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The Salon Business

Getting Back to Business: Reinventing the Salon Experience in a COVID World

Salon owners, stylists, and colorists can all agree that the world looks very different than it did this time last year. Due to the current COVID-19 landscape, salons and beauty professionals have completely revamped their businesses to help keep their clients, staff, and communities stay safe and healthy.

While safety is certainly the most important issue, from a business and revenue perspective — most salons are also trying to figure out how to move from coping and adapting to thriving during a COVID world. In addition to creating a safe environment, they are also trying to come up with effective ways to offer a relaxing, anxiety-free, and somewhat “normal” experience for their clients.

Besides the obvious safety precautions like limiting the number of clients in the salon, frequent sanitizing, practicing social distancing, installing partitions between styling stations, and wearing PPE such as masks, gloves, disposable aprons and capes, many salon owners are implementing some innovative and creative measures to ensure a safe and healthy environment and get back to business.  

Embracing Technology

Today, more than ever, salon owners are also utilizing technology to communicate with their clients and keep and them up to date on changes they have implemented. They are using their websites and social media platforms to highlight updated safety measures and inform them of any changes in hours, pricing, policies, and services. To reduce contact, they are also conducting virtual consultations and utilizing cashless/touch-free payments through Venmo, PayPal, and other electronic payment services. Since most waiting areas have been eliminated, stylists now text their clients when they are ready to come in. Some salons are also offering the option to book appointments online since their front desk staff may be limited.

Getting Creative on a Budget

Many salons have installed Plexiglas barriers at their front desk and between styling stations and shampoo bowls. While these safety measures are necessary, they may not be a cost-effective option for every salon. As a result, some inventive hair salon owners are coming up with practical and creative ways of their own to promote safety. Amanda Lenz, owner of ReVive Hair Salon in Allentown, Pennsylvania explains, “Our station partitions are made out of clothing racks with clear shower curtains! They are lightweight and easy to clean and the shower curtains are inexpensive to replace. The best part is that they are easy to wheel around and move to areas where we need to temporarily create protective barriers.” She also shared that her salon is offering personalized client kits for purchase. Each kit contains a cape and two salon towels. This offers clients the option to bring their kit back to each appointment and it helps to reduce any anxiety over the safety of sharing these items with others at the salon.

Revenue Recovery

After closing and losing business for several months, the biggest question on everyone’s mind after safety is, “How can I recover and make up for lost revenue?” The demand for services has undoubtedly increased for many salons since reopening, however, many salon owners are looking for ways to make up for the income they lost when they were closed. While you certainly don’t want to price gouge, it makes sense right now to raise prices on some of your services. It is not a secret that your business has taken a hit in revenue because of closure and your clients know this. Some salons have instituted a flat “COVID-19 tax” on all of their services, while others have started to increase their retail inventory with the hopes of increasing revenue through product sales. Another way to secure additional appointments is to offer a discount on future bookings to encourage clients to return to the salon.

The Silver Lining

Today we are living and working in a world that we have never experienced before. While many of these forced changes are uncomfortable, impractical, and downright annoying, they can also allow us to see things in a new light and have a new appreciation for the new normal. Kristen Linares, owner of Thirteenth and Washington in St. Louis shares her revelation, “We've stopped double booking and clients are not permitted to bring anyone with them to their appointment. If you ask me, it's a blessing in disguise as our stylists are more focused on their clients and our overall environment is less hectic.”

While creating a safe environment is at the top of every salon owner’s list, the ability to retain some normalcy and create a calm, welcoming, and comfortable environment is still the goal for most stylists. Personal connection is still so important. Adrienne Rogers, the owner of Hush Salon in Philadelphia explains, “The salon is the place to connect now; to remember what it was like to be social. I am grateful that I can bring people some relief with their self-esteem through their hair, but my biggest job right now is to deliver friendship, caring, and compassion. Listening to the incredibly hard things people have been going through calls for good listening skills and genuine empathy. Many of us have this power — and we all know with power comes responsibility and we’re taking it seriously.”

Accept and Embrace Change

It may be too soon to see how this new environment will ultimately impact the beauty community in the long run, but one thing is for sure — stylists and salon owners are working hard to make sure their customers do not have to choose between a haircut or hair color service and safety. Remember that if you want your business to continue to flourish and ultimately succeed — the only way to do it is to embrace change.

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