Straight-talking from Joe Mills, owner of The Lounge Soho and Joe and Co, as he discusses the challenges ahead for salons in 2021.
It’s impossible to believe that 2020 is coming to an end. None of us envisaged what the year would bring when we were celebrating New Year’s Eve 12 months ago – and we certainly wouldn’t have believed it even if we were told!
Goals, ambitions, shows and salon openings have been put on hold.
We have faced challenges that have brought us together, but divided us more than ever. It seemed, at last, that the value we offer was being recognised as magazines and TV was full of how much everyone missed their hairdresser and barber. But after the adulation came the hangover – voices of doom and gloom were peppered with optimism and as a business owner it has been difficult to know what to believe.
But one thing is for sure; as an industry if we do not diversify and look outside the box, we won’t survive. Home hairdressing is on the rise, city centres are empty of people and client’s behaviour has changed. Carrying on as normal isn’t an option. Consumers are watching the pennies, they are working from home and the demise of the high street is closer than ever.
So do we sit and wait for them to return, or do we re-evaluate our business for the times we live in? Our habits and behaviours are never going to return to what they were, so we have to re-evaluate and reassess what we do.
I have spent many months looking at my businesses, what we offer and what we can do differently. I recently launched Shortcut, an app that allows clients to book a salon-based hairdresser or barber to visit them at home.
City centre salons risk losing clients to their local salons, due to working from home or are nervous about travelling on public transport. Shortcut allows the client to book a home visit – a sector of the industry that is growing. The salon controls the price and the timings, meaning a stylist with a quiet column can fill that downtime.
While I’ve had a great response, there has been some negativity – I’ve been accused of selling out and not supporting the salon industry. But actually, this gives control to the salon. Our stylists want to earn money and as a salon owner, we don’t want a quiet business. It’s a win win.
This is just one example of thinking outside the box – home hair was never on my agenda but as times change, so must we. There are many salons abiding by the restrictions, spending time and money on making their business compliant.
Then there are those who are carrying on as normal, no masks or social distancing
This isn’t good news for our industry – it will tear us apart. We need to look at the bigger picture and the industry as a whole to survive the next few tumultuous months.
None of us knows what the next year will bring but we can be certain that there will continue to be challenges, difficulties and frustrations. We need to work together, support one another and be ready for the next phase.