Cutting through the competition with Brandon May Salon
Bionic spoke to Sonya Roberts who proudly runs the popular Brandon May Hair salon in Manchester. We got the cut on what makes her staff tick, what makes the business stand out from the crowd and what’s next for the talented trimmers.
“I was self-employed renting a chair in a salon before I set up Brandon May with one of my close friends.” Says Sonya when we quiz her on how the salon came to be. “I wanted to take the next step in my career, I was 25 at the time and always wanted to run my own salon so it felt like the right time.”
She carried on: “Looking back, I was quite young to start up, but I’m glad I took the leap as I was able to grow and learn a lot during those early days. My inspiration at the time was Toni and Guy. I trained with them and wanted to bring that ethos of training to an independent salon.”
Brandon May has seen lots of success since its start up, Sonya bought her business partner out a few years ago and has been steadily making alterations to how the salon is run over time.
“I bought out my business partner a few years ago after the birth of her second baby.” Sonya says “I decided to make some changes, this has meant I've got a really strong team now. Having their support through Covid was invaluable and meant we had great client retention on the other side.”
She continued: “It was such a proud moment when we saw all our hard work had paid off. We also won some awards which reaffirmed everything.”
But although Brandon May Salon struggled through Covid like a lot of businesses, they weathered the storm and came out fighting fit.
“No one knew what was going to happen during Covid, having to navigate the changes while keeping the team morale up was really challenging.” Sonya recalls.
But despite an uncertain couple of years, Sonya implores they're now stronger than ever as a tight-knit team. They proudly offer a specialist service, providing ‘beautiful, luxe hair in a relaxed environment’.
But although the salon itself is something to be immensely proud of, Sonya’s favourite part is seeing her employees grow and develop their skillsets.
“Seeing my team develop in their careers is definitely my favourite part of running a business.” She grins. “It’s so rewarding!”
But in creating a happy thriving team, you have to motivate them to want to do well. How does Sonya do that?
“We hold regular training sessions and keep in touch with regular 1-2-1s. This helps keep them on track and I'm able to understand what their biggest motivation is, both in and out of work. We then come up with a plan to help them reach their goals.” She tells us excitedly.
Sonya added that the stellar relationship she shares with her team makes the business unique. But the foundations they've built with their customers is an extra special addition.
“I think we’re unique because of the closeness we have with the people who come in and each other. We genuinely have such a great time at work, and I think the connections we make with clients transcend just client-hairdresser relationships, it’s really special.” She explains.
Supporting other SMEs
So, with a trailing list of dedicated customers, a solid team and a whole host of awards under their belt, what’s next for the salon? Sonya says she is on the lookout for talent to expand.
“I’m excited about the future and want to see the team grow bigger and better! I'd love to expand, so we're on the hunt for more stylists at the moment.”
And how does Sonya source new talent and attract new customers? She tells us that social media marketing is her avenue of choice because its so versatile and can be aptly geared towards small or larger businesses.
“We absolutely use social media for marketing. We get a lot of clients from Instagram in particular.” She added.
Sonya also had some helpful advice for those wishing to start up their own SME, saying that taking a magnifying glass to your skills and learning everyday will set you in good stead for the future.
“Know your numbers inside out before you start!” She laughs “And fill in your skill gaps by getting a coach.”
Sonya’s experience of running a small business is an overwhelmingly positive one, but she always likes to show her support for other independent shops.
“I think small businesses are the heart of the high street, they're what make our local communities what they are. From coffee shops, to hairdressers and lifestyle stores, they all make where you live that extra bit nicer. We make up a lot of the workforce so it’s important to show support.” Sonya says.
Chatting about inspiration, Sonya says local female business owners inspire her massively “Besides other salons for various reasons, I know a lot of female business owners and it's nice to see the support everyone gives each other. There's a few on the row we're based on and it's inspiring to see the #communitynotcompetition that's happening!” She tells us.
And finally, what does Sonya think about the cost-of-living crisis and how is she combating it without scrimping on salon quality?
“I am concerned about the crisis, but we’ve faced many challenges over the years and I've learnt to plan the best you can, but know you may have to adapt. We have to look at ways we can reduce waste and ensure we’re continuing to give guests the best value for money! “