From staff retention to the biggest lessons learnt, Jo Hansford MBE shares the secret to 30 successful years in business
What started out as cutting hair in her parents’ living room, Jo Hansford MBE has gone on to become one of the most famous female names in the hairdressing industry. Not only is she one of the largest independent salon owners across London, Jo Hansford was on hand to see to the Queen’s crowning glory for many years in their work together. In November 2010, Jo was recognised for her dedication with an MBE for outstanding service to the hairdressing industry.
With a flagship salon situated in the heart of Mayfair and a second location in Knightsbridge at Harvey Nichols, Jo Hansford is about to celebrate her 30th year in business. Now, her daughter Joanna, managing director of Jo Hansford salon, has taken the reigns and strives to ensure that the Jo Hansford brand maintains its core values of delivering outstanding customer service, professionalism, passion and expertise.
Speaking to Creative HEAD, the mother-daughter duo discusses their approach to business, from staff retention to the biggest lessons learnt…
CH: Talk us through the current business structure.
Joanna Hansford: I am managing director, and we have a manager in Harvey Nichols and an operations manager based in Mayfair who oversees both sites, and a head receptionist in Mayfair. We also have a facilities manager who oversees our maintenance, cleaning, concessions team, catering team, stock and our finance manager.
CH: How has your approach to business shifted, especially since the pandemic? And is there anything you are looking to do differently going forward?
Joanna Hansford: It has not shifted dramatically but we have found the costs increasingly challenging, particularly staff costs. We have a mix of employed and self-employed staff; often we find the employed staff do not always appreciate what goes into their salaries from us as employers, such as National Insurance, pension contribution and holiday pay. We also sometimes find the self-employed staff are not always as committed as they should be. It’s a common issue in the industry and it is important that it is managed carefully.
We were very conscious of what things might look like when we came out the other side of the pandemic, but we have worked incredibly hard to keep everything moving forwards and maintain our high standards. Another challenge has been recruitment in our support roles, such as receptionist. It is very hard to find high calibre staff and people that want to work in London. Sadly, the younger generation do not have the understanding of the expectation that is required from our clients and are often looking for a job rather than a career.
Moving forwards, we aim to continue to build Harvey Nichols and since a recent management restructure, things seem to be working well. It has given everyone a sense of purpose and the opportunity to develop themselves in their area. We would like our junior assistants to continue to qualify and subsequently become the future of our business.
CH: In a time where staff retention is a hot topic, what do you think is the key to keeping staff happy and fulfilled?
Joanna Hansford: We bend over backwards to look after our staff – being a family business helps and staff know that they have support in both sides of the salon. Jo is still with them on the salon floor for a couple of days a week which keeps them inspired, and our styling team like being able to work with her on clients together. I oversee everything behind the scenes and promote an open-door policy; this allows people to maintain a connection, feel listened to and know their ideas or thoughts can be shared. Many of our staff have been in the industry a long time so they work very hard to reap the rewards and appreciate the detail, that is why they have kept clients for so long. For the younger generation, this motivates them to understand what they can achieve if they put in the work and gives them drive to want to qualify and continue being part of our team.
CH: What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned in your time as founder of the brand?
Jo Hansford MBE: Self-belief was so important when I started my business and being a specialist. Looking after your team and clients is always the priority, we have nothing without them! Be humble. We are hairdressers at the end of the day, not saving lives, so stay grounded.
CH: What would you say is the secret to 30 years in business?
Jo Hansford MBE: Everything mentioned above! Self-belief! Taking care! And staying humble!
For any salon owners/managers who may be feeling worried in such an uncertain time, what would be your one piece of advice?
Jo Hansford MBE: If you are still trying to grow your client base, be available for your clients whenever they need you. When I started out, I never said no to anything or anyone! Connect with as many people and organisations as possible to create brand awareness. Look after your staff and look after the bottom line! And have self- belief! That’s not one piece of advice, I know, but it’s incredibly important.