Business Whats Going on

Thomas Hills, Director of T1H Hair, looks at how businesses can thrive post lockdown

June 08, 2020

In the past, getting ‘back to business’ meant a fresh start, a renewed focus after time off at Christmas with family and friends, or after holidays and downtime spent relaxing and unwinding.

And while it’s true we’ve most certainly had time off recently – and lots of it – it wasn’t the time off we had all hoped for or planned when a new decade came calling. 2020 will never be forgotten; etched in history as the most testing time our generation will ever have faced, leaving long-lasting imprints in the global economy and collective conscience.

The hairdressing industry, along with many others, has suffered immeasurably; no one can predict the future –or prepare for it – as we have all learnt the hard way following recent events. But what it does show is that you have to be able to react and adapt to a landscape that changes rapidly – and, sometimes – without any warning.

If your thought process stays the same, your business won’t be sustainable, so it’s important to encourage a growth mind-set amongst yourself and your team to allow you all to respond to any challenges along the way.

Continuous focus and a desire to exceed your customer expectations should always be at the forefront of your mind and working hard behind the scenes (downtime and lockdown proving the perfect opportunity for this) allows you to help create the opportunities to help your business evolve.

Speed of response has always been a key element of any business DNA, and never more so than now. The current climate means we have had to think on our feet, adapt, react, pull together and focus on the bigger picture (and all the while trying to remain calm in the face of what can sometimes seem insurmountable pressure).

What has been apparent to me as a consumer is that the response of businesses and the way in which they handled the COVID-19 crisis will be what they are remembered for; their reactions will define them, becoming the hallmark they leave behind. Post-pandemic our views on those who handled it ‘correctly’ will leave a lasting impression, and those companies best positioned to succeed will be the ones who put people first. As a result, caring will become the most powerful business advantage.

In a people-focused industry like ours, this advantage will be vital – who knows how the retail and consumer landscape will change. Yes it’s true people will always need hairdressers, but there’s likely to be a shift in consumer awareness that means clients will be looking for companies that care – about them, about their team and about a collective wellbeing.

With this in mind, communication will be more vital post-pandemic than it was before. As a salon owner / hairdresser you are already a motivator / counsellor / parent to many. Communication will be necessary with your team on how their situation may change in the future; communication with clients will be required as to how / why your services may have changed in line with the current, unprecedented situation; communication with banks, lenders, landlords will all take place as you navigate the new normal. It all adds up to a business picture that will require redefining as we go.

This redefinition will come as we restart and rebuild our businesses. This will of course be a huge milestone, allowing us to return to our ‘normal’ life, however much this ‘normal’ may have changed.

Before we start afresh, focus must remain on a positive mind-set, on team morale, and on remote engagement with both staff and clients. This connection will prove vital to the future and show you care about the wellbeing of your team. It’s not a time to bury our heads in the sand, but instead to see it as a huge opportunity to do things differently as we forge a new path. What worked yesterday is unlikely to form the business blueprint of the future, so adapt and react to the new normal, and reframe your understanding of your business.

Here’s what I’ve leant in lockdown:

1) Not working doesn’t work for me: I can’t remember a time I didn’t and I have had to learn to focus on being productive instead of busy, something that has proved difficult for me to do. Within this I have had to rethink how best to spend my time in business and what I will focus on when I return to the salon.

2) Your health is your wealth: the current situation has made us all hyper-aware that it’s family first, and that a healthy body and mind are both required for you to drive your business effectively.

3) Communication is key: as this time has proven, communication has been vital to keeping in touch with family and friends, and this extends to clients, too. Look at how you can communicate how key they have been to your business evolution in the past and think of ways of repaying this loyalty when you return.

4) Positive Mental Attitude: with so much negativity around us on a daily basis in the news and online, it’s important to keep a positive mind-set. Think about how your brand will flourish in its new landscape once you open and look at how you can promote this positivity to your team and your clients.

5) Intuition is your most powerful business tool: while we can’t predict the future we can predict how we will react to change, and ensuring you’re flexible with the ability to react and adapt will be a key driver in your business model, moving forward.

6) Fresh focus: downtime away from our businesses has been an opportunity to look for the opportunities within the problems we have faced – look at how you can reframe your business model to meet the needs of your clients in the future, as the shifting landscape could result in a shift in your perspective.