Strategy and a visit to the barbers

The below diagram shows the transformation lifecycle and today I’d like to discuss the 1st element around developing a business vision using a visit to a local barber in Enfield

Business Vision

Last week I went to a barber in my local borough of Enfield and as I sat, the inevitable conversation was struck up by the barber. This barber also happened to be the owner and had taken over the previous year. I was keen to understand how things were going and so I gently turned the conversation into more of a mini interview.

I asked him how he had found his first year in business. “A lot more difficult than I ever imagined and a lot of long hours”; “The main problem”, he said, “….is that I can’t get the staff. The industry isn’t regulated and where there used to be one or two hairdressers in this area, there are now 7 or 8 within 500 yards of me. Because the industry isn’t regulated you can get away with hiring people that just aren’t skilled enough. I’m shocked when I listen to some hairdressers giving clearly wrong advice but what can I do?”

I then went on to ask him more about himself and I soon discovered his passion. He was skilled to Level 3. He also had the best equipment available and could tell me minor details such as the tensile strength of his scissors and how the handle was crafted in such a way as to ensure the correct positioning of his hand when he made the cut. He challenged me when in another barbers “ask the barber what type of scissors they use”.

I asked him about his goals, and he told me that as a young man he’d be doing this for the next 30 years until he retired. He had to make this work for his pension and had a few ideas that could help him differentiate himself (although he wouldn’t discuss this)

“Another major problem” he said, “was that rates are so high that they are eating away at my profits”

We then talked about some of the things that other barbers and hairdressers were doing which included things like online scheduling

Now, let’s look at what we know within our lifecycle in the Vision Phase.

  • Motivation
    • Mission (purpose) – to dress men’s hair in the Enfield area
    • Vision – to transform the business so that it supports his passion, recruiting staff of high experience
    • Goals – grow the business so that it can provide a pension in the future
  • Macro Environment
    • High Rates – the government announced in the 2018 budget that business rates for hair/beauty salons and barbershops with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will be cut by a third for two years (2019-2021). Explained in this article.
  • Competition
    • 7 – 8 within 500 yards employing younger lower qualified barbers and hair-dressers
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats)
    • Strengths – he and his staff are qualified to Level 3 and he has top of the range equipment. His shop is also located in a prime location in the high St
    • Weaknesses – The shop is tired and run down and the wall space is blank with no promotion
    • Opportunities – The shop attracts mostly middle-aged men. With his youth and passion, he could be targeting a younger set of men and women who may pay for premium experience. Online scheduling would likely bring in a new demographic and help manage costs
    • Threats – A lack of regulation could mean more opening up in close- proximity. In business strategy we call this a low barrier to entry

During the final trimming of my hair we managed to discuss some of my own thoughts. As his shop was a little tired, it needed a make-up, which could attract younger mixed sex demographics. There was nothing on the walls that promoted his strengths such as his experience and qualifications. I suggested also that he could put some things on the wall that showed the benefits of a regular visit i.e. ongoing hair management and health. He could also start to sell products.

The conversation lasted the duration of the cut, but I think you can start to see from this how you can developing a business vision based around a transformation lifecycle such as ours above.

Note: I checked afterwards and was surprised to find that this was correct. There are no qualifications required – see link to the Direct Line website.

Feel free to complete our free business-model-assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy

Brian Hill is the principal partner at Rubiks Cube Management services and can be contacted by clicking on the link here >>>>

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