A Cut Above: How This Salon Has Doubled In Size

Marc and Maxwell

When hair atelier Marc & Maxwell opened in Sydney’s Surry Hills in 2020, the salon could never have forecast the economic waves ahead. How did the business weather the storm? A long-term vision and investment into education aided by the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card.

For three years, Sydney hairdressers Marc Armstrong and Sabrina Maxwell had been actively saving money so they could open their own salon. 

“For us we saw it as an opportunity to stamp our name on the industry and have our own brand. As well as share our education with the up and coming talent,” says Armstrong, the co-founder of Surry Hills hair atelier Marc & Maxwell, which opened in September 2020.

When the time came to put down a deposit on a space, the city cleared as the lockdown came into full force. 

“Once we came through the first lockdown we decided to bite the bullet,” says Armstrong

“Sabrina and I worked in the salon without any other staff for nine months. We had just begun to grow the business when we were forced to close again for another four months.”

Marc & Maxwell Salon

The business has since had to battle a rapidly inflating economy and cost of living crisis but has continued to go from strength to strength –  it now employs five full time staff. Armstrong puts it down to investing in his own education, as well as upskilling staff and expanding the salon. 

“I paid nearly $15,000 all up to travel to London to attend a Vidal Sassoon hairdressing education course,” he says. “It’s the best in the industry and showed me how to train staff so that I can grow my own business.”

To fund the trip, Armstrong used his American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. With no pre-set spending limit¹ and up to 51 days to pay for purchases on the Card², it helped with managing cash flow. “Without the Card and its access to a dynamic line of unsecured funding, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to go on that trip and learn all those vital skills.” The business earned 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on their Qantas flights for that trip³.

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It’s a trip that paid off in spades, with Armstrong training apprentice staff into full-time stylists and expanding the shop from three chairs to seven. There’s also plans to onboard more stylists and attract more customers to help safeguard the business against economic waves. 

Alongside earning points on Qantas products and services, the business also earns up to 1.25 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on everyday business expenses.³

“We spend nearly $5,000 a week on products for the salon which we purchase on our Card," says Armstrong. “Being able to earn Qantas Points at a great rate on everyday business expenses was part of the reason we chose the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card.”

Armstrong is planning to continue his training overseas, making the most of exclusive flight savings of up to 10 per cent⁴, which he receives as a Qantas Business Rewards member, as well as complimentary travel insurance  when he uses his American Express Card to pay for his return trip. (T&Cs and exclusions apply, such as maximum age limits, pre-existing medical conditions and cover limits).⁵

“I’m in talks with our suppliers to collaborate on their ongoing education programs, teaching other stylists how to best use certain products. That will open up another important revenue stream for our business.”

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Armstrong shares his top small-business tips for broadening revenue streams, keeping staff engaged and maximising growth.

“Engage your staff with Qantas Points”

“We use the Qantas Points³ we earn with our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to send our staff to seminars around the country. It’s a great way to reinvest our points back into the business. Being able to book all flights with points and our accommodation through Qantas Hotels is also really convenient.”

“Growing the salon grows the business”

Armstrong knew that the site of his store in Surry Hills had development approval to expand. After establishing the business, he used the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card’s dynamic line of unsecured funding¹ and Flexible Payment Option⁶ to manage the cash flow he needed to increase the floor space of the salon. “The investment in those extra chairs allowed us to cement ourselves within the industry.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

“Invest in the success of your staff”

“We hired our first apprentice, Taylor, when the salon was closed through the lockdowns and enrolled her in TAFE. She did four months training before stepping foot into the salon so that when we reopened she was ready to go. It pays to put energy into growing our staff.”

“Use software to streamline reporting”

“Sabrina and I run a salon from behind the chair. We do our nine-to-five job of cutting and styling hair but we also have the business side. Any chance we get to save time we’ll take, which is why we are switching to new accounting software that syncs with our Card⁷. That means that all business expenses we incur on the Card are automatically reported and I don’t have to do as much admin.”

“Set plenty of goals”

“At the beginning of the year, Sabrina and I break the business into segments - product sales, services and education - and set our major and minimum goals. The major goals are aspirational and the minimum goals help us keep the doors open. These help you ride out unexpected changes, like lockdowns and rising interest rates.” Armstong sets a standard for himself, too. “If the business can help us achieve personal goals, then you put more into the business and you find that it doesn’t feel like work.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

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SEE ALSO: Growing Up: A Sydney Vertical Farm Continues its Rise

*170,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first three (3) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the past 18 months are ineligible for this offer. 170,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 February 2024 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

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