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Hair Salon Service Management Challenges

Essay by   •  May 28, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  3,589 Words (15 Pages)  •  2,073 Views

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According to Mintel (2017), the overall value of the in-salon hair services in UK was 7.43 billion pounds in 2017. This number increased by 2.9% as compared to year 2016 showing a steady growth in market size.  Although the market is promising, it is very diverse with many customer groups. In order to operate our hair salon well, we need to focus on a group of main customers. One technique we applied to identify target customers was Segmentation - Targeting - Positioning (STP).

Regarding to market segmentation, based on gender demographic, we can divide the customers into male and female sectors. According to hair salon customer insights collected by Mintel (2017):

  • 76% of adults have visited a hair salon in the last one year and most of them are women.
  • Many young women under 24 years old do not use hairdressing service often because they cannot afford it.
  • Convenience is a big concern for more than 50% of women.

From these insights, our hair salon will focus on serving women because this segment is more potential than men. Particularly, our target customers are working women over 25 years old with sufficient income so that they can afford our services. Customers in this group have office jobs from 9am to 5pm. As women, they concern about their appearance and would like a professional and high quality hairdressing service. They are willing to pay but limited by time. Convenience is a big problem so most of them choose a local hair salon near their places and go there on the weekend.  According to the needs of our customers, the hair salon will be positioned as high quality and convenient.  

While managing this hair salon, we recognized many challenges caused by 5 characteristics of service which are inseparability, intangibility, variability, perishability and ownership. However, because of words constraint, we only mention 1 or 2 challenges associated with each characteristic.

Inseparability and challenges

Differ from products, the production and consumption of services cannot be separated (Palmer, 2014, p.9). Although many services are trying to separate production and consumption, hairdressing service requires customers to visit a hair salon and participate in service process. Put it in a simple way, customers are the co-producer of the hairdressing service, they have to give order and interact with the hair stylists to get the desired outcome. The inseparability characteristic implies that we need to ensure a smooth interaction process and make it easy for customers to access the hair salon.

Challenge 1: Service process management

According to Lovelock & Wirtz (2016), “service are processes that have to be designed and managed to create the desired customer experience”. A poorly designed process can lead to slow and low quality service delivery. Additionally, it can cause difficulties for employees and result in service failures (Lovelock & Wirtz, 2016). To manage service process, we have used service blueprint which is presented below:

The service blueprint helps us to clarify 13 steps involved in serving a customer from making appointment to getting feedback and receiving payment. It also identifies the responsibilities of employees and required resource in each step. More importantly, it assists managers to spot out touch points with customers and potential failures that might occur. However, the service blueprint cannot anticipate all situations and sometimes unexpected incidents can happen and negatively affect customer experience. Nevertheless, we managed to list out some possible incidents and came up with some countermeasures. By doing this, we expected to react in a timely manner and minimize bad customer experience once incidents happen.

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Challenge 2: Service accessibility

The role of customers the service process is value creators (Gronroos, 2008). Therefore, it is important for service providers to make the service accessible.

As mentioned above, our hair salon targets working women who are busy from 9 am to 5 pm in weekday. They are willing to pay for a good service but have a limitation of time. In order to serve these customers, we have to make the service convenient for them in terms of place and time.

From our point of view, hair salon is location decision oriented towards producers. it is important that the store is visible and accessible by car, passersby and public transport. Therefore the hair salon should be  located in a main road of a commercial area surrounded by office building where our potential customers work. Admittedly, in the main commercial area, the rent is high and it increases the cost of operation. However, if the hair salon is located far away, the customers will lose their interest as they have to make more effort to get a haircut.

Although office workers’ standard full-time working hour is 9am to 5pm, 80% of them are working about 50 hours per week which is longer than their contracted hours (Clancy 2019). It means that most of white-collar workers get overtime works. By the time they finish at work, most hair salons close because they only open from 9am to 6pm. Due to this factor, our opening hour should be later than usual which is from 12pm to 8pm in weekdays to serve customers. On the weekend, our opening hour is from 9am to 6pm.

Intangibility and challenges

While tangible products can be easily be assessed by features before being consumed, it is difficult to justify a service without experiencing it. Therefore, it creates high level of perceived risk and uncertainty for customers (Palmer, 2014, p.9). As a result, customers usually base on tangible cues to assess a service. In the case of a hair salon, new customers have to try out and then decide whether to come back again. They are at risk of getting a bad haircut and being ugly. They do not have control over the result and everything they can do is to trust the hair stylist. Before trying the service, these customers usually base on tangible cues such as environment (setting, decoration, equipment…) and employees to judge the service. If any of these cues fail to meet customers’ expectation, it can impact customer experience.

Challenge 3: Environment management

In order to manage the environmental settings of our hair salon, we have applied Servicescape which is a tool developed by Booms & Bitner (1981) to describe the environment where a service process takes place. According to Booms & Bitner (1981), servicescape can encourage customers to visit (approach behaviour), motivate them to explore services and urge them to leave. In our hair salon, we want the customers to stay and enjoy the service instead of leaving; therefore, we needs to promote positive factors and reduce negative factors. This helps to boost customer experience and avoid dissatisfaction.



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