Business Technology

Managing over 25,000 independent salons is no easy feat

6 min read

10 May 2016

Former editor

Now spread out across ten European countries, Treatwell has grown quickly since starting life in 2008 – but has always made crucial investment in technological tools to make the journey smoother.

As we found out first through profiling fast-growing equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, British SMEs are waking up to the benefits of digital services designed to help manage the vast quantities of data now required to be successful.

Online hair and beauty marketplace Treatwell is no different, and was set up from day one to capture and act on data. The brainchild of Lopo Champalimaud, who was formerly managing director of European lifestyle at dot.com darling Lastminute,
Treatwell has used equity backing and acquisitions to roll out its service across Europe.

Champalimuad explained that while his business has a big need for a customer relationship management (CRM) system, the focus has always been on data – not necessarily the systems.

“From the start it was how are we capturing data, and then integrating it,” he said. “Then it was about how we can make that data available to different systems – which for me is the number one thing.”

Treatwell has three distinct uses for a CRM. The first is for managing customers, who now originate from as far away as Italy. Next in line are sales, who are responsible for signing up new venues. This CRM need is then handed over to account management, who pick up with venues after each has been taken through the signup process. Finally comes a customer service requirement, with repeat bookings a big part of long-term success.

There are some fairly significant challengers for Treatwell to deal with each day if it wants to continue signing up new customers and venues as fast as it has done so far. There’s understanding customer history, preferences, segmentation – then there’s a need to target and personalise information through email communication and the website.

When a sales person meets a salon for the first time they need to have the best possible information readily accessible both at that stage and when communication is picked up again at a later date.

Champalimaud’s experience of building CRM-based businesses before has been key to making a success of Treatwell’s internal systems. Backed up by a skilful team and dedicated “head of CRM” he knows full well that once data collection and management is messed up, it’s very hard to get back gain.

“What I’ve done is spend more time on systems that allow people to access key data. More and more it is about using data with different degrees of technical skill,” he explained.

Running a pan-European business means the founder and entrepreneur must have a system providing consistent key performance indicators (KPIs) for each sales team – and then an effective way of tracking things.

Another important element of the Treatwell story is the ability to work effectively on the move. Part of its CRM system involves tools designed to keep the sales team connected through the process of signing up a new venue. Staff can also quickly access historical conversation about a new or potential signup, reducing delays in effectively completing the desired listing 48 hours after signing.

Treatwell has already identified the US as a key market to crack, and there is no doubt its integrated CRM systems will play a big part in doing that effectively. The combination of both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) customers is a challenge, but key to the marketplace operation being constructed.

Hot on the heels of a rebrand, taking it from Wahanda to Treatwell in an effort to create a more cohesive pan-European identity, the business has technology running through its core and a team more than capable of making the most of what is at their fingertips.

When asked what his tips are for entrepreneurs and business owners considering investments in digital tools like a CRM system, and with perhaps less experience in the space than Champalimaud has himself, he brought the question back to data.

It comes down to ensuring you don’t create silos of data, he emphasised. Different teams need to be able to access the same data – and even if it resides on two or more systems, like it does for Treatwell, information needs to be united.

The warning was clear. “Think hard about where it is sitting and how it is brought together. Lots of entrepreneurs don’t pay enough attention to it, and it’s a tonne of work to stitch it all together at a later date.”