Salon Smart Dublin: The Hot Topics #SalonSmartIRE
Salon Smart is always a hotbed for salon owners sharing their opinions, advice and woes on the themes that affect them, and our first ever event in Dublin, which took place on Sunday 3 November, was no different. Salon owners from across Ireland and the UK came together to talk shop, inspire each other and consider the practical changes they can make to streamline their businesses.
In two incredibly engaging and informative panel sessions, led by Creative HEAD publisher, Catherine Handcock, industry experts debated the issue of time – how to manage it, how to get a return on your investment in it, and how to use it to best effect, and tackled real business issues shared by delegates in a live question and answer session.
ON THE CLOCK!
Casey Coleman opened CHAIR salons in Cardiff a year and a half ago, and is still figuring out how to juggle his countless commitments. “My honest answer is that I haven’t got a clue how to do it,” he revealed. “But there are things that can make your life easier. Social media is a job, people do it for a living. I have a scheduling app for Instagram. I sit down for an hour or two at the start of the week and do it. I also delegate to the team and have dedicated training days. I do no clients on a Tuesday so I can train staff. They all have models, that happens without fail.”
“My staff have indemnity clauses in their contract. They have to pay back costs for education if they leave soon after… Don’t be scared of investing because they might run off”
For owner of The Boutique Atelier in Cheshire’s Ellesmere Port, Richard Phillipart, the importance is balance. “I wanted to open a business where I could have a better quality of life and work less” he said. “I only cut hair three days a week, but the salon is open seven days a week and people are making money all that time.” And he has found a clear way to invest in his staff with minimal risk. “My staff have indemnity clauses in their contract. They have to pay back costs for education if they leave soon after. I want my team to be amazing when working for me, and the only way I can do this is by educating them. Don’t be scared of investing because they might run off.”
“We decided to reduce a blow-dry to 30 minutes from 45 minutes. It went down like a lead balloon”
For Dylan Bradshaw, owner of Dylan Bradshaw in Dublin, time means change – and at a rapid rate. “I’m 31 years doing hairdressing and the last three years have changed more than the ones before,” he said. “But you can’t panic – if you look after everyone well and it all works out. I think self-employment is a quick fix. It sounds like people are failing and rent out chairs because they panic.”
And Carla Rose McQuillan, co-owner of The.Space shared both successes and failures with the room. “Traditionally a salon above a takeaway in the suburbs would be seen as a back street salon. But we’ve exploded. People want culture and community, and we want the salon to feel like a home from home,” she explained. “Once, we decided to reduce a blow-dry to 30 minutes from 45 minutes. It went down like a lead balloon. The team and clients hated it, so we changed it back. If you look after your staff, the numbers will look after themselves.”
Mark O’Keeffe, the founder of salon group, Brown Sugar, which has recently opened two new locations, talked about the way clients perceive individuals as part of a salon. “There might be a superstar hairdresser in the salon but all clients will see is the salon. That’s partly why I didn’t name it after me. I don’t want to be the ‘face’ of the brand. In fact, I was in the salon the other day and someone asked me if I’d been working there for long!”
“Remember, it’s your culture, your salon – you must set clear parameters about what you expect [of your staff]”
BUSINESS ISSUES – SOLVED!
Salon Smart’s live Q&A session, Think Tank, saw a fresh line-up of experts take their seats on stage – this time playing collective agony aunt to frustrated business owners in the audience. A key grievance? Chair rental.
Margaret O’Rourke Doherty, founder of Image Skillnet – a national network providing subsided, enterprise-led and tailored training for hair and beauty professionals and businesses in Ireland – implored business owners to think very carefully about embarking on this business model: “Clarify what your business is and who your direct customer is,” she said. “Remember, it’s your culture, your salon – you must set clear parameters about what you expect [of your staff]. Clients will only ever see the salon name, not the stylist.”
And it wasn’t just the panel who had something to say on this divisive subject. Richard Phillipart spoke out from the audience to reveal he’d experienced stylists leaving to rent chairs. He said: “Let them go. If you keep them in the salon on a rent a chair basis you lose all their clientele anyway. If they leave, then you will lose about three quarters of the clients because lots will stay for the salon experience.”
“Some people will always buy online… create a better experience to encourage clients to buy there and then, in your salon”
Meanwhile Sara Holmes, business director at Stuart Holmes Salon in Cheltenham, and Danielle Kennedy, managing director of Lloyds Hair and vice president of the Irish Hairdressers Federation (IHF), both agreed it was something they might consider. “Three years ago I would have never agreed to it [renting a chair],” said Danielle. “Now, we might consider it for long-serving team members. But you have to go into something like this on your terms.”
Social media and the black market were two other hotly debated issues during the session. Answering a question about clients’ purchasing discounted products online, co-owner of House of Colour and president of the IHF, David Campbell, reasoned there were are some areas that are out of a salon owner’s control. “Some people will always buy online, but what you can do is create a better experience to encourage clients to buy there and then, in your salon,” he said.
Meanwhile Paul Davey, co-owner of Davey Davey, said he felt giving his team recognition on social media added to their profile. “For me to be able to grow you have to move with the times. I love being able to promote my team on social media.”
Check out more images from Salon Smart Dublin 2019 in our Facebook gallery