View from the top
Hot off the heels of a hugely successful run at 2012 Hair Expo we thought it the perfcect time to sit down for a chat with man of the moment, Paul Serville, having just taken out the gold for Business Performance, Excellence in Marketing and Education Organisation of the Year for the third year running. We picked Paul’s generously endowed business brains for some tips and tricks that he picked up along the way which helped establish his business one of the industry’s leading brands.
How does it feel having taken out three awards at Hair Expo?
It feels very special, what I love about it is that it acknowledges us for our business initiatives and the innovative work we’re doing in that area. It’s really special for us as a business and we’re really proud of what we’ve created. Going to Sydney with three finalists was fantastic, but then winning all three awards was just amazing.
What are the most important things you’ve learnt as a business owner?
1) When I started my first business, I was in a great position of not knowing… I was naive about the intricacies of the business. I wasn’t keen to know the numbers, it was something I avoided. I knew it was stuff that had to be done but my passion was in the creative and my focus was on doing great work, creating a stunning environment and building a great team. One of the key things I’ve learnt is not only the importance but also the enjoyment I can get from understanding the business.
2) Complacency is our enemy. We’ve been very successful as a hairdressing business, both creatively and financially. There’s a danger that we could get comfortable with our success but I’m constantly looking for new initiatives that align with our vision, that’s my role.
3) Another thing is the importance of continuing to work and grow our brand. Right from the start this was something that was really important to me. When I opened the first Servilles I had all our team wearing shirts and ties, which was definitely not the thing back then. We had valet parking, barista-style coffees before it became fashionable... all of these things made us stand out and we developed our reputation and brand from that. Over recent years we’ve constantly looked to evolve the brand, you need to stay relevant to not only your current target, but your future target as well.
4) Finally, give yourself permission to make mistakes. Not everything works out perfectly and there are times when you have to put something at risk and just go for it. Sometimes it will work out and other times it won’t. If it doesn’t I ask what I’ve learnt and what can I do differently next time. Whatever happens I don’t get stopped.
What are some of the challenges you faced balancing creativity with business?
I still have a passion for the creative side but I guess one of the things I’ve realised is that I can bring my creative strengths to the business side. As I’ve done this more and more, I’ve grown to realise the enjoyment and satisfaction that I get from the business side. I know there are some things I’m not so good at so I’ve built a great team around me and have learnt to provide direction and then get out of their way.
How is the Salon Business Programme different from other coaching and training programs out there?
The obvious difference is that we’re a hairdressing business ourselves, we have five salons out there doing what we teach and we know it works. We know the frustrations salon owners are facing and we address these in a practical way so they can implement it in their business. In the programme we share our learning over the years with the participants, not that we have all the answers but we do have an answer. We have good systems and knowledge and we are keen to share these with participants.
What are some future trends for the Hairdressing Industry from a business perspective?
I believe there’s going to be a continuing growth in the quality of information available. Salon Models will change. We’re already seeing some of this with Colour Bars, collectives, and a consolidation of hair salons. There will be more business people entering the hairdressing industry as they look to develop new ways of structuring products and services. The challenge for Salon Owners is going to be thinking entrepreneurially... what can they do to create a point of difference that they can own and build their reputation and brand around?
What are the biggest business problem facing Salon Owners?
The biggest business problem facing them is that ability to work on their business rather than in their business, which I personally believe it’s a mindset thing. In the 43 years I’ve been in the hair industry, I’ve seen many Salon Owners who were great hairdressers and were able to get some great people around them but still haven’t been able to build a business that can be sold for top dollar. I find it a bit sad that these people have put so much of themselves - their time, their effort, their passion - and are coming out of it with little reward other than the money they’ve been able to take out along the way. I was the same and it wasn’t until I was able to see the business as separate from myself, an entity in itself, that I really got to see the opportunity. My belief is that they need to see themselves first as a business owner, an entrepreneur and a manager rather than the hairdresser they have been for all these years.
To find out more about the Servilles Salon Business Programme, click here.