Hairdressing Business Startup Case Study: Hair Republic

The blackboard on the street outside the first Hair Republic salon reads, "Wrinkles are merely a sign of one's smile". It's the thought for the week. And the sentiment that perfectly sums up the positive philosophy Mike and Anna Circelli bring to their new hairdressing business in south west London.

Hair Republic promotes itself as a new style of hair studio. There is a strong emphasis on the provision of excellent customer service and unusual marketing to create a comfortable, smart environment that is fun and fresh for staff and customers alike.

Tea, coffee, fruit smoothies and free consultations are on offer. Umbrellas with the salon's logo can are supplied for a rainy walk home and can be returned at the customer's leisure.

Mike and Anna's skills complement each other well within the business. Mike is the marketing force and Anna, who has been in the hairdressing trade for most of her life, styles and manages the salon.

Mike is strong on thinking up unusual ideas when it comes to marketing. Traditional methods such as newspaper advertising and a leaflet drop failed to produce worthwhile results. A leaflet distribution of 13,000 yielded only 60 new customers.

So current promotional ploys include hiring a rickshaw to collect and drop off customers, sending out 4,000 logo fridge magnets and parading in a "wacky hairdryer suit" along the local high street. As Mike says, "If it's not outrageous, we don't do it".

Regular brainstorming sessions are held with marketing students at the local university, a scheme which Mike says is of mutual benefit. The students get a commission-based financial reward and in return his marketing ideas are kept young and fresh.

The couple has put in around 60 hours each per week since opening their business five months ago. They say the long hours are rewarded by being able to work for themselves and, as Anna says of her hairstyling, "feeling good about helping someone feel good about themselves".

The new business has been meant a large capital outlay. The Circellis invested their own savings and have also borrowed from family members and the bank. Advice from their local business centre and bank has proved invaluable.

Mike's own advice to those starting up their own business outlet is to choose a location with reasonable rent and high foot traffic. He also suggests utilising nearby offices and organisations as a source of potential customers. For instance, he has arranged a promotion at a local gym. Its' 4000 members have been offered a 10% discount at the salon. This alone is attracting 20 new customers a week.

A customer database is being developed as a direct marketing tool for the future. In its first six weeks, the database is already 500-strong. Details will be used for future promotions and sending out birthday cards.

The internal company motto at Hair Republic is to, "Keep People in Heaven". As a recent customer leaned back and enjoyed the complimentary shiatsu scalp massage while having her hair washed, she said, "I feel like I'm in heaven". And Mike Circelli beamed to himself, knowing his business was right on track.

 

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