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This is an interesting question, especially when we were still considering the restrictions coming into play after lockdown as we went to press. At any time you should only take on new team members if you can justify them financially. We would normally look at the volume of work that you’re turning away to see if the business can provide enough work for a new team member, but post-lockdown all salons will be artificially busy.  

I know that you get involved with session work away from the salon and work with a major brand but, with the current size of your team, you need to be their mentor and role model. There is always a conflict between trying to build a business and taking time out for other ventures. Any work done outside your salon must bring added PR benefits to your salon and should be maximised as such. Another experienced person would come with a price tag and you need to be sure that you can absorb this cost during the initial period as they build a column. Nowadays this can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, perhaps longer. Depending on what you would have to pay someone, you would need them to be generating about £1,500 net of VAT a week to be cost efficient in your salon. Were you all generating that in your salon before lockdown?  

If you’re going to involve the new team member in training then you will need to compensate them for the time they are off the floor, but this will also reduce their income-producing ability. This is why the owner does most of the training in small salons or outsources it. 

After lockdown your key focus is generating income. After the initial tsunami of clients, it’s possible that business could slow down. Many customers will still be wary of visiting a salon, many will have learned new skills and may feel they no longer need us. We are going to need to inspire clients with new ideas and techniques to remind them of what makes a visit to a salon so valuable. Unless they perceive us as valuable, why would they spend the money that you need to charge to be profitable? 

Which brings me to my key post-lockdown focus for salon owners. If you haven’t spent lockdown totally understanding exactly how and where you generate profit, then you have missed a golden opportunity. Most salons make profit by accident and not by intentional planning. Most prices are set based upon the competition and not by understanding the true costs of delivering a service. Salons have lost a massive chunk of their annual income and many of their costs have still remained, albeit postponed temporarily. Many salons have needed to incur debt to survive but will now need to service that debt, albeit postponed temporarily. All salons will have the extra cost of complying with the operating restrictions placed upon them and the health and safety routines they will have to implement, let alone the added burden of increased National Minimum Wage. All of this may come at a heavy cost and, if a salon was not generating excess profit before lockdown, then where is the money going to come from to cover these costs? 

This may not sound the answer to your question, Brooke, but believe me it is. You need to consider all of it before you take the leap. 

Ken West is director of business experts 3•6•5 – email him on KenW@365Hair.com

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Ken West