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Poaching – A Challenge for Salon Business

Poaching – A Challenge for Salon Business

Nalini Naegamvala, a pioneer in the hairdressing industry, having successfully run her own business for over four decades got a rude shock when her entire team of professionals were summarily poached from her busy Mumbai salon by a start-up entering the market. She shares her experience and opinion…

An incident that took place last year had a profound impact on my salon and has thus, prompted me to put these thoughts to paper with the hope that salon owners across the country would take a moment to think about where the industry is heading to. Undoubtedly, the Indian salon industry has advanced tremendously in terms of service quality – from the small salons to the branded ones, salon staff are taking the initiative to upgrade their work and embracing professionalism in providing hair and beauty services. On the other hand, it is a shame to watch the declining commitment to ethics.

As salon owners, our first responsibility is towards the client through services that are backed by knowledge and quality. To make this possible, it is important that we instil ethical conduct in ourselves and our staff. Money is the driving force of any business, but doing our job sincerely and putting the client first is a policy that will help build a long-standing reliable brand. I once advised a stylist – “Just remember you are sitting on that chair as a customer and you will automatically do your job with sincerity.” This became a mantra I will always stand by. It also reminds me of these words from Mahatma Gandhi who is one of the wisest men the world has known – “A customer is the most important visitor on our premise, he is not dependant on us, we are dependant on him”

The reason that prompted me to revisit this essential attitude for every salon business is my recent encounter with poaching and the harm it causes in the hair and beauty industry. Poaching has always been an issue across industries – until we become role models for this generation, change cannot be expected. Most of us old-timers and established salon owners in Mumbai have an untold code of interviewing staff on leaving their respective job/salon – however, this isn’t the case with the new breed of salon investors. The salon owners with deep pockets have resorted to attracting our well-trained staff with huge sums of remuneration that the older salons cannot match up to.

12 talented stylists working for my salon were whisked away by a new salon in Bandra using the same tactics. The poaching even extended to our managerial staff who also provided them with our client data. The clients were then approached with huge discounts which resulted in a double blow to our business – within a month, not only did we lose staff but also clients. I immediately contacted prominent salon owners for a meeting and we realised that most of us had similar experiences to share – some of them had even recorded videos of their staff being poached.

The new investors in the salon industry come loaded with money but have zero ethics, which only leads to the rise in corruption. As the situation worsens, neither them nor us will benefit from rampant poaching. As the staff holds you at ransom and change jobs often, it will eventually destroy the market. Salon businesses are already burdened with increasing rents and running costs, especially in metros like Mumbai – larger paychecks for the staff will only tip the balance further and make it more difficult to survive.

There is a right way and a wrong way to improve the quality of business – it is high time that Indian salon owners remember this. We can either have a clean long-standing brand or one that invests in their staff by constantly training them only to lose them to these businessmen who have no qualms in ruining another business to run their own.


Views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Beauty Launchpad IND/ Beauté Espace Media or it’s employees.