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Five Minutes With…Karen Bennett

Five Minutes With…Karen Bennett

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Townsville born and bred local, Karen Bennett, knows how to run a successful business (or two!) As the Owner and Director of two of Townsville’s well-known barbershops combined with 31 years’ industry experience under her belt, Karen has built a barbering empire from the ground up. After the rapid growth of her first business, Bennett’s Barbershop that opened in 2015, Karen opened a speciality men’s only barbershop, Industry Barbershop in 2019. We sat down with Karen who says the key to growing a successful business is ultimately loving what you do.

1. What was the inspiration behind both Industry Barbershop and Bennett’s Barbershop?

The sole inspiration behind creating Industry Barbershop, was because I genuinely knew we could make a difference and raise the industry standard. I had already proven to myself that I could do it, thanks to the success of Bennett’s Barbershop, and knew I had nothing to lose by replicating the business model for a second, men’s only barbershop across town! It was obvious that there was a distinct lack of quality men’s barbershops in Townsville, so Industry Barbershop was carefully planned to fill that gap. With a clear vision of exactly what was needed, I have set up Industry Barbershop with a sole focus on customer service, authenticity and our client’s overall experience. 

2. At both barbershops, you live by the motto, “it is not just about the hair, it’s about the whole experience!” What role do you think this customer service-based approach has played in building a strong and loyal clientele?  

Treating our clients like gold, is undoubtedly what sets us apart. I believe how a client feels when they arrive and when they leave our barbershop speaks volumes about our morals, culture and integrity. And for today’s modern man, getting a haircut should be more than just an item on their “to do” list, it should be something they look forward to. So, when our clients walk in the door at Industry Barbershop, it is important to us that they feel like they are visiting an old friend. And it needs to be consistently wowing them – every single time. This in turn creates a sense of trust, loyalty and belonging so our clients can totally relax in our space and enjoy a small escape from their busy day. They then can be confident that their next visit will be exactly the same. We pride ourselves on setting the industry standard, strengthening our brand and reputation, and ensuring a high level of client retention by essentially just doing what we love – genuinely looking after people, valuing them and appreciating that they chose us.

“Back yourself and trust your gut instinct. Do your research and know your potential market.”

3. With over 31 years’ experience under your belt, what has been your key to success as a business owner in the industry?

I am sincerely grateful for my success over the years and I can honestly attribute my success in business to 4 key factors; 

  1. I am true to myself and back myself 100%.
  2. I build a passionate team and value them above all else.
  3. I always give more than what is expected.
  4. I LOVE people. 

Over my time in the industry, I have been fortunate to work alongside some of the most skilled and experienced hairdressers and barbers and have had some amazing mentors along the way. I am confident, but not arrogant, and I never stop learning. The countless hours I put in behind the scenes to ensure my business’ success is worth every second. My relentless commitment to consistency, quality and authenticity have all allowed me to rapidly build the most loyal and supportive clientele (at both barbershops) and the growth we have enjoyed in such a short time confirms that we are truly making a real difference and setting a new standard. I also do everything in my power to look after my team, to ensure they are well trained and create a culture of belonging, so that they are happy at work, proud of our brand and most importantly, so that they know how much they are valued and appreciated.

4. What has been the most challenging aspect of being a business owner, especially simultaneously juggling two businesses?

For me, since day one, my biggest challenge has been getting the time management balance right. Time spent working IN the business versus time spent working ON the business versus true down time – NOT working at all and spending time with my family and friends! I discovered that having a set of processes and systems in place is imperative and ultimately, saves valuable time each day/week/month. And the challenges of owning small business are ever changing – that’s what keeps it interesting! 

5. What advice would you give to those who are considering opening a business of their own but are unsure as to where to start? 

Back yourself and trust your gut instinct. Do your research and know your potential market. Get a plan and know your WHY and make sure to have all your financial ducks in a row. Also learn from the best – get a business coach or at least have a mentor that you can bounce ideas off. Work on building a team that shares your vision and nurture those relationships. If your people have the same core values and genuinely believe in your brand, then the rest will come. Stay motivated, never stop learning and be passionate enough so that it inspires those around you – every single day.  Remember to keep your ego in check – confidence is healthy and necessary, but arrogance is not. And last but not least, expect the unexpected. Be ready to adapt and pivot your business plan. Shit happens and it is inevitable that you WILL make mistakes and have failures along the way – as long as you own it, take full responsibility for the knockdowns, dust yourself off quickly and get back on track, you will be okay. Just go for it!

Click here for more information on Industry Barbershop!

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  1. Karen is an inspiration-and a great barber. Kids at home, broken bones, Karen still smashes out the great cut. And a great customer experience, with a smile and an air of professionalism that goes a long way in a small town. Thanks Karen

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