We met with Iain McIntosh who helped us delve into the world of running a busy hairdressers. A thriving hair salon and a high street fixture in Wallasey, Wirral for almost a decade, Salon M is one of our High Street Heroes.
Owner, Iain has carved a niche for the business. He has drawn on long experience in the trade and sheer hard work to make sure the business never stands still – and helps to set it apart from the chains through a combination of service excellence and close customer relationships.
“I am mad passionate about hairdressing,” he explained. “I eat, sleep, live and breathe it. I never stop researching. I’m constantly on the internet and social media. I follow hairdressers from all over the world and we’re involved in all kinds of forums. That’s where you get ideas from.”
That hunger to constantly improve has helped Iain to establish Salon M as a “go-to salon” in the area for colour change, colour repair, and colour selections.
“We’re mad on training,” he said. “Colour is our big area of expertise but it’s also about being on trend. What happens in America tends to follow here. The US tends to be a bit more leading in terms of products.”
Naturally that expertise generates footfall in its own right, but Iain is not one to rest on his laurels. He makes extensive use of social media to promote the business: “Social media is really important though it can be quite stressful, trying to find the right photos and keep posting them. But it’s worth it. It’s where we get a lot of business from.”
When Iain talks about the business, his passion for the job shines through, and it is this passion that helps to set the business apart as a High Street Hero.
“I never take it for granted but I love this business. It doesn’t feel like a job, more like coming for a coffee with mates. There are people who have been coming to me for years so there’s lots of trust. It’s an easy job to do with that kind of client.
“But then I also really love getting stuck in with the difficult colour changes and repairs. The real technical colour changes. That’s where you prove your excellence; the jobs that no-one else has managed to do.”
As with any business of course, there are risks to overcome, some of which are very specific to the industry.
“It’s such a high risk industry,” he explained. “The biggest risk to our industry is claims around skin damage or hair damage. Bleach is the big one. It’s such a corrosive substance. We work hard to manage those risks, because something going wrong could have very serious consequences. We have a skin test register for every client and carry out tests for every appointment - and insurance, of course, is also a really important part of protecting us from those risks."
"Business insurance for me is having complete reassurance we are covered, so we can focus on keeping up with the latest innovations and training. This helps make sure our customers leave Salon M looking and feeling fabulous.”
Iain is rightly proud of Salon M’s longevity, and its contribution to the local high street.
“I think just being in the industry for so long is something to be proud of. I’ve managed to stay in business this long, which is such a struggle these days. I’m proud of still being here for so long after so many knocks, and I’m proud that we’re doing our bit for the local high street.”
Finally, Iain has some sage advice for anyone just starting out in a high street business of their own:
“Really commit to the business, put the hours in and don’t be a pushover, but be kind and look after your staff. The kinder you are, the more loyal they tend to be. Don’t treat it like a deep-fried dictatorship, listen to other people. Sometimes they have good ideas. Try to be inclusive because you’ll find out pretty quickly that the ‘my way or the highway’ approach doesn’t work.
You can follow Salon M in the following ways:
Facebook - @salonm141
Twitter - @salon_m141
Instagram - @salonm141