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Selling Style

by fatweb

By Melinda Collins  |  Photography by Chris Traill

The basic premise of capitalism deems that a business’ prime objective is to sell goods or services to make money. But wouldn’t it be even better if you could get others to sell your goods or services while you sit back and reap the rewards?

It is an evolution of the standard business model which has been legitimately plausible since the development of the franchise.

New Zealand is served by some 423 franchise systems operating 450 brands, giving it the highest proportion of franchises per capita in the world.

Birth of a brand

Widely lauded as the father of franchising in New Zealand, Rodney Wayne was one of the first in the country to adopt the concept and has since built up an empire of 37 branded salons, 15 retail product stores under the moniker Shampoo ‘n Things, an affordable salon alternative called Stylexpress and two barber shops.

But it was during his time as an apprentice butcher that he developed the trait which has come to define the Rodney Wayne experience. “I seldom used to tell people that I was a butcher because of unfavourable connotations,” Rodney explains.

“But today I am very proud of the fact as I learned a lot about the importance of customer service.”

Creative by nature, the man behind many a mane found himself one of just six men enrolled in hairdressing school in Australia. It was back in the days when hair was cut with what can only be described as industrial shears.

Vidal Sassoon flipped hairdressing on its head with smaller scissors and the geometric cut and, by training with the master in London each year, it wasn’t long before Rodney was doing the same in this little corner of the South Pacific.

“On completion of school in Melbourne there were only two hairdressers I wanted to work for and neither could find a position for me at the time,” he says. “An opportunity presented itself to take over an existing salon and it all started from there.”

He was soon the head of four salons in rural Victoria, but it wasn’t long before he was enticed back to home soil where his first Kiwi salon was established in Auckland’s Victoria Street.

Success in the suburbs

It was a meeting between Rodney and renowned French hairdresser, Jean Louis David, which sold the franchise concept for Rodney. Jean had an established franchise of some 800 salons in Europe and had just moved into the New York market.

“He had one of the most successful hairdressing franchises in the world, that was positioned in the mid to upper end and I fell in love with the idea,” Rodney says.

Rodney could see the strength in joining Jean in his established franchise, but when he hired a research firm to ask people in Manukau, where there were no Rodney Wayne salons, which hairdresser first sprang to mind, Rodney Wayne was the overwhelming response and he realised the strength of his own brand.

He desired to bring his stylish inner city
salons to the ‘burbs, where he says salons had “see-through net curtains and dead blowflies on the windowsills”.

Taking the business to where the people lived was a key to the brand’s success and before long Rodney Wayne was in Mt Eden, Takapuna, Howick and Henderson. A brand was born.

It was an incredible success, right from the outset. “Dedication to excellent work and impeccable customer service meant continual training of staff. It never stops,” he explains.

He developed a ‘how-to’ manual and a ‘standard of service’ but the bones of the business were founded on a partnership between client and hairdresser; a “consultation whereby every client received a full and thorough consultation to determine their wants and needs before the scissors got anywhere near them”.

Building blocks of business

The secrets to building one of the strongest brands in the country, Rodney says, is having a vision of what and how you want the brand to look and perform and then working hard with your people to achieve it. “Business is no different to a sports team or person; it’s about continually meeting your goals.”

So is success in business about a good idea, passion for the industry or just being a good businessman? “All three,” Rodney says. “One does not work without the other.

“Good ideas do not work by themselves; people make them work, so building a team of people around you that respect and support that thought is imperative.”

While all brands and businesses make mistakes, what sets the successful ones out from the rest, Rodney says, is the ability to learn from those mistakes and never make them again.

He has expanded the Rodney Wayne experience to include a retail arm under the moniker Shampoo ‘n Things, opened a couple of the more traditional men’s barber shops and in 2010 added the faster and less expensive chain of salons, Stylexpress.

The company remains at the forefront of the industry by researching styles and trends from Europe and bringing the latest colours and styles to New Zealand through the release of two collections each year – summer and winter.

Rodney has since stepped back and appointed a CEO, Julie Evans, who takes care of the day to day running of the business.

Fashionable franchise

Having spent all of her working life in the salon business both in the UK and in New Zealand, Julie is eminently well qualified to do so. “We can offer proven and perfected operating systems, comprehensive training, huge buying power, unique performance incentives for staff and the support of all the members of the group,” she says.

“We also operate our own training school to bring through talented new staff for the salons, and that’s an important part of our culture. We’re proud to be a place of employment, support, inspiration and enjoyment for so many young New Zealand apprentices. The result is that there’s a strong family feel to the group.

“We have launches around the country at the start of each new season and invite all the franchisees and their staff to a fully-catered evening event – the Auckland one now attracts over 300 people. It’s a big part of maintaining a strong brand with a common goal.”

To be a successful Rodney Wayne franchisee, you don’t have to be a hairdresser yourself, Julie explains. “While we have many owner-operated salons, we also have many owners who are professional business people rather than professional hairdressers. They have utilised their knowledge, management skills and enthusiasm to create satisfying and profitable businesses for themselves.

“It’s more important that you are customer focused and a hands-on manager with the personality to develop a team of people who have the shared goal of making Rodney Wayne clients look and feel their very best.”
Rodney still makes himself available to offer franchise support wherever and whenever he can. “I very much enjoy that role,” he explains.

These days he starts his day with poached eggs, coffee and a bike ride before heading to the office for meetings. When meetings are scarce you’ll find him at the Viaduct pottering around on his boat. He suspects he’s the only boat owner who valets his own boat, but says it’s excellent exercise.

But the business continues to go from strength to strength, testament to the talent tenacity of a man of the same name. “Hair keeps on growing, whatever the economy is doing,” Rodney smiles. “And there’s nothing like a good hairstyle to make people feel better.”

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