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Three ways beauty and personal businesses can gain back lost revenue due to admin, ahead of summer

Attributed to: Samina Hussain-Letch, Executive Director, Square UK

The entrepreneurial beauty and personal care sector in Britain amounts to a whopping 36 billion pounds, but the pressure of manual labour endured by business owners is an obstacle for converting revenue and growth.

Our recent industry study highlights that nearly half (43%) of British barbers, spas, nail salons, personal trainers, tattoo parlours, and piercing studios are not using digital platforms or tools to automate bookings, ultimately losing over a full working day each week to administrative tasks alone. This equates to approximately two months lost per year, to manual admin tasks for beauty and personal care businesses.

We’ve listed three ways beauty and personal care businesses can gain back revenue ahead of summer:

  • Detoxing manual admin

Admin tasks are the equivalent to Pandora’s box for beauty and personal care businesses. The tasks may constitute using paper diaries to schedule appointments, manually rescheduling appointments, or taking bookings and sending reminders by message or phone call.

These seemingly minor chores can be a large time drain for businesses that rely on manual processes. The research found filing down time between client appointments to be one of the most difficult challenges, with 39% of the sector facing this over the last year, alone.

Businesses should identify how they could set timings to the specific duration of each service and still build in cleaning time after the appointment. Digital tools like an appointment booking software play a crucial role. By automating manual admin, owners can offer bookings with a wide booking window, allowing them to spend devoted time on each customer, resulting in the allowance to foster a loyal relationship that will keep them coming back, while giving their workforce time to clean up after the appointment.

  • Tapping into the power of technology

The solution here may sound simple, but business owners should again lean on technology to transform manual labour.

With time back, salons can give their workforce time to speak to customers on what other services they can offer to expand business offerings.

With the integration of tech tools for beauty and personal care businesses, nearly half (48%) of business owners would like staff to treat themselves to finishing work on time, while identifying new training for their team. Adopting a technology solution can unlock efficient management for businesses as appointments can be booked online and reminders can be sent using the software.

With the research showing that 42% of consumers want to book appointments on the weekend or after hours, working with the software promises ease for customers that are looking to make reservations after businesses are closed for the day.  But how can beauty and personal care business owners look to drive up their revenue when switching to an appointment software?

  • Driving up the revenue road

Our research also highlighted that only 1 in 5 of beauty and personal care businesses are automating marketing campaigns or inventory management. This sheds light that not all beauty and personal care businesses are optimising their toolset.

The time gained back from using automated appointment software allows businesses to think more strategically about marketing and pricing. Integration of an automated software readily links up with an online store that allows salons to not only manage inventory more effectively, but offer new products to clients on different channels of their choice.

With new offerings, businesses have extra opportunities and routes to drive up revenue. Selling products online is a sure-fire way of creating new business, as well as keeping their back end organised and offering consumers more options when it comes to buying products that are used within or after their appointment – as take home collateral.

Having an automated booking software for beauty and personal care businesses is a great way to unlock further revenue, train a workforce with time back, spend more time connecting with clientele and ensuring the business is driving bookings even while the salon is closed. It’s a win-win situation that will position businesses for success this year. Because as we all know, a business is only as successful as their customer satisfaction.

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How Alternative Assets and Data Boost Security in the Time of Market Uncertainty

Source: Finance Derivative

Author: Gediminas Rickevičius, VP Global Partnerships at Oxylabs

We live in interesting times, in both good and bad senses. While innovation drives our enthusiasm for the future, the restless geopolitical and Earth’s climate leave room for anxiety.

Interesting times are not always what investors would want. Market uncertainty means insecure positions for the portfolios composed of traditional assets like stocks and bonds. This is the time to look for alternative solutions. In 2024, alternative assets and alternative data are both set for another big year. It will be even bigger for those who effectively use these alternatives.

The growth spur of alternative assets

If we follow the conventional understanding of investment centered around stocks, bonds, and cash, alternative assets are inevitably placed in the periphery. As usual, however, the periphery is much broader than the center. Various asset classes, from the oldest ones, like commodities and real estate, to the newest ones, like cryptocurrency, are often deemed alternatives.

