’t let a competitor take over. You may even want to hold all of the events at your own salon.

Each of you invites a customer who is ready to get extensions to join the challenge with you. You pick a date when both customers can be at the shop at the same time. In front of everyone in the salon, challenge the other stylist and their client to a contest to see who can create the best before and after look.

Here are some other ideas for the event.

Put a required time limit on the event that will push you to perform at your best. Maybe that means a full-head application in a one and 1/2-hour period. Each of you has an assistant to speed up the time.

If each stylist uses a different application method, (micro bead vs. fusion for example) the competition is usually more interesting.

Ask independent judges from the community to determine the winner. This will give you additional advertising exposure. Judges could be female business leaders, newspaper reporters, teachers, high-school student body officers, or anyone who will promote the contest and get others thinking about extensions.

Competitors should invite their friends, relatives, or other customers to the competition. Have some drinks and snacks and make it a party atmosphere, with plenty to do during the two hour event. Help your throw down clients feel like models and that losing is not a negative reflection on their appearance.

Perhaps you give your models a big discount on their extensions for participating in the contest.

Don’t give our any prizes. This competition is all about bragging rights. Your exposure is equally great, whether you win or lose the competition. The key is making it your event, not your competitors. Watch some Bobby Flay Throw Down shows to see the format and how well he reacts when he loses a hard-fought food battle.

This is just one more way to earn a reputation as the top hair extension specialist in your city or state.

Logan is founder of Donna Bella Milan hair extensions and lashes and author of the Donna Bella weblog.