Expert Advice: Navigating the Business of Beauty

Tracey Devine shares her tips for keeping the lights on at your salon


Tracey Devine.

In the golden age of entrepreneurship, independent businesses seem to be cropping up everywhere you look. The UAE is home to a budding population of startups and is even considered an “entrepreneur’s playground” by some.

Gathering the emotional and financial strength to launch your own business is an admirable feat - but what happens after the sign on your door says “come in - we’re open for business”? Following your dreams and taking a leap of faith makes for great advice on fridge magnets but should be approached with caution when launching a business. The success of a new business has little to do with luck and more to do with strategy and prudence.

I believe in putting the client above all else. The salon I represent in the UAE, Glamour Hair Salons, is renowned for its cutting-edge service and is rapidly becoming Abu Dhabi’s salon of choice because of its attention to customer satisfaction. It doesn’t take much - a welcome drink, always greeting and bidding your client adieu with a smile and making them feel like their every need is anticipated goes a long way.

Have a captive audience

Reputation and customer loyalty will be what keeps your brand ticking over in the beginning. Ensure you have an audience that loves you for being yourself and is willing to commit to your new venture. When you launch a new business, it can take up to a year for your brand’s name to gain recognition. Loyal customers will help you keep the lights on until then.

Customer loyalty is what keeps countless companies alive - the 2017 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index revealed that 87% of Apple’s customers were dedicated to the brand. Invest resources and effort into keeping your existing clientele happy while striving to get more customers in the front door.

Collaborate with an excellent hair brand

Partnering up with a renowned hair brand will attract customers devoted to that brand and will also get you great discounts and PR support. Working with reliable brands is imperative when running a salon. It’s one of the core pillars that your brand’s reputation and credibility lie on. You will also be able to run your salon with comfort and confidence, knowing that products you’re using are widely respected. Your clients must know they’re in safe hands.

Hire a brilliant accountant

A great accountant is worth their weight in gold. When crunching numbers, you need to hire a person you can trust and someone that can handle the initial pressures of a new business. My advice is to interview a handful and keep your eyes peeled for the candidate that just “gets” you and your business. Chemistry is as important as talent when recruiting a team. Over the years, especially as your business grows from strength to strength, you’ll find yourself seeking advice from your account. Their input is invaluable.

Progress in measured growth spurts

Don’t miss out on the journey while rushing to your destination. Take it easy and grow organically. A good month is great but don’t let that convince you to swipe your card and break the bank. Replace fear with curiosity and immerse yourself in the process of blossoming your business from a seed.

Gather a team that reflects your professional values and resonates with them in their work ethic. Make customer service one of your priorities when setting up. Your customer is queen so you must ensure they’re pampered from the minute they step in. Go the extra mile and make that your winning trait.

Planning, technology, the subtle balance of nature, materials and lighting aren’t really trends in and of themselves, but really the foundations of a well designed space. They should be cleverly and seamlessly integrated into your salon to help humanize the experience and convey your brand message. A 3D space is truly the most tangible expression of your brand.  If we want to tap into the right brain’s response of feelings and emotions (which if positively triggered can directly influence an increase in sales) we must turn to exceptional design ideas to do so.

Let the world know you’re open for business

Inform the media. Call your friends. Invite people in off the street. If event planning and guest liaising isn’t a strong suit, join forces with a public relations agency. They will communicate your salon’s launch to the media and blogger community. Swing your salon’s doors open with a splash - this will get your brand’s name out there and pique interest in potential customers. Follow up with your media and blogger guests after the launch party and offer yourself up for interviews and your salon for reviews.

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