The test of time: a thriving salon that passes from generation to generation

NHF member Jane James owns Evergreen Hairdressers in Wolverhampton, which has been in her family for 85 years. Jane hung up her scissors five years ago and now channels her energy and creativity into developing her dynamic young team.

We asked her how she manages the business side of this successful, modern and evolving salon.

What are your biggest challenges today?

The first is that NVQ level 2 doesn’t make people salon ready. They can’t start building a column until level 3, which means we have to carry them for a year.

Another big issue is that our margins are constantly being squeezed. Outgoings such as salaries, utilities and supplier costs are all on the increase, but in a recession situation it is not practical to expect the clients to pay more. We haven’t increased our prices for five years.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue to grow Evergreen in the hope that my grandchildren will work here one day - my daughter Sarah is a hairdresser and works with me.

We strive to move forwards all the time and our main focus now is on training our stylists and doing more competitions. Our apprentice has just won a photographic competition for Clynol.

On a personal level, I re-trained eight years ago as a counsellor and now work with families, couples and young people. All my years in hairdressing have given me good listening skills!

What advice would you give to others looking to start their own salon?

Treat your salon as a business. I am a business woman and running the business and marketing side of our salon is a full-time job.

Do everything possible to raise your profile. Obviously word of mouth is vital, but we also use Facebook, Twitter and advertise in local papers. I update our Facebook page daily and the website whenever we have new products or offers.

Our customer loyalty cards are a very good way to encourage repeat business. Customers get awarded points for the different services they buy. After 24 points they get a £10.00 discount. We give double points as a Christmas gift to our regulars.

I also get my apprentices involved in the marketing, which is good experience for them.

I also recommend getting a good computer system. We use Shortcuts which has revolutionised our salon and brought us into the modern world.

How does NHF help you run your business?

It gives me peace of mind to know that there is someone to turn to for advice and to stay abreast of the latest trends.

At the beginning of the recession, we had to make some redundancies. The NHF legal lifeline was very helpful and ensured we did it accurately, fairly and without a hiccup. I was on the phone weekly to the lifeline during the whole process.

The NHF fact sheets are excellent and help us stay on top of the regulations. Whenever we’re assessed for school work placements, they always say that our Health and Safety procedures are the most up-to-date and comprehensive they have seen – all of it is downloaded from the NHF website!

NHF’s magazine salonfocus is also the only industry magazine that I actually read!