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Tech growth means more cuts at Freja

WHILE the hairdressing industry may not have an obvious organic association with information technology, one East Perth-based salon has implemented an IT system it hopes will provide a point of difference.

Freja was opened last July by Perth-based business analyst, Rasmus Nielsen, and Melbourne-based soft-ware programmer, Kasper Mortensen.

Neither partner has a background in hair-dressing.

Despite, or perhaps because of this, the salon is utilising the convenience offered by IT – from its database-driven bookings and customer relationship management (CRM) system, to SMS client reminders and electronic chairs that massage clients while they’re having their hair washed.

So with the combination of business and IT backgrounds, why a hairdressing salon?

“Hairdressing is recession proof,” Mr Nielsen said.

He said that in the difficult times of economic downturns, consumers may put off the purchase of large, high-end items, but would continue to spend smaller amounts on personal luxuries such as a hair cut.

There are more than 655 hairdressing salons in the Perth metropolitan area, with half a dozen in East Perth.

The growth in the industry is modest – about 2-3 per cent per annum – based largely upon population growth.

Further, while statistics show that small business makes up 96.5 per cent of all private sector businesses in Western Australia, more than half fail within their first five years of operation.

Given these statistics, and that hairdressing is already a highly competitive and mature market, it is difficult to see the appeal.

However, Mr Nielsen is resolute that Freja’s approach to business, driven by the use of IT, is certain to establish various points of difference between the salon and its competitors.

The salon has implemented Short Cuts – a booking and reservation system developed in the eastern States and widely used in the hairdressing and beauty salon industry – and extended it.

Mr Nielsen said that, while the Short Cuts system could already run about 240 reports, the Freja team had built additional back-end capabilities to increase its data analysis and reporting capabilities.

“We have built our own database where we can extract data and build data profiles,” he said.

Messrs Nielsen and Mortensen are already hatching plans to open a chain of Freja salons that would be linked through a centralised IT system, enabling a client to go into a salon at any location and have their details available in the system.

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