Expert Advice: More efficient ways of growing your business

There are lots of ways to expand your business by utilising space and time far more efficiently, says Marie-Louise Coster.

We all have dreams and aspirations. They will be different for all of us, but for many it will be opening their own salon and perhaps even expanding upon that salon and owning several. But does expansion always have to mean owning multiples sites?

I suppose the question we have to ask ourselves is what are we in business for - what is our why? Are you in business to build a brand, employ a large workforce and have a chain of salons? Are you in business to build a successful business, manage a small team and earn a good salary?  Or are you wanting to just work alone, on your own terms and have the freedom of being self employed?

Only you know your why, and no one's why is right or wrong, it is personal to you. 

My why has always been to earn a comfortable salary to enable me and my family to enjoy and experience life. I don't want stress and hassle, I don't necessarily want big houses and flash cars, I want life experiences - travel, theatre, concerts, events. I want my daughter to be able to experience life, have a good education and be able to follow her dreams and passions with extra curricular activities. So expansion for me is more money, but less hassle. Since COVID I have also made the conscious decision to work less hours but to maximise upon those hours in the times I work and the services I offer. I used to work 70 hour weeks, now I work about 40 hours a week and I earn more money than I ever have because I have shifted my business to focus on the high end services I offer.

Your 'why' may be a chain of salons because that is how you imagine earning lots of extra revenue. I am not suggesting that having a chain of salons is the wrong thing to do; it will bring enormous stress and expense, more overheads, more staff (often the cause of the biggest stress for any business owner), more to manage generally, more at stake...more to lose, perhaps less of an equal work/life balance with lots to juggle with business, family, friends and doing things for yourself, a very key factor that many people overlook. Taking some time out for yourself is not selfish, it is essential.  You are no good to yourself, your family or your business; if you are tired, run ragged and not firing on all cylinders.

But would the extra salons bring a big enough increase in profit to make all of the stress worthwhile?

I suppose it depends on how many salons you have. If you have six 6 or more that are run successfully, then yes the revenue on that may be worth the stress but you can't just go from one to six overnight and you need to have a lot of money (or owe a lot of money) behind you and with the cost of living going up, and us being a luxury industry, do you want the added stress right now.

If you are in business to earn a living and enjoy life how can you earn more money without opening multiple sites?

There are many ways to expand your current business to grow the business and earn more money that don't involve taking on other salons, and these are things that can be done whether you are mobile, home based, renting a room or have your own high street premises.

The first thing you can do is look at your opening hours.

What hours are you open and can they be expanded upon. Extending hours is easier if there are several of you to take their share, but look at your current hours. I am always astounded by how many people are closed on certain days, only work as late as 6pm and don't open on a Saturday afternoon.

Look at your opening hours. What hours are you open and can they be expanded upon?

I open until 10pm - usually later - on the days I work and I can earn as much money in the last four hours of the day as I do in in the nine hours leading up to it. Those four extra hours are four extra body massages, four extra facials and all of the retail opportunities that that brings with it.

It is not at all unusual for me to take in excess the equivalent of €1,000 a day, but that wouldn't happen if I didn't work long days and accommodate the working client who has the income to spend.

Retired clients, who can come in during the day, are all well and good, but they are tightening their belts with the rising living costs and the lack of interest on their savings. Whilst they may have once been a great spender they are now being far more careful with their spending. You need to attract and accommodate the high spending audience and they often want out of hours and flexibility.

So look at your opening hours, you open at 9am - how busy are you for the first hour of the day? Could you open at 10am and remain open until 7pm? If you don't want to work longer you could just make your working time more effective. Can you stagger staff shifts and extend the opening hours from 9am to 8pm; some staff start at 9am and do until 6pm, others start at 11am and work until 8pm. Do it on a rotation system so as it is always fair. Some staff may prefer to start later to allow them to get their own stuff done.

Do a bit of market research with your clients and see what hours they would like you to be open. Ask on your social media outlets; you may have a lot of followers on your various pages that are interested in you but have never visited you, and this may be because they can't come in during the hours you are open.

Let's say you are currently open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm, you are open 41 hours a week. If you opened until 8pm two nights of the week and until 5pm on a Saturday, you would increase your hours by seven hours a week.; those seven manicures would increase your turnover by €210 a week, seven full body massages would increase your revenue by €490, seven facials would increase your revenue by €560 plus, depending on what type of facial the client is having this could be in excess of €700. 

Then we have the retail opportunities of these extra clients and of course.  Also, if you have more than one member of staff you can multiply any of those totals by the number of staff. If this works well you may decide to open extra evenings, or even on a Monday, for example. If you work for yourself this is a significant increase on your revenue, just for working a couple of extra hours a week.

Can you introduce more staff? Do you have a treatment room that isn't being utilised? Could you employ more staff to utilise the room or could you rent it out to someone else and have an extra income from this, as well as offering yet another service to your clients? There are lots of ways to expand by utilising space and time far more efficiently.

Retail is always a big way that you can increase the revenue within your business. The difference can be dramatic but doesn't involve working any extra hours at all.

Retailing is a confidence thing but spend time with your staff, or with yourself doing some workshops; there are many free ones on line, and build the retail side of your business. Don't fear retailing, consider it just another conversation with your client. They have come to you for a solution, make part of that solution homecare products.

Another way of expanding may be to introduce new treatments. Obviously this will incur an initial outlay, but are there services you don't offer that clients have asked for? Are there high ticket price treatments you could introduce? It may be that you specialised in brows, adding something like facials to that, which command a high price, is a natural progression and could be something worth exploring.

For me, in the current financial uncertainty, I would develop and expand my business in all the ways I can in its current form to earn more money, so as when life is a little more certain and less expensive, I will have the funds, the audience and the opportunity to expand my business with further sites if that is what I still wanted to do. There is a lot to be said for the freedom that well balanced finances bring you, because life is first and foremost about living.

Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Trainer and Business Consultant, with over 20 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Beauty & Holistic Training School is AIT-accredited.