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Surviving the recession

Recession article

The world is in a recession, which sounds frightening, but we can encourage a fresh, positive perspective by understanding what’s happening and taking action. Tackling the current hardships we are all facing, you may find an opportunity to learn and grow your business. Square up to economic struggles, accept clients who cannot keep regular appointments, and you’ll better cope through this tricky time. 

Surviving the Recession

The first step is to figure out what is most important to you and your business. Take time to study your current situation, make an effort to grow closer with colleagues, and brainstorm ideas for the future innovation of your work! Secondly, be confident and keep talking to everyone around you. It’s helpful to share thoughts and tips on survival within the industry. Although many jump to the worst conclusions when they hear “recession”, there is an opportunity to cultivate growth and positivity for you and your business. Respect asked industry leaders and influencers for advice.

The long-term view

Jamie Brooks, owner of Brooks & Brooks suggests approaching the recession with a long-term view rather than fixating on the present. 

Jamie Brooks
Jamie Brooks

“When people talk about a recession it’s easy to panic and think of the worst that can happen. But don’t; stop and take a longer-term view, not just of the days and months ahead. We’re told to live for the moment, but you have to start planning for the other side. Flexibility is key during a recession. Be prepared to change your plans and be open to movement. Some of the best ideas come during a recession as you think outside the box and do things in a different way. So make the most of your opportunities, shift your focus and keep everything positive.” Jamie Brooks

Watch out for doom and gloom

Robert Kirby at Robert Kirby London reminds us to not believe everything we read! 

Robert Kirby
Robert Kirby

“The newspapers and the news programmes are full of doom and gloom, but concentrate on what you have and what you have to offer. No one knows your clients better than you do, so put together service menus that suit your business and your team. Have a look at everything you offer and how you can make it better, more streamlined, more profitable.” Robert Kirby

Recessions come in cycles

Terry Longden, at boutique colour specialist salon Terry Longden Creatives says that economic recessions are a natural evolution of the working world. 

Terry Longden surviving the recession
Terry Longden

“Having worked as a junior during the 80’s recession and experiencing the recessions that followed, including opening salons, I have come to the conclusion that economic recessions come in cycles and are a natural evolution of the working world. So, my advice to anyone worrying about the future is to ‘keep calm and carry on’ and just make sure you are able to move with the economic times, keep to your budget and don’t compromise your quality of service. In quiet periods, up your skills and try not to get sucked into thinking you need to over-discount to keep clients. What I’ve discovered through experience, is that clients also worried at these times, will just stretch out the time between appointments but will still rather come to a salon they trust. When your salon attracts clients because of continued discounts, once the recession starts to ease, it will be more difficult to move away from.” Terry Longden

Time to save

Simon Townley at Simon Townley hair says there are ways to bring more money in despite the recession.

Simon Townley surviving the recession
Simon Townley

“During the last recession, I was three months into my first salon with my business partner. My advice going into this recession is don’t always look at how you can bring in more money but look at ways you can save yourself and ultimately your clients’ money. Look at any bills, rents and utilities you can save money on. Can you sublet an empty space to a beauty therapist? Look at your service menu and how you are charging. Do you want to be doing kids’ hair that can take just as long as adults but charge 25-50% of the normal amount? Charging by time can make a bit of a difference to your profit line. Clients want the best hair that’s why they come to you, so they just need to educate them on their products. If they are having a £100 balayage service or vivid colour but buying £5 shampoo then it’s up to us to educate them on the benefits of longevity. Healthier hair equals better results.” Simon Townley

Stay positive

Martin Crean, at Mode Hair, says to look for the positives, a sentiment which might seem obvious, but through times of economic hardships can be challenging. 

Martin Crean
Martin Crean

“Never give up. It doesn’t matter how bad it’s getting, always try to look at the positives and don’t get bogged down by the voice on your shoulder or the news on the TV. Concentrate on yourself, your business and your clients. Recession is a scary word but it’s also the time when businesses can flourish and reinvent themselves, some of the best ideas happen during challenging times, so keep a positive mindset. Clients will continue to spend money if they are in a relationship built on trust, receiving high customer service and value for money.” Martin Crean

Innovate or stagnate

Formerly a salon owner and now a business coach, Penny Etheridge says Innovate or stagnate should be the mantra for salon owners facing 2023 with a degree of trepidation.

Penny Etheridge

“My strong advice is to look outside your own business and see how other retailers are not only surviving but also growing their business. Sometimes we just can’t see the wood for the trees. If I was still a salon owner, I would most definitely be starting to look at payment plan options for my big services. Colour corrections, balayage, and extensions, all have bills with a few hundred pounds attached. Rather than lose these clients to other businesses undercutting your service price, who, let’s be honest, can do that by cutting corners on product use and not taking enough time, retain these high-spend clients by using an organised, reputable payment plan supplier.”

Plan to survive the recession

Penny says: “Recently and quite rightly there has been a crackdown on irresponsible “lending” to the consumer, however, there is still availability out there for solid businesses to partner with established providers. You need to have a website and be VAT-registered to qualify as a merchant but let’s face it, what good professional salon hasn’t got a website? And yes, actually paying VAT…for once let that work for you and get involved with payment plans. Agility and a change of mindset on how your customers pay for their big spending services in your salon could be the difference between growth or treading water in 2023.” Penny Etheridge

Don’t discount

Anthony Laban, who owns two salons in London, has previously worked through a recession, shares his advice. 

Anthony Laban The Laban Group
Anthony Laban

“I’ve been in business through recessions before and the lessons learned previously will help me through this one. 

We won’t be tempted to discount as I believe this devalues our brand and can lead to losing clients’ trust. It also makes it impossible to keep our offering and quality high and this is what singles us out from other salons and keeps our clients loyal and attracts new customers. As things get tough it’s important that our team is happy, committed, and enthusiastic so we will keep all training courses and stay honest about our plans and any problems.

The Covid closures made me review all our overheads and keep tight control over stock on the shelf. This will again be a valuable thing as belts tighten. Having money in the bank is the best insurance.” Anthony Laban

We would like to thank all of our contributors for sharing their advice. It is so important that we all stay connected and eager to help through this difficult time. 

Respect is a hub for UK hairdressers of all ages and stages to find out what We Love, We Hear and We See as the best product launches, styling advice, hair tools, education training and seminars and hair shows!  Sign up to our newsletter which is sent fortnightly direct to your email, so you stay up-to-date with salon styling information, trends in session work, advice on presenting on stage or progress in educating – whatever your interest, whether you’re a trainee or creative director, an educator or team leader, you’ll find all the opportunities and ideas on www.respectyou.me

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