Like many I have been saddened by the death of Vidal Sassoon this week. Vidal Sassoon transformed hairstyling and with it the hairdressing business, I think there are a number of business lessons we can draw from him.
When Vidal Sassoon started out in the sixties it was normal for women to have their weekly shampoo and set at the hairdressers with the finished result being achieved with lots of backcombing and lacquer. It was like wearing a birds nest! Vidal took a radically different approach which depended upon the excellence of the cut and the rest is history. So what are the lessons we can learn from him?
- Dare to be different. Too many people set up ‘copycat’ businesses which makes it near impossible to identify and communicate a USP (unique selling proposition) or point of difference. Why would people come to you if you are no different from the established business? The difference then usually becomes price which means you are working harder for less return. Vidal Sassoon looked at his industry and thought there was a better way. He freed women from the weekly visit to the hairdresser and in doing so reflected the mood of the times where women were beginning to spread their wings and seek new freedoms. How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
- Create a buzz. Back in the sixties Vidal Sassoon was very high profile with lots of media coverage and celebrity endorsement. That positioned a ‘Sassoon cut’ as the ‘must have’ hairstyle. These days we don’t have to rely on press coverage to create a buzz as we can create one for ourselves on social media. Is there a buzz around your business or are you keeping too low a profile?
- Develop your brand. Vidal Sassoon grew his business through a chain of salons which stretched far beyond the shores of Britain. He wrote books to build his name and developed a range of hair care products to maximise the returns on his brand by generating other income streams. What additional income streams would fit with your brand?
- Adapt with the times. Vidal Sassoon shook up the hairdressing sector and many businesses struggled to adapt. Suddenly their business models no longer worked. Women ceased coming in for their weekly shampoo and set and regular perms and instead demanded sharp cuts that they could maintain at home. Out went the hooded hairdriers and in came the handheld blow driers. Are you adapting to changes in your market for instance the move online or developments in technology?
- Keep your skills up to date. Training was a big part of the Vidal Sassoon business. Hairdressers had to learn a new way of doing things to keep up. When Vidal Sassoon was building his business computers were in their infancy and the Internet was light years away. Now hairdressers are reminding clients of their appointments by text message or email, they are using computers for customer records and managing accounts online. All demanding a new set of skills. Change is inevitable and inexorable, the only way to keep up is to embrace lifelong learning. What new skills have you learned recently? How do you ensure your knowledge is kept up to date?
Who has inspired you in business? What lessons have you drawn from Vidal Sassoon? Why not share your views here?