Facing Up to the Disruptive Factors Ahead

There has been a lot of talk in the industry in general about how to deal with what’s coming – the disruptions we are facing. There is also a lot of complaining about the way it used to be, which was great. We had a hell of a ride. But that’s gone. It’s in the past. We need to sit up and listen, because the disruptions challenging the very foundations of the way we work are already here.

The way I see it, we risk making the same mistakes as seen in other industries. For example, the yellow cab companies. Those guys had their own belief system. They wouldn’t allow themselves to think any differently. They laughed about technology changing the world, confident a computer couldn’t drive clients where they wanted to go. It’s a bit like how we in beauty reassure ourselves that Amazon can’t cut hair or do a mani-pedi. The cab companies thought they owned it, but they didn’t. They didn’t see Uber coming, or Tesla. The yellow cabs were wrong, and we could be, too. Who knows where AI will take us?

The danger for this industry is that while we are moaning about the Madison Reeds of this world or the product companies delivering personalized shampoo via an app, we risk missing the biggest threat – the commoditization of beauty. I would go as far as to say it’s already here.

The mistake of the yellow cabs was they were arrogant. They refused to upgrade. How many times have you got into a taxi and asked to pay on a credit card and they told you the machine was broken? We can’t be like that. We need to accept change and deal with it.

It’s easy for those online producers and ‘influencers’ to disrupt our systems. So we need to find ways to be special. But it’s not rocket science, we already know what makes us special – it’s our people.  Only our people can deliver services in a way AI or technology can’t. We can offer personalized experiences, in person! And we have a captive audience right now that we can hold onto if we can deliver what they want, how they want it and when they want it. We need our people to be 100 percent on, 100 percent of the time, with a waiting list of clients. And we need them selling products because the margins on services are shrinking.

We must learn from yellow cabs; there’s no point acting like the victim, complaining about the old ways, and looking for a time when Uber or Tesla may no longer exist. It isn’t going to happen. We’ve got to get our people ready to deal with the disruptions we face, and that means facing down the challenges and evolving. We’ve got to lead them and if you want to understand how to do that, I suggest you come to this year’s ISBN conference in Bonita Springs in May, because we’ll be focusing exactly on those leadership strategies that will us allow us to compete successfully in the new, changing economic landscape.

Scott Missad is president of the International SalonSpa Business Network and CEO of Gene Juarez Salons and Spas in Seattle.

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