How can we thrive in the face of a recession?

September 29, 2022

Tina Hollis, aka The Lonely Boss Lady, runs courses in business and colour as well as mentoring salon owners to get the most from their business.

A passionate and experienced colourist, Tina holds the Wella Master Colour Expert qualification and a giant waiting list – it’s a 6-month wait for a weekday appointment while those wanting to see Tina on a Saturday are currently booking for 2023.  This month Tina asks, how can we thrive in the face of a recession?

Be proactive rather than reactive…

We’re currently bombarded with messaging about how our energy bills are increasing and the cost of living is going up, so what does that mean for us as salon owners and stylists?

The word recession can put fear into us all, the thought of an economic downturn is scary but it’s real, it’s something that we have faced before and will no doubt face again unfortunately. It’s a time that we may see our clients cutting down on certain treatments or leaving it longer in between services than normal, which affects our column and business.

So what can we do?

Know your numbers…

So many salon owners don’t know their numbers, what’s your weekly/monthly breakeven? As a stylist what’s your breakeven? Do you know what you’re paying out for each month? I’ve met salon owners who have direct debits going out for services that they no longer use but they’ve kept paying for months, even years!

Are you asking what is break even? Break even is when your income and costs are equal, meaning there is no profit and no loss.

For me it’s one of the most important bits of information to know, because from this I can work out how many hours I need to work, what I need to charge and also where my business is week by week. Our goal is to be in profit, and not to go under our break even. The average profit for UK salons is 15-20%.

If you do know your break even now is the time to reset it and adjust those figures to include any increases so you know where you are now and not from a few months ago, I look at mine every few months just so if it needs adjusting I’m on it.

So first off you have to know those figures…..

Create money pots

Something I’ve always found useful is to break my expenditure down and put the money that I use to pay them into different pots to ensure I’m covered.

For instance, my business bank account has several holding accounts. 

On a weekly basis I put my PAYE money into the holding account that I have dedicated to it, the same for tax and VAT. I also have one for stock where I pay around 10% of my takings in to cover any invoices. And then there is my utilities holding account and the list can go on.

Why is this helpful?

When it comes to payday I move the money back into my main account and pay the wages easily, it’s been saved weekly so when it comes to the end of the month there’s no worrying about making sure it’s all covered because I’ve planned for it.

I know the money is there, before this I found it too easy to over spend on stock or I’d buy those shiny new hair tools that I didn’t really need but there was money in the bank so why not? But then I’d feel it when I needed to pay a bill. You can do this if you’re a salon owner/chair renter or even with home bills, it really is a good way to ensure you know where you are.

Remember your clients are feeling the pinch too…

As a service industry, covid helped the public see how important we are – not just for and covering greys but for their well-being too, so we need to remind our clients of this AND show them ways of maintaining their hair whilst looking after their purses…

A hair cut shouldn’t just be a hair a cut, create a client journey for them, plant some seeds for tweaking their looks for each season, this could be something like adding a fringe or a tonal change in colour, the point is to give your client something to look forward to and add more value to your service by showing you’re invested in them. Also be positive, there’s enough doom and gloom out there, by talking about hair ideas and giving them something to look forward to they’ll leave with a bounce in their step.

Plan your clients’ appointments for them by keeping it simple and breaking it down for them by doing the big work, then the top up, then the medium work followed by the big work again. For instance:

  1. I do the full works for their balayage – the big work
  2. 6wks later I do a toner to keep the colour looking fresh with a cut and style – the top up, it’s not as expensive or time consuming, therefore easier on my client’s purse but the hair is looking refreshed! 
  3. The medium work is done 6-8wks later – I’d go in with a face frame or a few scattered packets with a toner and cut/style, still cheaper than the big work and less time consuming, the hair is revived and we have a happy client! 
  4. And then it’s back to either a top up if the colour’s still good or the big work 6-8wks later.

By planning this journey you’re ensuring clients are still coming in, and showing you want their hair to look its best but you’re looking after their outgoings. From this you’ll gain not only loyalty and trust but respect because you aren’t charging big prices every time and they have lovely hair all year round! 

Don’t feel alone…

I hope these ideas help you, right now it’s hard out there and a lot of us are feeling vulnerable, things can look scary but they don’t have to be. Your numbers tell a story, know them and run your business or column as a business.

It sounds crazy to say invest in a business coach/mentor but actually NOW is the time to invest in you and your business. Don’t feel alone – learn different methods of how to get through these times not just for your business but for your sanity too.