Ongoing Safety and Success
What to do Moving Forward.
When we were first mandated to close our salon due to COVID-19, we immediately started planning a party to celebrate our triumphant return. What a difference a few weeks make! It soon settled in that whenever that the return of our salon, though joyous, would not be business as usual.
Getting Ready to Roar.
We know the pain of waiting! One of the first to mandate closures Washington State (where our flagship salon is) was among last states to allow salons to reopen. We have also heard from salon partners in other states that reopening early felt like a mixed blessing. Bills can start to be paid and grey roots covered, but stylists and clients with immunocompromised family members are put in very difficult positions, and questions about a resurgence weigh on us all.
Regardless of your reopen date, being prepared for your ongoing success is vital. We have gathered advice from our own salon and others in the community to help you navigate your way through.
Taking Safety Measures Seriously.
Every state will have different guidelines for sanitation and social distancing, so your first steps should be checking in with your state board and listening closely to your governor’s announcements. For all of us, however, there are a number of things worth implementing now.
- Get imaginative with your space. Consider spacing your chairs 10 feet apart. If your stations are permanently installed, you may need to plan to leave some chairs empty. Consider reconfiguring previously unused space, massage rooms or private areas into stations for your stylists.
- Masks and gloves. These should be required for your stylists and some states will mandate the same for your clients. With worldwide manufacturing stretched and prices skyrocketing, look locally for entrepreneurial sewers who have met the need. We are also encouraging our stylists to wear their masks and gloves at home to practice having them on. This new gear will take some getting used to. Note that at the time we are writing this, Cosmoprof is selling PPE at cost.
- Temperatures. It looks like some states will require you to take temperatures as anyone enters your space. It may take a while to find a no touch thermometer gun, so now is the time to look. Or, you may opt to ask that everyone entering your space take their own temperature before arriving. According to the CDC, it should be no higher than 100.4 degrees. Consider taking your temperature in front of your clients to put them at ease.
- No waiting in the reception area. Remove seating if you can. Many salon owners we talk to plan to have clients remain in their cars until a text comes to say their stylist is ready.
- Don’t share products. Stylists should have their own set of station products that only they touch. Remove any testers from your retail shelves as well.
- Wash everything, every time. That means towels, aprons, capes, and robes. For the time being, consider everything single use. Create additional sanitation stations (we are temporarily closing our espresso bar and adding a sanitizing station there, for instance)
- Sanitize. Plan for a deep clean between each client and at the end of each day. Ask that clients wash their hands upon arrival.
- In order to provide protection at front desk, you may consider a PVC barrier. We found this to be an expensive option, so have hung large picture frames from the ceiling to provide that layer of protection.
Communicate early and often with your Clients & Stylists
We mentioned in a previous post that we have opted to reschedule all of our clients by phone, and chat with our stylists one-on-one and in groups. It gives us a chance to check in on their wellbeing and remind them that we care.
We now use that connection time to share the specific changes that will be present in the salon. It is such a fluid situation that it may be slightly different every time they come in this year, so consider this step an ongoing process. Whether you choose email, phone call, text, social post, signage or all of the above to communicate with your clients and stylists, you want to let them know what to expect well BEFORE they arrive.
Though everyone can expect the same high level of service, let them know how the atmosphere will be different and – even though they already know this – take a moment to remind them that their safety is of utmost importance to you.
Here is what is most important to communicate:
- Let them know how to get in, how early to arrive, whether or not you will be texting them in their car when it is time for their appointment.
- Confirm that they will not be bringing guests/children with them for their appointment.
- Keep them informed about what precautions you will be taking, and what you will expect from them (that they will need to come with a mask, etc)
- Remind them that if they are ill, or have a temperature above 100.4 degrees, they need to stay home.
For your front desk staff, consider holding a virtual training session to discuss new protocols so everyone feels ready and comfortable on day one. Ongoing virtual checkins to address any concerns and to encourage staff to stay rigorous about cleaning processes are a good idea as well.
Finally, you will also want to prepare yourself to redirect any negativity. These first days back will be stressful for everyone, so patience and compassion will be required!
Is There A Bright Side?
These are hard times, but crisis always brings opportunities. Take a look at your business and your brand. What is working? What isn’t? Do you have the right team in place? A group of individuals who all add “bricks” to the wall of your salon and our industry?
Other recessions have shown us that the strongest brands survive. Take a moment now to give yourself a new credo, or find new words to live by and get your whole salon staff on board with your new vision.