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Twincare Professional Outlet Cape Town wins TPO of the Year: Interview with Owner William Grimes

Every year the Twincare Professional Outlet of the Year is awarded. In 2020, this prestigious title was won by TPO Cape Town, owned by William Grimes.

In this fabulous interview, William gives inspirational business advice as well as sharing the history of this TPO, his passion for the industry, and some of his most adventurous moments during the challenging times of lockdown. Read and enjoy.

TPO Cape Town Details:

Address: Unit 9, Highwaypark center, Gold Street, Northgate Estate, Brooklyn

Tel: 083 228 2229

Hairnews: You have just won TPO of the year, congrats! Please tell us how you won, and also about your previous wins.

William: Thank you! This kind of recognition is very motivating. It is based on the highest percentage growth achieved over previous year’s purchases from our Head Office, Twincare International. Being the biggest depot in the country makes it even harder for us as we have to grow so much more than a smaller depot. This is now the third time we have won this award (2013, 2018 and now 2019) and what makes it even more special is that we won it the year before as well! Two years in a row of best depot growth in the country!

Not to forget that part of the prize is attending the a Trade show overseas where you get to give an input on what Twincare imports. I will be attending Cosmoprof Bologna next year. It is amazing to see how big these shows are, and then to try and find the next BIG THING in our industry amongst thousands of stalls. It gives so much perspective on why it is so expensive to import from overseas and then the difficulty of predicting how much to bring in…complying with minimum orders etc. It makes me appreciate what Twincare does for us.

Hairnews: I understand your business is celebrating a special anniversary this month - please tell us more about it.

William: Yes, we are turning 10 years old this month. A decade of fun! Last year Facebook reminded me that I bought the depot’s bakkie 10 years ago, so we launched a full renovation from depot to more of a shop lay-out. We were even planning a ‘Decadent Decade Dinner’ for all the friends me made in the industry over the last decade, only to find out we bought the bakkie a year before opening and turned 9 last year! LOL!

But changing the layout of the depot has made a huge difference. Our average docket value per visitor has grown by more than 60% since changing the shopfitting compared the same period last year before renovating. This is amazing! This is one of the part of owning a business I enjoy the most, monitoring the effect changes make to your turnover…

Hairnews: How are you finding business post lockdown and have you had good months since lockdown lifted? If so what would you say the reason is and what have been your bestsellers and your surprise sellers?

William: Initially our turnover dropped by 60% and I was really worried, but persistence and adapting to the ‘new normal’ ensured that we boomed to record highs! So many hairdressers left salons to go mobile or work from home and could no longer comply with big minimum orders from Head Office. They all then started buying from us.

During lockdown when we could only sell ‘Hygiene products’ the business had to borrow money from savings to survive. But when the industry opened in June we hit a new record month! 10% higher than the highest turnover we have ever done in a month. And when people started buying in for approaching season and to avoid price increases, we hit a new record again and another 10% higher than ever before! This came as a total surprise.

Currently our biggest challenge is to buy enough stock in and the right stock for the ‘new normal’. We have increased our stock holding by approximately 30% and my staff knows I want an explanation if we are out of a line item. Since Lockdown we have had the approach that we cannot afford to lose ONE sale due being out of stock! Sounds easy, but difficult when the company is forced to stop paying me for a few months to increase our cash flow for purchasing so much more stock. But the resulting growth is currently sitting Year to Date at just under 20% in spite of the COVID period lost sales! Which is incredible.

The biggest surprise brand in my depot is Moroccanoil by far. It has grown by 200% compared to same period last year, mostly due to our biggest salon client’s online store. It seems the exclusivity of Moroccanoil made a lot of people buy it online. The other reason for Moroccanoil’s incredible growth is the weave market, our second biggest Moroccanoil client owns the biggest weave salon in Cape Town city center…this is a new developing market for the original argan oil!

Hairnews: We all have those stories during lockdown! What did Cape Town TPO do to assist salons during the difficult times of levels 4 and 5?