In institutional investment, alternatives have always been overshadowed by their more liquid and closely regulated traditional counterparts. However, alternative asset classes have been emerging out of this shadow recently. Comprising only 6% of the global investable market 15 years ago, they are expected to grow their share to 24% by 2025.

Alternative fund managers all over the world are projecting that 2024 will be another leap year, with around 85% expecting an increase in capital raising. Thus, alternative investment is still reaching its peak, which might be the perfect time to jump on board.

What drives the growth?

Investor faith in alternatives is reasonably driven by their recent performance. Over the last three years, Blackstone Group’s Alternative Assets Management (BAAM) unit outperformed the traditional 60-stocks/40-bonds portfolio by almost 12%.

These results align with historical trends and encourage investors already looking for ways to outride the stormy markets. According to J.P. Morgan, the main investor concerns in 2024 will be those where alternative assets are known to add support – diversification, hedging inflation, and alpha.

Increased retail investors’ access to alternative investments is another growth driver. The younger generations are the leading force in this regard. While older generations already have the financial cushion to patiently wait for long-term returns, Gen Z and Millennials seek to improve their current economic situation. That and feeling comfortable with new technology and financial instruments like cryptocurrency make young investors seek access to alternatives.

For these generations, social media plays a crucial role in investing. It influences them to choose riskier but more rewarding alternatives and serves as an alternative source of knowledge about investing.

Nevertheless, alternative investments are still dominated by the ultra-wealthy, who tend to have alternative assets making up 50% of their portfolios. Given their high stakes in alternative investments, one can be sure that these investors go far beyond social media when sourcing investment intelligence.

Alternative data in investment

Thinking about investing, many of us imagine investors researching stocks and bonds by looking at SEC filings, press releases, and financial statements. This is the traditional picture.

The alternative picture is bigger. Both alternative assets and alternative data have more types than their traditional counterparts. All data types outside the aforementioned official data sources are considered alternative data.

Often, alternative assets and data are also larger in volume. Real estate alone is the world’s largest asset class. Online real estate listings provide an extensive data source for meaningful insights into this investment vehicle. One can scrape these listings for price, location, description, and other crucial data. Another alternative data source, geolocation, provides information on movement patterns around the property. Thus, it is especially handy for investing in commercial real estate that depends on the number of potential customers passing by.

Similar ways of utilizing alternative data sources for investment intelligence are applicable to all types of alternative assets. For example, private equity investors can benefit from online job postings data and firmographics. Most importantly, large-scale alternative data collection is paramount for investors with diverse alternative asset portfolios.

Data opens the doors to diversification

Despite the clear advantages of diversification, not all investors and fund managers feel comfortable utilizing alternative assets for it. Some level of insecurity is understandable. To effectively use the versatility of alternative investments, one needs to understand many relatively unfamiliar markets.

Other major concerns related to such assets include higher fees and a tough time getting out of the investment once it is made. Higher initial investment and relative illiquidity are also among the main factors that historically made alternative assets available mostly, if not only, for the rich.

These concerns make access to alternative data a necessity. Only with versatile, accurate, and up-to-date information can investors securely invest in illiquid and costly alternatives. Many ultra-wealthy investors seem to agree since alternative data provider revenue is set to surpass that of traditional data providers before this decade ends.

Thus, access to premium data collection solutions is as important as larger financial capital in enabling the rich to dedicate a significant share of their portfolio to alternatives. The ultra-wealthy investors could just as well continue making their money from traditional investments. It is the certainty of having the best information available that encourages to look for diversification in often riskier and less regulated investments when stocks and bonds are underperforming.

However, although cutting-edge data-gathering technology might be more available to high-net-worth and institutional investors, alternative data can also advance the general democratization of investment. Retail investors can benefit from simple web scraping tools that allow a more systematic approach to investment research than adhering to sporadic advice from podcasts and social media posts.

Summing up

Alternative assets are generally only loosely correlated with traditional markets. Thus, in uncertain times such as these, alternative investments can provide a level of security that increases the portfolio’s health.

While still less familiar than mainstream investment, these assets are better understood and monitored with the help of alternative data sources. Despite being dubbed alternatives, many of these sources are, in fact, publicly available. One might consider this crucial investment intelligence a public secret of the rich.

