From developing personal identity and instilling core values to attracting new clients and keeping regulars loyal, salon owner Darren Fowler shares five tips for brand growth
As a leading session stylist, owner of Fowler35 and champion educator, Darren Fowler is an expert in many areas of the hairdressing industry. With a speciality in helping businesses – not only within but also outside of the hairdressing industry – to develop plans, set goals, and move forward with purpose, Darren knows exactly what how to build a brand to ensure a successful future.
1. Get direction
A firm believer in finding your purpose, Darren feels having a clear direction is key to building a successful business. “I have definitely lost focus at three points during my career,” he says. “We can drive our business and creatively grow, but at the same time, lose sight of who we are and why we’re doing what we’re doing.” Which can be catastrophic to your career plan.
So, how exactly do you find purpose – whether individually or in business? Darren suggests it’s all down to identifying the ‘why’. “Consider the three three things that matter most to you and drill down to the reasons why,” he explains. “This process will help you gain clarity and focus.” Be mindful, those three things may change over time, so keep questioning yourself to ensure you’re evolving and moving in the right direction.
2. Believe in yourself
When it comes to bringing on new team members, Darren vows it’s crucial to remain true to your ‘why’ during the recruitment process. Customer service, environment, your digital footprint and technical capabilities are some of the things to consider when setting your brand own values, all of which should be made clear by you to ensure you attract the right people. Use these types of considerations as a check list during interviewing, to help you uncover those who are truly on the same page as you. They can also be used to appraise existing team members and reward those who excel.
3. Have a story
“Your team must believe in your story,” explains Darren. “It’s like introducing a new product into the salon”. Having the correct brand story, which is owned by everybody under your employ, is important because your clients experience it every time they turn up to an appointment. If your team is more brand aware, then the service they provide will be more effective, and consistently so. “Spend more time on planning and management, and spend more time with middle management to ensure you are absolutely nailing it and spreading the joy,” Darren adds.
Do you have a client journey in place? From the moment the phone is answered to the massage given at the backwash, clearly defining the client experience is essential for business success. “We have a five-point journey, and we’re currently expanding that to around seven points,” says Darren. “Created to serve as an absolute guide to how the salon works, this ensures there’s consistency across the brand whenever a new member joins the team. It’s quality control.”
4. Attraction, attraction, attraction
What is it that actually makes your salon different? “When you’re looking at your own business it’s tough, but there are ways to define your USPs,” says Darren. He describes this process as “going on safari” – checking out the competition and understanding what other business are doing, and how you differ – what sets you apart.
You should also consider who your ‘ultimate’ client is – the one that’s creatively drawn to everything you do, and shouts about you all the time. Find out why they are coming to you and build on that understanding. Once you know who they are and why they’re coming to you, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to attract new clients to your door. Says Darren: “Our brand statement is on the wall in the salon, and we share it through social media and in all our client communications.”
As well as communicating your brand values, social media also serves as a platform to shout about what else you are doing, besides delivering great service. Whether it’s working with local charities or collaborating with other companies, Darren says to “look beyond what you do as an actual business.” Consider everything else you do – that’s what you need to shout about.”
5. Take the long view
Consultation is key, but it’s also vital to be asking the right kind of questions when you’re discussing a new look with a client. “When do you ask a client when they’re going to return?” asks Darren. “I’m rebooking mine when they’re in the chair at the start of the consultation.” He also stresses the importance of seizing opportunities during this time. For instance, if future colour services are discussed, get the skin test carried out then and there – don’t wait for weeks to pass. “You want to make a long term plan for somebody’s dream hair, which in turn shows you care about them because you’re taking the time to listen.” Win-win.