Brooks & Brooks: 20 Things They’ve Learnt in the Past 20 Years
The prestigious Brooks & Brooks salon are celebrating 20 years in business, opening their award-winning salon in Holborn in 2001. To mark the milestone, HJ spoke to owners Sally and Jamie Brooks and asked them to name 20 important lessons learnt over those two eventful decades.
“There’s been many changes in the past 20 year. Early noughties was the time of the rock star hairdresser, whereas the last 10 years has seen the exponential rise of digital and social media. Who knows what the next 20 years will bring!”
- You have to take risks! If we had been afraid to take a risk, we’d never have opened Brooks & Brooks. Every major decision involves an element of risk, as long as you have done your research and have the right people and procedures in place, take a leap.
- You need a great business partner. Going into business with the right person is vital. We have skills that complement each other and work brilliantly as a team. We have distinctly different roles within the business. Most successful salon brands will have someone who is more the creative force and someone who is more business-minded — this is a great combination, although it’s one that will often involve compromise.
- Never chase money. Was Bill Gates worrying about money when he was a computer nerd trying to code all computers in the world to be used by anyone? Or was Elon Musk interested in how much Tesla was worth when he revolutionised the world of motoring with high performance electric cars? Money is what comes from something that is good and used by a wide variety of people and delivered by people who are passionate about it.
- Don’t be afraid to let team members become better at something than you. You don’t have to be the best at everything in your business. Team members are not your competition.
- Aim high and think big. When we opened the salon, the aim was to be known and respected throughout the hair world. Whether we achieved this was not important; part of it was that we wanted to be at the top. Don’t accept mediocrity as a viable option. Always set goals and work towards them. Positive attitude has a lot do with being successful; never accept ‘good enough’, always strive to be the best you can possibly be. When you meet someone and they ask what you do, do you reply, ‘I’m just a hairdresser?’ The answer should be ‘I have a salon where I employ five amazing people who do hair for everything from colour and cutting, to our new project of working with people who have lost their hair through illness’. Never think ‘I’m just’, it’s always ‘I am!’
- Build your business correctly. Everyone in the right seats and all going to the same destination. This is all about team building and balance within your company
- Encourage team members to share. We’ve learnt to invest a lot in our team in terms of opportunities and education, and we ask them to give back. For example, if our art team have taken part in a show, we will ask them to present to the rest of the team, sharing the creative process and offering inspiration for others to use in their own career.
- Turn clients into fans. Fans support you even when you are having challenging times. For example, fans of Raunds town football club don’t expect to win the champions league, but they turn up and are passionate about their team on a cold, rainy day in January!
- Honesty is crucial. You have to be honest with your business partner. There will be disagreements and compromises will often be essential, but both parties need to speak up and have their say.
- Don’t panic! There will be tough times — something we have all discovered recently. But if you have invested in your business and your people, it will be okay. Take a long-term view, rather than panicking about getting through the next few weeks.
- Be flexible. You can’t always keep on a rigid course, especially if outside forces are acting against you. Be prepared to change, even if it’s just in the short-term. Always have several alternative plans in place.
- Creativity and business can work together. Creative projects can play a major role in promoting a salon business so creativity should definitely be encouraged, as we do with our art team and photographic collections. However, remember there is a cost attached, so that concept of compromise may well crop up.
- Step back, analyse and be prepared to take criticism. Positive criticism and competitiveness is a good thing.
- Reward hard work. Whether it’s a monetary bonus, the chance to experience additional education, or time off, make sure high achievers are rewarded for their efforts in a way that will appeal to them.
- Think out of the box. Don’t just base decision on what others in the industry are doing. We’ve learnt to create our own path and look outside of hairdressing for inspiration.
- Don’t take it personally if people move on. However great you are as a leader, sometimes people will want to move on and maybe start their own business. Don’t take it to heart, they are just ambitious like you. Take it as a complement that you have helped create this confidence in them.
- Remember the client is king. Whatever your business might be going through, never let standards slip. Always ensure every client has the best possible experience. Your problems are not their problems.
- Every team member is a brand ambassador. From the most junior member of staff to the most senior, everyone who works for your business needs to represent it in the way they look, and the way talk to clients and each other.
- Not everyone wants to be a star! While it’s important to encourage creativity and let those that want to shine on stages and in the photographic studio shine, remember, not everyone wants this. Some people are content working in the salon making people feel fabulous. These team members are just as valuable to your business as the creative stars. Nurture them.
- Share your successes with the team. A business is only as strong as its team and it’s important to remember that when you celebrate its successes. Make sure the team know they are doing a great job and involve them in any celebratory activity.