Competitive advantage in times of crisis

Written by Investors In People

Competitive advantage in times of crisis

Good news stories from our community – House of Colour

We will be regularly featuring an organisation from our community that is finding a way to thrive during this difficult time. This week it’s the turn of House of Colour…

They are currently accredited We invest in people Gold.

Read about how they

Who are House of Colour?

House of Colour provide colour and style analysis and advice, providing a big confidence boost to their clients as they discover what colours and shapes really work for them.

They are a franchise organisation with 85 wonderful franchisees across the UK delivering in-person services (usually!).

House of Colour have been Investors in People accredited since 1995 and currently hold our gold award.

How has the Covid-19 outbreak impacted them?

As services are usually offered in person, the lockdown threatened to remove the ability to earn money overnight for the franchisees, threatening the long-term success of the business – sales fell by 90% overnight.

House of Colour’s core product and reputation is built on expert colour analysis.  This is something that simply cannot be done online, as cameras auto-adjust the lighting and colour meaning you can’t make an accurate analysis.

They also faced the challenge of training new consultants who would usually deliver the service – as you can imagine this training usually involves lots of hands on practice with live models!

I’m sure some of you will recognise those challenges! So, how did House of Colour respond?

Honesty and transparency. They’ve been honest with their clients and franchisees that it’s simply not possible to offer colour analysis virtually, but that they absolutely can go ahead with personal style sessions. In fact, this might be the first time people have the time to take a fresh look at their wardrobe! House of Colour’s Managing Director, Helen Venables, quickly arranged video training with franchisees on how best to deliver this.

House of Colour made the shift to working from home for their HQ team, but have to keep a small warehouse operating to serve their online shop. After consultation, the 2 members of the team who have small children at home were offered furlough and both gratefully accepted it – so their warehouse is now manned by one member of staff a couple of mornings a week, keeping everyone as safe as possible.

Finally, they had to tackle the problem of attracting and training up new franchisees. Their regular recruitment days have been converted into a virtual session, with a great take up. The training programme was adjusted so that franchisees received enough to still start their businesses as planned, albeit with a different virtual offering.  10 of the signed up 12 trainees went ahead.

How has House of Colour been supporting their people during this difficult time?

Connection and communication are key for social and psychological wellbeing

Their franchisees are mostly sole traders working from their own homes and keeping them connected with each other, their regional managers and their clients has naturally been a priority for the company. House of Colour’s ‘Pearls of Wisdom’ Intranet allows two-way communication and information sharing. Helen Venables has also been on the phones constantly with franchisees to offer her support.

A year ago a client Facebook community was launched and the marketing department have created daily challenges to encourage engagement and connectedness.  Engagement has gone up 871% on these forums in the last 3 weeks. Here’s just one snippet of feedback from this community:

‘It’s giving me a reason to get dressed every day. Find those challenge colours in my wardrobe plus, seeing everybody else’s posts is inspiring!’

House of Colour’s purpose is ‘Empowering through Colour and Style’. At this time when they might feel they have power over so little, they’ve created a safe space and community for people online where they can share pictures of themselves, when they have never shared before, and receive comments that affirm at a deep level.

Leading by example

One of their Non-Executive Directors has introduced free coaching workshops on Saturdays, covering topics like Living with Fear, Overcoming Fear and Living Powerfully. These have been well attended and gratefully received and will continue as long as the lockdown does.

Video messages from the Helen Venables to their clients and franchisees have also received a very positive response –  including a request that someone should nominate her for an OBE!

The Practitioner’s perspective

Our Practitioners are more than an ‘in and out’ consultant. They are passionate about supporting the organisations they partner with. Here’s what Cath Parish, the Practitioner for House of Colour has to say:

‘From the first day I visited their Watford headquarters I was struck by their passion to make a difference to people’s lives. They are committed to empower people to look their best and to feel good about themselves.’

The Leadership team

The leadership at House of Colour is exceptional. They have done a great job in assessing the business risks, evolving the ways of working to respond to the crisis, and providing support and engagement to their franchisees.

They live with an optimistic mindset and this has filtered down throughout the whole organisation.

They are inspirational and inject hope and enthusiasm into everything they do.

The values and culture

House of Colour’s three organisational values of being metamorphic, engaging and confident have really shone through in their response, whether that’s by pivoting their sessions so they can be offered virtually, having the courage to be honest and open about their limitations during this time or showing compassion to the team members with young children.


House of Colour has built up a tremendous reputation over the years. They have restructured and grown the business out of all proportion, using the Investors in People framework as a route map.

Keep your eyes peeled for their comeback once lockdown is lifted and we start to return to normality!

About Investors in People

Investors in People have been working with a huge range of big and small organisations from Public Sectors, SMEs, Charities, PLCs and anything in between for over 30 years. We have accredited more than 50,000 organisations and our  accreditation is recognised in 66 countries around the world, making it the global benchmark when it comes to people management. So we know we speak your language and can offer the specific kind of support and guidance your organisation needs.

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14th Nov 2023 | Old Billingsgate, London



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