THCC Entry for Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce BIG Awards 2017

The Hair Company Cranleigh's Chamber of Commerce BIG Awards 2017 Entry


The Cranleigh & District Chamber of Commerce is committed to supporting local businesses of all shapes and sizes. With this in mind, last January saw the launch of its ‘BIG’ awards. ‘BIG’ stands for Business, Innovation and Growth. In 2016, there were six finalists, one runner-up (Firebird Brewery) and one winner (Taurus Wines).

Following on from its inaugural success and learning from invaluable feedback, we have decided to make some significant changes.

This year the judges will be reviewing two categories of business – that is:

  1. Businesses with 1 to 5 people (including part time employees)
  2. Businesses with 6 or more people (including part time employees)

All applicants will complete the same application form but the judges will now be able to compare SMALL businesses in the one category and BIG businesses in the other.  This change has been made to ensure a more even playing field and to hopefully encourage more entries.

We have set out below just a few of the great reasons why you should enter your business into the Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce BIG Awards 2017:

  • First prize of £2,000 for the winner of each category
  • Entering these awards will help to raise the profile of your business in the local and wider retail and business community
  • The BIG awards gala evening is a glittering event, with fantastic networking opportunities
  • The application process will provide you with an invaluable perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of your business
  • Winning an award or being shortlisted is a wonderful way for you (and your employees) to celebrate your joint success
  • It is free to enter; and
  • Finally, by entering you are supporting the Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce and helping to make it the successful, thriving business network that we all benefit from.

The awards will go to the businesses that can demonstrate outstanding initiative, boldness and imagination in the enterprise, as well as sound management practices.

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce BIG Awards 2017


Please submit no more than 250 words for each of the eight judging criteria listed below. Supporting materials such as leaflets, testimonials, adverts etc. may also be submitted (but only in hard copy to enable us to distribute them easily to the Judges). Don’t forget to tell us about any other awards, certificates, and/or recognition your Company has received!

  1. About you and your business
  2. Initiative – innovation and a bold approach to your business?
  3. Sound management
  4. Customer Service
  5. Marketing – How do you inspire your customers to believe in and buy your products or services?
  6. Engagement/Development
  7. Success – what does success mean to you?
  8. How you would spend the winning prize money of £2,000

The information provided will be treated with the utmost confidentiality

The closing date for entries is midnight 18th November 2016

The finalists will be informed on December 7th and publicly announced on December 9th.

Each finalist will also be required to attend the offices of Informed Choice in Cranleigh on December 12th 2016 in order to make a short video about themselves, their business and their BIG awards entry. These ‘VOXPOPS’ will be edited and shown on the evening of the awards.

Please complete this form with any supporting documentation and return:

By email:

By post/ hand: Cranleigh Biz Awards, c/o of Informed Choice, Sundial House, Cranleigh GU6 8AE

We apologise in advance for not being able to return any documentation provided

BIG Awards Application Form

Name of enterprise

Type of business

Name of main contact

Job title

Business address

Direct telephone number

Company registration number:

Number of employees:

The Hair Company Cranleigh

Hair Salon

Sarah Buckman or Claire Feagan


1 Collins Court, 19 High Street, Cranleigh. GU6 8AE

01483 276839




  1. About you and your business:

  • Tell us about what your business does (e.g. services, customers, products).
  • What do you do and what makes you great?

Maybe the best way is to go back to the start of this amazing adventure.

On the 9th July 2014 the day started as any other day, little did we know how everything would change by 9am. Off to work we all went to find the salon shut down and the locks changed. We were effectively without jobs and each owed a considerable sum in back wages.

What to do? In Sarah and Matt Buckman’s case, you organize to meet up with 4 of the girls from what at the time was the old salon. Following the meeting Sarah started to believe that her dream of owning and running a salon could actually become reality. With the full backing of their families, the girls and (a great deal of determination, commitment and lots of excitement) it felt totally achievable.

At 4pm Wednesday 23rd July we found ourselves with the keys to a salon in total disarray. The opening day was set for 10am Thursday 24th July, so the hard work, fun and a great deal of laughter began. We all joined together working through the night with the amazing support of family and friends, turning our hands to whatever was needed.

