Evolution is probably the single most important factor for the continued success of your business. In this case I don’t mean Darwin’s theory, or finding the Missing Link (although anyone who has seen me before 6.30am and a strong coffee could probably make that claim!) I’m talking about how effectively adapting to wider circumstances can mean the difference between your business failing, surviving, or thriving.
As horrendous as the past year has been, it has taught us invaluable lessons if we chose to look at it as a learning curve. Many learned the value of the key word PIVOT, and adapted their businesses using their skills and knowledge to put in place alternative income streams and keep themselves afloat during the enforced closures. They can now continue these if they choose to, and have multiple sources of income, a key feature of improving your finances!
This is just one example, and the pandemic was a circumstance that hit us like a lightening bolt. But what about circumstances that are changing so subtly they are easy to miss? Humans have a natural urge to resist change. It is actually hardwired into our brains. Change makes people fearful, uncomfortable, and unsafe. But this is precisely what is holding many back, the known is safe, but it breeds complacency. Take for example the demise of many of the high street stalwarts like Top Shop and Debenhams. This could be blamed on the pandemic, but the truth is they were already in an irreversible decline long before it hit. And their issue?
THEY DIDN’T EVOLVE
Instead, they relied on the safe, tried and tested methods of old, and failed to see how the shopping habits of their customers were changing. They didn’t do enough research into consumers’ priorities. Many nail businesses won’t make the connection between themselves and retail outlets. ‘We aren’t shops!’ they might shout. But what are we doing, if not retailing services, experiences, and products? Personal care services yes, but this is still an industry that relies on paying customers.
In a recent BBC interview, Mary Portas, maven of the High Street, explained how the expectations and priorities of customers and clients have altered over time. Many salons make the mistake of ignoring the changing needs and wants of a new generation of clients, as their diaries may be full of regulars they have had for years. These will eventually dwindle and in the meantime, the salon owner has lost precious time learning how to appeal to new clients. Simply relying on your existing client base, no matter how large, is not a good way to future proof your business. Attracting new clients in this dynamic and fluid world is about observing changing habits and proactively adapting to ensure you meet their needs. Otherwise, they will simply go elsewhere.
Social awareness has arguably never been higher, and clients are actively seeking out eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethnically diverse businesses. This kind of ethical approach should not just be viewed as a marketing strategy; to be effective, it should be every business’ aim, and embedded in their ethos.
Studies have shown that consumers also want an experience, rather than just a product or the usual treatment. Think of ways to introduce this to your services; a hand massage with their favourite lotion while toes are soaking, and a luxury hot chocolate in a beautiful cup during a pedicure are some of my clients’ favourites. Simple, low cost, but highly effective. It makes them feel special, valued, and removed from the usual chaos of modern life. Talk to your clients, learn what makes them tick and make notes on their record cards of the treats they enjoy. This kind of personalised service ensures they always be eager to come back to you.
And what about technology? Now I was certainly no techno wizard – occasional Candy Crush does not count) But I have had to take the initiative to learn, and train my technophobic, 43-year-old brain to do what was required in order to adapt. Whether we like it or not, a digital presence is now vital. Social Media and a website are crucial in a world where technology is king and if businesses don’t embrace this, they will rapidly be overtaken by those who do. A good case in point is the new salon recently opened in London by tech giant Amazon. How many would have foreseen that they would expand their reach into Personal Services? They have the technology, and investment capability to launch a huge effort into seizing a chunk of the Personal Care market. In this highly competitive environment, we need to ensure we can bring our services in line with our clients changing priorities. They will continue to expect more from us and if we don’t heed the call to change, we will be left behind.
To thrive in a saturated market, you can’t just be on the ball, you need to be six feet in front of it and with this in mind, the FNP will be running a weekly feature for its members to take some of the stress out of trying to stay ahead of the game. We will be keeping you updated with all the latest industry developments, innovations, consumer trends and expectations, and discuss the possibilities of the future direction the industry will take. Outside, unpredictable influences such as the pandemic cannot be anticipated, but we can most definitely give you the tools and information you will need to weather any unexpected storms. Take the initiative, it’s in your hands!