Currently, some states are extending their stay-at-home orders, while others are easing their restrictions and allowing personal care and other non-essential businesses to reopen. Here is your state by state guide for salons reopening — with dates and links to every state’s new regulations and restrictions. Whether your state is easing its lockdown soon or further down the road, you should start preparing to reopen your salon, barbershop or spa. Here’s how you should go about it.
Step 1: Preparing for the New Guidelines and Restrictions
Your state will issue guidelines and restrictions for the reopening of high-touch businesses, such as salons, barbershops and spas. Find out what they are and read them carefully.
If your state hasn’t issued these guidelines yet, read the ones provided by another state. Here are, for example, Colorado’s restrictions for personal care businesses. They are likely to be similar to the ones your state will later issue. Reading them in advance will give you an idea of what you’re up against, so you can start preparing to reopen your business.
The guidelines will refer to workplace, employee and customer safety. Read them, then make a list of the following:
1. New policies you might need to introduce.
2. Equipment you might need.
3. Any physical changes to the space that you might need to make.
4. HR changes you might need to make.
Turn each of these into a list of action items, prioritize them, then start crossing off things you’ve already done. You don’t have to do it all at once. Start with the most urgent. But creating a list will ensure nothing falls through the cracks when you reopen.
Step 2: Engage Your Employees and Train Them
You have a lot on your plate right now. Keeping the business alive, taking care of your livelihood, preparing to maintain the safety of your customers. And on top of it all, being a leader to your staff.
This last bit is crucial. Being a leader at a time of crisis requires empathy. So the first thing you should do is schedule one-on-one video calls (yes, video) with your staff. Let them know you plan to reopen, then listen to their concerns, hopes and limitations.
This will increase trust and loyalty, and will also enable you to better prepare. Make a list of questions to ask them, like if they’re planning to come back at all. How many weekly shifts they would feel comfortable doing. Ask them about their expectations regarding safety and scope, and plan accordingly.
The second thing you should do is inform your staff of all the new guidelines and restrictions. Put together a clear document with everything they need to know and send it to them. Ask them to familiarize themselves with the information, and tell them what you plan to do in order to help them follow the new rules.
Next, conduct a group training session for your employees. Make sure they know how to sanitize their workstations and other surfaces as well as their equipment, and how often. How to maintain client social distancing. Where you will be keeping new equipment like non-contact infrared thermometers, and so on.
Just make sure to leave enough time for questions and for feedback.
Step 3: Rethink Your Pricing and Revenue Channels
In the foreseeable future, you will be able to service less customers at any given moment. There will be restrictions on the number of people allowed to be present at your business. It will take time to sanitize between clients. And no walk-ins will be allowed.
This means that even if you’re fully booked, you will not turn the same profit as before, which calls for rethinking your pricing and your revenue channels.
There are many approaches right now to rethinking your pricing. Some salons and spas plan to offer discounts, keeping in mind clients’ possible financial constraints.
Others are planning to charge more, taking into account that the number of hours and amount of products needed to treat clients who missed several appointments, will be considerably higher. Still others say they plan to keep things exactly as they were, for the sake of avoiding complications in a time of uncertainty.
How should you make this decision? Here are a few things you should consider:
- Your target audience. You know who they are, and how financially resilient they are. If they weren’t financially affected by COVID-19, they probably won’t mind higher pricing. Just as long as you communicate it in advance, and explain the rationale behind it. If your clients were somewhat affected, they are more likely to appreciate a discount. So as not to lose money, try to be creative about it. You could offer a discount on their next appointment or you could offer a discount on a gift card or on a ten-appointment card.
- You know how many hours it will take to treat hair or nails that haven’t been treated for two months. You know how much your hours cost and how much products you would need to use. Do the math, and price accordingly.
What about other revenue channels? If you haven’t done so already during lockdown, you could start developing additional business models. These can include e-commerce, online training for other professionals and one-on-one online consultations. Here is a detailed article about making an income for salons and spas during coronavirus.
Step 4: Enable Advance Booking
83% of consumers will visit a salon first, once lockdown is lifted, before visiting any other type of business. Who said personal care wasn’t essential? This means people are already planning their visit to your salon or spa.
However, since you’ll only be allowed to have a limited number of customers at any given moment, no walk-ins and no lines outside, you should help customers book their appointment in advance, and from the safety of their own home.
Enabling online booking will also help you know what lies ahead after you reopen your salon. It will help you schedule shifts in advance. It will allow you to figure out the amount of sanitary supplies needed, and it will enable you to reassure your staff that they have a job if they want it.
Make sure to define calendar settings to adhere to the new norms and regulations. This can mean:
– Setting longer appointments.
– Limiting the number of open seats or beds an hour.
– Leaving time in between appointments, both for sanitizing and for preventing customer overlap.
Step 5: Get Customers Informed and Excited
We know many of you really miss going in every day and meeting your clients, so it will be easy for this excitement to come through. Below are a few tips for doing exactly that. However, it is important to remember to set expectations straight with customers.
For the time being, the nature of their visits to your business is going to be quite different than before. For example, you might want to ask them to limit personal belongings to a phone and a form of payment. Their temperature will need to be taken before they walk in.
If you want to get a general idea of the type of information you’d need to communicate to your clients, read this Vogue article on how veteran hairdresser Van Council reopened his six Van Michael hair salons in Atlanta. And this is how the elle.b salon is informing their customers of their reopening and new policies:
You might also want to ask your customers to be patient. Let them know this is new for you too, and things might not run smoothly at first. Communicate clearly how things are going to work from now on, and make sure your customers are well informed before they arrive to their appointment.
Now you can go ahead and get them all excited about your reopening: You can share reopening messages on Instagram, post your reopening deals and even do a countdown.
Other channels are email and text. In your email or text message, you can add a link to online booking and offer something extra for the first ones to book an appointment.
Even if you don’t have a date for reopening, you can still enable booking future appointments. It will give your customers something to look forward to and boost excitement around your reopening. It’s OK to rebook if you end up reopening later than you expected.
One last thing: Remember to reward the customers who supported your salon throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Give them special attention and special treats to show your appreciation after reopening your salon. You could give them priority in booking an appointment for example, and add a little something extra.