The story of Chris and Tracey Johnson’s journey to becoming owners of the Hairhouse salon at DFO is one of courage, teamwork and tenacity.
The couple were living in Western Australia when they decided to make a risky leap of faith, move to the other side of Australia and become Hairhouse franchisees in Cairns - their very first business venture.
More than three years and a whole lot of hard work, Chris and Tracey have just won the honour of being named Hairhouse Franchisee of the Year at the company’s annual awards night.
READ THE Q&A BELOW
Tropic caught up with Chris and Tracey to find out more about their successful – and sometimes challenging – path to national success.
Why did you decide to buy in to the Hairhouse brand at DFO in Cairns?
We purchased a Hairhouse franchise due to the support provided by head office in Melbourne. Actually, it’s not head office at all, it's more aptly named “support centre” because that is exactly what they do. There are hundreds of years of combined experience to draw on from within the support centre, including a salon department, buy-in, marketing, HR and store construction to help with any questions we might have.
We also have a dedicated business manager who supports Queensland stores and every other franchisee is very friendly and supportive of any new franchisee. It is like a big family and it’s also good that both founding owners are still heavily involved in the running of the business. They know franchisees on a first name basis.
What do you love about running and owning the business?
We’ve put a lot of hard work and effort into this store as it was a bit run down when we purchased it. We’ve done a lot of renovations and painting, replaced a lot of equipment including new chairs and wash basins which the clients notice and appreciate. We have also improved the standards in everything we do, which in turn results in a better service for the client. Owning your own business gives you the ability to direct what sort of culture you want to develop amongst your team to make your brand grow. When you are in the driver’s seat, you’re making decisions on how to steer your business into the future. The first year was extremely tough and very overwhelming as Chris and I didn’t come from a business background. But working together through it as a powerhouse team got us to where we are today.
Chris and I both love challenging ourselves. Chris is the perfectionist while I’m creative. There is never a day that’s the same in this industry. We’re constantly evolving and learning within the franchise and with support of the franchisor, it’s a perfect match.
You recently won the huge honour of being named Hairhouse Warehouse franchisee of the year against 130 stores nationwide - was it like to hear you had won?
Just being nominated is a big achievement in itself. Then we became finalists, which meant we were audited, and mystery shopped and interviewed. When the winner was being announced, our Chief Operating Officer was reading out the facts about the winning store and we were thinking ‘no that’s not us… that’s not us…’ but when he read out the audit percentage we looked at each other and said ‘that might be us'! When our name was called out, we were stunned. To win that award after only three years in the business was amazing. We actually felt a bit guilty because there are people who have been in the network a long time who should have won it. But this award is not just for the two of us, it is for the entire team and our Hairhouse business manager as she has helped us so much from day one. We also had a lot of franchisees approach us and say it was good for Queensland to win and even better that it was a Cairns store. We hope we have put Cairns on the map.
What are the unique attributes of your business?
We basically have two businesses in one. Salon and retail. The range of retail products is amazing. We stock quality salon professional products and knowing what product suits what hair type is our point of difference. You can’t get that advice at a supermarket, chemist or online. Our team members will do a full consultation with a customer in the retail space to understand the customer’s hair issues and concerns and recommend products to suit. With 130 stores nationally, Hairhouse has buying power so we have heavily discounted premium products on offer. Hairhouse deals directly with major suppliers and negotiates the best possible pricing for us. With the salon, we now offer a full service, which means we don’t do a rush job. We will again do a full consultation and ask all the right questions to get a good result with our happy clients. We wash clients’ hair, give an amazing scalp massage and add deluxe treatments to condition the hair before cutting. Our ethos in our store is “we don’t settle for good, we must be GREAT”. Outstanding customer advice and service is our key at Hairhouse DFO.
We educate our customers on what products they are using at home to make their life easier and get the result of good-looking hair all the time. Our team are the “hair doctors”. We are a Matrix salon and all staff are trained in the colour and styling aspects. Apart from the salon and retail aspects of the store, we have a private beauty room where we do basic ear and nose piercing and we have a great selection of new body piercing jewellery. We specialise in facial waxing and tinting. For special events, we have a make-up artist come in, so for gala balls, weddings, race day or formals we’ve got you covered. We are the one stop shop offering the whole hair and beauty regime.
Book an appointment with the team by calling 4222 2104.