With her experience as both franchisee and independent salon owner, Hayley Gibson-Forbes is well positioned to offer advice on both aspects of both types of business.
With 12 years in the hairdressing industry, previous three-times finalist in the prestigious British Hairdressing Business Awards and a former award-winning Rush franchisee, Hayley opted to go it alone, establishing her own Surrey-based salon, S J Forbes, on 4th July 2015. Here she looks at what’s involved in going it alone.
First and foremost, you’ll be making all the decisions. When you become a franchisee you are buying in to an existing business model, which has its own established brand guidelines, its own vision and own rules. As an independent salon owner, you won’t be governed by a pre-existing brand. You can decide what services you will offer, you can set your own prices and you can decide which staff to employ and how much you pay them.
The location of a franchise salon is often pre-determined, whereas if you open independently, you won’t be geographically restricted. When it comes to the salon interiors, furniture and style, you have free reign, limited only by your own tastes and budget. When it comes to the styling services on offer, you can be as creative and as forward-thinking as you like, without being limited by the franchisor brand’s reputation.
Most salon groups will have an affiliation with one or more brands, and as franchisee you will be expected to support the same brands. As an independent salon owner, you will be able to research products and decide on a retail line that you truly believe in, that you feel is representative of your salon and that you believe your customers will buy in to. You will be able to sell your chosen retail line with integrity and with confidence, knowing that you truly believe in that particular brand, which will in turn increase your sales and increase your profitability.
Your customers won’t have any pre-existing notions about your brand. Existing salon chains have built up a reputation, which can take years to successfully achieve, and in most cases the reputation will be reputable. However with reputation comes pre-existing ideas about what to expect, presumptions and expectations, which isn’t always a positive thing. When you start from scratch you have the unique opportunity to determine how you want customers to view your salon and brand image, allowing you to lay the foundations to creating a solid reputation. You are in charge of how your salon is viewed, both in the short and long term.
There are of course, extra considerations and precautions that must be taken if you choose to go down this route. Be sure to create a solid business plan before making any decisions, and speak to a lawyer and financial advisor who can advise you on considerations such as the legal structure of your new venture, your tax and VAT obligations, employer’s liabilities and a retirement plan. While the process of setting up and running your own salon can be much harder, more time-consuming and more complicated than becoming a franchisee, the freedom and lack of restraints are often the overriding deciding factors. Ultimately, if it is creative, financial and corporate freedom that you want, then opening your own salon is more likely to satisfy your needs.