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Oct, 12 2010

GROOM INDIA, NATURALLY

THE beauty industry is one of the few industries, which has braved the recent global meltdown. It is one of the most stable, recession-proof and profitable businesses that can ever be.

THE beauty industry is one of the few industries, which has braved the recent global meltdown. It is one of the most stable, recession-proof and profitable businesses that can ever be. The demand for beauty care has multiplied manifold in the last few years and organised beauty salons are growing at an unprecedented pace. The organised salon industry, which is 15 per cent of the total market, is estimated to be around Rs 2,000 crore. As per a recent report, 15 per cent of the market is likely to organise in the next two to three years, which implies an exponential growth in salon business.

Naturals Beauty Salon India Pvt. Ltd, one of the fastest growing salon chains in India, capitalised on the opportunities in this sector well in time to become a crown jewel in the beauty business segment. Its franchise offering could just be the perfect opportunity you need for that glow of success. It has a franchise model that will hone your skills and business acumen. It's a renowned unisex beauty salon chain for a host of reasons.

Nurturing Naturals

The strong network of Naturals salons across south-India is a testimony to the success of their franchised ventures. Naturals provides an established business model with phenomenal success rate, efficiency and proven track record. Besides having unisex and luxury salons, Naturals also runs two training academies to meet the emerging need of training hair and beauty professionals. Enveloping majority of south-Indian cities under its beauty cover, Naturals has grown via three stages of development - company-owned salons, partnership salons and franchised salons - to be acknowledged as the industry leader.

At its inception, the company's objective was to understand the business and establish the brand Naturals. After accomplishing this goal, the company began expanding and became the lead brand in south India. Presently, Naturals has 67 franchised salons and eight company-owned salons. While gaining appreciation and accolades for successfully expanding its network, the company is gradually working on its expansion in rest-of-india region to become one of the best salon chains across India. The first non-south salon was opened in Pune in early 2010 and the company is all set to launch its salons in Mumbai,  Kolkata and Bhopal in the month of October 2010.

As per C.K. Kumaravel, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Naturals Beauty Salon India Pvt. Ltd, “The vision of the company is to groom India. Naturals aims at creating 1,000 successful women entrepreneurs and 10,000 job opportunities in the beauty and wellness industry by 2015.”

Grooming for growth

The company envisions a network of 10 company-owned salons and 1,000 franchised salons across the country in the next five years. Having a well-built market in south-India, the company is all set to enter the non-South market. In terms of expansion, Kumaravel says, “We have identified 105 salons in our first phase of expansion in non-South market, which will be opened before December 31, 2011.”

In the first phase, Naturals is aiming at cities like Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bhopal, Nagpur in the west; Kolkata, Bhuvaneshwar, Cuttak, Guwahati and Patna in the east; and Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jaipur in the north.

On parameters of entering a particular market, Kumaravel says, “Before entering a particular market, we look for other lifestyle brands and their success. We have a 16-point location identification process, which we follow in finalising a specific location to start our salon.”

Training & support

Having witnessed frequent changes in trends and techniques in the beauty industry, Naturals emphasises on training support to its franchisees and staff on a regular basis. To ensure uniform services at all its salons, the company updates its staff and franchisees on the technical know-how and salon management skills respectively.

Retaining qualified and trained staff is the biggest challenge in the beauty industry besides fast changing trends. Under technical training, the company provides extensive training on new-age trends of hair, skin, nail and usage of beauty products, while under salon management, the company offers training on how to take care of a customer, managing the staff, inventory control, billing procedure, telephone handling, communication skills and other trainings to run the salon smoothly.

The international beauty products majors like L'Oreal, Schwarzkopf, Wella and others collaborate in this crucial intervention by providing the latest in know-how and by bringing in their global expert trainers periodically, to provide both advanced training and to re-train the trainers.

Besides training the staff, Naturals franchise team offers prior support to franchisees in finalising ideal location, lease negotiation, designing and execution of interiors, procurement of equipments, building business plans, bank loan tie-ups and completion of legal and statutory formalities. Naturals' dedicated area business managers assist in drawing out a comprehensive business plan and promotional solutions. While the HR team assists in staff recruitment and comprehensive training, the IT team provides online business management system, which keeps the franchisees associated with the corporate office 24X7 and the finance team takes the responsibility to put the accounts system in place.

