“Let’s start with what Drybar isn’t. Drybar is not a hair salon.”
Making a mark in the multi-billion dollar beauty industry, Drybar offers stylish, affordable blowouts in a chic and classy environment. The business model closely aligns with its people-driven operating model.
Their tagline — “No cuts. No color. Just blowouts” — gets to the heart of two things this innovative brand has done so well: simplify an experience and change behavior for their target audience. Generally, women either pay a premium for a blowout at a conventional hair salon or have a subpar experience at a low-quality chain like Supercuts. Or, women simply don’t think to get blowouts because there is no where to do it easily as a stand-alone activity (without a cut or color).
Enter Drybar. With over fifty stores and $70M in annual revenues, up from four stores and $1.5M in revenues in 2010, Drybar has rapidly expanded into a national brand and one of the leaders in the burgeoning blowout segment. Founded by Ali Webb, a hair enthusiast and former PR strategist, and her brother, Drybar created a new, accessible way for women to get blowouts. “We’ve changed behavior,” Webb told the Wall Street Journal. “We are kind of like the fabric of people’s lives… It’s become kind of an affordable luxury.”
The core business is offering a wash and blowout for $40 in a warm, stylish environment. The value of this blowout is not only the physical outcome (see the photo below for the menu of styles offered), but also the confidence boost that the blowdry provides. Core to the business model is the offering of a premium, flawless customer experience so that every customer is a repeat customer. The business model relies on rapid growth in customer base and strong repeat customers.
Additionally, Drybar has three other product lines to generate revenue. Drybar creates a custom-designed blow dryer (called “Buttercup”) in their signature yellow color and sells them through QVC. In collaboration with the former CEO of Laura Mercier, Drybar produces a line of hair care products that are sold in over 70 different Sephora locations. Finally, Drybar recently launched a new service called “Dry on the Fly” — an on-demand mobile app that lets you book a Drybar stylist that comes to you, which competes with the other on-demand beauty apps (i.e. Glamsquad).
As Drybar grows in popularity and increase its brand equity, they’re moving beyond the business of washing and styling hair into creating and distributing products for hair maintenance. What’s most interesting about Drybar, however, is that they’re really selling something intangible, something psychological — the fact that women walk away happier and more confident when leaving a Drybar experience.
The operating model closely aligns to the business of selling confidence through blowouts:
Customer-centric experience. The company’s values include “making customers feel like a million bucks”. Creating a consistent, high-quality atmosphere across all 50+ locations is key to Drybar’s operations. A New York based architect designs each salon and they are laid out so that it feels spacious and warm. Upon entering, the customer receives complimentary drinks (including wine and champagne) and cookies. Chick-flicks play on flat screen TVs. All the blow-dryers are the same yellow color. No mirrors sit before you as you get a blowdry because Drybar, as Webb told the New York Times this April, doesn’t want you to see yourself with your hair wet. The aesthetic is both consistent and incredibly appealing to its target demographic.
No emphasis on throughput time (and use of a standard price). Competitors offer scales of pricing for blowouts depending on length and texture of hair. Drybar is decidedly simple: one price, several styles. Nothing else. While this poses a potential risk for the business long-term, Drybar currently doesn’t modify price even for one-hour plus appointments. They invest time in each customer and make the experience stellar every visit.
Investment in human capital. Hiring, training, and managing employees is a big part of their operating model. Webb initially auditioned all stylists in her apartment. All Drybar employees and stylists are treated like family. Stylists receive two-week training before doing their first blowout and get paid hourly wages (instead of on a per person rate like other salons). To keep efficiency high, Drybar trains stylists to never put down their blow dryers and insists they wear watches to keep the time. The company has 10 core values which are advertised on their website, including encouraging staff to share an opinion and maintain their individuality. The company currently has 3,000 employees.
Technology enables easy booking and payment. The Drybar team invested in heavily in a state-of-the-art mobile application and the latest in-store technology for check-in and payment (such as using Square to pay). Booking an appointment on the app feels seamless and encourages repeat customers. As stated above, Drybar now offers other products through the mobile app. Lastly, Drybar has a strong web presence with a lively blog and attractive email-marketing campaigns, keeping customers engaged.
Channel partnerships. Experiencing Drybar is not limited to its 50 storefronts. By securing partnerships with national beauty stores (such as QVC and Sephora), Drybar delivers values through its hair supplies and care products.
Implications and future
How operating model delivers business model:
• Customer centric experience – gives people beauty and confidence, which drives loyal customers and repeat business
• No emphasis on throughput time – each customer feels valued and cared for
• Investment in human capital — the experience is consistent across all 50 locations — you can get any stylist and walk away with the same product
• Technology investments — this enables a sleek experience before and after actually getting your cut
Going forward, Drybar will need to focus on maintaining the high quality experience and top-notch stylists to keep its customer base and increase market share. The store manager role will be key to its operational effectiveness. If Drybar chooses to increase growth through sales of its physical products, it will need to assess how to scale current manufacturing processes. Lastly, Drybar benefits from a first-mover advantage as it moves into new markets because women develop allegiance to one brand or location. Growing its real estate acquisitions team is also something it should consider to continue aligning its operations with its business model.