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Ken’s Clinic

Tough words for tough times 

At the time of writing this article we were six weeks into an unprecedented shutdown of not only hairdressing salons but vast swathes of retail outlets throughout our great nation. No-one could have seen this coming – but come it did!  

By the time you get to read this article I have no idea what the situation will be. Still in shutdown or open but with social distancing the new norm? Life behind plastic screens and surgical masks accepted and expected by all? Or will it all be banished into history? 

Well, apart from the virus that killed thousands of loved ones and heroes, there is one thing that I am sure of and that I never want to see again, so that is what I am going to focus on.  

When the virus struck and we were told to pull down the shutters of our businesses and stay at home, many salon owners and business owners in many other sectors were thrown into total panic. This is what I never want to see again.   

PREPARATION NOT PANIC

 

People being unable to sleep because they had no idea how they were going to keep roofs over their heads and food in their mouths, let alone keep their businesses and teams in a state of suspended animation but somehow ready and able to spring back into action.  

I have to say here and now that I thought our government was amazing. I’m not political in any way but the level of support that was offered to businesses and individuals was incredible. Of course there were those that fell between the cracks and businesses that could not be saved. Those who had contributed more into the system benefited more than those who had manipulated the system. But in general the safety net was there relatively quickly, and we will be picking up the tab for generations to come. 

 

People being unable to sleep because they had no idea how they were going to keep roofs over their heads and food in their mouths, let alone keep their businesses and teams in a state of suspended animation but somehow ready and able to spring back into action.  

I have to say here and now that I thought our government was amazing. I’m not political in any way but the level of support that was offered to businesses and individuals was incredible. Of course there were those that fell between the cracks and businesses that could not be saved. Those who had contributed more into the system benefited more than those who had manipulated the system. But in general the safety net was there relatively quickly, and we will be picking up the tab for generations to come. 

But what have you learnt? What did you do with your time? Answer me this:  Do you now understand how you really make profit? Not generate sales but profit.  

Here are some questions you need to ask yourselves – and truly know the answers to: 

Do you now know which of your services are profitable and which you should either stop offering or charge more for?  

Do you know who your high-value clients are? The 20 per cent that probably generate 80 per cent of your income.  

Have you now got a plan to keep them, grow more of them and provide them with a level of service that will keep them loyal forever?  

Do you also understand which of your team are profitable and why?  

More importantly, have you started on your plan to improve the profitability of the rest of your team, because carrying unprofitable members of the team is not the future.  

Do you understand which product brands stuck by you and supported you in the crisis and which chased the pounds in the retail sector? 

Are you now the master of social marketing? 

Do you truly have a brand with a vision and a brand statement that is understood by both your team and your clients?  

Do you have a clear vision of your potential client so that you truly understand what they want, where to market for them and how to engage with them on the media that they regularly engage on?  

Or are you just after any client you can get? 

And finally 

Have you got a plan B to prevent what I never want to see again?  

You and every individual and business should now decide to build up a safety net. A disaster fund that, should this ever happen again, will prevent you from losing sleep and worrying about the roof over your head. This will not be easy but will require you to build into your pricing a contingency factor. An amount of profit that can be kept aside and if not required could eventually be reinvested in your business or yourself.   

But always keep a battle fund, a ‘what if’ pot that you never, ever touch until it’s truly ‘roof over your head’ time. Many salon owners struggle to make enough profit to live the life they want, let alone build up a battle fund. However, now is the time to rethink how you choose to run your business. Where do you sit in the market place? Is your pricing correct and all of the elements that I mentioned earlier? 

As a business coach, a lot of people think I should have all of the answers. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t, but I think that my real role is to help the people that I coach to discover the answers for themselves. I share the insight that others have taught me over the years that helped me to come up with answers to challenges that I faced when I owned my salons, and that way they can figure stuff out on their own. After all there is rarely a right or a wrong but there is always a different. 

I believe that the businesses that come out of this crisis – and believe me there are many that won’t survive – will behave and operate in a way that is totally different to the way they operated before. 

If not, all of this will have been in vain. They will have learnt nothing and, like the dinosaurs, they will eventually become extinct. 

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

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Ken West