HYDERABAD: Having been in senior leadership roles in the corporate sector for more than two decades, Gayathri Krishnan from Hyderabad decided to take a detour. A year after establishing a unisex salon, she saw the growing issue of imbalance and unorganisation in the men’s grooming sector. It pushed her to start India’s first-ever men’s-only salon chain, Trim-X, with the aim to provide clean, quick and professional service at an affordable price. Her business plans to offer more than what it provides.
Lowering the apex of the op-ex
Gayathri had a vision to establish Trim-X as the go-to local neighbourhood barbershop, while providing luxury at an affordable price. She has achieved this by lowering the operating expenses (op-ex) as there are no more than four salon chairs in each of its 25+ company-owned outlets across the city.
Gayathri calls reducing salon space her ‘four chair’ concept. “We want to provide the same level of experience a unisex salon offers, but at a much lower price,” says the entrepreneur, who struck the iron when it was hot by purchasing land for new branches after the first wave of the pandemic (when the real-estate value had gone down.)
Dealing with the challenges, head-on
As a seasoned industry veteran in a major telecommunications company, Gayathri knew how to deal with difficulties when she was at ground zero. She learnt that customer relationship is of paramount importance. “I personally read all the reviews and not just those marked below three stars,” adds Gayathri, who also makes sure that every effort is made to collect feedback.
As a woman, she also had to learn a lot about men’s grooming which was a challenge in itself. But one major problem that still persists, according to her, is the high attrition rate which she plans to overcome by setting up a training academy. As of now, stylists at her salons are trained for about a week before being deployed. They are subjected to training rotations once every two months.
“I want to make sure our hairstylists receive utmost respect because we live in a society where a painter is treated as an artist whereas a barber remains a barber. I want to change that. As a matter of fact, our employees are provided with accommodation and are reimbursed for travel expenses to ensure they are comfortable and can deliver their best. Because we believe happy employees lead to happy customers.”
Most men resist grooming as they consider it to be a habit of only women.
This fallacy is something that Gayathri and her brand seek to break by educating their customers who visit the salon. Gayathri will soon be launching a range of everyday grooming products — from hair cream to deo-sticks made mostly from plant-based ingredients for men under the brand name Elevate.
She emphasises the need to inculcate the good old habit of daily grooming and warns that if enough care for the scalp and hair is not given by washing and nourishing it regularly, a variety of problems from dandruff to hair loss might take shape.