As data extraction technology evolves, increasingly better solutions will be available to all investors, forcing us to reconsider whether it is time to rebrand alternatives as the universal vehicle for financial diversification.

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The value of interim leaders in helping get businesses get ‘deal ready’

Source: Finance Derivative

The concept of interim leadership is becoming ever more important in the world of business, as the benefits of recruiting for specific expertise to deliver large-scale transformation or bolster capabilities to reach strategic objectives at crunch points becomes increasingly apparent.

In particular, interim leaders offer a unique solution to mid-cap, founder-led companies that find themselves grappling with the challenge of making themselves as attractive as possible to potential investors. They can help achieve this, while  maintaining the stability that underscores an organisation’s inherent market value.

‘Interims’ can drive rapid transformations and process improvements, bringing much needed experience and energy to make a company fully ‘deal ready’.

Considering this, Andrew McIntee, Director at people advisory firm New Street Consulting Group examines the crucial role interim leaders play in helping high potential businesses attract and secure the best possible investment deal.

Getting the Dynamics Right

Getting leadership dynamics right is one of the most delicate aspects of preparing for an important funding round. While a change in the leadership team just before a sale might hint at instability, the addition of the right kind of leadership skills and experience in the run up to going to market can significantly enhance a business’s appeal. This is where the strategic incorporation of interim professionals can provide the perfect balance. 

These seasoned experts bring a level of flexibility and specialised skill often pivotal in maximising the value of a business and getting the best funding partner onboard. From a stability point of view, they do this without the permanence that could cause friction with existing leadership team members or signal unsteadiness to future investors.

Enhancing Value with Interim Experience

Indeed, the interim role is much more than simply acting as a stopgap; interims are experienced specialists who know what investors are looking for and can drive substantial, sustainable improvements and efficiencies that make a business more attractive to private equity firms. This includes everything from streamlining operations to ensuring the company is future-proofed and set for continued growth.

In addition, the flexibility of interim professionals allows them to undertake significant transformation projects – be it cost reduction, operational efficiencies, regulatory compliance, or even spearheading ESG initiatives – without burdening any potential new investors with long-term resource commitments. 

When investors come on board, interim specialists can seamlessly move on, allowing new funders to work with the businesses’ permanent leadership on building on longer-term growth plans from a solid foundation.

Making a Business ‘Easy to Buy’

Of course, a key aspect of preparing for investment is making a business ‘easy to buy.’  Often, this involves a range of specialist issues that entrepreneurial leadership teams aren’t always versed in – for example, dealing with regulatory issues, optimising processes, and preparing rigorous deal rooms.

Interim talent is often ideal for helping permanent leadership teams deal with these requirements. While a situation may be completely new to your board, specialist Interims have seen it all before and know exactly what needs to be done and why.

The Commonality of Interim CFO

Given the value that Interims can bring in getting financial processes and reporting in a strong place for scrutiny by potential investors, it isn’t surprising that the CFO role stands out as the most commonly utilised of all interim leaders.

Specialist interim CFOs – typically highly experienced in helping businesses prepare for investment – act as trusted but temporary advisors, guiding the financial strategy to align with the expectations of potential investors. Not only does this help a business be as ‘deal room ready’ as possible, the fact that an experienced interim CFO is on board acts as a positive signal to potential investors in its own right.

That’s because investors will know they’ll be inheriting a well organised financial situation which has been guided by an experienced hand (and, of course, one who will also be perfectly placed to provide a smooth handover to their permanent replacement).

Interim Leadership and Cultural Integration

The smooth assimilation of operations and cultures between investor and investee is essential for the sustained success of the newly funded business. And another area where interim leaders excel is in facilitating post-investment synergies between company and backer.

Interim leaders, with their experience and strategic insight, are experts in helping existing teams identify and smoothly navigate potential culture clashes and operational roadblocks that might otherwise hinder the post-investment integration process.

Interims: A Wise Investment

For founder-led mid-cap businesses eyeing investment, the deployment of interim talent can be a game-changer. They not only bring the expertise necessary to enhance a company’s value and attractiveness to investors, but also offer a level of flexibility and strategic insight that can be difficult to replicate with permanent staff alone.

As businesses navigate the complexities of pre-buyout preparation, the decision to engage interim expertise could very well be the difference between a good investment and a great one.

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