Asia''s first ISO certified saloon in Chennai

Chennai: What is the common strand that runs between giant industrial groups like TVS, Tatas, Birlas and the humbler Ramesh Gents' Hair Stylist on the upmarket Nungambakkam High Road in Chennai?

A coveted ISO quality certification, of course. The saloon is the first such personal care establishment in Asia to be awarded this prestigious quality certification in this service category. The saloon was certified by the Mumbai-based ISO auditors, International Certification Services (Asia).

Says ISO consultant, Ayyan Thiruvalluvar, CEO, IQ International Consultancy Services "It took us three months to map and systematise the entire process involved in running the saloon."

Proprietor G Ramesh, who entered the hair-care profession at the age of 12, clearly articulates the reason of becoming ISO certified, "We want to go global and set up our business overseas and also meet competitive threats at home." While the personal products company, CavinKare notched a milestone when it started its unisex saloon in this southern metro, the Chennai hair-stylist has finalised plans to start operations in Malaysia with a local partner.

In addition, Ramesh plans to strengthen his branding in India by establishing a presence in other Indian metros and covert his sole proprietorship into a private limited company. Though planning to corporatise, Ramesh emphatically rules out the franchising route to prevent his standards from being diluted.

"Prior to the certification, we didn't fix prior appointments. Service was on a first come, first served basis," says Ramesh and adds, "with the ISO certification, the saloon has systematised all its operations. Every time a customer comes to the saloon, a job card is prepared listing details like personal preferences and allergies to products." Records of visits are maintained and reminders about the next appointment are sent to customers.

The saloon uses disposable equipment, sterilised grooming kits, neck capes, imported disposable shaving kits and offers shower facilities. A health club with sauna, jacuzzi, ayurvedic massage and a gym are on the cards.