The next day we opened the new Hair Company. Our aim was to create a hair salon that was unique in Cranleigh and its surrounds. One where our professionalism, expertise and a personal approach would leave every client knowing that we had fulfilled all their expectations.

  1. Initiative:

  • Tell us what makes you innovative
  • Why you believe you take a bold approach to your business model?

Sarah and the girls vision of the salon was unique amongst salons in that although each person takes responsibility for their own work, there is also very much a sense that we are all responsible for the success of the salon. It was therefore decided at the outset that everyone should have an input as to how the salon presented itself and dealt with its clients. In other words we all support each other.

As a new and inexperienced business we do feel that almost all the decisions we have made so far have been bold. Perhaps one of the best examples that illustrates this point is when we recognised that for us to become a viable business proposition we had to be more economical and creative with the space we had available to us without jeopardising the customer experience, which we all agreed had to be one of luxury and style.  We knew we wanted to revamp, modernise, and create our own ambiance and vision for the salon as soon as possible whilst not disrupting our clients so a date was set to complete the transformation in 6 weeks. On Friday 28th November this had been achieved exactly as planned.

We recently made the decision to employ a younger member of staff who was newly qualified (and very ambitious) as a hair stylist. We feel that by doing this we can now start to offer competitive rates to a younger and more frugal clientele. This means we can look to expand into the bridal and prom markets as well as be open later for evening appointments.

  1. Sound management

How do you make your business work for those around you?

We pride ourselves on treating every client as an individual. This starts the moment they walk through the door. The stylist will always start with a consultation recognising and advising on the client’s wishes, ideas and any difficulties they have with their hair and advice on managing their hair at home. We have a huge range of Wella Colour, Aveda and Paul Mitchell products which can enhance every hair type.

We have invested in reclining massage chairs where the client will have their hair washed and enjoy a relaxing head massage.

We offer a huge range of refreshments and can order food from Magdalans a local café in Cranleigh.

The stylist expertise will create a finished cut and style to the clients’ wishes. When the client leaves we want to make sure they have their next appointment arranged for them at a time convenient for them.

The girls will always help each other in every way possible. This has meant they could be called early in the morning on their day off to cover unexpected sickness. Whatever needs doing, whether it be sweeping, cleaning, washing up or shopping we all get stuck in together.

Team work has had a positive effect not only for the business as well as for us as individuals. I think it is fair to say that Team work has made ours, a happy working environment.

  1. Customer Service

  • What makes your customer service stand out from the crowd? The winner must demonstrate evidence of consistently delivering first class service and delight in order to exceed customer expectations.
  • Has your business gone that extra mile for the customer?
  • Why do you customers keep coming back?
  • How do you attract new customers?

Examples: Testimonials/ Case studies/Customer loyalty scheme

Please find attached to our email some client testimonials which we believe illustrates our achievements so far.

Working in our salon isn’t just about hair, it’s also about building a personal relationship and creating an atmosphere in which our clients feel they know us as more than merely a stylist.

We support our client’s local businesses and schools by gifting vouchers and products as and when we are aware of charitable and fundraising events.

Going the extra mile is something we feel engenders loyalty. This can be anything from accompanying them back to their cars, helping them with heavy shopping (whatever the weather)! Some amusing times have included, advice on how to recover forgotten passwords on their email accounts and even one time when Tina helped a client fix her flashing light on her car and then went with her to the garage to fill her car tyres up.

MacMillan is a charity very close to our hearts. In July 2015 Sarah sadly lost her mother. The loss of Sarah’s mother cannot be described in simple words. The girls pulled together as expected and ensured the salon (which was still in its very early stages) would not be affected by Sarah’s absence. The support and love for Sarah and her family from both staff and clients through this horrendous time will never be forgotten.

I had been a client of the previous salon, the Hair and Body Shop since moving to the area in 2003 and had specifically been a client of Sarah’s. I was most concerned when it closed, but was absolutely delighted when it reopened as The Hair Company Cranleigh, with Sarah as salon director. To my mind, this was a very brave and bold move but Sarah and her whole team have built and continue to build a great business which is a real credit to Cranleigh – a real beacon for young entrepreneurial spirit and enterprise.

