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How to run a hair salon

Interview with a hair salon owner

Interviewee:
Dann Richards, owner of Dann Richards Hair and Beauty
CV:
Hair stylist since leaving school
Key tips:
People skills required, delegation important even as head stylist, have a good product base, attract new clients with referral schemes

Dann Richards on the ideal hair salon owner...

"You obviously need to be good with people, and not just being able to talk to them; People treat hairdressers like therapists - and you need to be able to listen them."

"On lessons learnt from running, rather than simply working in, a hair salon...

"I've learnt a lot about who I can trust and who are my friends. Not a lot of people have taken advantage of me yet but I think it could happen.

"I work more. Not in the salon though - I think up here [points at head] I'm working more. 

"I think I'm more in tune with my colleagues than I was. Doing clients for me now is less of a big deal than it was. I've got a lot more to think about.

"My customer service has definitively improved, because you have to be on top form all the time. It has to when you're a hairdresser generally, but when it's your money at stake it makes a big difference."

On the importance of delegation...

"Now when my name's on the door everyone asks for Dann, which is hard because the girls are good and I try to get people to go to the girls. Because when I'm fully booked all week I can't magic up appointments so why work until 9 o'clock at night because I can't say no?

"I'm trying to get the girls known in the salon not just as a face but as a name, because if I can't get people in I want them to go to one of the girls rather than wait two weeks."

In some respects my week hasn't changes because I'm still doing clients all day, but my mindset has changed

On a typical week in the salon...

"I work Monday to Friday. Monday I come in early, I start clients at 11am but come in at 9am and do all the invoices from the week before and pay all my bills. 

"The rest of the week is clients mostly, but in between clients I am on the phone... that's a big difference: when I was working for Wacky [as the salon used to be called], if I didn't have a client I was in the staff room. 

"Now I know why my boss got annoyed. Now I'm never in the staff room - I'm always on the phone to someone, checking something on the internet, replying to an email.

"So in some respects my week hasn't changes because I'm still doing clients all day, but my mindset has changed."

Tips for new salon owners...

"Find a way of how to get new ones [clients] by doing a refer-a-friend scheme or offering discounts for new clients for their first visit, if they're referred. And keep a note of that - who referred who.

"Make sure you have a good product base to play with because that makes a big difference to my profit.

"Advertising's a funny one. I advertised in magazines and I shouldn't have - it didn't do a lot. I think people read magazines less than they did. 

"I find that Facebook is the best thing for it - that does really well. So I wouldn't pay for magazine advertising, I'd just stick to Facebook and websites."

On his plans for the future...

"I'm taking home the same salary I was earning before - pretty much. Some months less, some months more. 

"So my three-year plan is to get this salon to capacity with stylists and clients by the end of next year. And once I've done that I want to open a second salon the other side of Cambridge and split the team in half and build them up again. 

"So my income would grow because I'd be getting two incomes from separate salons and the more clients coming in, the more money is coming into the salon and the more I can pay myself."

On why hair salons are more robust than the rest of the high street...

"It's a sector that's always going to have business because everyone needs their hair done and no one is going to save money by going to someone cheap in my eyes. You're never going to be replaced by a robot and your hair always grows, and you can take your scissors anywhere in the world."

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