Do we need even more hairdressers?

The sins of the past are the problems of the future: the general growth of the sector is being mitigated by an over-supply of qualified hairdressers

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For years now, the hairdresser handtrade is one of the most popular professional choices amongst early school graduates from all over Europe. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, within our everyday trade we also must face illegal employment, microbusinesses with dumping prices and bad working conditions, mostly caused by an absurd price war (see article: The Hairdresser’s Business – Price War or Quality?).

Let’s stick to the German market as prime example: over the last ten years, about 750.000 hairdressers have been newly trained (according to an estimate based on the study “Bildung in Deutschland” by the German Department for Education and Research). Theoretically, this means an enormous potential of work force available for businesses.

About 180.000 hairdressers are working for the 41.600 salons in Germany which employ a staff and which gross a total revenue above 17.500€ per annum. This adds up to a total of 222.000 professionals if we count the salon owners. The number of the aforementioned microbusinesses is estimated to be about 20.000. In conclusion this means that there are roughly 500.000 hairdressers who are neither employed, nor self-employed.

Let us now assume that those hairdressers cut or colour hair once in a while, e.g. for family members and friends. With only one treatment per month, considering the average treatment fee of 39.47€ (according to an EVA research from 2011), this would sum up to a potential revenue of 236.8 million Euros.

Quite a rewarding market worthy of being attended, don’t you think?

Now, how does supplying this market with products work? No one does this better than the appropriate online stores and the many hairdresser brand shops. If we take the usual 10% product purchasing costs from the potential mentioned above, the result is a market worth another 23.7 million Euros – which is also very interesting!

Of course, one of the key questions of this subject is why so many hairdressers do not work in their own profession. If we take the media coverage of the past years into consideration, the following points are clearly put in the limelight:

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  • wage dumping
  • unattractive working hours and conditions
  • a bad image

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… to name just a few.

So what is the goal here? Which direction does the hairdresser trade need to choose in order to steer into an economically sensible future? Adequate approaches are:

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  • less, but highly qualified training
  • better wages responding to real performance
  • modernised working hours and conditions

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So, my answer to the question whether we need more hairdressers or not would be: “Why not? Newcomers are imperative for any business – but they need to be integrated with the market instead of excluded from it. There is no lack of growth and potential, but the market itself needs more value. Meaning, quality in every aspect, a healthy competition and a rational selection as key principle for success.”

I know of quite a number of colleagues who long since have chosen this path: their employees stay with those salons for decades and build up great and lucrative relations to customers as well as their employers. Economically speaking, this certainly is the better way to a better future.

What is your opinion?

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