COPING WITH COVID-19
ISBN MEMBERS AND SALON INDUSTRY LEADERS SHARE CRISIS MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Free, Open Forum Webinar March 18 at 4 pm CST/2 pm PST. Register Now>>
During any time of crisis, it’s important to come together and support one another. As the Coronavirus or COVID-19 has evolved into a global pandemic, members of the International SalonSpa Business Network (ISBN) continue working together to share ideas and provide access to crisis management coping strategies and resources to help salon groups of any size or scope.
On March 18 at 4 pm CST/2 pm PST, members of the ISBN Board of Directors will host an open forum webinar to detail actions they have taken or planned to protect guests, beauty professionals and the communities of their own multi-unit salon, spa and barber businesses.
ISBN President Scott Missad, who is CEO of Gene Juarez Salons and Spa in Seattle, will help lead the discussion, and will be joined by Rhoda Olsen of Great Clips, Debra Penzone of PENZONE salons and spas, Edward Logan of Sport Clips, Emily Brown of V’s Barbershops and others. ISBN members and salon industry leaders and friends are encouraged to register and submit your concerns during the session.
“This is a complex, ever-changing situation, and we hope this open discussion will prove useful to our industry, and also help mitigate the financial risks everyone across the world is facing,” ISBN Executive Director Valorie Tate says.
Many of the “new normal” ways other business segments are responding to the crisis don’t apply to salons, Tate points out. Working from home and seeing clients on Zoom meetings is not an option for service providers. Social distancing isn’t feasible either, at least not between the guest and the stylist or other service providers. So along with assurances and best practices being reinforced and communicated to guests, business owners have the additional complexity of looking after their tribe while also keeping doors open. It’s going to be tough, but our membership is looking to do what it does best – share and collaborate.
“First and foremost, you have to really scrutinize your existing sanitation procedures to make sure that the things you should already be doing on a daily basis are really happening,” says Stacey Soble, content leader of ISBN media partner Salon Today (salontoday.com), who has interviewed or heard from many proactive salon and beauty leaders since COVID-19 emerged as a health and business threat.
“Then, you and your team must go into hyperdrive mode, making absolutely sure stations are wiped down and you wash hands after every client,” she adds. “No water bottles or personal items at the station. Communication and visibility and consistency are all imperative. Your guests and your team have to see how seriously everyone in your organization is taking this responsibility to maintain the salon as a safe sanctuary.”
Secondly, Soble says, be sure you let guests know what you are doing to protect them. Communicate before, during and after the service.
To that end, ISBN will summarize the examples of communications, actions, concerns and business decisions members share during the March 18 blog and will post online and link via email and social media platforms. In the meantime, here are some general tips and reminders for salon leaders to consider.
BEFORE GUESTS VISIT THE SALON
- Team huddle first: Be sure everyone on your team is comfortable and committed to your sanitation practices, salon guidelines and messaging around COVID-19, down to protocol for what happens if a guest (or a team member) arrives into the salon who appears to be ill. Some salon owners are mandating an extra daily leadership meeting specifically dedicated to monitor COVID-19 status and respond to any issues.
- Use every platform you can–email, social media, in-salon signage, on-hold messaging and more–to communicate how your salon is addressing COVID-19, and that the safety and wellness of your guests and associates is of the utmost concern.
- Emphasize that you are closely monitoring and following national and local health and government guidelines and requirements, and that you will provide regular updates on any changes or additions to your practices as they occur.
- Take the opportunity to reinforce that your business and your service providers are licensed and trained in strict sanitation guidelines that you follow every day and with every guest.
- Be specific about the sanitation practices your salon follows regularly and detail any additional measure you are mandating within your salons. Spell out the steps your team will be taking, i.e. wiping down all door handles and front desk surfaces every hour, etc.
- Communicate any service adjustments or pauses you may be making. For instance, one ISBN member let consumers know that it was continuing hair care services but, out of caution, halting skin, brow and waxing services, and removing product testers.
- Confirm all appointments and use the opportunity to assure clients and reinforce the steps you are taking to keep them, your team and community protected.
- Communicate any cancellation policy adjustments and be clear in asking clients who are not feeling well or feel they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to please reschedule the appointment.
DURING THE GUEST VISIT TO THE SALON
- Show and tell: Demonstrate and communicate the “hyper-drive” sanitation practices your business and team are following. Craft tent cards, mirror clings and other touchpoints that spell out protocol and tactics. Most important? Hold your team accountable for being consistent in DOING the required actions.
- Create a comfortable, stress-free environment. While keeping things clean and healthy, and answering any questions a guest may have, coach your team to shift the focus on to the service. Most guests will welcome a mini salon “stay-cation” and break from world news stress.
- When practical, make adjustments that support social distancing. Separate or reposition waiting area seating. Use alternating stations or shampoo bowls when salon traffic is slower.
- Ask the guests if they had a good experience in the salon and if yes, to please share! Encourage them to share that sentiment on their social media and tag the salon.
- Restock and rebook: Ask if they need to stock up on any beauty essentials or gifts for friends and family. If they are going out “less” they may consider the salon “more” for retail and gift options. Encourage them to rebook and explain if you have adjusted your cancellation policy to be more flexible.
- Thank them for their business. Let them know their patronage matters.
AFTER GUESTS VISIT THE SALON
- Show gratitude. Thank them again, via email or text or whatever system you use. Acknowledging loyal guests is especially important in today’s environment. Let them know how much it means to you that they came to the salon and encourage them to return soon.
- Promote ahead: Let clients know what you have planned next. If you’ve rescheduled events, or added promotions, let them know the details.
WHEN GUESTS CANCEL APPOINTMENTS OR AVOID THE SALON
- Show compassion and invite them back. Tailor a message to go out to every client who cancels or misses an appointment. If it is your policy, explain that you’ve waived your standard cancellation fee in light of circumstances. Recap the safety and sanitation measures and best practices you are following. Express that you are looking forward to seeing them soon and will follow up with an update in the coming weeks. Consider offering an incentive or gift for their return visit.
- Plan ahead for when the situation improves. Plan marketing and events that you can release to support summer and fall business drives. Consider focusing on “little luxuries” and creative “stay-cations” and more. The strategy is to stimulate and recapture any business as quickly and efficiently as possible.
WHAT ABOUT THE TEAM?
In addition to coping with new business realities related to downturns in salon traffic and guest visits as a result of COVID-19 and its economic impact, salon business leaders must also focus on supporting and communicating with salon associates, managing business expectations and potentially making tough short-term and longer-term decisions related to staffing and locations.
One salon owner who spoke to Soble recently said she made it clear to her salon associates that in order to best navigate this crisis together, they will all need to be flexible and adapt to what the business requires. That means coming up with appropriate, responsible ways for sick employees to be able to stay home, for instance, but also making compromises and pitching in where needed.
“We may need to reduce hours now, and later, when the virus and fears lift, some of you may need to work longer days,” the owner told her team. We just have to see what happens, be smart, do what it takes and support each other.
The ISBN webinar conversation on March 18 will dive deeper into this topic, as will ongoing and developing coverage across ISBN and MUSE content touchpoints. For questions, more information, or to contribute examples of how your salon, spa or barber business is coping with or communicating about COVID-19, please contact ISBN Executive Director Valorie Tate or email firstname.lastname@example.org.