The book that has had the most significant influence on building Phorest is Good to Great by Jim Collins. We’ve tried to implement multiple of concepts from it. While some came straight away, others took many years. However, one of the ideas that really resonated with us early on, and I think it is one that could be very useful for your salon (as for any business), is The Hedgehog Concept.
What Is The Hedgehog Concept?
The name comes from the Isaiah Berlin parable “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” The fox is good at many things: she’s fast, smart, cunning and more. Comparatively, the hedgehog is amazing at one thing: protecting herself. But because the hedgehog is so much better at her one skill – curling into a ball of spikes – than the fox is at any of her skills, the fox can never catch the hedgehog.
In business, similarly to the hedgehog, much evidence shows that the most successful companies (and more specifically the ones who last) also make themselves the best in the world at one thing. A few examples:
- Ryanair and the world’s lowest cost flights
- Google with internet search
- Amazon as the most convenient shopping experience
Of course, all of those companies also cater for loads more and do it well. However, they hold nothing back on improving their most important “thing.”
“Why?”, you may ask.
Simple. At best, people will only remember one thing about you. If you are ok to good at lots of things, what exactly will they remember about you?
Sadly, by being average in many areas of your business or services you provide, you aren’t making yourself likely to be memorable. However, if you are truly brilliant at something, then everyone remembers you for that. And when other people talk about you, they talk about the same thing. That, precisely, is one of the best ways to create positive word of mouth.
So, What Is Your Salon Going To Be Known For?
If you own a hair salon, could it be known for having the best colour technicians in your town or city? If you own a beauty salon, could you be perhaps known for offering the best facials within a 50-mile radius? Alternatively, maybe what your salon is known for isn’t based on the actual services you provide, but instead on your customer service. Could you have the most luxurious customer service in your local area? Some successful salons I know have focused on being the most convenient place for their customers to go to (i.e. have lots of car parking always available).
As you can begin to see, there are many aspects of what you do in your business that you could focus on, but unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just choosing one out of the lot. There is no point in choosing something that a couple of other neighbouring salons do well already. Luckily, based on the three questions below, Jim Collins developed a simple framework to help you make the right pick for your Hedgehog Concept.
What Are You Truly Passionate About?
Pick an element of your business you love working on. You have a much better chance of succeeding and getting better at what you do if you enjoy doing it. If you have a hard time making up your mind, start by listing everything you care about doing in your salon or spa.
What Can You Be Best At In Your Region?
You may be passionate about something, but if you can’t be the best at it in your region or area, then you aren’t going to be known for it: somebody else will. Think about what isn’t done that well in the salons that you know. What could you do much better? Make a list and work out which ones score highly on the other circles (passion and money).
What Can You Make Decent Money On?
There is no point in being the best at something, and being passionate about doing it if it doesn’t attract people to your salon. Whatever you choose, it must be something that makes people visit your salon, and/or spend money when they come.
Once you’ve narrowed your options to something that matches all three circles, you’re onto a winner. By the way, if you are struggling to come up with answers to any of those questions, another way of getting started is to ask your clients why they come to you. You can do this through any social media channel you’re on or by sending a simple email or SMS survey through your Phorest system.
What Does Phorest Salon Software’s Hedgehog Concept Look Like?
When we first started in the salon software game in Ireland, we did everything as best as we could – i.e. making appointment software, installing the system, training, etc. After reading Good to Great, we realised that everyone else – there were 5 other Irish salon software companies at the time – was trying to do the same thing. If we kept keeping on, there was no way we could ever stand a chance at differentiating ourselves.
* Fun fact, every employee who starts working in Phorest now reads Good To Great. 😉
Our Three Circles
After much thinking, we started by making a list of things we were passionate about (first circle):
- Providing a great service
- Helping salons make more money
- Building easy-to-use software
We weren’t sure we would be unique in providing excellent service; many competitors were trying to do that too. Same went for building easy-to-use software; every salon software company tries to do that. However, we believed we could develop the best salon-tailored marketing tools in the world. That was something none of our competitors was doing (second circle). We also found by doing this we would help salons make more money; another one of our passions.
We looked at the third circle of the Hedgehog Concept, and everything clicked. We could attract more salons to our software if we had the best marketing tools. Salons would also pay extra for those tools if they genuinely worked – think of the TreatCards, Client ReConnect (see below) or the Online Reputation Manager.
We finally had something that satisfied all three circles and stuck to it. Looking back over the last ten years, we believe it has really paid off. Now, at the beginning of each year, the first thing we plan is what new marketing tools we will be working on. For salon owners who attend the Salon Owners Summit in January of each year, we even dedicate a day of sessions to announce our plans for new features and to gather some feedback: Inside Phorest.
On A Final Note…
One important thing to realise here is that when you choose something to become your Hedgehog Concept, you don’t stop doing the other things you are passionate about. You will naturally continue to do those well. The Hedgehog Concept is more about always prioritising your number 1 thing. As for us this year, we’re hard at work at a brand new email editor (in beta testing as we speak) and a new Instagram tool.
Whether consciously or not, some of you may already be doing this in your salon or spa. For those that don’t think that they are, I wish you all the best in doing it, and encourage you to drop me a line if you would like some pointers or have any questions.
At your service,
– Ronan Perceval, Founder & CEO at Phorest Salon Software
Thanks for reading! #LetsGrow