Reopening in the New Normal: Keeping Yourself & Your Clients Safe During the pandemic
The clock is ticking…counting down the days until we can finally return to work. Everyone has been at home for – how many days? What day is this, anyway?
What We Have Been Doing: Finding Ways to Pass the Time
If you lost track of how long you’ve been bingeing on Netflix, being enthralled by a gay redneck tiger trainer who managed to marry straight men, and munching chips on the couch, you are not alone. Most of us are more than ready to get back to business.
But the big question is – are you really prepared for the new normal? Life as we once knew it won’t be the same, even in the salon. We must do everything we can to keep ourselves as well as our clients as safe as we can. Stacey Sobel, the Editor-in-Chief at Salon Today, gathered an expert panel to offer up some qualified advice to help us all prepare for the new normal.
What We Must Do: Disinfect
Leslie Roste RM, BSM is the National Director of Industry Relations and Education at King Research (a division of Barbicide Manufacturing). She has actively been involved with the government in the discussion with the plans to reopen businesses. Leslie informed us that new rules will be in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and that no one knows when, or if, life will go back to the way it was. She warned us that inspections will be more aggressive in the future. Leslie has offered the following advice:
“We are not going back to business as usual when we re-enter the salon. Everything must be disinfected, and social distancing will still be enforced. Your clients need to know that they are safe to enter your salon. Right now, you should be doing everything possible to ensure their safety. Little things like candy jars and magazines that everyone looks through need to be removed. The existing EPA rules are now considered to be the bare minimum. Everyone must do more.”
Barbicide is offering a free Back-to-Work PDF of the new disinfection guidelines. It is a must have checklist for every salon. Go to www.barbicide.com -there is a tab specifically addressing COVID-19 in the guide. To ease your client’s worries about the safety of returning to a salon, Barbicide will also provide free online certification. The certificate can be printed to hang at your station. This may help reassure clients that you are concerned about keeping your clients as well as yourself safe. Soon, they will offer free certification to salon owners showing that the salon follows all best practices.
Engage Other Safety Strategies to Protect Yourself and Your Clients from COVID-19
Each state provides guidelines for those with cosmetology and barber licenses to follow regarding COVID-19 that are updated on a regular basis. These guidelines are generally provided by the Department of Commerce at www.commerce.gov. Additional information can be found at www.cdc.gov. For your state’s individual guidelines, you can call the department that issued your license (or visit the website on your license) and they will direct you.
For most salons, personal protection equipment (PPE) will be mandatory for stylists as well as clients. Capes must be changed between each client – every cape must be freshly laundered before it can be used. Some states may encourage clients from bringing their family and friends with them to their appointment. If your state does not, your salon may want to consider doing so in order to protect your clients as well as those who work in the salon.
Minerva beauty came out with a line of roll-away walls to separate stations. If you are unable to use a wall to separate your station, then every other chair (and shampoo bowl) will have to remain unused in order to comply with the 6ft. rule. Martino Cartier, owner of Martino Cartier Salon in N.J. and founder of Wigs and Wishes, made the following suggestion. In his salon, they placed baskets of retail products in every other sink and decorated accordingly.
Stainless steel rolling trays are going to be used as much as possible in lieu of stations as they are much quicker to disinfect between clients. Every stylist will have two chairs – one with a client, and an empty one waiting for the next client. This increases the amount of business the stylist can handle, as an assistant can disinfect one chair while the stylist works with the next client. This also meets the social distancing requirement. Martino is going the extra mile by adding a pop-up tent carport so his clients with compromised immune systems can have their hair done from the safety of their vehicle. The new CDC guidelines are expected to restrict the number of people in a salon at any given time. Martino is installing separate pop-up tents with seating in front of his salon for clients to safely wait for their appointment or for the next opening. Many salons will ask clients to wait in their cars and send text alerts when it is their turn to come inside.
Treat Everyone as If They Are Infected
Dr. Ford from the University of Pennsylvania advises that we treat everyone as if they are infected: take temperatures at the door, insist on social distancing, and wear PPE at all times. Keeping a basket of sealed face masks (paper ones will be available from beauty supply stores) to offer clients may not be mandatory but doing so could serve as an extra layer of protection for the stylist.
