S1 E2 Becoming A Fantastic Hairdresser



Welcome to episode 2 of Anthony Presotto’s Business Insider Podcast.

200pppnewIn this episode:

I talk to salon owner, fellow business coach and The Fantastic Hairdresser in Australia Steve Winder. Steve shares some of his personal journey in the industry and how he came to Australia and what he is doing here now. Steve has been in the business for 35 years. The Fantastic business man that he is, Steve took his salon from opening to $2 million in turnover within 9 years. I also ask Steve what was the pivitol thing in making his salon business a success. In this episode I also explain why I changed the name of my podcast.

Websites mentioned in this episode:


Anthony: Hi everybody and welcome back to the second episode. This is Business Insider and you may have noticed we had a slight change of name since the last episode. That’s because we were advised by a company with a similar program within the same industry that they have been using the name first and they didn’t like us using it. So, to keep things simple, I’ve changed the name of the Podcast to Business Insider and I think that gives us a little bit more scope on what we can talk about than Profit or Perish.

So, I have my friend Steve Winder with us today. Steve is a hairdresser from the UK who now resides here in Australia and we’re going to talk a little bit today about the program Steve is involved with called Fantastic Hairdresser and a little bit about Steve’s history.

So, Steve tell us a little bit about you personally because we want to get to know you and then give us an overview of your business.

Steve: I can say, well I have quite a long story but essentially I started hairdressing in 1980 and did a full apprenticeship for 3 years. Then I became a busy stylist and I now worked on the salon floor for a salon group over in the UK. I suddenly then became the manager and teaching hairdressing skills, colouring and communications skills. Along that journey I started to enter different types of competitions and actually became very successful with those. One, for example, is the L’Oreal colouring student of the year. That then led me onto becoming an educator up at L’Oreal and I run a course called the Complete Hairdresser. This was essentially a course which we taught hairdressers things they may have missed along the way. So, whether it be hair-up; it might have been a particular hair cut; it might have been just finishing skills. That is did for about 4 years and then I moved on from there and was asked to become, which was not sort of trendy now very trendy then, the UK perm ambassador for L’Oreal along with a guy called Guy Kremer. That I did for a couple of years and we went around salons and booked hotels and did demonstrations on perming and just trying to teach people different ways to perm hair. That was really good fun.

On the way I became a judge for a National Hair Federation and started judging competitions for those because the salon group that I was working for was very active and the salon owner Simon Harris from Headlines who was very active in that sort of arena. So, being a manager and a trainer educator within the salon and doing the stuff in London, I sort of went on to doing things there. Then after that, after doing shows and the expo in London and the things, I went on then to leave the salon that I was with and open my own salon. So, I grew tat salon from one salon to five but not all at the same time. I had done essentially three salons at one time but I’ve actually had five salons. When we had the three salons, we were employing over 60 add staff. That was very interesting because when you go from a very small salon and then into a much bigger salon and then the dynamics change when you have so many people, you find yourself being pulled off the shop floor. So, I have learnt a lot of things about that. I’ve also learnt a lot of things about controlling money and I’ve also had some major issues with that in the early days, and to be honest, all the way through. It has never been plain sighted and that’s one of the reasons that I have so much experience because I can speak from having a very successful salon and I can also speak from having one that didn’t work at all. So, that gives you a lot of, sort of background if you like.

Then I got involved with the Department of Trade and Industry in the UK in a study called ‘Work life balance’ where we looked at could we get team of people together and have things like working mothers and women returning to work and be flexible with their hours so that they could still look after the kids, they could have the school holidays off, go to different arrangements between school holidays and term times and allow employees to make domestic commitments as well social engagements. So, we tried this plan and we planned out. We have put a lot of things in place and that worked very successfully and was documented in the Trade and Industry; they have like a book there on me and they sort of a special on us, so you can read all about that in there. So, essentially I suppose that then led me onto, because of some of the training that I have had, working with a Fantastic Hairdresser and then becoming, though involved with Fantastic Hairdresser, to actually start doing some of the courses along with Alan Austin-Smith. It was probably that journey that then led me to immigrating to Australia.

Anthony: Awesome, that is a diverse background you have there.

Steve: Yeah, it is diverse. I have condensed it a little bit there because I’ve had quite a journey; a very interesting one that maybe we could share with one of these because I think there are a lot of things that people could learn from my successes and also some of my mistakes; because I’ve made some big mistakes as well.

Anthony: Well, that’s what we are all about here at Business Insider; is sharing experiences that people who are in our industry can learn from our mistakes and our successes. So, could you, maybe, just quickly share something pivotal that you could attribute to your success?

