My Life As A Hairstylist

Salon owner, hairstylist, educator, product maker, photographer

And Another One Gone…

1 Comment

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Yesterday I was contacted by students from another Vancouver hair school, a 25 year business which also operates as a salon. That business has suddenly closed, leaving their students’ without a way to complete their program. Apparently the students received the message via text yesterday. A few days ago, this company was posting how they are looking forward to 2020. Things are rarely what they seem.

I completely understand how difficult the salon business is and how challenging the school business has become in the last few years, especially since there are 2 schools in my city that are very hard to compete with. Kudos to them. And when Aveda and Evelyn Charles can’t make it work in your city, you know things are tough.

Closing a business is one of the hardest decisions to make and usually we owners hang on until there are no other options, which is always too late.

I led a seminar last spring at the Toronto ABA called When To Call it Quits. It was likely the first ever seminar of this kind, and in it I outline the signs to look for before its too late, how to get out with minimum exposure, who to pay and who to let sue you. That kind of thing.

The salon business is incredibly hard. For every brand that has managed to maintain their size and actually grow over the years, there are 1000 that cannot survive the first 3 years.

I worked like a maniac the first decade, and we made good money between years 7 and 18 of salon ownership, and lost almost everything in the 19th year. I wish I could take back 2 bad decisions I made, and there are a few things over the years I’d change if I could. We are in recovery mode today and I think 2020 will be a positive year. I think we have a wonderful team and we’ve gone back to basics in a lot of ways. I just don’t have the same energy at 50 that I did at 30.

Our business, like the restaurant business, is cyclical. If you’re up, unless you are very careful, you will go down eventually. Think back to all the top restaurants 20 years ago. Think about the top salons 20 years ago. I’m not naming names but almost all will have either shrunk, have aged poorly, or don’t exist.

What’s my point?

Build your business with a strong foundation. If “success” happens quickly, you will probably be in real trouble if you don’t take advantage of it and build something lasting that doesn’t rely solely on talented people.

Lastly, don’t get arrogant when you’re up, and understand there is no shame in the struggles you may be facing.

The question is, what are you doing about it?

One thought on “And Another One Gone…

  1. Michael, this is a great article, and more over,something that needed to be addressed. I had it happen to me, and quite frankly it led me down a path of depression that took me years to recover from. Fortunately for me, “recovery” was the fact that I had a reputation in my area as being one of the best, thus the move to become “employee” again for someone else was relatively smooth, but the fact of the matter is that you never get over it…….In today’s business environment, ANYTHING is possible…..we see it happening all the time, and as you alluded to, when we pick up the newspaper or hear the financial news on CNN or Fox we are usually stunned to hear that “so and so”, be it a restaurant chain or whatever, is declaring Chapter 7 or Chapter 11. As I’m sure you are aware, last year,one of the biggest names in our business (take a guess, I know you will know who I mean) closed down his flagship NYC salon…….I was stunned to hear it, given the fact that he was / still is one of the highest paid platform artists in our business as well as one of the highest paid per haircut…….but…..that being said, it does not guarantee that God given individual talent and a superb staff can in turn guarantee longevity…..there are simply too many over riding factors to figure in, especially in a high end metropolitan environment…… any one of which can sink you if you are not careful.

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