William: Some of the stories of hardship during the initial levels were really heartbreaking. When we were allowed to sell shampoo, conditioners, cleansers, toners and moisturizers as ‘hygiene products’ by the COVID Committee, Twincare announced the amazing relaxing of all brand rules and allowed all stylists to sell any brand (whether they were a stockist or not) to their clients to assist them.

We jumped onboard and delivered for hours after work a shampoo to this address, a moisturizer to that address and repeat. I remember one evening after driving around for more than two hours delivering to hairdressers client’s houses, I stood in the rain outside this mansion in Oranjezicht waiting for the lady of the house to walk all the way to the front door, with my two hungry dogs in the car waiting… and no take away food or delivery food being available. I thought to myself, this is not what I signed up for! But we did what we needed to do and look where we are today!

There was also this lady in Seapoint doing hair in her flat to put food on her table without her block’s Body Corporate’s permission…and we had to meet in the basement of the building like drug dealers. I would phone her when near and she would open the parking area’s door from her flat allowing me to drive to the darkest spot in the basement parking where she will get into my car to get the products to do hair. She is now one of our most loyal clients.

Hairnews: What are your main principles of running a good business and how have they contributed to your success?

William: As Twincare’s Stav always puts it; there is no magic in business. Keep doing the right things and you are bound to be successful.

I can only speak as to what is important to me personally;

  • I watch my cashflow daily and it influences every decision I make for the business

  • I HATE not having ALL the line items in a range! Stock holding is sooo important, but the right stock! Once a day I ask Gerard(my depot co-ordinator) what we could not supply to any client during that day and WHY

  • A good relationship with my supplier and landlord! Both of these helped me tremendously during the initial stages of the lockdown! Twincare was very patient and understanding with my payments towards my account and my landlord suspended my rent completely!

  • One thing Twincare drilled into us when I joined is ‘deliver on your promises’…at my depot we really try to exceed expectations and failing that… COMMUNICATE!

  • And lastly I always tell my staff that in our industry small things don’t mean a lot, it means EVERYTHING! The wrong product delivery can not only upset the client, but also make the whole order unprofitable.

Hairnews: What sets your TPO apart and gives it the winning edge?

William: This is very simple…our relationship with our clients! Our whole industry is ‘relationship driven’ and I have been fortunate to have had staff that understands this vital component of our success. Believe me there have been days where I have gone home or sent staff home when we were not in a good mood. It is so nice when clients love being in our depot and visiting us instead of ‘shopping’.

Hairnews: What made you decide to get into the hairdressing game as a non-hairdresser?

William: I think my whole life set me up for where I am today. I was a Trade Advisor to the government on imports and exports when I fell in love with a hairdresser… we started opening salons together and he worked on the floor whilst I ran the financial and personnel side of the business. It was here where I learned so much about running a successful salon which enables me today to advise clients when they are opening their salons as I have been there many times myself.

At a stage I wanted to go work for either REDKEN or PAUL MITCHELL and phoned Twincare International first as they were then distributing REDKEN. Stav interviewed me and appointed me as an educator under the legendary Darrel Watt. In a few months I will have been with Twincare for 25 years! And learned so much from both Stav on the business side of supplying products and then of course the best training master on the structure of hair, law of color and lets not forget science behind perming from Darrel Watt!

Twincare allowed me to shadow Darrel for 6 months before starting to train on my own, it was amazing! Every day I use what he taught me when clients ask advice on the floor of my depot. This knowledge imparts confidence in clients that they can trust my advice, which in turn makes more sales for the depot.

When we lost REDKEN we gained my other passion brand namely PAUL MITCHELL. The Universe knew which company to send me to… I am proud to be associated with Professional Only products and with a company that became my family over the years. So when the opportunity came to open a Twincare Outlet in Cape Town I jumped at it, and here we are 10 years later!

Everything I learned through the years are applied daily in my depot and dealings with our clients.

I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my life holds for me…I am truly a blessed man!

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Keen to find your closest TPO? Take a look HERE

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