An Interview with Multi Award Winning Hair Chain Owner Sean Hanna

His passion for hairdressing together with exceptional business accumen has earned him the title of ''Business Director of the Year". He is also three times winner of the British Hairdressing Business Awards, "marketing award".

Here Sean takes time out of his busy schedule to talk to hair and beauty jobs about his journey to becoming a salon chain owner and how he keeps ahead.

Q. What inspired you to start up your own salon?

Once I had gained real confidence in my technical skills and built up a good clientele, it felt like a completely natural progression to want to manage my and run my own salon. I suddenly couldn't wait to start developing my own salon business.

Q. What were the early days like?

It felt like a huge adrenalin rush for many months, as I battled through all the usual landmines. Alongside looking after my clients, I was sorting out the new premises, refurbishing it, employing and training up the staff, putting administration procedures in place and everything else that I hadn't realised I would have to be doing! Despite making some costly mistakes initially, I have to say that my first salon gave me some of the most exciting times I have ever had!

Q. Did you ever imagine that one day you would have a chain of successful salons and a training academy?

Back then, it was difficult to imagine, but as each year went by, I felt sure that this would sooner or later be a reality. It very soon became my objective to open another salon, then another.. and another. And I am still keen to expand even further when the time is right.

Q. What are you doing to celebrate 25 years in business?

We felt naturally proud and nostalgic to be looking back at 25 years in the business - hairdressing has given me lots of opportunities and I feel that I am in a fortunate position. When a colleague embarked on a fundraising venture for Children with Leukaemia, I decided that part of our 25th anniversary celebrations could be geared to sponsoring this very worthwhile charity. We have held a series of six Charity Days in each of the six salons, whereby I do a number of clients free of charge, but asking clients to make a donation directly to the Charity. I am so appreciative of the support from my clients and staff, as we have managed to raise thousands of pounds in this way. It's been a memorable way to celebrate our 25-year journey more meaningful than just throwing a party!

Q. What is the secret behind your continuing success in an industry that is so competitive?

I try very hard not to become complacent, and am ever mindful that we need to keep abreast of the ever-changing needs of today's busy woman. We are always looking at ways to improve the client's experience and perception of the services we provide. We have to adapt to meet new needs. Its also really important for us to develop our team, ensuring that they have fun and get continual education so that they too can progress.

Q. You have won numerous awards including 3 x Winner of the British Hairdressing awards, 'Marketing Award'. How does this make you feel?

Ecstatic! It's a truly wonderful feeling to have your efforts recognised by fellow salon owners and industry experts and to win on three occasions, felt incredible! We work very hard to get our marketing strategy to work for us and in the future, we are hoping to write books and computer programs that will assist other salon owners get more from how they market their salons.

Q. Through your time in hairdressing you must have seen many changes in the industry. What changes are for the better?

I believe that hairdressing now is a more wholesome career. It has more kudos than it did 25 years ago. Nowadays, stylists can move into management, join an art team, or specialise in session work. You can have opportunities to literally travel the world. It's glamorous and fun and for the hard working and the committed, the rewards are genuinely excellent.

Q. What changes are for the worse?

From a hairdressers point of view, I don't think anything is worse. However from a business owners point of view, life is certainly tougher. Legislation, tax, rules and regulations are certainly tougher. But this is the same for business in general not just hairdressing.

Q. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own salon?

Most hairdressers who want to strike out on their own, will do so because they have become successful hairdressers. But starting a business needs a whole new set of skills. Your success at cutting hair will of course play an important role, but only one of many important roles you will need to master to have success. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can. Try and get management courses and even get experience at managing a salon for someone else. If you do good for them, then you're in a better position to do good for yourself. If it's your desire, then don't be put off. Go for it! But go for it with a wise head on your shoulders.

Q. Tell us about RAGE and TES

RAGE AND TES are software programs which have been designed specifically for salon owners. They basically give you the knowledge and financial tools to make the best business decisions about any possible salon business scenario. It took years to get the programs to the level they are at now. But now anyone can have information at their finger tips that would literally cost thousands of pounds to have prepared by business advisors, much quicker and much more accurately too. Rage for example can show you exactly how much profit a salon could make in relation to rent being paid and numbers of stylists employed. It can show you how much you can afford to allocate for wages. It can show you the impact of changing your professional stock percentage. The very best thing is that it is so simple to use. It is specific to the hair salon business. We have actually been asked on many occasions to create solutions for other industries, but that doesn't appeal to me. I love hairdressing and really want to concentrate on our own industry. We also have a new program STOCKIT coming out later this year. All our programs are ideal for anyone who is thinking of either opening a new salon, or expanding their existing operation. RAGE AND TES and stockit will be invaluable tools for any entrepreneurial hairdresser with ambition.

Q. What is your proudest achievement to-date?

Apart from that unforgettable feeling I had when my daughter was born, I have to admit to feeling a tremendous amount of pride when I opened our Training Academy in 2000. I remember watching the new trainees at work during the first few weeks; it was very rewarding to see them beginning their new career.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?

I am hoping that I will have a number of new salons up and running headed up by some enthusiastic managers / partners and supported by a new breed of sean-hanna trained stylists. RAGE will be more developed with a whole host of innovations which will genuinely assist the hairdressing industry to continue to grow. Am also hoping that by then, my golf will have improved somewhat.

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