by Lois Charm
Thomas Randle has a resilience that has sustained his business through an unprecedented year of challenges. As the owner of T-randZ Barber Shop, Randle has spent the last five years living his dream as a business owner.
He opens up about his journey since starting his business and how he and his staff have had to re-adjust to guidelines this past year to keep customers safe from COVID-19.
Randle graduated with a master in business administration degree in general management from Bethel University in 2016 before establishing T-randZ Barber Shop the following June.
He said that it was during his time as an undergraduate general management student at LeMoyne-Owen College that he became inspired to start a business.
“I was in undergraduate school at LeMoyne-Owen College, where I created my business plan,” he said. “I used this business plan as my senior project and Dr. Katherine Causey, who was the department head at the time, told me that it was a great business plan.”
Dr. Causey’s initial reaction to his business plan inspired Randle to put it into action.
“I created an action plan in graduate school, which was to actually go out to do the work to start the business upon graduation,” he said. “I graduated in May (2016)from my master’s program and started the business the following June.”
Randle’s initial plan guided his financial decisions for setting up his business.
“As far as finances, between my time as an undergraduate and graduate student, I was saving my money to start my business,” he said. “So, when I got into graduate school and started putting my action plan together, I started coming up with the financial decisions I needed to make and I knew how much I would need.”
His time spent training and planning brought forth success, as business was good starting out.
“My first two years that I was open, I did pretty good because I already had experience in the field,” he said.
But in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Randle found himself facing unforeseen challenges like many other businesses.
“I had gotten into a good flow with the business and hired five employees, then came the pandemic,” he said. “It affected me greatly. It affected me the most even though we had to cut back on capacity.”
A specific challenge was having to adjust salon operations to fit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) business guidelines concerning COVID-19.
“The problem my staff had was following the CDC guidelines,” he said. “That comes with discipline and patience, so if you didn’t already have the two, it was going to be hard to follow the guidelines. That’s where it affected me the most, because my employees didn’t seem prepared to do that.”
Since that initial period, salon operations improved as staff eventually adjusted to the new changes.
“Now, since we’ve gone through that year where we had to change our model, the reopening was really a grand-opening because everyone had to come back with a new model with the CDC guidelines in hand,” he said.
In the wake of his experiences as an entrepreneur, Randle said that there are several decisions aspiring entrepreneurs should make in order to sustain a successful business.
He said it's important for people to initially have relatable experiences with the type of business they want to establish.
“One of my greatest recommendations to someone starting a business is to already be engulfed in what you’re doing, so when you start up, it is not anything new,” he said.
He also said that it is good to prepare an initial marketing plan for potential low-profit months.
“It's good to have a plan for when you have up and down months, then you can use your marketing strategy to boost profits during the down months,” he said.
He last said that supporting employees is very crucial for a successful business.
“My third lesson would be to always help your employees be successful,” he said. “So, if you can help them be successful, by all means your business will be successful.”
As far as future plans for T-randZ Barber Shop, Randle is currently focused on community outreach as a way to support the less-fortunate and also spread awareness about his business.
“I think about how I can help my community as a business owner,” he said. “So I ask myself how can I hire more people and create jobs and give back to kids, senior homes and people who need haircuts but can’t afford them or get out into the community. I see myself doing more of this in the future.”
In spite of having faced a year of unforeseen challenges with T-randZ Barber Shop, Randle remains optimistic about his business.
“In spite of all the downfalls economically in society, we’re doing pretty good,” he said. “We’re still open, and I don’t see us closing anytime soon.”
To learn more bout T-randZ Barber Shop, visit 4625 American Way, Memphis, TN 38118.
Lois Charm is a freelance journalist for Writing by Design Media, Inc.