I received a phone call yesterday from a young lady who has been working as a mobile hairdresser for the last 4 years. She had just come back from her Bank and been told that her business profits were too low to even be considered with her partner’s income for a mortgage application. The Bank told her she only paid an average of £200 per month into her business bank account and what she was doing couldn’t be recognized as a business.
We had talked last year about some simple tactics she could use to grow her business but she had settled into a routine, living with her parents at home, and hadn’t really bothered. She had her list of regular clients which gave her enough cash for her needs and she was firmly in her comfort zone.
The conversation with the Bank though has really upset her and she is now seriously fired up to make some big changes. She is determined her income will make a difference to their mortgage plans.
It is a shame that it sometimes takes an outsider like the Bank to shake a business owner out of complacency. To re-inspire their plans for growth that had somehow slipped away in recent years. But it is good that she has finally realized that she has a choice. She can choose to grow her business and make a serious contribution to their future life together…or do nothing and just carry on drifting.
Advising her was easy. She has been here a few times to cut my son Chris’s hair when he has been home from University and she is the only mobile hairdresser I have come across that actually dresses the part. She always arrives exactly on time, wears a salon type uniform, arranges the workspace herself, clears up the rubbish and finally puts everything back so there was no evidence she had been.
Because of her attention to detail, she can only average 6 appointments a day, including travelling between appointments. She has tended to undersell herself because she feels that as she doesn’t have the overhead of a salon, she has to price herself way below a salon to get the work.
The thrust of our chat then was to focus her mind back onto the sort of service she dreams of offering. The main dreams behind why she set up on her own in the first place, but which had slipped unnoticed to the back of her mind in recent years. Then we talked about how she could market herself in these recessionary times. As I know her, the answers were simple. She just needs to get her message across about how people can enjoy the full salon experience in the comfort of their own home, but actually better. She couldn’t see initially how her service could be better than a salon so I explained. In a salon a customer often has to wait a while for the stylist to be ready. They are often running behind. Then the customer is taken by a trainee for a hair wash and general preparation for the stylist so they are ready for the cut, colouring etc.
In explaining this, the lights started to come on. So I went further. The client also has to travel to the salon. If they drive, they have to park which is generally either difficult, expensive or both. They have to battle the winds, rain, snow etc., both into the salon, and then afterwards trying to protect the new hairdo whilst getting home again.
What could she offer that was different?
I said she could try this explanation of her service…
She comes direct to your house, in all weathers, and prepares the work area to suit what is going to be done. She gives her full 100% attention to her client at all times. There is no passing off to a trainee at any point. She does everything the client needs in a completely professional manner. At the end, she clears away and the client is left with a new hairdo without any of the unpleasant travel, trainee disasters, delays, noise or embarrassment if they are sensitive about their hair due to cancer treatment, alopecia etc..
This is the focus she had when she first started but she wasn’t strong enough, experienced enough, confident enough to stick to it; to say no to the family and friends expecting constant freebies; to put her prices in line with salons, or even above; to achieve the sort of income she could easily get if she had stuck to her vision from the start.
This young lady is an award winning hairdresser and in the early days she had offers from most of the local salons that recognized her potential but then (no doubt) sat back relieved once they realized she wasn’t going to be a threat to them due to her sloppy, non-existent marketing and cut-price service.
That is about to change.
She, like so many business owners, needed someone to shake her up. To wake her up out of the slumber that had become her comfort zone. Sometimes it is the person themselves that has a “visionary” realization, sometimes it is people like me they come into contact with, sometimes it is their life partner, and sometimes, like this lady, it is a total outsider looking down their nose into her little business and ridiculing it saying it is not even worth putting on a mortgage application.
Every business owner needs to step back a little every so often and critically look at their business; the way it performs; the service it offers; the prices charged and ensure it is still running directly towards the ultimate goals that were in your head when you first set it up.
When did you last review your business?