Op Ed: Where Does the Hair Industry Go From Here?

photo via Getty Images

BY ANTONY WHITAKER of GROW MY SALON BUSINESS

'Roller coaster ride' doesn’t even begin to describe this year, and it’s not over yet. There are a lot of statistics floating around about the impact that the coronavirus and the lockdown has had on the industry in terms of salons that have closed, salons that are for sale, and people that have left the industry.

In reality it will be quite some time before accurate statistic are available, but at this point in time the general feeling is that somewhere between 20-40 percent of salons will be lost throughout the year.

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But like everything, there will be winners and losers. With every salon that closes, there will be staff looking for jobs and clients looking for new salons, and that represents a huge opportunity for some owners and stylists.

There will also be a continued shift in the business model, and it’s inevitable that some business models will prosper more than others. For example, the ‘salon suite’ might be seen as a safer alternative for some clients and stylists until there is a vaccine available. 

For others, there will be a transition from the booth rental model to either taking the leap into being a suite owner or wanting to be a bonafide employee with the benefits, rights and protection that offers. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution or ‘one business model’ that is the best way to go as we all have different strengths, have different needs and are all motivated by different things.

At times like this, changes in every business sector have been sped up. The changes that might normally have taken 5+ years to evolve gradually are now happening much faster, and fragmenting the industry into smaller business units might very well have a negative effect.

If the hairdressing industry continues to fragment into smaller business models, the supply will be increased [more places the client can go] and therefore, businesses will have to compete on price to attract clients. The end result is lower productivity per stylist and ultimately lower levels of pay and salons that don’t make a profit.

Hairdressing shouldn’t be seen as a ‘cottage industry’—a fragmented industry of predominantly very small salons with independent contractors or poorly paid staff with nominal career prospects. We should all want to see a proud and strong industry with salons of every shape and size and price point and business model.

We should all want to see an industry that is financially in good shape, where salons can charge what they are worth, pay their employees well for good productivity and still be profitable in order to reward the owners and reinvest back into growing their businesses. We should all want to see hairdressing as a greet career path where parents are proud to see their children enter a profession that offers great prospects and opportunities to grow.

Ultimately, we get the industry we deserve, and every one of us has a role in shaping its destiny and making it even more professional.

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