ONE + ONE = THREE: When Hairdressing Meets Business In A Way That Just Adds Up
Of Vivo’s 89 salons, almost a third were acquired from exhausted, overwhelmed salon owner-operators who reached out to Vivo owners Lynden Mason and James Carlisle directly, asking if they’d ‘please!’ buy their salon. After enduring years of the unseen, unglamorous side of running a salon, they were ready to move on. “Hairdressers are passionate, creative people,” says Lynden “and it's natural to want to see how far you can take your skills. Often, this can look like opening your own salon or renting a chair. This is a great achievement if you also have a natural inclination for business, but the logistics and realities of being independent are often underestimated. Staffing, GST, PAYE, ACC, stock control, salon maintenance and repairs, marketing and payroll are just some of the aspects of running your own business, whether it's a whole salon or a single chair. The business side can suck the life right out of a hairstylist’s love for hairdressing.”
Lynden and James had a plan from the outset to combat these common hurdles to a hairstylist’s success. “When we entered this industry”, explains Lynden Mason, “we knew we wanted to grow a hairdressing group with a large number of salons. In order to do this, we had to create a platform that would be attractive to a range of stylists, and this boiled down to two main objectives. Stylists should be able to earn as much as they want, while not having to take care of any of the business sides.” The plan was to allow stylists entire control over their own column, charging structure and prices, as though they were working as an independent operator, while removing all of the risks.
"Stylists should be able to earn as much as they want, while not having to take care of any of the business sides.”
This meant investing immediately into a support office, where a unified staff would be solely devoted to taking care of all of the individual salons, including centralising what would traditionally have been a receptionist role. “While receptionists have always been a staple in salons, we saw that the salary normally set aside for a receptionist should be available to go to the stylists directly in the form of commission.” Vivo has an uncapped commission rate of 40%. Having a receptionist in dozens of salons across the country would have taken this pot of money away, but having a booking system and call centre in Auckland meant it could be utilised by salons and clients nationwide, with trained staff providing the service with devoted efficiency. Actually, this was the case for every aspect of the business. “The advantage of scale means that one person can handle the workload for multiple salons. They are specialists in each of their fields, instead of one person trying to do a bit of everything. For example, our marketers just do marketing, our IT people solely focus on tech. The staff are interviewed and hired by Regional Managers, the bills are paid by our accounts department. And in turn, our hairstylists can focus on what they love to do - creating beautiful hair for their clients.”
At Vivo, we truly believe that you can have the hairdressing career of your dreams, without ever having to bother with the business costs and administration.
But unlike most large groups, Lynden and James haven’t got a set format for their salons. “We don’t dictate the way that our stylists do hairdressing. There are no set time frames or charging. We allow individual stylists to do hairdressing their way, without the concern of where their next client will come from, how to afford products, or paying the rent. It’s like a rent-a-chair situation but without the risk. Not only do all of our staff earn a generous base salary, they can earn as much as they like over and above that because we offer a totally uncapped commission rate of 40%”.
"It’s like a rent-a-chair situation but without the risk."
Vivo also has a ‘Hair you'll love or money back’ guarantee, which entirely eliminates the risk of a bad week in the salon ruining your budget. “Again, that’s the benefit of scale. We can shoulder the mistakes while providing you the platform to continue to grow as a stylist instead of being too nervous to take professional risks again.” The result has seen Vivo’s top earners across the country consistently bringing home over six figures. “At Vivo,” Lynden explains, “We truly believe that you can have the hairdressing career of your dreams, without ever having to bother with the business costs and administration. It’s a win, win for everyone involved. A one plus one equals three!”
Headway Winter 2021 / Written by Tereze Taber-Mason
Photo by Mikayla Rose (c)