Now is a time we can start planning for a successful salon future. Fuse speaks to owner of UK chain, Forresters, on the steps he's taking.

Posted in Education, Business Education, Business |

Whilst we reflect on the current climate, we have time on our hands to plan for the future, a time when we can take positive step changes for a brighter tomorrow. TIGI UK Regional Educational Specialist, Haley Seaward has been talking to salon owners in the UK and across the globe, to discover more about their businesses and how they envisage the future.

In this series of interviews Haley first talks to John Forrester, head of the highly successful Forresters 4 Hair group of salons in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, UK.

John began his career in Scotland 59 years ago and is a well known figure in the world of British hairdressing. 50 years ago John and his wife, Julie, opened their first salon in Shinfield, Reading, in South-East England, for a time living in a flat above the salon. John is still the key business driver in the Forresters 4 Hair business and with his wealth of knowledge and wisdom has great learnings to share.

As Haley says: “I am very lucky to have worked with John and his team for the last 12 years; their passion, drive, and commitment towards education and the industry is simply an inspiration.”

John Forrester, Head of Forresters 4 Hair Salon Group

HALEY: How are you investing in this time?

JOHN: I have been in business for over 50 years but this is the most challenging time I have ever experienced. Whilst we are here to fully support our clients, most important is the well-being of our staff. Our philosophy is ‘our staff are Family’ – we need to look after them – in fact all our staff have been with us since they left school. I have over 90 staff members and 20 students doing their NVQ. The personal touch is what’s important right now. The managers all have group chats to keep in contact with their staff members and ensure their morale is up. They are also all reaching out to one another for support. And I’m confident we will come out the other side. I have to think about everyone in my group. The pressure has been unbelievable in sorting things out and ensuring everybody’s safety, their wellbeing and their financial security. We also have a very successful training academy and have been able to work online with our NVQ students. They have daily tasks and the students are extremely focused on passing their assignments, which is great.

When we closed our doors we sent over 10,000 emails, followed by over 10,000 text messages to keep us connected to our customers. At the moment it’s about keeping thing going and I have told all my employees: “I can assure you, after 50 years, I will not let this group go down”

HALEY: What changes will you make to your business?

JOHN: Firstly our design team are creating emails to send to our customers, to maintain contact, and we’re definitely keeping it friendly. When all this finishes there will be apprehension at first, we will ensure all customers know the measures we have taken to deep clean our salons and create a safe environment for them. We’re keeping an eye on the stock at the moment and our managers are creating tutorials so the stock they have to use by specific usage dates can be utilised for this purpose.

One thing we are joining is NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE SUNDAY. Any member of the NHS will be able to come to the Salon and have their hair done for free on the first Sunday we’re open. This is really important to us, as we are very thankful for all our Health Service is doing.

Review what’s worked. Think about what hasn’t. And take the time to step in the right direction. Learn from your mistakes and listen.

HALEY: How are you engaging with your customers?

JOHN: Beyond the emails and text messages already sent, our salon managers are taking ‘the personal touch’ in contacting them, and keeping up engagement. The salon managers are also doing some ‘how to’ videos to share with clients. And we are, of course, planning messaging and promotions for when we reopen to show we are ‘pleased to see you again.’

HALEY: What positive message can you share for other Salons?

JOHN: Again I say: “I can assure after 50 years I will not let this group go down”

I’ve always said you should put money away for a rainy day. It’s here! As an employer you have to keep your staff reassured and being positive reflects on them. They are looking up to you right now.

This time, when you are unable to open your salons, gives you a true reflection of your businesses and how you can make it successful. Review what’s worked. Think about what hasn’t. And take the time to step in the right direction. Learn from your mistakes and listen.

HALEY: What message would you give your customers right now?

JOHN: Our clients are friends. Forresters have been in business for over 50 years and we will continue to be there for you.

Hear more from hairdressers and how they’re responding and planning for the future.

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