Interview with world famous hairdresser Andrew Barton

By on June 25, 2013
Tony and Andrew Barton

Interview with the famous, award winning, hairdresser, salon owner, TV Star and entrepreneur , and great friend of mine , Andrew Barton!

Andrew is sharing for you all , his best advice for a successful business , how he got there, and having a  fun filled career.

Welcome Andrew, to TonyMiddleton.com for salon business success.

And a big thank you for giving your time, sharing your story, your advice and inspiration to all of our subscribers.

Andrew please share with us your journey of success over the many years, how you grew your skill and talent as a hairdresser, how you became such a top name in our industry, how you then progressed to TV work, your own brand products and of course your wonderful salon.

My career in hairdressing started with humble beginnings in my native Yorkshire where I completed a traditional hairdressing apprenticeship and little did I know in those early years that one day I’d be crowned British Hairdresser Of the Year and Ultimate hairdresser.  My boss was tough and disciplined! It was a great start and a start that I’m eternally grateful for. I worked hard and watched everything I saw learning all I could. But I knew there was a larger world than a small town in Yorkshire and I needed to learn more about it so I spent time living and working in America and Australia where working alongside a smorogsboard of talented hairdressers from around the world I honed my craft.  I loved Australia still do! and have strong ties there but the lure of London was just too much to resist and as I’d learnt that the centre of the universe for hair was and still is the UK, I had to come back home. I joined a much smaller Toni & Guy organisation than the one we know today and spent many happy years working internationally as Creative Director within the London Art Team. Working alongside the Mascolo family was a wonderful experience but there were other opportunities for me. I was head hunted as Creative Director for Saks, the UK’s leading hair and beauty group. Formulating an education programme an art team and building the brand’s reputation both in the trade and consumer worlds were all part of my remit! The company doubled in size and the Art travelled the world under my lead flying the British hairdressing flag!  But deep down after over 25 years helping other brands grow it was time to cheer Andrew Barton and in 2009 we opened the doors of the first Andrew Barton Salon in London’s Covent Garden.  I was regularly seen on TV on various consumer TV shows and had built a reputation with the press for my “no nonsense “ approach to hair and styling which had also attracted a celebrity clientele all of which were helpful in launching the Barton brand. During the last 4 years we have launched an award winning hugely successful consumer hair care range along with consumer hair electrical tools, hair accessories, brushes a book and we’re currently looking for our second salon. It’s been an incredible journey and one that I believe the success of is due to the team around me!

What advice can you give to all of us salon owners out there about the following >

Having the correct mind-set / attitude to achieve your dream career/salon?

My apprenticeship taught me something very powerful and it was about never accepting OK for a standard. If a client say’s it’s OK it means they are not coming back for more! If we do something and look at it and say it’s OK, it simply means it’s not OK at all, it means we can do better! This MINDSET has been a motivator a guide throughout my career.  I’m always thinking about what can be done next, but there’s no point thinking about it you have to make the effort and make it happen! It’s the effort rather than the result which is often the most rewarding!

I believe we need to keep physically and mentally fit for business, how do you?

We certainly work better when we are mentally and physically fit! I use some form of physical exercise every day whether it’s a run, the gym, a swim or just a walk. I usually start my day with exercise it prepares me for the day ahead and I feel good for doing it, it’s a good mental way to start the day as well as physical.  I enjoy a glass of wine or 2, but I’m generally very careful how I look after my body and that takes care of my mind.

Where can we get the best advice /inspiration to achieve a great business and great skill/talent as a hairdresser?

The industry is so full of great inspiration like the industry bodies that bring people together, working with great manufacturers and creating friendships within the industry have all been pillars of support to me. I think it’s vital to look outside the industry at what other people are doing too in business and see if there are learns. Being well read, having an open mind and listening to what others do! We’re often an industry of inflated egos’ for me it’s about listening to other people and learning from them.

Some salon owners struggle to get the balance of business and creativity/skill just right, what’s your advice?

My business has been built on the strong foundation of a good sound business plan, short, medium and long term and it’s a barometer for all we do! It’s been about having the right people in place at every level to execute the business plan.  Although my name is above the door it’s about giving people that work with us the autonomy to do the job they wanted and that we wanted them to do!  It’s a team and it’s team that ensures we don’t struggle with the balance of business and creativity! Find the right man for the job!

We all need : more clients and to keep clients, how do you and your team achieve this?

Much of the salons strategy has been built around what we call the 3 R’S, Retail, Recommend and Repeat. We don’t have an advertising budget built into our cash flow. More clients are achieved through the clients we make happy! It’s that simple for us, if you do a great job clients will talk about you and share the experience they had, SO, for us it’s about giving them an experience better than they expected. Each stylist in the team understands their role is to retail product and service, get clients to recommend them to their friends and are responsible for achieving repeat bookings! We’ve found this philosophy has worked for us.

Of course it takes a great team with you in the salon to be your best, how can we go about attracting and employing the best people and keeping them motivated to stay with you!?

Communication is key to maintaining a happy team! From the initial contact of a new team member to the regular appraisals and general harmony of every day! Involving people in the development of the business it’s growth and success is vital and empowering people to do the job. Too many salon owners think they know best because they are the boss! If you give someone a job, let them do it! Believe that they can and they can do it better than you, this empowers people, empowered people love where they work! They feel rewarded, recognised and part of something special.

We all need to have specific business goals, how do you plan for yours and do you break them down to days, weeks etc.?

We work around a business model that as short, medium and long-term goals and a deep understanding of what the brand is! The management team meet once a month to review the previous month and plan for the months ahead. Every aspect of the business is detailed and monitored through P&L. The salon manager starts each day with a team meet to ensure the team are all part of the “big picture” of the day, week, month…again for us it’s about communication! The more informed the team are the better they play together!

A lot of salon owners only financially achieve a wage and very little profit, what’s your best advice to start earning a great wage and take a salon to great profit?

Dare I say good accountancy! For my business it’s totally about the P&L. Budgets are vital to business success.

What is yours and your teams /salons mission/systems/philosophy to consistently deliver the best to every client?

The salon business operates from a manual; we call it, The “Little Grey Book” where nothing is grey, but black and white so nothing is left to chance. We have designed this together and it is an evolving document that clearly communicates what the brand is, what it stands for and how we deliver it, from how we answer the phone, to how we cut and colour hair the Barton way and exactly how a client should feel! We wrap most of it up in one straightforward down to earth word! GORGEOUS!

If it looks, feels, sounds, smells gorgeous then it’s right for us!

And finally, what’s your best advice you can give to salon owners to reach their goal to have the salon/business of their dreams?

I’m going to answer that with 2 words that I’ve talked about through this interview it’s about being in the right TEAM! And never accepting OK as standard!

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