The hair & beauty business of the future

Hair and beauty establishments are extremely important in our society. Whether it's a hairdressers, barbershop or a nail salon, you most likely can't go too long without visiting them. For some, these visits can be as a frequent as a weekly occurrence!

From a financial perspective as well, the hair and beauty industry as a whole has increased in worth to £17 billion in the UK. We are spending more on beauty treatments and we are visiting more frequently. Furthermore, in this heightened social media age, looking our best as often as possible is more important than ever before! So why is it that hair and beauty businesses tend to be behind the curve when it comes to technology? Well most of those reasons can be boiled down to 2 main factors.

Resources:

A lot of hair and beauty establishments are small business with limited capital. By the time the big bills have been paid (i.e.... rent for the establishment's building, wages for staff, stock used for day-to-day business etc...) committing money to improving or adding a technology infrastructure is either not affordable or is simply unaffordable.

According to the National Hairdressers Federation, over half of hair and beauty establishments have annual turnovers below £99k. By the time costs such as the building lease, equipment, electric and wages of staff have been accounted for, there may not be much left over to invest in technological enhancements.

Culture:

Culture is powerful. It informs every aspect of our daily interactions and our experiences in a variety of environments. The hair and beauty space is no exception. A lot of smaller hair and beauty establishments have been accustomed to a very 'ad-hoc' way of operating. Now, this is not always a bad thing; for example, opening up super late to fit in your loyal customers fosters strong bonds between customers and unwavering loyalty. Bespoke service also helps set your business apart from the next barbershop or salon on the high street! However, this high level of 'flexibility' often results in these establishments been ran as friendship groups as opposed to a business.

Offering a bespoke flexible service only works well if that is something that is offered to every customer. What tends to happen is that customers visiting a particular beauty salon or  barbershop will receive differing levels of service. Maybe one customer is a local celebrity, so you spend a lot of time on their hair, whereas the next 'normal' customer receives sub-par attention on their hair. Or sometimes, a customer is simply a friend, so said barber or stylist allows them to cut in front of the queue.

An ad-hoc way of operating often results in poor timekeeping from staff and inconsistent quality of service. It also sets the tone of customer behaviour. For instance, if a regular at a barbershop knows that coming on time 'doesn't really matter', they will turn up late for appointments knowing they will be seen as a priority anyway.

For customers that have to wait for long periods of time, they just accept that this is just how things are and there you have the environment for that particular barbershop or salon. Similarly, when customers go to get their hair done and the end product isn't quite what they wanted, some barbers and stylists can be defensive instead of listing to the customer's complaints.

We ran a poll on Twitter, which found that around 36% of 500 customers waited between 2-4 hours to get their done. 54% of the customers polled stated 'long waiting times' was the most frustrating part of getting their hair done, with 32% stating 'inconsistency of quality' was the most frustrating aspect of their customer experience. 

A lot of smaller hair and beauty businesses are not ran like businesses at all, which means that the idea of implementing tech to address these frustrations is almost inconceivable. For example, an automated booking and queueing system would solve waiting time issues almost overnight! Implementing such tech infrastructure would mean ending an ad-hoc way of running an establishment. It would mean being held accountable for time-keeping and the quality of service offered to customers and for some barbers, stylists and hairdressers, they would rather carry on working in a manner that they are used to do.

The Future:

Tech is already an integral part of the modern world. Services across many sectors are becoming faster, safer, more efficient. Unfortunately, due to a number of the factors mentioned earlier on in this article, many hair and beauty establishments have been slow on the uptake of tech in their day-to-day running; especially, smaller establishments.

Bigger barbershops and beauty salons tend to have quite sophisticated booking and inventory systems in place, greatly enhancing customer experience. Smaller establishments however, may not have the capital and/or knowledge to invest in such tech infrastructure for their business. This is where platforms like Genus come into play.

By offering an automated booking and management platform, Genus offers simple and affordable mobile solutions that are suited to both small and big hair and beauty establishments. The beauty of such technological innovation is that some of the barriers to entry for smaller businesses such as cost, business acumen and IT knowledge are eliminated. The future of hair and beauty is a bright one where our favourite barbershops, hairdressers and beauty salons will be able to enhance customer experience tech and also take their businesses to new levels of prosperity.