The salon has been transformed into an elegant contemporary space, well designed, spacious and light. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed combined with a high level of professional care and quality. This is testament to the professionalism of Sarah and the team.

The salon caters for everybody and nothing is ever too much trouble. Refreshments are on tap, up to date reading material on hand, all of which help to enhance the whole experience. I have recommended the salon to a number of friends and would not hesitate to do so again. Personally, I have never been disappointed and always leave with a beautiful head of hair thanks to Sarah and the team.

This business is exactly what Cranleigh needs to take it forward. I continue to wish Sarah and her team every success.
- Fiona Wallace

Like many regular clients (over 25 years or so) I was absolutely stunned when Hair and Body closed so very suddenly. It was with great delight that I then heard that Sarah was going to take over. Wow! What courage it took for Sarah and her husband Matt and the very small, loyal team of girls to take this on.

They have more than risen to the challenge of learning the extra skills needed to run and build up a business. All this while at the same time going through extreme personal sadness or difficulties.
They have made The Hair Company a friendly salon where clients are known to all staff. Nothing seems to be too much trouble and we are always greeted with a smile.

As far as I am concerned my hair is always well cut and I never feel they are rushing to get on to the next client. They value their clients and so we go back! They may only be a very small business, but they are local, giving employment to local people and restoring a good business to our High St. So, I am delighted to send my recommendation and reference for The Hair Company.
I wish them luck!
- Brenda Tomlinson

I gather that The Hair Company has been put forward for the chamber of commerce award and I have the greatest of pleasure in supporting this application. I have been a regular client since the opening of the salon on 24th July, 2014 and have watched the business go from strength to strength. Hard work and dedication have certainly resulted in their deserved success. The staff are all absolutely charming, enthusiastic and professional; I feel they are a very worthy candidate for this award.
Yours sincerely
- Carol MacNeice.

I have been a client of Sarah’s for many, many years and since she and her team established The Hair Company in Cranleigh they have gone from strength to strength.
Their friendly, caring professionalism has always been appreciated; none more so than during a bout of ill-health and treatment which took its toll on my hair. On both good and bad hair days, I always leave the salon looking and feeling so much better.
They deserve recognition for taking over and developing the business at a difficult time, and are a shining example of what a good small enterprise should be. They are a credit to the village and I wish them every success.
- Mrs C Kiernan

I have been a regular client of The Hair Company of Cranleigh ever since it’s opening, and have known Sarah the proprietor professionally for many years before that. It is a delightful salon to visit, the ambience is very welcoming and all the stylists and receptionists are helpful and efficient, with great interest in how they can help you to feel pampered and special, as well as a delicious complimentary drink. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone, or putting their name forward for any award
- Joan McLeod

We have been long standing clients of the salon and we were so pleased when Sarah took over in 2015. She and all her staff have done a wonderful job of working with the smaller space and building up a very successful business.

All the staff are so friendly and helpful, it is a joy to visit. Sarah takes so much care with our hair and uses wonderful products.

Highly recommended and very deserving.
- The Gurney Smith family

We are extremely lucky to have The Hair Company in Cranleigh where the minute you walk through the door you get a warm and friendly welcome from a very professional team. I have always been an extremely satisfied client and have often recommended this salon to others. When Sarah had the opportunity to set up The Hair Company herself, she and her loyal team worked tirelessly so that there was minimum disruption for us the clients. Not once did I consider going elsewhere and my hair has been cut for the past 15 years by Lorraine, one of the senior stylists. It is always a pleasure to have an appointment at The Hair Company where there is a very happy atmosphere and it is obvious that everyone who works there, works as part of a very well-run and dedicated team, whose aim it is to have happy clients. I am definitely one of them!
- Caroline Whalley, Birtley House, Bramley, Surrey.

