Andrew Dale, UNITE Haircare Founder and CEO, has had a long and varied career in the hairdressing industry. He came stateside at 21 to work for the Sassoon Artistic Team, and opened five successful salons in Los Angels and San Diego in the years following. For the past decade, he has built his fashion-focused boutique styling brand UNITE, which is garnering a cult-like following for its versatile products and top-tier education. Here, he shares some of his best tips for building a strong, branded salon:
1) “Your business is a brand. Start thinking like a brand,” says Dale “If you think of yourself as just a business, it becomes cold. A brand is exciting and colourful. It’s a feeling.” However, branding takes time “Hairdressers expect everything to happen in 45 minutes. Branding is an ongoing campaign.”
2) ”Branding is consistency,” says Dale. Have similar colours and visuals on everything from your website, to your business cards, to your service menu to your salon design. Look to successful companies, like Tom Ford, Apple, and Nike, to understand how their ads and imagery play into their overall appeal.
3) “Specializing in something is really cool,” says Dale. Take the time to ask yourself what makes your salon unique. Are you eco-friendly? Wedding updo experts? Or known for giving the best blow outs? Find your signature service and run with it.
4) “Having a strong brand can help with staff retention. “Youngsters today want to belong. It’s not about the money. If they’re a part of a team or a family it makes a huge difference. If you can’t create a fun, family-like environment where they want to work, bad on you. If they’re going to leave, it’s your fault,” says Dale.
5) “The key to keeping staff happy is clearly stating the expectations that you have of your stylists. “A policy procedure manual is part of your branding,” says Dale. Don’t forget about praise and recognition when they do well!
6) Dale’s a firm believer in salon owners delegating work to staff so they can ensure they’re properly steering the business to reach it’s goals. “Are you running your business, or is your business running you?” Dale asks.
7) Dale says retail education should be built into your salon’s training. “Build it into your salon’s policies and procedures for stylists so it becomes part of [their] job description.”
8) He says every stylists should talk about products during the initial consultation, and should display the items they’ll be using on that client at their station. Then, after customer sees the system being used, have it waiting for them at the front counter when they leave. Make sure to use five to seven products from the same line.
9) Even if you carry more lines at the front for retail purposes, Dale recommends only using one brand at your station and back bar. . “When a salon carries more than one brand on the station in front of the client, it’s a nightmare. It’s like speaking three different languages: confusing.” As well, this line should contribute to your salon’s overall branding.