Business Wisdom

HAIRY POTTER OF SALON BUSINESS – VIKRAM BHATT (CO-FOUNDER OF ENRICH SALONS)

How did you venture into the #salonbusiness? Was it a planned move, or were you an #entrepreneur by accident?

It started with one of our friends approaching us (myself and a friend of mine, Rohit) with an idea of opening a salon. Back then, both of us were about as far from the beauty space as you could imagine. However, as a gesture of support to our friend, we decided to take the plunge and venture into this industry in 1997. Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength.

The first outlet was in Mulund, and it was a 300 sq.ft salon, and we now stand at 86 salons (as of November 2019).

Describe your journey so far at Enrich (then and now).

There were many challenges, and our solutions to these challenges gave us the tools to differentiate ourselves and grow in the right manner.

Here’s a list of pioneering initiatives or ones where we innovated on an existing strategy.

  • #LoyaltyProgram: We were the first to start this (in 1997 and day one) in our industry and we continue to innovate and better it time and again.
  • Enrich Passport: A passport-lookalike to document a technician’s resume and achievements that become a registry of the industry eventually.
  • Reach Enrich: An in-house virtual front desk with trained agents for inbound appointments and inquiries & outbound calling for sales.
  • Customer Experience Audit & Competition Experience Audit: To measure and manage a consistently high service experience, the results of which are factored in the team’s remuneration. To this, we also added a similar audit for the competition so there’s a second benchmark.
  • Quality Audit: Surprise audits carried out multiple times a month across the chain on processes, systems, hygiene & quality – results of this too are factored into the remuneration of the staff.
  • Mono dose packaging: Another first in the industry, helps deliver services on SOP, cuts excess raw material usage and helps to account.
  • Planet Enrich: This is our expression of the strength of the collective. It has over half a dozen initiatives for our team members. Here is a couple of them:
    • EAP: #EmployeeAssistanceProgram – Professional counseling service delivered in complete confidence on phone/chat/email and in-person by a third party.
    • Emergency Medical Assistance – Need-based fund two-third of which comes from employee contributions and the third from the company. Gets an individual in touch with her/his good side and build team spirit.
    • Stay Interviews – Focusing also on the reasons why people stay in the company (while most do only Exit Interviews)

We had been steadily adding salons since our inception in 1997 to 2012 at an average of about a salon a year. Our first round of funding helped push our growth to a greater height – in the next two years (2013), we reached a total of 50 salons. Coupled with that, we worked a lot on efficiency and cost management – two focus points that have helped us be ready for our next spurt of growth. Thanks to our second round of funding, our aim is now to reach 200 salons by 2022.

How has the technology of today impacted the salon business?

Our industry is very reliant on the personal touch. There is limited scope for technology to understand what exactly the client is looking for, perform a sensitive consultation, and then the service because there is so much of the human touch required when doing beauty and grooming services. However, we believe that technology is absolutely required in all aspects of our business because it is an invaluable enabler. Here are some of the ways in which we have deployed technology:

  1. The most significant deployment of technology has been our POS/MIS system. This makes it easy to follow systems and processes, and enables a much more consistent customer experience, apart from the benefits mentioned earlier.
  2. We use #PowerBI for analytics and business intelligence.
  3. We are early adopters in the use of an app to make bookings, check our repertoire, accessing customer profiles, and more.
  4. We use an #eHRMS, through which we track employee attendance, preserve documentation, enable access to tax forms and payslips, perform our annual appraisal exercise, and do biometric logins.
  5. We also have apps for our technicians and managers through which they can check their appointments for the day, target sales, etc.

What will be your advice to someone who wants to venture into the salon business?

The focus should always be on sustainable and profitable growth. We see a lot of companies burning investments, flying high, soon after which we stop hearing of them. Growth should be on sound financial and operational principles, rather than purely on cash burn.

What are the needs of being a salon professional?

It is important to always keep in mind that in the salon business, the service provider and customer are in each other’s personal space, much more so than in any other service vertical. Due to this, it is imperative to be as professional and mindful as possible about your words and actions while you are with the client. Often, there are customers who prefer getting their services done by a particular technician, due to them forming a strong bond over time with them. Hence, managing the customer experience and #CustomerRelationship in a positive manner is paramount.

What is the difference between a professional career in finance, and running your own business?

As a finance professional, numbers hold great interest and excitement. However, as an entrepreneur, there are opportunities to grow and optimize in each and every aspect of the business, all of which keep you engaged and excited.

What is your philosophy of life?

Every individual is a sum total of their combined exposure in life and the choices made at every juncture. I see myself as a work in progress, keep walking and evolving every day. 

Here’s a list of abilities & skills that I have learned along the journey:

  • To be fair and just. To both others and myself
  • To trust people intrinsically, deal with day to day issues as transactions and refrain from carrying any baggage
  • To be responsive
  • To bet on people more than on trends
  • To be adaptable. In fast-changing times, rewarding velocity rather than delivery

Who has been your source of inspiration and what pushes you every day to work?

I have been fortunate enough to always have been surrounded by good people. Be it seniors, colleagues, business associates, and other partners, they inspire me to  #keepwalking

#startupindia #fashionmodels #fashion #beautiful #cute #friends

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About Ramdas Shenoyy

Ramdas Shenoyy is a senior marketing and communications professional with over two decades of working across industries and domains.
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