Brian MacMillan from F&M Hairdressing reports and advises on the often-tricky decision of changing product companies for in-salon professional and retailing purposes.
“The last 20 months have been interesting to say the least for our industry, with businesses owners experiencing the most stressful time, no financial income at all and of course a lot of down time, which we simply do not experience often due to the continuous pace of our job roles.,” explains Brian MacMillan from F&M Hairdressing. “However, throughout lockdown and the pandemic as a whole, we had unexpected time to analyse the business as a whole. This was teamed with unexpected news, which allowed us to readjust, relook and review many different aspects within our F&M Hairdressing salon. It was during this time that we faced a major decision, resulting in us unexpectedly changing product companies.
“For us this was major and the research was very much on. Following us finding a new product company, the process was something different, an experience not many encounter and below, I’d like to share with you the processes I encountered on our journey to finding a new brand to work with.
Changing Product Companies: Research, Research, Research
“The first rule of any big decision is to simply do your research. Never rush big decisions and take your time to read up on everything you can, speak with other business/salon owners who may have faced similar situations and find out every detail about the potential brand(s), it’s products and what they can offer. For us personally, we read a lot about the heritage of the brand and the products they offered, as we wanted to ensure that these would work well for our team and clients, as after all they are the most important people!
Consult with Your Team and Clients Too
Once you have made the decision to change, consult with your team. It’s important to remember that every individual will feel the effect of any change within the salon, albeit big or small, therefore briefing them and allowing them to join you on this process is very important, and very good for team bonding and motivation too. The team are the ones who will be using the products day in and day out therefore it’s important for them to join you on this journey, as their input is extremely vital. Our team played a huge part in this process from day one and were a huge part of our decision making process.
When it comes to clients, it’s important to keep them informed, but not too early, as you don’t want to scare them! We communicated the change to our clients once we had made our decision. We explained what the changes were, why they were happening and how these would affect them. In our case it was a very smooth transition and our clients have fully embraced the new brand which is great. Communication is key in this process.
Be Honest and Open When Seeking a New Partnership
When seeking a new partnership, it’s so important to be open, honest and professional from the get go, all whilst being yourself. We are very loyal to brands when working with them; we also stock a lot of unique, local products, therefore it was vital that the new partnership allowed us to carry this on as we love the suppliers we currently work with.
As well as this, we were very open about our future vision for the salon and our team, what we wanted to achieve both in the industry and on a local level as well as our projected figures, and year on year information. Our relationships with our brands is based on these three factors mentioned above and we believe these are key to a great working relationship.
Try Before You Buy!
Simple, but something many people brush aside – try the products before you consider, sign or go any further with a product company. This is a huge decision for your business, and although it all may sounds fantastic on paper, the products simply may not meet your expectations.
We spoke with a few brands and tried and tested many different products with our team. We had a test run with colour, styling and care ranges, assessing each and receiving feedback from all involved. It was so important for us to test the products and witness just how well they work with colour, hair textures and hair that needs extra care. Never, ever rush this process and always give feedback honestly. Product houses have so many different options, so it’s important to try everything you can until you find something that works for you, your team and your clients.
Triple Check the Figures
It may sound like a simple thing to do when making such a big decision, but triple checking the figures and the information presented to you is vital. At first it may be all exciting and promising but triple checking everything and the small print is vital. Give yourself time to read thoroughly, read again and then read one final time.
If there is something you are not so sure about, don’t be afraid to ask. Afterall, this is a major business decision and you want to ensure you are happy with everything agreed before you sign on the dotted line.