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Returning to Work in “The New Normal”

by | Apr 30, 2020

Whether we like it or not, the reality is that business as it was is gone and it is time to re-imagine a new elevated level of business and guest relations.

Fast forward to the glorious day we all walk into our businesses to re-open, the door is swinging, the cash register is ringing, and the blow dryers are singing.  But hang tight; before we go there, we have much to re-imagine.

Think of your salon as a space with many different zones within the space.  Each zone must be a safe zone for guests and team members. This must be thought out with new protocols written and communicated with the guest and the team prior to that grand re-opening.

SCHEDULING

  • As the business owner you will need to determine the days of the week you will now be open along with the hours per day. In order to accommodate shifting and keeping with the social distancing we will need to be open longer hours than before.
  • You will need to work with your team to adjust to new schedules while working with their potentially new home situations.  The reality is we may have some team members that will not come back, some that may need to adjust their hours due to children not going back to school and some that will want more hours. As it has been said many times, we are in this together and together the days and hours need to be covered.

PRE-APPOINTMENT

  • Communication has always been an integral part of a well-run organization, but now it is time to take it to a completely new level.
  • It is incredibly important to first start with your communication with your team. Ask them for their input, to share their feelings, and allow them to feel heard. If you aim to create an environment where your team will feel safe to work, your guests will benefit from that in a very large way.
  • Let’s start with appointments, yes business by appointment only.  We need to control the amount of people in our space. Now what does that mean for walk in business?
  • Simply put, post signage in a visible area of your front window/door and request potential guests to call your salon to book the next available appointment.
  • How do we handle the arrival of scheduled guests? Again, communication is key in this area to provide clarity and avoid confusion for the guest. Be clear on what it is you are expecting of the guest and send instructions via email or text no less than 24 hours before scheduled appointments. Better yet, send out an email blast to all clients when you are sure of your opening date (this of course will vary state to state) with all new protocols and instructions on how to prepare for the new procedures implemented.
  • If you do not currently communicate with clients via text, now is the time to implement the correct technology. Numa (numahelps.com) is a great and inexpensive resource for this. They are even offering a free 60-day trial to all new businesses.

WAITING FOR THE APPOINTMENT

  • Living room type waiting areas are a thing of the past. Let’s take all the furniture out and place 2-3 chairs 6 feet apart. Re-imagine the rest of the space for retail.
  • The future will be texting your guest when you are ready to take them, not them lounging on a couch in the reception area sipping a beverage while eating from the snack tray. Inform guests that they must arrive alone. No longer can they bring an entourage of moral support or their children. We understand this will be challenging but it is what must be done for us to run smoothly and safely.
  • Beverage centers, gone and replaced with bottled water and or juice. If someone wants a coffee, latte, Frappuccino or whatever the drink of the day is, well let’s face it Starbucks makes them better so they can bring their favorite beverage in with them.  Snack trays and magazines have become a thing of the past. The option of no beverages served at your salon is something to think about as well.

SAFE ZONE

  • Sanitation practices, policies and protocols must be developed, written and all must be held accountable, yes that means management must follow through and do a consistent job.  Let’s have touchless sanitation stations throughout the business along with mask and gloves available for every guest and team member.
  • Instruct guests that masks that go behind the ears are necessary, not a scarf or bandana. Custom masks with your logo on them are a great branding idea and can be sold to guests who arrive without one. 
  • Start holding yourself and your team accountable for their station sanitation. That means new capes for every guest, follow proper sanitation of all implements after each guest, a complete wipe down of all surfaces and new combs, brushes and clips for every guest.
  • Checklists will be required for all departments of your salon to ensure consistency and thoroughness. A guest will want to see and know the things that are being used on their hair are sanitized.
  • You may need a haircare kit for each guest and in that hair care kit will be everything needed to complete whatever service the guest is getting. You may need to unwrap the sterilized kit in front of the guest.
  • Remember this is about elevating the service experience.
  • 15-minute Zoom consultations 24-48 hours before scheduled appointments will become mandatory. This will ensure that each guest’s appointment is booked correctly and allow the stylist to connect with them, offer moral support, and discuss important key points for the service. It will also serve as an amazing time saver on the day of the scheduled appointments. Consultation forms will be needed to create consistency in conversation across the board for all Stylists.

PRICING

  • All these things come with a cost and you can expect the cost of doing business will go up as you implement the elevated guest experience.  Pricing will need to be adjusted! You will need to charge a sanitation fee for each guest.
  • Think of the resorts we go to; they all have a resort fee; well this is the same concept. There is no way we can limit our guest count per day, implement all the new sanitation practices and have the same fees for our services.
  • If you are a commissioned business the sanitation charge would be non-commissionable. In addition, the elevated experience, added time booked to flip a station and extra undivided attention warrant a price adjust.
  • Our guests will gladly pay for the business to have a safe, relaxing environment and they will love the extra attention and pampering they will now receive. Additional charges for color usage will also need to be implemented. After not seeing a guest for many months, think about the amount of product that will need to be used per guest. That cost must be passed on to the client.

SERVICE ZONE

  • The days of stacking and packing guests and working between two or three guests is a thing of the past. Instead we will be giving one guest our undivided attention moving forward.  Of course, if we adopt this as our new way of doing business, we need to also take this into consideration when adjusting our pricing. 
  • We should be taking less guests and spending more time identifying our guest’s challenges, we should be able to see less guests and provide more services to the guests we do see.
  • If we adjust our pricing, spend more time giving our guest more of what they want in the way of services we should be able to, at the very least, produce the service dollars we were pre COVID19!  That should be great news to all of you!

BREAK ROOM ZONE

  • Let’s talk about the staff break room- finally, we must limit the amount of team members in the back room. This never was meant to be a congregation area. This is an area to store your personal things and to take a meal break.  If we are going to practice social distancing, we no longer can have a party in the break room.
  • The truth is our team should be waiting for their guest to walk in the door and they need to be up front ready to greet them and take them to their station. Some salons (depending on size), will need to think about creative ways their team can take a break. Whether it be outside or in their cars, all of this is critical to decide beforehand.

FINAL WORDS

  • Again, communication is key! Your team will need to be informed of all new protocols and systems in writing in advance.
  • A dress rehearsal having family and friends as guests would be fitting prior to your grand re-opening.  Doing this will identify any potential areas that need to be tweaked or changed.
  • As mentioned above, you will need to share with your guests your new and continued sanitation efforts, your new days and hours of operation, and what they can expect when entering the salon moving forward.
  • You need to focus on the elevated experiences they will have by continuing to do business with you. Conveying to them that they are welcome, that your salon environment will be safe, and that they will be taken care of during their visit will help ease this new transition and alteration of experience.
  • Re-imagine your business, the possibilities are endless. Let’s re-open with a new commitment to elevate our business and our industry!

This article is also posted in modernsalon.com.

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