Business Featured

Gavin Mills | How are you going to survive Covid-19 and keep your salon open?

December 15, 2020

Gavin Mills is owner of Bad Apple Hair Salons, 9 salons in the West Midlands and Liverpool, and an academy in Wolverhampton. With an active client base of 38,000 and a 70-strong team, Gavin wants to end the year with a look at strategies to create new clients, save money and introduce new ways to build revenue.

This topic is hard to talk about and it’s easy to just make things sound fine, but Covid19 is here and it’s not going away anytime soon – we all have to be real and be honest. This Christmas, trade is not going to be the same as last year and all of us need to refine, rethink and restructure to keep busy and most importantly MAKE MONEY.

With a second lockdown affecting us all, here are some things to think about to really help you to make decisions over the next few weeks and get through these difficult times, because these decisions can’t be put off, they need action now.

First of all, set a date in your diary and spend some time putting a plan in place for your business, you will be out from behind the chair now if that’s where you usually are, so use this time away from your salon and spend a real full day (or more – you can turn this second lockdown into a positive if you use the time to evaluate your business) looking at what’s happening inside your salon.

These are a few points to cover a wide range of elements of the business:

1. What are you doing to drive new clients into the salon without spending money?

Think about what offers you can do to entice new clients through the door of your salon and what you can do for current clients to get them recommending your services to friends and family.

It’s important that you don’t resort to discounting and you offer more value to your clients, so instead of giving large percentages off the service price away, give clients some free retail or a free treatment.

Add value, don’t discount – you can’t afford to remove your profit from your business and give it away by discounting, this will only result in long term struggle. If you are discounting already I would recommend you stop as the clients you want to cultivate will understand that you need to make money.

This is a fact. Clients like a bargain, who doesn’t, but the clients you want are the ones who value themselves and their look, and respect your skills and overheads in delivering that. Added value complements the full price service you deliver and everyone wins from that.

2. How are you maximising the revenue you already have in your salon?

Every time a client walks into your salon you have an opportunity to make more money and if the client is having a colour, blowdry or a cut you need to look at maximising that money, upgrading a blowdry to a cut, a cut to a colour, bringing over a technician or talking about colour placement, getting the client skin tested and talking about what would suit them, as part of your consultation this could generate hundreds and hundreds of pounds more income weekly without spending money on marketing.

It’s essential that you communicate how important it is to your team that you maximise the client spend in salon, so for example, they can talk about booking them in for a blowdry or toner in between their service.

Can we upgrade them to a luxury cut that offers a treatment? Are they buying retail that works for their hair? They’re buying it somewhere so if not from you, why not? All this could increase your daily sales without finding new clients… but it will only work if you spend time implementing it and getting your team to do it.

3. Do you understand your cashflow?

Have a clear P&L (profit and loss) that’s realistic, not what you did last year or want it to be. Your outgoings have most likely increased due to PPE so increase your prices, even if it’s £3 a cut or £5 a colour… don’t just observe the cost, you’re not a charity, you’re a business, you’re here to make money not to lose it.

Having a clear P&L report can save your business by giving you a clear understanding of what you need to turnover to keep afloat, even if you’re not making a profit you still need to be providing an income during these times.

4. Saving and cutting costs.

If staff are not performing, then put them on a week by week plan to build their performance, set them smart goals and targets that will be reviewed weekly.

The hard fact here is that if you have staff that are not making you money, they are probably losing you money, and then you might need to let them go if you can’t change their mindset and performance.

“The fact is some people are going to lose jobs. And it’s not a nice thing to do but if they are losing the jobs because of their performance that’s just not your fault.”

5. In a world of trends be a classic.

Be consistent, educate your team, invest in them and they will perform, so make sure they can do what is required to produce beautiful classic hair.

Motivation is a big part of someone’s attitude, so give your staff responsibility, give them areas that they can help grow the business and build revenue, let them create content on friends to promote on social media, build a vibe that your staff want to be part of and you will see your business grow, don’t make it all about yourself.

As a salon owner myself, I know that we are often so busy with the day-to-day that we can overlook time refining our business, but COVID19 is impacting us all, spending time refining, restructuring and restarting is a necessary requirement so take time out and make change in your business more profitable.

I personally think this second lockdown could be a positive for a lot of struggling salons in November, to reduce costs and outgoings such as salaries, and increase December turnover.

Use this checklist to hit the ground running when we hopefully reopen in December:

  1. Keep your team positive, talk with them, have regular zoom meetings…. get them involved in promoting the salon over the next 4 weeks and look at online training to keep them learning. This is good both for team bonding and morale, and to learn new skills.
  2. Start working on getting December busy now….. don’t leave it to chance – email, text your clients, promote your availability now and take this opportunity to be fully booked in December.
  3. Rethink your usual hours in December, open more days, longer hours, maximise your potential.
  4. Make sure you have the stock you need for December, don’t leave it to the last minute to order what will be needed. Can you also retail online in the meantime so people can still get their products or do Christmas shopping?
  5. Talk with your landlord and agree a plan for November’s rent or December quarter – see if they can give you a rent free break or a 50% discount.
  6. Claim your grant as soon as possible; don’t leave it till the last week.
  7. Consider keeping someone in the salon to maintain the phones and take bookings, advertise that you will still be taking bookings through November.

Good luck and stay safe everybody, and see you on the other side…

Gavin Mills owns Bad Apple Hair, 9 salons and an academy around the West Midlands and Liverpool. @badapplehair