Drybar launched the concept of a “Blow Dry Only” hair salon in 2010. The idea was simple but revolutionary. It has been an innovation in the industry by transforming the affordable luxury space. Drybar is now a $50 million enterprise with 40 salons across the country, 3,000 employees and is currently valued at nearly $200 million. Its success can be attributed to its ingenious branding, relentless commitment to providing a unique customer experience and efficient operations even in the midst of tremendous growth.
Drybar was founded by Alli Webb in 2010 with its first salon in Brentwood, CA. It was the first blow dry only hair salon created around the concept of a “bar” providing $40 blowouts while creating a luxe and relaxing customer environment. Drybar has done so well in developing the brand that they now distribute and sell their own hair products, from curling irons to conditioners. Each style of blowout, named after cocktails like the “Mai Tai” and the “Manhattan”, can be quickly scheduled online or over their mobile application. Customers can expect reliable and high quality service in each of Drybar’s perfectly curated spaces. Drybar tapped into an unrecognized need that women wanted, needed and loved and now serves over 100,000 customers monthly.
A large part of DryBar’s success can be attributed to their efficient and well aligned operating model. First, the limited “bar” menu of five clearly defined blowout styles ensures quick service and consistency. By only offering blowouts and not other time consuming services like haircuts, color, or other treatments, Drybar is able to eliminate bottlenecks that often occur in hair salons when different services have different cycle times leading to variability and inefficiencies in daily processes. Allocating time effectively per customer allows the stylists to better manage their scheduling and ultimately allows the company to maximize their daily output and optimize throughput time.
Second, Drybar focuses on improving the time per customer and experience by making sure every one of the 2,000 stylists and staff undergo a thorough and intensive training program before hiring. “In most salons, stylists rent a chair, come in, do their work and go home” quotes Micheal Landau, a co-founder in Dry Bar. At Drybar, the stylists are salaried or part time which ensures that they are held accountable and improves consistency leading to more repeat customers and a more cohesive corporate culture.
Another important operational component is the way Drybar optimizes its scheduling processes to maximize the amount of bookings per day. They employ a seamless online booking process and track telephone hold times to ensure hold times are kept to a minimum. When Drybar first opened, they planned on having a receptionist desk at the salon to schedule appointments but then realized that the noisy environment led to dozens of missed appointments and inefficiencies in the booking process. They improved this operating process by switching to a “VoIP phone system” and hired a separate operator to schedule appointments and communicate with the salon over instant message, a service that they still use today. The call center now has over 50 customer service representatives to improve scheduling, reduce wait times and ensure that the salon is running at capacity. If your usual Drybar is busy, they will book an appointment at the next nearest location.
Control on supply chain management is also a substantial factor driving up their annual revenue. Because of DryBar’s success in opening multiple locations around the country, they have created a market for their custom products like their signature yellow blow-dryer “The Buttercup” and a series of other hair care products. They also developed partnerships with QVC and Sephora and work with these widespread channels to effectively manage the supply chain of the DryBar product lines. This requires the need for extensive demand and distribution analytics to be able to manage inventory levels at stores and partner locations and control distribution. They recently brought on Jeff Goad, who brings experience in distribution management from Ford and Johnson & Johnson, as their supply chain leader to develop, plan, and distribute their branded consumer products.
Lastly, DryBar’s ability to replicate these operating strategies across their 40 salons has allowed them to ensure a high quality and consistent customer experience. Drybar managers recognized that bottlenecks are the enemy of scaling. With their initially small leadership team, Landau noted “You realize that you’re a bottleneck if everything has to go through you”. Making sure that every aspect of the customer experience was perfectly choreographed across every location required an extensive amount of oversight and resources . Recognizing this common problem with scaling, the leadership team grew by adding key positions including directors of Retail, IT and Team Experience to safeguard the unique customer experience. The leadership team makes sure every salon looks and feels the same and clients are made to feel like guests with scripted greetings and complimentary beverages. They even chose to work with the same architect, Josh Heitler, on every location to make sure the layout and design are similar.
What’s next for DryBar? The company just launched a new app “Dry on the Fly” which will let you get your blowouts at the comfort of your own home. For $75, an “Uber”-like service will allow you to schedule an appointment and have a stylist at your door within a certain time window. Like Uber, you can track the buttercup blowdryer icon on your phone application and see how close a stylist is to your home. There could be issues with this mobile service in terms of replicating the valued customer experience factor, however, if their operating model can translate, there is significant opportunity to be a thriving player in the mobile services space.
- Forbes. “The Secret of Drybar’s $50 Million Success: Make the Customer the Star”, Micah Solomon, 2014.
- Drybar Official Website. http://www.thedrybar.com/about-us/
- Business Insider. “The Founders of Chic Salon Chain Drybar Attribute their Success to this Motto”, Jacquelyn Smith, 2014.
- Forbes. “Drybar: How One Woman and a Hair Dryer Became a $20 Million Operation. Meghan Casserly, 2012.
- Fast Company. “What a cracked mirror taught drybar execs about managing their meteoric growth. David Zax, 2013.
- Bustle Magazine. “Drybar’s New App “Dry On The Fly” Will Let You Get At Home Blowouts, But It’s Going To Cost You”, Stephanie Chon, 2015.