Christian B Toth is co-founder of Eleven Hair and a thermal hair treatment specialist
Experience has shown me that opening up a second salon does not always come from lengthy planning; the other Eleven Directors and I initially set up Eleven Hair in Mayfair in 2007 and four years later were presented with the sudden opportunity to expand.
We started out Eleven Mayfair with the aim to have our own place where we could provide our services to the highest standards with all team members specialising in something unique. One of the Eleven co-directors, Sebastian, and I were pioneering thermal re-texturising treatments, which we had been doing for over 14 years, so we wanted to hone in on our USP. We then asked Ben White to join us in this venture, as he’d been an expert in all fields of hairdressing, but in particular, his expertise in cutting curly hair and blow dries made him stand out. It was also a no brainer to get Jason Welch to be part of the team as he is an outstanding colour expert with real enviable passion for it.
So there we were in a prime location with a great team. Four years later, in July 2013, with an established clientele, we opened the Covent Garden salon. It was not planned, but we had always had the ambition to expand in the back of our minds. The opportunity to take over the same premises that I had previously co-owned came up and so we jumped for it.
Funnily enough, it was a lot easier setting up a second salon business-wise, but one of the difficult tasks we encountered was letting people know about Eleven specifically – as the premises were previously a different hair salon, we had to work hard to carve out our great reputation to avoid being associated with the former salon.
Opening up a second salon can make your business feel more like a brand and expanding gives motivation to everybody who is a part of the business. It also shows success to customers who feel more confident in the salon and can see their salon doing well and ever growing. It is certainly more work, but you get out what you put in – personally, I love challenges and it only gives me even more energy to move forward.
My advice to anyone opening a second salon up is to have a good salon etiquette system set up that works and to make sure that everybody follows it. I strongly believe that for something to work well there needs to be a strict system in place to stay organised and succeed.
Another important aspect is to make sure you don’t open your salon in a location unknown to you. You must be able to identify your potential clientele and have a thorough plan on how you can attract them. You must also have at least one or two of your most popular stylists moved to the new location with their clientele.
But most importantly, do not open a second location until your existing salon operates with full bums on seats! Focus on making the most of your first salon before getting side-tracked with plans of another.
In terms of challenges, when opening up a second salon, finding the right staff will always be the most challenging when you need more and more people. However, my biggest challenge personally is to be at both locations at the same time!