Do salons really need to build their online presence?
It’s a well-known sentiment in business that you either adapt or you die.
Charles Darwin told us, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”. Many business gurus cite this brutal truth as a key commercial behaviour to adopt. But is it really applicable to our sector?
When we analyse how the customer has changed, even in the relatively short time frame of the past decade, we realise just how much retail has had to evolve to suit. How can a bricks-and-mortar unit hold the wide range of choice available online? With a crumbling British high street, it’s no wonder that many companies choose to ditch the overheads, rates and staff that a shop involves and turn their offering into a cyber one.
Should salons focus on services?
But we buck the trend, don’t we? Isn’t trying to adapt what we do into the online experience like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Isn’t that why there’s a boom in the number of salons, barber shops and nail bars springing up?
We are booming in numbers, even though we cannot directly translate into virtual reality. I’m fed up of attending conferences forcing us to focus on digital, like other sectors do, when what we do is real and tangible; it will always be customer experience and relationship centric.
We have adapted as best we can to this new consumerism but eventually we will have to admit defeat and stop admonishing ourselves for what we offer. We need to actively choose to embrace, value and relish what we do. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the focus at a conference was on how to tangibly adapt elements of the service sector to the nuances of the virtual world instead? I for one would be the first to buy a ticket.
I recently stayed in a hotel in Dublin on a business trip. They’d clearly embraced the “adapt or die” mindset; the rooms were tiny, Tokyo-style pods, designed for millennials. The music in the restaurant was hard rock, aimed at the same demographic.
Identifying the core salon client
The trouble was that the clientele wasn’t millennials or generation Z. It was a restaurant full of ABC, bleary-eyed 50-year-old business travellers, most of whom had been up since stupid o’clock on the red-eye from Heathrow, longing for a warm, cosy space to enjoy their (on expenses) dinner and glass of wine before retiring to a hot bath and a comfy, spacious bed to catch up on their zzzs. You won’t be surprised to learn that sleeping in a pod with a shower (no bath) didn’t appeal to me, so I complained and was moved to a disabled bedroom (really? What if a disabled person needed it?). I wondered why anyone would want to sleep in a poky hole, accepting a hotel bedroom which isn’t nicer and more luxurious than their own?
So, yes, we need to adapt or die. But it’s adapting to the needs of our target customer, the person that’s putting the money in the till, the bread and butter, that should be the sole focus. The more we fight who the customer actually is, in favour of who we want them to be, the harder business will become.
Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London, one of the most profitable independent salons in the UK. She is beauty ambassador for the National Beauty Federation (NBF). Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org