Having a point of difference is fundamental to the success of any salon venture – and eight-strong salon group Burlingtons has this well and truly covered.
Apart from offering all the usual hairdressing services, every salon in the group also incorporates a makeover service and houses a photographic studio. And, just to complete the package, owners Clive and Kelly Colman also own their own make-up range – New CID Cosmetics.
The first Burlingtons salon opened in London’s West End in 1983, and Clive admits it was a phenomenal challenge. Along with two business partners, also ex-Sassoon, he began to build an empire, with salons across London. In the late 1990s, Clive, for personal and financial reasons, decided to pare back the business to just one salon in Cavendish Square, just off Oxford Street – still the location of one of its flagship salons.
Kelly was the driving force behind the creation for New ID Studios – a complementary business to the salon, offering makeovers followed by a photo session with a professional photographer in a purpose-built studio. Last year alone, more than 60,000 people took advantage of the service. Kelly also initiated the launch of New CID Cosmetics.
The range was launched in 2006, initially withjust five products, but with continual development it has grown to 50 items. And, its success has extended way beyond the Burlingtons empire, with demand for the products now worldwide.
But while such initiatives are a massive part of what make Burlingtons successful, it is the employees that are its real strength. “Looking after the team is paramount,” says Clive. “For example, we just spent two days with all our managers, talking to them about all areas of their businesses and finding out what motivates them. We are always listening to and training our staff. Around 70% of our managers have been trained within Burlingtons, growing with the company – but we are always open to taking on new people.”
Clive and Kelly’s top tips for opening a salon
- Learn the basics before you do anything else. Understand profit and loss from the outset. You have to be able to work out exactly what your budget is.
- Surround yourself with fantastic people with great attitude. Don’t be afraid to employ people that know more than you – they are not a threat – they will help your business prosper and you can learn from them as much as they can learn from you.
- Don’t let age be an issue when employing team members – it’s about talent and attitude, not years.
- Always maintain a work/life balance. Have interests outside of hairdressing. This will keep you emotionally healthy and make you more effective when you are at work.