Candice Whitehead, director of the Lounge and Co., started in the hair industry at a young age and was always driven by her passion for the industry. The Lounge and Co. was established in 2015 and in November they opened their third location in Queensland.
We sat down with Candice to learn more about what it takes to build a strong brand, grow and develop your team, and how software can help you take your business to the next level.
How do you make your brand stand out?
When we created The Lounge and Co., we wanted it to be different. It was about adding something that we felt was missing in the industry. We wanted to focus on creating an experience and a journey for our clients. For us it was not just about one appointment, it was the future we could build together.
Our salons provide a non-pretentious but yet luxurious environment. It’s a catch-up like sitting in your friend’s lounge room. It’s relaxation time. It’s self-care that we tend not to give ourselves enough of. Life is busy, everyone is time-poor, so for us, it’s building that self-care into things we already put time aside for.
It’s about the pampering session including the hand massages, lavender and wheat eye pillows, and blankets. It’s everything that we can use to create a luxurious environment with the pampering aspect but without taking more time out of somebody’s busy day.
When we set up a journey for a client, we discuss the expectations of what’s going to happen over the next few appointments and how we are going to achieve their desired result if it’s not achievable in one sitting. Everything is about Instagram these days, Instagram is full of filters changing the tone of hair, which in most cases is not generally achievable in one sitting. As stylists, we know colours, tones and different hues can look so different with a change of lighting. So for us, it’s about how we achieve the desired result while maintaining the integrity of the hair all while educating our guests on how this will look, age and wear. Our clients love coming to our salons because of the experience and the journey we design for them.
How do you define success?
I would define success as having a happy team that is growing together and reaching its goals. That is a success for us and our brand. We create a supportive environment, where people can grow and reach their goals. Whether it’s career-driven goals or personal motivation, it’s growth. If you’ve got people that are growing within your brand, then your brand grows also. Our focus is on our team and how we can best support them in what they want to achieve.
What makes us successful is the passion for what we do, the care and the attention to detail. It’s the problem-solving, the education for our clients and what we do to get them the results that they’re looking for.
We find that everyone always has at least two things that they don’t like about their hair. 90% of the population hate what they were born with. So for us, it’s about creating what our clients want and educating them around this. It’s about how we get you the best results and sometimes that can be achieved by educating clients about their hair to achieve these desired results.
Reducing rebooking times or service times is not an area that we focus on as our priority is a client journey and a client experience. We see cutting down timeframes as cutting corners. This is not what we’re about.
How important is providing training and development opportunities for your team?
We train every Wednesday. The team has the responsibility of choosing areas where they feel they want to upskill or expand their knowledge. Taking this approach enables the team to enjoy what they’re learning and stay motivated.
It’s important to play to the strengths of each team member and work out what each individual member loves to do. So for us, it’s playing to those strengths and allowing them to shine and do what they love.
When it comes to hiring, we always have ads out there for the simple reason that we’re not prepared to let the perfect person go by us. It’s about growing, expanding and finding somebody that suits our culture and is the right fit for the business and the clientele. If we don’t have a position to offer, we’ll find a position.
What Kitomba features couldn’t you live without?
I love Kitomba 1 for its ease and that I’m able to access it on the road wherever I am. As a business owner, it’s hard to get time to run everything. If I’ve got five minutes, I’m on Kitomba 1 looking at the behind-the-scenes stuff and setting myself up for what I’m going to do when I’m back in the office or salon. The best part about Kitomba 1 is being able to do what I need to do on the run.
Kitomba 1 also allows us to provide better customer service. When we’re closed, if we’ve got a customer that’s messaging us on Facebook or Instagram, I’m able to access their history and their past appointments. We upload client cards to the documents section in K1, before and after photos, and our clients’ inspiration photos. Everything is quite thoroughly documented and we can easily access it online to assist in questions and enquiries that come through our socials.
My favourite Kitomba 1 feature is being able to make a sale on my phone. These days the internet can be unreliable but we’re able to get on our smartphones and still see invoices and accept payments without creating a headache at the end of the day when reconciling each salon.
The other feature that makes it easier for me to run my business is the variety of reports such as the Business Summary.
Online booking makes it very easy for our clients to book appointments with us even when we’re not open. A lot of people work shift work, have busy family life during the day, so once they get their rosters or have a downtime of an evening it’s quite easy for them to be able to plan their week or month and book online with us. So online booking is absolutely a benefit to us and our clientele.
As a business, it’s very hard when there are no deposits taken and a team member is waiting for a client who cancels at the last minute or simply doesn’t show up to their appointment. We don’t rush our appointments, we allocate a lot of time for each appointment to ensure each guest is getting the experience we offer as a brand. If we have clients not turning up, that is a massive expense to a small business. We’re not a big corporation, we’re a small business. We want to keep the authenticity behind our brand and we want to be able to keep our salons open as well. So for us, we respect people’s time and ask that our guests respect ours by committing to the appointments with us.