A fabulously designed, relaxing and stylish setting for you and your hair! If you've never been before you have a treat in store - a chair that massages you whilst your hair is being washed and a complimentary refreshment choice including a glass of wine. Caring stylists who will do exactly what you ask for! I highly recommend. All this from someone who hates having her hair cut, but loved coming here (yes, I'll be returning!)
- Sarah Seager-Thomas

Well done. You have done an excellent job with the salon. It is light and welcoming and seems surprisingly spacious with its new design. Having recently become wheelchair dependent I would like to say that it is possible to use the salon with a wheelchair. There is a ramp up to the main entrance with only a small step to get the wheelchair over which is quite possible with the friendly staff holding the door open for my husband. The salon is entirely down stairs so there is no need to use stairs at all and although I have not used it there are toilet facilities adjacent to the salon which can be accessed I think by a wheelchair being disabled friendly. There is one step up to the washing area which it would be possible to lift a wheelchair up though in my case with help I can step up with help. The salon chairs are very comfortable with very good central back support and footrests which ensure one feels safe and secure in the chair. In fact the salon chairs for more comfortable than anything I have at home in terms of support and much more comfortable than a wheelchair!

Sarah and staff are patient and very helpful in ensuring that although I am now very disabled I can least maintain a decent haircut which is important for self-respect and dignity.

Thanks to all of you for keeping me on and making it so possible to keep having my hair done. You are treasures!
- Jenny Masding

Sarah is highly respected by Staff & Clients at The Hair Company. Not only has she trained many an aspiring hairdresser at the Salon, but she has worked there for over the twenty years that I have been a client there.

She runs a very friendly, thriving and efficient business with a very loyal and longstanding Team, who are a credit to her as well as to the whole of Cranleigh.
- Valerie Band

As a longstanding and loyal client of The Hair Company in Cranleigh, I cannot praise the salon highly enough.

Staff are always welcoming, friendly and warm and NOTHING is too much trouble from re-arranging my appointments because of my ever-changing schedule, coping with my indecision about new cuts and hairstyles and offering second (or even third!) cups of coffee during a long appointment! Importantly, all the stylists cut and colour hair beautifully and are full of interesting and imaginative suggestions for hairstyle updates.

I always enjoy and look forward to my appointments at The Hair Company and meeting up with the lovely and professional bunch of people who work there.
- Kate Bell

Sarah and her team provide a warm welcome at The Hair Company. Sarah has been my hairdresser for many years and it is great to see her now running the business. Since taking over she has restyled the salon and it is a cheerful relaxing place to go to.

It is clear the team work together to make this place a success which is a credit to Sarah and her warmth and competence.
- Sarah O’Brien


  1. Marketing

How do you inspire your customers to believe in and buy your products and/or services?

Our philosophy is to provide a consistent and reliable service, we hope this ensures our clients trust and loyalty. We feel very proud that our best source of new clients is by word of mouth. We feel that this is the main reason why a failing company has been turned into a company that has increased its staff from an original team of five to eleven, and also tripled its client base.

We have a company website, our plan is to increase our knowledge and develop the website so it can both inform and attract new clients. We are very new to social media but now have Facebook and have just started an Instagram account. They are all in the early stages but we have plans in the New Year for the receptionist to attend marketing courses which we hope will enhance our marketing understanding and capability.

Our attractive and contemporary window display enables us to show case our huge range of Aveda and Paul Mitchell products as well as showing that the company is modern and well maintained.

We feel it is very important to be involved and support the local community and have advertised at local events.

The staff have and will continue to have intensive training to ensure that their knowledge of the latest techniques in all our product ranges.

  1. Employee Engagement/Development

  • If you employ five or less staff tell us how you ensure that you remain up to date in respect of developments in your industry and continue to expand your knowledge and skill base to ensure your future growth and success?
  • If you employ six or more staff tell us how you motivate them, ensure that they develop and that they engage in your business

We feel privileged that Aveda and Paul Mitchell (who are two of the leading luxury high end hair product businesses) showed enough confidence in us to make us their exclusive stockist and provider in Cranleigh. They have an extensive amount of courses available to us. They have visited the salon for in house training in up to date knowledge and techniques which enables us to offer our clients the very latest, high quality styling.

All the stylists have also had training days at the Aveda Academy in London both in colouring, cutting and solution training all agreed that that the experience was extremely productive, educational and enjoyable.