Steve: Yeah, I think one of the things that happened to me many years ago was that can you imagine coming to work one Monday morning, and I had quite a large desk, and I was sitting down at my desk; I had one of those old fashioned desk with the green leather top sort of gold emboss. I sat there one morning and I was just doing some paperwork and there was a knock on the door. I said, “Hi, come in,” and one of the team came in and followed by a cue of eight behind her and they all handed their notice in one by one.

Anthony: Wow!

Steve: Yeah, I had a team of, including me there were ten and eight of them handed their notice in. Essentially, the reason I was doing that was I have bought into that business; I have taken over that business from somebody else and what they have done is that they have decided they would open a salon down the road. The actual contract of employment was doctored so  there wasn’t a radius clause and literally they opened a salon about 500m down the road. So, when people say to me, they panicked and they say, “Oh my God, I just had a team member leave.” To me you just want to try eight leaving at the same time and getting through that. But we did get through it. Two things that I’ve learnt from that; one was that when I took the business over we changed the colour house so that, in a way, put me in control because I’ve worked with L’Oreal so closely and I knew L’Oreal inside out. So, I got to know all the clients because I was changing them from the colour house they were before over to L’Oreal. So, straight away that gave me a little bit of control over the business because at that time we didn’t really had this management systems that we have in place now, but that still worked. So, we did that.

The other thing that I have learnt was that it’s so important to have an ongoing recruitment plan.  So, don’t try and recruit when you need someone. Recruit all the time so that you always have a list. So, if anyone ever leaves you could just pick up the phone and you have already interviewed somebody that you already like and you can get them to start the following day.

Anthony: That is an absolute genius piece of advice.

Steve: What I’ve always encourage people to do is to make sure that you have an ongoing recruitment plan because you never ever know what’s coming around the corner and there is a sound line of being in that position where your whole team walked out. I wish I had a list then because it took me several months to pull everything around; obviously I lost clients but we did have a lot of the clients come back again because they love the way their hair was coloured. But we did full time had a situation where we just couldn’t accommodate because I was so busy and my stylist, Amanda, was so busy that we just couldn’t take on that number of clients until we’ve built up again.

Anthony: For sure. Now, do you have a quote Steve that you could share with us that sums up your business philosophy and how have you applied it to your life?

Steve: Yeah, I think very much I follow the Fantastic Hairdresser rule of thumb and that is 50% of what you do as a hairdresser, well in actual fact in any job, has nothing to do with your job. So, 50% of the Fantastic Hairdresser has nothing to do with tint bowl, brushes; it is to do with the other stuff; it is to do with how you are as a person and how you communicate with your clients and colleagues. So, that’s one of the things I think for me is a golden rule I always stick to.

Anthony: Brilliant, absolutely brilliant advice. So, you’ve talked a bit about Fantastic Hairdresser. Tell us a little bit more about Fantastic Hairdresser in Australian which is what brought you to Australia?

Steve: Okay, it started as I was saying earlier, that I was working alongside Alan Austin-Smith on courses and there is a particular course called the Fantastic Hairdresser Academy and being the Fantastic Ambassador. So, we were working on that program and I used to take part of the group because we only had about 30 in the group.  So, Alan would do a talk with the guys explaining some of the concepts and then I would take the other group into another room and then break down the more technical stuff and just work with them in regards to communication skills and some of the things that we’re teaching. Because essentially, what we were doing was making key people in salons fantastic ambassadors for the salon, so we would deliver the training to them in a way that we would train them to deliver the training, if that makes sense.

Anthony: Yeah, sure.

Steve: So, they could go back into the salon and try in the team. So, it was a fantastic course and it still goes on. It’s a two year course but it is looking at the concept and also the way that they deliver it to the team so that they can get the team excited and stuff.

Any way the Fantastic Hairdresser grew very quickly and we entered into the academy in London in Chiswick and it has done exceptionally well. We opened a small hairdressing salon and an actual academy. So we had business school and a hairdressing salon and we run business courses and training and also 100% hairdresser days in that business centre.

Now, I’ve spoken to Alan; Alan and I go back a long way and we’re very close friends and Fantastic Hairdresser is obviously Alan’s baby. But I said to Alan, look I’m think of moving to Australia. I really want to take the Fantastic Hairdresser to Australia. Bless him; he said to me, “Well, if there is anyone that is going to do it, you’re probably the person to do it and take it over to Australia.” I know what he thinks of the Fantastic Hairdresser and how much that is a part of his life and so I was very honoured to get the Fantastic Hairdresser in Australia off to a really good start. So, once we got that then myself, my wife and kids, we moved over to Australia which was what? Not quite 2 years ago at the time of this recording. So, about 18 months, 19 months and that’s when I met you in time.