Combing the franchisee business

A regular audit at franchised salons is mandatory to maintain services standards at par. Audits are done to ensure compliance with protocols, policies and procedures of the franchisor. Naturals conducts a financial audit, which incorporates billing, payment to vendors and overall profitability of the salon. The company has a technical audit too, which ensures staff's competence and quality of gadgets and equipments used. Besides technical and financial audits, Naturals also conducts a mystery customer audit, which helps to audit the franchise from the customer services point of view.

Franchise make-up

Over a decade, Naturals has created and perfected a franchise system, which has proven to be a successful business model, spelling a win-win deal for all partners. As per Kumaravel, “Franchising is an apt business model to expand, especially in a country like India. While it is not easy to replicate the key business, franchisee's commitment ensures transfer of our know-how and systems.”

While taking up the franchise of Naturals Beauty Salon, a franchisee gets an opportunity to share its phenomenal success and valued services. Besides this, the franchisees also avail the benefits of training and support. For Naturals, a franchisee is an integral part of its business that comes with local knowledge, investment and holds a significant place in their growth. “Expanding through a franchise keeps us updated of the competition, changes in market trends and new opportunities specific to the market we are targeting,” he adds.

Naturals' preference of satisfying beauty connoisseurs is of utmost significance. Giving franchise to a franchisee from similar background tops its priority list. The company wants its franchisees to possess qualities like appreciation for beauty, willingness to lead the team, ability to invest the money, flair for service industry and a passion for doing things.

So when you partner with Naturals, your business benefits from their strength and dedication. Right from the start-up stage of your salon business to beyond, you are guaranteed of professional and experienced support, whenever and wherever you need.

Successfully sustaining a decade-old relationship with its existing franchisees, Naturals is all set to launch its expansion in rest-of-Indian market as well.

INTERVIEW

The beauty of business

Known for its grooming services at affordable prices, Naturals salons have made an indelible mark in the beauty and wellness industry. In an interview, Veena Kumaravel, Founder and Chairperson, Naturals Beauty Salon India Pvt. Ltd, says India offers enough scope for expansion, so they are not thinking of international expansion as of now.

Congratulations on becoming the largest unisex salon chain in India. How do you envisage Naturals in the coming years?

We presently have 75 salons. By the year 2015, we want to be a 1,000 salon chain, creating 1,000 women entrepreneurs and providing job facilities to at least 10,000 people.

According to you, what it takes to be a successful franchisor?

The brand is built on the basis of a support cycle. The cycle incorporates franchise partners, staff, the suppliers and the customers.

What as a franchisor does Naturals offer to the franchisee and what are the investment and space requirements to open a Naturals salon?

We at Naturals give a comprehensive package to the franchisee right from choosing a right place, helping them in right interiors & fit out, choosing the equipments and most importantly, providing well-trained staff to the salons. We train the franchisee in the nuances of the salon business as well and handhold them in first few months of inception of the salon. We require around 1,300 to 2,000 sq.ft. carpet area with an investment of about Rs 30 to 50 lakhs.

Tell us about Naturals Training Academy. What purpose does it serve?

We have two training academies in Bengaluru and Chennai. Freshers undergo a progressive three-month programme in hair and beauty before employment. We also provide hostel facilities to our staff during the training period. Existing experienced staff undergo continuous training on advanced skills periodically.

What challenges did you face during the initial phase of business establishment? How one can overcome those challenges?

In year 2000 when Naturals had set up its first salon, there were a lot of speculations concerning the feasibility of a unisex salon in a traditionally conservative society. But after 10 years of dedication in this business, we are running and managing our franchise network successfully. We are successful today because we were sure about our vision and worked diligently to make our business run successfully.

Any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Every entrepreneur has to have an in-depth knowledge of the sector s/he is planning to enter into. First-hand knowledge of the business or the industry is of prime importance. The rest is all about making well-versed decisions for financial and business development.

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