Andrew Barton explores the power of collaboration

November 08, 2022

In the second of his new series Andrew Barton explored the power of collaboration and how it is so good for business.

Collaboration has become a buzz word for which many of us have learnt how to harness the power of, and how we connect with others with shared values, but how does it work on the salon floor.

There’s no doubt the industry is changing at pace as we have emerged from the pandemic. The economy and the energy crisis are all fuelling uncertainty, however creatives across the industry are taking up the challenge to build new success.

It’s this dynamic energy and how we collaborate with others to find new ways forward that will see the industry evolve and grow.

There are opportunities in each client transaction, and we should be mindful of who our client is sat in the chair – who do they collaborate with, who are their contacts, their circle – who all offer potential opportunities for us to widen connections and grow our business and experiences.

As stylists, we are all permanently recruiting clients and focused on client spend. Each client we meet is a collaboration and one where our expertise can be shared with multiple connections. Simple systems like ‘recommend a friend’, reviews and ‘tell us how well we did’ are all excellent mechanisms for success and far outweigh the highly discounted services offered by some. Word of mouth is still the very best way to grow a column and with changing attitudes to buying service and less disposable spend, the future suggests we will all need to focus on delivering even greater value for money to our guests. However, don’t confuse value for money with offering heavily discounted services. Guests judge what they pay for service via their experience and it’s here where collaborating with others wins out.

The salon of the future is being shaped to be a hub for social connection in a world that is becoming increasingly less personable through remote meetings etc. The salon has always been a place for people to have an escape, kick back, get pampered and groomed and be social. A day behind the chair is full of conversation, and laughter but is also an opportunity to grow your business and experience through that social connection over the hairdryer.

Collaboration is how we listen to clients and their lives and being open to sharing experiences for mutual benefit. How we react to what we hear is key – from busy mums telling us about their mums’ networking activities to their yoga class group, an executive with an extensive diary of contacts or the local women’s choir – each client is connected and so offers an opportunity to connect us beyond the chair.

So how is it done?
Here are a few examples: 

1. Hosting a client event at the salon after hours or during quiet times of the week is a great opportunity to meet new guests. When I’ve asked the question to a client if they’d like to host an exclusive event at the salon with free consultations, mini dry styling sessions and some fizz and bring a group of their friends and colleagues together the answer has always been ‘YES’. It’s always driven new client bookings and a deeper relationship with that client. This is a perfect example of how any salon no matter what size can collaborate and both parties win out.

2. How could you collaborate with local fashion stores, bakers, gift shops or coffee shops? Maybe sandwiches and coffees could be supplied served to the salon for guests to enjoy, increasing the sense of community on your high street and creating a deeper sensory experience for guests. At my new salon home The House of Keune by Bloom in Central London, an area of the salon has been dedicated to the Comptoir Bakery, a French cafe serving freshly baked goods and organic coffee by Monmouth Coffee. This not only enhances the guest experience and goes beyond their expectations of the traditional salon but it also increases footfall into the salon with the local community enticed into the salon by coffee, a perfect example of how collaboration can work so sweetly.

3. The salon, and hairdressing in general, are becoming increasingly interesting to fashion designers and artists. Salon furniture is becoming more design led and fashion houses collaborating with hairdressers on collections and artists collaborating with manufacturers of the products we use and recommend. To celebrate 100 years of creativity and service the professional salon KEUNE collaborated with contemporary artist Joseph Klibanksy to create a limited edition range of hair styling products. This might be a bi-collaboration by a global hair brand but it reminds me of the opportunities we all have in our salons to work with local artists, either to simply dress the window to enable it to stand out, or perhaps a launch event for an artist’s work where the salon becomes gallery for the evening.

4. A collaboration between a childhood friend of mine, academic and research consultant Donna Bevan led to the launch of an exhibition open to the public showcasing British hairdressing over the last 70 years and is also a wonderful experience. Whether it’s an opportunity to partner with the local college or university on a creative project or a local photographic course to create a collection of hair images, the collaborations behind the styling chair are endless.

5. It’s really up to us how we choose to explore the social connections that we make at the salon which we all know is one of the most social destinations on the high street …it just so happens we also do hair and make people look and feel better too… now that is the most perfect of collaborations!

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