Located in the heart of South Brisbane, David Murry Salon is a sanctuary for creativity. David and his team have built a reputation of excellence that spans 13 years and he generously agreed to give us an insight into the DMS journey.
David, tell us a little about your salon. What made you take the plunge?
Taking the plunge into salon ownership was a natural progression, having been raised in a family of small business owners.
The conversations around the challenges of running a small business amongst my large family of 6 had an impact. I didn’t realise until later in life how impactful those conversations would be.
Purchasing a salon was a goal I wanted to achieve by age 30, and of course like many other people I was naive to the reality of how much hard work goes into running a business. I thought I could do it better.
Little did I know what it would involve, and I found myself having to learn very quickly. Fortunately, asking for help was something I was comfortable with, and I sought the advice of many influential people in my life, including many clients and of course my partner Lloyd.
My late father was very black and white and the best advice he gave me was “as long as you have more money coming in than going out, you’ll be able to pay people to do the things you do not know how to do”. It’s a simple statement but often forgotten.
The salon opened on the 30 June 2013. The salon was created because at that time there were many large super salons trying to deliver a bougie boutique experience in pumping spaces and I wanted to cinch that into a smaller more personal environment. The remaining history of DMS is still being written.
What is the make up of your team?
Our team has expanded and contracted numerous times over the past 13 years, but we generally have 3 seniors and 3 assistants. A couple of years ago I transitioned my role into reception and administration for the salon.
The running of the business was something I enjoyed, and it required more of my attention, and I found trying to juggle both roles very challenging. Business coach and industry legend Antony Whitaker once said to me at a seminar, “the definition of a successful small business is to make oneself redundant”.
I have never forgotten this and was so proud to have grown my business to a level where this was a possibility for me. Stepping off the floor was a huge risk, but it worked. Moving into this role also created opportunities for my team to step up into salon management and education roles which they did with commitment.
We have found 3 seniors and 3 assistants to be the sweet spot not only from a financial point of view but also from a client experience point of view. Recently we’ve decided to go back to a full team four-day work week from Wednesday through to Saturday.
Staff have opted for this kind of roster to have three consecutive days off a week, allowing them to really rest so they can pump it out in four consecutive days.
What is the DMS Philosophy?
The philosophy of DMS is very simple and it is our statement of belief:
Create an experience where guests spend with a heart, not their head. Create a connection and be memorable in a positive way.
We truly believe that if a client is happy with their experience, you will create loyal longterm client. It’s not just about being happy with their hair.
When you have a hairdresser in your team that gives only good hair, they won’t create a loyal long-term client. When you have a hairdresser in your team that makes a client happy with their hair but also with their experience, you’ve got the winning combination.
How do you attract and retain great people?
Like everyone now, recruitment is really challenging at the moment. I have a group of employees that are long-term and a group of employees that come and go. The long-term staff, one of which we’ve purchased a second salon with, have had good communication with me.
We’ve had conversations over the years that have been difficult and have required us both to reflect on our behaviour and actions and we’ve respectfully worked our way through differences.
A growing trend amongst employees is to leave when they come up against a challenge in the workplace but the art of working through problems within a workplace will benefit you greatly and turn into far more than you realise.
My focus is to provide a safe, respectful and nurturing workspace with opportunities for staff to achieve attractive financial remuneration for their efforts and of course have fun together.”
The role education plays and how important is it to your business?
Well, we wouldn’t have a business without education. In January every year, we have a huge focus on planning the education for the year ahead.
How you train and educate your team?
From July 2023 onwards, we are trying something very different with education. We are facilitating one paid professional development day a month for our assistants, and this will either be with one of our senior staff or a guest artist.
This dedicated day will not only strengthen the skill set of our assistants but help them to grow closer as a unit. Of course, throughout the week, we will take advantage of every opportunity when we are not with a client.
When an apprentice has a training session a senior is marked out to be with them, no one goes it alone.
What is your education approach to apprentices?
Assistants and emerging stylists are the secret sauce of our business. Without them the recipe would be underwhelming. The biggest thing we do for our apprentices is implement a commission structure.
They, like seniors, need to feel like they’re working toward something. They need to feel like at the end of the week when they’ve busted their arse to help make the salon deliver a great experience, they have a little bit of cream at the end of the week.
The hardest thing for me as a salon owner is allowing an apprentice to do a service that I know is a stretch. They must be given the opportunity to mess it up and to then have a conversation as a result of that experience which leaves them feeling empowered, not deflated.
Who are your education partners and how do those partnerships work for you?
Obviously working with a training organisation like “MIG Training” has been hugely helpful., especially last year, where we fully embraced every form of education, e.g., being at the college, in the salon, via Zoom and the one day workshop education program. This filled almost 3/4 of our education plans for 2023.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve really tapped into the incredible talents of Belinda Keely and have welcomed her on numerous occasions and have utilised her in salon Zoom education.
I love everything about Belinda‘s brand and her style of teaching. We also rely on the incredibly talented senior staff which we have in salon.
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