It’s not often that a client is so impressed by your service that they offer to invest personally in your business. But that’s exactly what happened to Monica Nkosi, founder and MD of Coressence Beauty Salon. Nkosi was working as an employee in a beauty salon when a corporate client urged her to start up on her own.
But, being young and inexperienced in business, she put the idea down as something to do when she was older. “I looked at the market and realised there were so many overheads – rent, equipment, marketing. It just seemed out of reach,” she relates. And besides, it’s the kind of advice senior business people are often happy to give, but are seldom willing to put their money where their mouths are.
However, the idea planted a seed in Nkosi’s mind and when the opportunity arose for her to rent space in a Pilates studio in Sandton, she jumped at it. True to his professed belief in her abilities, her client turned financier, putting up enough capital for her to make the move.
When asked what she thinks inspired such confidence, Nkosi answers simply, “Later on his girlfriend told me that he felt that my personalised service had the making of a good business.”She’s retained personalised service as her key selling point. The spa and beauty market is one of the fastest growing sectors in South Africa, with franchises and outlets opening on almost every corner, and Nkosi believes that personalised service is what will help to retain and grow her existing client base.
“In spite of rapid expansion in the industry, this kind of business still works on word of mouth – one happy client will recommend you to another person and this is what grows your customer base. If your clients feel like they have a personal relationship with you and that you offer them something over and above what the normal mall salon can, they’ll keep coming back and they’ll tell their friends,” she says.
Coressence quickly outgrew its original premises and although it still has a branch in Sandton, its new home is in the upmarket exclusive suburb of Parkhurst. Unable to afford rent for such premises at this stage, Nkosi has taken an innovative approach to accessing the premises she wants, teaming up with a hair salon and eyebrow specialist, who split the rent with her.
She and her two therapists are now in the centre of an area that draws wealthy individuals and corporate clients alike. Because the three businesses are aligned, Nkosi leverages the synergy to cross-sell to clients who come in to see the other two companies. It’s clear that Nkosi has made the most of the original investment, and has since invested money back into the business, developing a brand identity, hiring staff and growing her customer base.
“We’ve created a good foundation and a brand and our next big step is to focus on a marketing campaign to increase our visibility and extend our client base,” shes ays.“I see Coressence growing into a chain of branches. That’s my vision for the future,” she continues, “But I never want to lose the advantage that we’ve gained through personalised service.
The clientele that we’re dealing with are all looking for something special that speaks to their individual needs and the experience they have at Coressence always needs to deliver on that. For this reason I remain hands-on – I’m a working therapist in addition to running and managing the business. It’s important that I keep close to clients and continue to respond to their needs.”
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