Roz Colthart, Founder of Salon Studios, shares her thoughts on how things might change when the lockdown is lifted.
We are all looking forward to life going back to normal, but I don’t think the new normal will be anything like our old routine. Gone are the days of people jam-packed in public spaces or heading to work with ‘just a sniffle’, as social distancing will become part of our new reality. It’s the 2020 version of travelling after 9/11 or smoking in a restaurant after 2009. If we sneeze in the hairdresser or cough continuously when we’re out, we are going to be on the receiving end of ‘tut tut’ and disapproving glances!
Our new normal is going to take some time to get used to it but, as with all change, it’s hard in the beginning and then after some time you get used to it and eventually that becomes the new normal and you can barely remember the ‘good old days’.
There is no doubt that hair and beauty is going to be one of the busiest sectors when life goes back to normal and, fortunately, the industry is fairly well incubated from recessions (people are likely to visit, just less frequently) and Amazon is never going to get a cut of our market. We can be confident that the business will come, but we will not escape without making some changes that are likely to be here for the long haul.
With talk of a staged lockdown and whispers of hairdressers being amongst the first to open up, we will soon be advised of the new guidelines and I expect we are going to see some restrictions on space (in China, hairdressers and barbers opened but had to space stations out by 6ft to mitigate droplet transfer) as well as sanitization and stricter cleaning schedules. If this is the case, how will your salon approach this? If a 6ft space is required for each client, you may have to shampoo clients separately and plan rotation for staff so you can spread yourselves out more.
There is no getting away from it, hair and beauty is up there in terms of human contact! It’s virtually impossible for hair and beauty pro’s to do their services without touching clients and it’s likely that face masks (& potentially even latex gloves) will be mandatory when the service permits. Fortunately the majority of nail techs that I have worked with already use N95 masks to protect themselves from dust so this will not be too drastic a move for them but I advise all salon owners to start thinking about sanitization schedules; offering sanitizer and clearly communicate this and their OPP (outbreak prevention plan) to their clients (even before we are open again).
I also recommend all hair and beauty professionals take some time to think about their client profiles and how this epidemic has affected them. Some clients will have suffered life-changing financial loss, others will remain largely unaffected financially but maybe immune-compromised and others may fit both categories.
So, it is worth sitting down and looking at your clients, then separating them into these categories and addressing how you will show up for them. For a client who has been good to you but is now suffering financially, can you offer a payment plan or an express treatment that would give them the feel-good factor they need? For another client who is anxious about cleanliness in the salon, can you work outside hours to give them the space they need and reassurance they won’t be mixing with other people? Ask your clients how often they see themselves coming in – this will help give you a realistic view of what your cash flow is going to be and what measures you need to take to adapt to this.
You also need to be honest about your own situation – are you (or somebody in your family) immune-compromised and your working hours will be significantly reduced? Are you happy to work every hour you can to make money? If not, you need to communicate this and plan in advance in order to keep your clients happy! I’ve always been a big believer in managing expectations and people don’t like last-minute surprises, so as we get closer to opening our salon doors it’s worth taking a morning to wake up to this new reality and look at your clients profile along with your personal situation and get realistic about what normal looks like for you.
Download our free guide on life post-COVID at www.salonstudios.co.uk/covid-19-guide