CHAPTER 22 & EPILOGUE:
SPLITTING OUR PARTNERSHIP 2014/15
Sometimes the parting of the ways can be incredibly difficult whether it’s a family thing or purely business. In my case, 2014/15 proved to be the end of an amazing 40 plus years of a business partnership. Far too complicated to go into details, suffice to say ending that kind of relationship is both sad & yet in some ways, refreshing. Sad because inevitably, as I wrote about our previous split with business partners back in the early 90’s, we tend to be left unhappy, frustrated, angry & emotionally drained.
But what about refreshing? Strange word to use, but because you have to take on board all sorts of issues, you tend to put your brain to work & start thinking outside the box whilst at the same time re-organising your life. A huge task, but if you’re as obstinate & single-minded as I am & have the support of a wonderful wife, my equally motivated son, Edward, & an amazingly resilient workforce, you can come out the other side stronger & even more determined than ever to succeed.
At the same time that we were going through the trauma of our business re-shuffle, we had an OFSTED inspection to deal with. If anyone reading this has had the pleasure of OFSTED you’ll know what we mean. The inspectors are not interested about the quality of hairdressing & barbering we teach, they’re only interested in systems that meet with their criteria. Amazing as it sounds now, we were graded
2 Good! Added to our nervousness about our inspection, there was & still is the on-going confusion regarding the new Apprenticeship standards.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been involved with this last couple of years. Previously, my role was always non-specific, doing everything from answering the phones to stock control to addressing the million & one things necessary to run the business efficiently. Nowadays I’m much more focussed on student recruitment, getting to know our great & loyal employers personally & making our education program the envy of the industry.
We sold the lease of the last of our salons in October 2015 to concentrate on building up the already successful Schools of Hairdressing. Our teaching staff is led by Kevin Day who has been with us for more than a dozen years & the team he runs have in the main, been with us for the same sort of time. We have since relocated our premises in Ipswich to a more user-friendly unit, this time on the ground floor of a great location in the town centre. In just 6 months at the new premises we seem to have started expanding our training program to such an extent that we actually struggled for space last week. Amazing as the previous premises were so big that we could never fill it!
I’m a great believer in getting people young & training them with the same values I was instilled with. For example, my two admin. staff have been with me for nearly 24 years. Nadine came straight from college around 14 years ago & is the student liaison person as well as doing hundreds of other things in a normal day & our accounts person, Lina, has been with us for around 9 plus years. Both ladies help around our reception when necessary & aren’t afraid of a bit of hard work. In our Ipswich branch Marc, the manager, was initially trained by us in 2003 & after a period away came back to us last year.
It makes me very proud to know that I’ve been instrumental in shaping the lives of hundreds of people (probably more like thousands) over the last 57 years (at the time of writing). If I can be remembered in any positive way, I’d like to think some will say “he was tough but fair”! Sometime in the future I’ll probably add some upgrades to my story, but for now, enough is enough.