We are now able to introduce the Aveda Colour range which is a specialised range and in high demand due in part to its exclusivity. Aveda rules only allowing certain salons to stock it.

A member of the front of house staff enrolled on a computer course in Word and Excel. This has meant we are able to move forward in developing our client database and our ability to contact clients. The forward plan is to be able to upgrade and update all our current systems and become more efficient with our systems.

Our hair products are sold on a commission basis by the stylists which has given them an added incentive.

  1. Success

What does success look like to you? (offering more employment, financial stability, product development, increase in sales and or customers)

Success to us is to carry on building the salon with pride, in the steady and confident way we currently are. We see learning as an ongoing process and we feel confident that this will help us improve the running of a creditable business. We believe that a successful salon can only add to Cranleigh High Street.

We are proud that many of our clients choose to travel more than 20 miles away to visit our salon and hope that this also brings customers to other local businesses.

By maintaining our expertise and friendly professionalism towards our clients we ensure that they remain loyal and indeed recommend us to friends and family.

The staff continuing to walk through the door smiling, showing commitment, pride and enjoyment in the work they do shows this is a journey we are making together.

We have within 2 years increased the salon staff from 5 to 11 and our client contact list has more than tripled.

None of us has had previous experience of running let alone owning a business. We were a group of girls that took on an unknown quantity. We would love to be in a situation where we could produce a long term business plan for you but feel that we don’t have the necessary expertise at this stage.  We like to think we are half way through producing a very long novel that we are enjoying developing. With most good first novels there is always another enthralling follow up that you can’t wait to get your teeth into.

      8. How you would spend the winning prize money of £2,000?

What benefit would that investment mean to your business?

After 2 years the salon is now firmly bedded in. We now have the opportunity to take a step back and plan how best to add to what we have already achieved. Our first priority is to make sure that we all are constantly being challenged by attending training in the huge range of courses available. There are courses available which give the girls access to state of the art training on the latest techniques for colouring, cutting and styling and also to develop and establish ourselves in the untapped bridal market.

The management and front of house would benefit from attending marketing, social media as well as courses in spreadsheets to enable us to have the latest income and expenditure figures on a day to day basis.

We would like to consider purchasing Front of Desk Software which would enable us to have a computerised appointment book, marketing, stock management and 2-way SMS appointment confirmations etc. This would also give our clients 24/7 access to the salon.



We will accept nominations from any sole trader, partnership or company meeting the following criteria:

  • Companies with their principle location, which is their headquarters and management, being within the Cranleigh & District area as outlined below are eligible to enter:

Cranleigh, Ewhurst, Albury, Shere, Gomshall, Peaslake, Holmbury St Mary, Forest Green, Ockley, Walliswood, Rudgwick, Alfold, Dunsfold, Shamley Green, Wonersh, Loxwood, Blackheath and all areas in between.

  • The business can be a sole trader, a private or public limited company, a partnership or limited liability partnership, a business unit within a company or a not-for-profit organisation (but not charities)
  • Companies can be at a start-up stage through to established companies
  • Third parties can nominate and make applications on behalf of businesses or individuals, so long as the application is completed fully and accurately and the business or person nominated is aware of the entry and has corroborated the content in the application form
  • The competition is open to members and non-members of Cranleigh & District Chamber of Commerce
  • Companies from any industry sector may apply – from window cleaners to IT software companies; from retailers to consultancies
  • Sponsors may enter the awards
  • The organisers reserve the right to publicise the results of the competition and use winning entries in press releases and publicised case histories including online. It is a condition of entry that participants will co-operate with the media. Winners may refer to the competition in their own publicity material following approval by the organisers of such material

Basic Rules

  • The awards are free to enter
  • Applications will be accepted online, by post and by hand
  • No liability for entries lost or delayed will be accepted. Confirmation of receipt of your application will be sent by email immediately or within a few hours
  • All financial information will be treated in the strictest of confidence and will not be disclosed to anyone other than the panel of judges and advisors
  • The judging panel’s decision is final
  • It is a condition that entrants must declare whether they, or the business they represent, are involved in (or could be involved in) any dispute or judgement that could in any way significantly interfere with the proper conduct of the BIG Awards, Surrey County Council or Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce
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