Lucan Salem, director of Hari’s and son of founder Hari Salem, discusses his salon business strategy, staff retention and the need to adapt as he looks ahead to 2023
“Hari’s is a family business; I took over the reins from my dad in 2016. My background is in accounting and finance, but it is important to highlight that Hari is a creative, therefore the vision for the business was driven by his ideas. Our most recent focus has been creating systems, processes, and foundations to put in place to enable our growth as a salon and as a business.
An important thing for us to consider – that is always at the forefront of our conversations and ideas – is how to manage the teams across various locations. We now have over 150 staff at Hari’s, and we believe the most efficient way to retain a smooth service is having a strong management team across all locations. We’ve recruited highly skilled, well-trained industry experts with a lot of experience. We’ve also provided internal training to encourage staff to progress, we now have several staff that have started from the bottom and trained their way up to management level. The individual managers handle the day-to-day operations of their own salon, and the higher management team support anything external; for example, our general manager supports and oversees the work and progress of the managers in their respective salons. We have recently hired an operations manager due to the rise in demands on the management structure since our latest salon opening.
In August 2022 we opened our fifth salon on Northcote Road. Approaching what is predicted to be continuous turbulent times in 2023, I believe there is a greater importance on consolidating the structure as it is, before considering further expansion. Of course, growth is part of our future trajectory once the time is right.
Inevitably post-pandemic we have seen a shift in business, and our current approach is increasingly more focussed on the salon experience and client wellbeing. In our Northcote Road salon, we have installed reclining beds to enhance relaxation during appointments and we have had a great initial response to the practices we have been trying to take.
At Hari’s we pride ourselves in the training we provide, and we remain conscious in asking ourselves ‘Why does this team member want to work for us rather than go freelance?’ It is our responsibility to offer enough opportunities to be able to support their careers and goals. We hope to make them better hairdressers, deliver a social experience and support them.
Hari’s, Northcote Road
This year, we have established Hari’s VOICES. These are a group of exceptional hair artists assembled to collectively showcase and amplify Hari’s award-winning creative expertise across all our stylist and colourist talent. VOICES is a very new element to our business, yet it is an initiative that fills a big gap in how we were operating. Having a creative team that can increase industry exposure and maintain brand awareness in the ever-evolving digital space is paramount to communicating Hari’s, and our creative abilities outside of the salon space. It enables us to elevate the brand and acknowledges outstanding individuals across the salons that are working hard. Having had the opportunity to take dedicated education sessions and courses, they share their skills and knowledge with other salon members. This provides the wider team with inspiration, allowing them to look to key VOICES to further their own growth.
Staff retention remains incredibly important to us, and some of the Hari’s team has been with the business over 30 years. I believe the key is to keep staff busy and engaged, not only with back-to-back clients, but with marketing initiatives, partnerships and collaborations that spark excitement. Making money is still important, but I think there is equal value in artists building their individual brands in other ways too.
The biggest thing I’ve learnt in my time at the helm of Hari’s is the importance of keeping your team happy and supported and ensuring they know where the line is. It’s important to highlight boundaries and enforce those when needed, as complacency can occur.
Looking ahead to what may be an uncertain time, my advice would be to focus on what you can control. There is a lot of negative economic conversation circulating. While it is important to stay aware, some things you will find are out of our control. What we can control is the experience we’re providing in the salons, the relationships we have and the strength in team support. Making sure your business is dynamic and flexible is also key, as this means you can move fast and rapidly adapt to change, should it be necessary.”