BLOG: Q&A on opening a second salon with Eleven Hair’s Christian B Toth

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Christian B Toth is co-founder of Eleven Hair and a thermal hair treatment specialist

Q: What’s the story behind your business?
A: The other directors and I initially set up Eleven Hair in Mayfair in 2007 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.

Sebastian and I were pioneering thermal re-texturising treatments such as Yuko, Straight Perm and the Digital Perm. We have been doing these treatments for over 14 years now on a day-to- day basis and we customise all chemicals to each client’s personal needs to offer the best possible results.

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. We now operate two salons in the prime locations of Mayfair and Covent Garden.

Q: When and why did you decide to expand from one salon into a group?
A: We opened the Covent Garden salon in July 2013. 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.

Q: Was it like opening another business from scratch or was it easier than opening the first salon?
A: I must say that it was a lot easier than setting up the business but one of the difficult tasks we encountered was letting people know about Eleven specifically – as the premises were previously a hair salon, we had to work hard to carve out our great reputation to avoid being associated with the former salon.

Q: What benefits do you think this decision had on the overall business?
A: I believe it feels more like a brand and expanding gives motivation to everybody being part of the business. It also shows success to customers who feel more confident in the salon and can see us doing well and ever growing.

A: Have you found the business easier or more difficult to manage now it is bigger? Why?
Q: It is certainly more work, but we’re all very much enjoying it. Personally, I love challenges and it only gives me even more energy to move forward.

Q: What essential components do salon owners need to already have in place before they can think about expanding?
A: I think most of all you must have a good salon etiquette system set up that works and 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.

Q: What should they bear in mind before they make the jump?
A: 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.

Q: Do you have any tips for others hoping to open a second salon?
A: 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 sidetracked with plans of another.

Q: What are the biggest challenges of running a group rather than a single location?
A: In my opinion, finding the right staff will always be the most challenging when you need more and more people! However my biggest challenge is to be at both locations at the same time!

Q: Do you ever regret your decision to expand?
A: Never, you can only regret things you haven’t done!