The hair care industry is big business, and has grown far beyond its former realm of salon shops, beauty supply companies and other brick-and-mortar establishments. Online innovators like Canada Hair have redefined how customers connect with their favorite hair care products, extensions, wigs and other beauty accessories. The company got its start by filling a much-needed void in the Canadian hair care marketplace; before CanadaHair.ca launched, obtaining quality and affordable extensions, wigs and other hair care products was a difficult process. The company took a two-tier approach to solving their customers’ problems: they distributed well-known brands and also designed their own in-house products.
With an ever-evolving culture of innovation, Canada Hair currently uses a distribution network to offer the best possible prices in Canada. Led by Sam Conan, the company continues to earn accolades as one of the most customer-friendly online hair care outlets. His company’s success in a competitive business environment grabbed our attention, and we wanted to learn more. Mr. Conan recently spoke with Innovative Company about a variety of subjects – both personal and professional – and his replies provide plenty of wisdom for young entrepreneurs.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration is Tony Hsieh from Zappos.com. He once told me how company culture is important. He explained how unengaged employees will hurt your business, so you should always hire talented people that fit in your company’s culture.
This made sense to me when I started seeing how my employees at CanadaHair.ca will manage the business as if it was their business. I could go on vacation right now and I know that my employees will handle any issues that may arise from my absence.
We had an employee helping an elderly woman for many hours because she could not choose the perfect wig for her. Our employee never lost patience and stayed friendly the whole time. This is what truly defines us at CanadaHair.ca – customers always come first and must be treated like family. We will never hurry a customer in making a decision, regardless of the circumstances. That employee made us all proud, because this is what Canada Hair company culture is all about. This is what Tony Hsieh inspired me to do and implement in our company.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
My advice to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur is to always focus on customer satisfaction, even after the sale takes place. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs are only focusing on the pre-sale. If you are serious about having a long-term business with happy customers, you should focus on everybody whether they already placed their order or not.
For example, here at Canada Hair, we always strive to give the best customer service to everybody. If a person never bought from us, we treat her as if it was a regular customer. If a person already bought from us, we treat her as if it was our only customer.
Once an order takes place, we always ensure that the customer knows how to reach us. We try to make communications between us and customers a priority. As a result, we are always easily reachable whether it’s for questions or comments. In addition, we have an easy, simple and hassle-free return policy. We truly believe in customer service even after a sale took place, and this is what someone who wants to become an entrepreneur should remember.
Where do you see your business in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see my business with several physical stores across Canada. More precisely, I want to have a Canada Hair store in every major Canadian city. As of now, we’re in two cities: Montreal and Ottawa. We are mainly focusing on our online website because we believe that everybody in Canada should have access to quality hair extensions without having to physically visit a store. This allowed us to focus on quality control, customers experience and therefore better serve the market before proceeding with our expansion of physical stores.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Although we have an innovative and technological online store, we believe that the best method of marketing is the traditional word-to-mouth. Of course, we use multiple advertising means, but the most effective ROI and long-term success is having happy customers that talk about you. We do this by focusing on the human aspect. For instance, we at Canada Hair always try to have quality products at reasonable prices. We do so by periodically reviewing our suppliers’ production, trying to cut unnecessary cost so that our customers can save money, and we always have a human interact with customers’ questions or comments. Nothing is more convincing and credible for a future customer than seeing his friend or family satisfied with our products.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
One of my failures was building our website first, then asking our customers about their feedback. This resulted in a big loss for us because our customers found our website to be complicated with the navigation, slow on some pages and overall not user-friendly. We had to immediately address this situation. Since the issues mentioned were deeply intertwined with the technology we were using at that time, we had to completely redo our website from scratch based on customers’ feedback. Although this adventure made us lose considerable amount of money, we are just happy that as of now customers love our website.
A second failure of mine would be spreading myself too thinly over many projects. At one point, you will have to concede some decisions to other people. Once CanadaHair.ca started to grow exponentially because of our excellent reputation, I still tried to be involved in every little minor issue. If a customer was unsatisfied, I would be micro-managing and instructing my employees how to handle the situation so that this customer becomes satisfied. Thanks to our company’s culture, I don’t need to do this anymore because my employees and I are on the same page. They can take decisions by themselves that will always put the customer first.
How does your company provide innovation within your industry?
We innovated by implementing a very sophisticated distribution network around the world. We deal with many countries and we use the latest technology. In other words, we are capable of offering to our customers the latest and hottest products on the market at a fraction of the price you would pay in most stores. Our distribution network allows us to find the best quality products at the best possible price, with periodic quality review. For instance, we are one of the first in Canada to offer hair straightener brushes. This was one of the latest technologies in hot tools and while most companies were trying to have access to that product, we already had it on our store at a very low price. We actually had that product 3 weeks before Amazon did!
Well said, Mr. Conan! We’d like to thank Sam for providing such insightful responses, and we’re sure his advice will provide young executives with plenty of inspiration in their own careers! If you’d like to find out more about Mr. Conan’s successful enterprise, visit the CanadaHair.ca website here. You can also visit their contact page, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.