Getting help for your business
How to understand what your own strengths and weaknesses
are and why you should seek professional help in the
areas you are not strong in.
By Paul Carbis, Carbis Business Management
With several degrees under my belt, a number of different business interests and my role as a business consultant many people would think that I would be fairly independent when it comes to running my businesses. In fact, one of the first rules I learnt about being successful in business was to understand what your own strengths and weaknesses are and seek professional help in the areas you are not strong in.
For example, I do not try and do my own accounting. I rely on an expert in this field who is both well trained and efficient in this area of expertise. Similarly I utilise knowledge of an experienced travel agent to recommend and book all my travel arrangements.
Utilising the specific skills of these people means that I get professional advice, efficient service and less costly mistakes. In the long run my business is more profitable.
I apply exactly the same rules to running beauty salons. Despite having many years experience in the industry, despite brilliant hands on skills and despite dedicating long hours to their businesses, many salon owners are now turning to business and training professionals to assist them in growing their businesses. And why wouldnt you? Today there are people that can help you in just about every facet of running your salon, each of them experts in their chosen fields. After all they never taught you to be an accountant, teacher, marketing guru, professional trainer, business executive, banker, .or the myriad of other different titles that we all are expected to wear. In this article I want to outline a number of areas you could consider seeking professional help and guidance in order to better operate your salon and staff.
Start with a SWOT analysis
SWOT is an acronym for STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS. The easiest way to do this is to start making lists of things that would fall under each of the headings.
For example, you might consider your experience, industry contacts, loyal customer base, location, product brand, etc as strengths of your business.
Conversely you might admit that your accounting skills, marketing expertise, time management or staff management are areas of weakness.
Interestingly, some of these same areas might be possible opportunities if you could get the right sort of help. Staff training, marketing and advertising, accounting and book -keeping often fall into this category.
Threats are areas of weakness that can be targeted by your opposition or can seriously effect your business, such as losing staff, client retention rates, the look of your salon, the use of newer beauty equipment and procedures such as IPL, lasers, micro-dermabrasion, LED light therapy and body contouring equipment.
In essence, try to identify the areas of your business that you are proficient at and the areas that you feel less than comfortable doing. In some cases this will include highlighting time consuming tasks or duties that you just dont like doing and would be willing to outsource.
What type of expert do I need?
1. Business Management
Finding a business management consultant that understands the beauty industry can provide wonderful guidance and direction. So often salon owners and managers are caught up in the daily grind of doing treatments, stock control, retailing and handling customer service issues that they find it difficult to take a step back and work on their business rather than work in the business.
Working with a business consultant allows you to analyse the different areas of your business that helps you to make money. They are able to point out where income is derived from, what your major expenses are, areas of success and areas of concern. Best of all they will help you to devise strategies to improve each area of your business, providing you with tools to help you become more profitable.
2. Staff Trainers
Although all salon owners are continually training their staff, the use of professional educators can be a real benefit to your staffs development. Some product houses offer trainers as a service for stocking their products.
Product knowledge schools are also regularly available for therapists to update their skills. However, I believe that the services of trainers in the areas of retailing, diagnostic skin analysis, product chemistry, skin function and beauty therapy technique can provide your salon with a very important point of difference Expertise!
3. Marketing Consultants
The expertise of specialist marketing consultants who have an intimate understanding of our industry can be far reaching for your business. They can dramatically improve your advertising results both to existing customers as well as attracting new clients to your business.
Marketing is an area where a lot of money can be wasted if you dont get professional advice. Good consultants in this field will not only teach you better and more effective ways to advertise your business, but will test and measure the results so that educated decisions are made using facts to determine future advertising.
If there is a single time consuming task in running a business, book keeping and accounting would rank fairly highly. Yet as every business owner knows, this area of the business is also absolutely essential. Utilising the skills of book keepers and clever accountants will not only save you many hours in time, it will eradicate much of the bookwork stress you experience.
In most countries around the world taxation laws are complex and certainly not within the expertise of the average salon owner. A good accountant will not only help with taxation but will assist in looking at how the business is operating. They can breakdown costs and profit making areas of your business to give you a detailed picture of what the business is generating.
5. Architects and Interior Designers
So many salons I visit are poorly designed and this affects both the operation and the efficiency of the salon. Correct design can mean more comfortable environments for both staff and customers.
Lighting, colours, sound, retail areas, treatment room designs, storage areas, waiting rooms, reception desks, consultation areas and staff facilities are all important design factors for creating an inviting space for customers and a workable space for staff. Obtaining professional help in the design and look of your salon can make such a difference to the feel and workability of your salon.
6. IT and Communications
The demands of a busy salon today mean that it is vital to have reliable computer hardware, user friendly software and very good telecommunication systems. Many salons today rely on computer systems to produce advertising and marketing materials, maintain client histories, keep accounting records and operate point of sale facilities. Similarly, having versatile phone systems, email and facsimile systems is now mandatory for successful salons to operate effectively.
Having a specialist consultant in these fields to assist in the choice of computer hardware, phone systems and computer software can make the world of difference to your salon operations. Too often salon owners not well versed in these technical fields find that their computers are not powerful enough to run the newer operating systems, that the software they choose is out of date and cannot provide all of the functions a modern salon requires or the telephone system is not portable and there arent enough lines into the salon to run fax, phone and internet together.
IT and telecommunications specialists can save you money and time by helping you choose the most appropriate systems for your salons needs.
I am in awe at the variety of skills a beauty therapist displays every day. However, too often salon owners are reluctant to ask for specialist assistance and sometimes make costly mistakes because of this. Consultants are experts in their fields and should be utilised to help generate profits, save time or better equip the salon and staff.
Paul Carbis is a business consultant to the beauty industry around the world. He is often invited to many of the international expos and conferences as a speaker as well as offering salon owners the opportunity to utilise his experience for management help and staff training.