Anthony: Yes, I remember getting, I think it was a Facebook message from you saying, “Hey, I’m coming.”

Steve: That’s right.

Anthony: Is there any work there? I was like, “Yeah, sure, not a problem.” Luck had it that you moved within like 10km from where I lived. We met up and of course we had a lot of things grow since then. We’ve had the salon success club house which we do with two other business coaches. We now produce an international magazine that is still delivered digitally online. We just have so much stuff going on.

Steve: Yeah, tons of stuff. I mean, really I look at my journey and our journey moving to Australia. The minute I got to Australia I was doing some business coaching. I was coaching someone in Brisbane, in actually the west end of Brisbane and then became partner in that salon.  They then eventually sold that and I moved up to the sunshine coast; just really a lot more of a lifestyle decision. Then I bought a salon up in the sunshine coast which I now work in because I ill wanted to work in the hairdressing industry, you know, doing hair. So, we opened that and that has gone very well and as you say, we created the So magazine which is now classed as one of the world’s top hairdressing magazines. We have a lot of testimonials from some just incredible people talking about our magazine which I’m just so touched by. So that in itself and two salons and a magazine and the club house and So TV, and it’s not even 2 years yet.

Anthony: It has only been 18 months. That’s incredible. What’s going to happen in five? For everyone listening you can find the magazine at somagazine.com.au. I’ll put links in the show notes that you could just go there and click and go straight to the magazine.

Now, the Fantastic Hairdresser in Australia also has a product that people can buy if they’re in Australia or anywhere in the world. It’s a video series that I have had a little bit of a chance to look at and I think it is absolutely fantastic. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Steve: Yeah, sure. We used to run a training seminar that, again, went over a year and that was called the Fantastic Salon. The Fantastic Salon then turned into a book. So, we have five books; the Fantastic Hairdresser; we have the Fantastic Boss; we have the Fantastic Salon; we have Fantastic; and we have also created a product called Fantastic Hairdresser in a Box. We found that when we spoke to salon owners and deliver this training to them, the problem is that most salon owners don’t seem to have the time to prepare for a training session so they can deliver this stuff into the salon. So, Alan came up with a concept that was all about creating training sessions; so it was actually 20 training sessions on there so well enough ready for 2 years.  There are 20 training sessions in there where there is a topic and a DVD. So, you could put the DVD in and you can watch the DVD and then that will deliver a message and also a question. Then you, as a salon owner or a manager, can then, literally, take a back seat and just deliver this training by playing a DVD, round them to watch it and then just asking them, “Well, what do you think guys?” There are exercises and things. So, there is really strong foundation for a fantastic training session/staff meeting rather than the typical staff meeting which is to get everybody together and bark at them.

Anthony: It is very hard for salon owners usually time pressed to create a training or meeting resource like that. So, having something like that that is pre-done that can do you for 2 years is just invaluable.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the greatest thing of the way this has been designed is that you could wrap it around your own business. So, although it is the Fantastic Hairdresser training and delivering, it is the whole concept. The very clever thing about this that you just drop into what you already do. So, you could have staff meeting, and say for example, there might be issues in the salon where someone is not growing their column, well in the training box there is one called ‘Build your column’ and that just takes you through the steps of how to build your column. So, then as a salon owner, if you having such an issue in the salon then you could bring that into training session and get a good team discussion going; get ideas on how to build your column. There are loads of ideas in there that have to do with that and there are team exercises. So, what you’re doing is when they come away from that meeting, they’re lazed at focused and that’s the real key thing which is about getting everybody firing in the same direction.

Anthony: That’s exactly right. It does sound fantastic and I’m excited to go back and look at it then. Thank you for being on the show today Steve and sharing your story and sharing about Fantastic Hairdresser in Australia. For everyone listening, in the show notes I’ll have links to Steve’s pages and the Fantastic Hairdresser so you could go there and you could grab yourself the Fantastic Salon in a Box.

Steve: Yeah, Fantastic Hairdresser in a Box.

Anthony: Ah, Fantastic Hairdresser in a Box. Okay Steve, thank you very much and we’ll talk to you soon.

Steve: Thanks Anthony, good speech as ever mate. Cheers.

Anthony: Bye.

I produce a podcast once a fortnight. So check back soon. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes.

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About Anthony Presotto

Currently one of only two Australian hairstylists who are members of the Hairdressing World Expert Panel, Anthony Presotto is on a mission to empower salon owners, sharing his expertise as an author, international speaker and salon business strategist.

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