Prepare to Reopen Clean, Strong, and with Excitement!
Jeff Grissler is a member of the PBA advisory board, Director of Public Relations for Minerva Beauty, and is the author of the Amazon best-selling book Ready, Set, Go! (available on www.amazon.com). He offers strategies for not only getting the salon top-to-bottom clean, he also provides some brilliant advice for creating a clean, fresh look to help wow your clients!. Jeff offers the following strategies:
Clean and organize everything.
Remove all clutter.
Paint the walls, ceiling, and front door.
Get new chairs and new mats.
Paint or decorate the ceiling – when clients are in the shampoo chairs, they stare at the ceiling!
Update or wipe down existing lighting.
Wipe down lightbulb covers.
Call your local HVAC contractor to clean out all the ductwork and replace filters with hypoallergenic air filters.
Install pop-up tents, carports, distanced seating, and whatever else is necessary to enforce the new social distancing rules that are expected to be incorporated.
Giving your salon a fresh, bright new look will go a long way towards comforting nervous clients. A lot of people are still fearful about venturing out to public places, right now is the time to do everything possible to let them know that their safety is your priority. Painting is the most cost-effective way of updating your salon. Fresh paint looks and smells clean – three to five gallons will cover an average salon. Don’t forget the front door – your door is the first thing that your clients will see. It is important that your door looks as clean and inviting as possible.
And don’t forget the ceiling! Think about the amount of time your clients spend staring up at the ceiling – give it a fresh new look without breaking the budget. Martino at Martino Cartier Salon installed photos of his stylists on the ceiling – now the clients can look at their smiling faces while getting shampooed. Ceiling tiles are another attractive way to brighten up their view – they are inexpensive and fairly easy to install. If you choose to keep it simple, a fresh coating of paint will work wonders for your salon’s overall look.
12 Strategies to Return Clients to Your Chair
Sure, your clients know who you are. But a little marketing never hurt anyone, and a lot of marketing can mean a thriving business when you reopen. You don’t have to spend a dime to do it, either. Megan Ferlito, the Director of Marketing for Minerva Beauty, offers these amazing marketing tips:
Give your clients something exciting to look forward to because they’re coming to see you. While you are cleaning, disinfecting, and re-organizing, take photos to send your clients. If you are redecorating, replacing furniture, or painting let them know how clean, fresh, and safe the salon will be when they come to see you. Keeping them informed while you are getting the salon ready to reopen will calm their fears about returning. Bonus Points: Plan a fun reopening and invite them to attend.
If you are a salon owner – keep your stylists informed. Also, have each stylist get certified to show that they are following current COVID-19 disinfection practices.
Communicate new practices to clients and staff. Your team needs to be informed and kept up-to-date. Your clients will appreciate being informed – they want to know what you are doing to keep them safe.
Keep your social media current. If you do not already have professional Facebook and Instagram pages set up, now is the time to do it. Use these accounts to post photos showcasing everything that your salon is doing to ensure the safest reopening possible. Set up a private Facebook group for your clients – send them updates, photos of the deep-cleaning and redecorating happening in the salon, offer advice on what they can do with their hair while they are waiting for you.
Update your email marketing. Send your clients an email letting them know that you miss them and are doing everything possible to ensure a clean and safe (as possible) sanctuary for them. You could even offer them an incentive, such as a small discount, to book their appointment.
While you are still at home – learn how to maximize your marketing game. Use this downtime to improve your overall marketing approach. Learn how to maximize Instagram, improve your Google ranking, learn new ways to market your services. Learn about grassroots marketing, and how to upgrade your rankings organically. Master the art of posting successful Instagram, Facebook, and Google ads.
Reach out to your local publications. Be the expert in your area! News organizations are constantly looking for new stories. Reach out to them and let them know how the quarantine has impacted your local business. Give them updates on what safety measures you are undertaking to make your salon as safe and clean as possible for clients to return to.
Megan has also provided a few terrific ideas to create excitement before opening the doors:
Update the front door. This is the first area your clients will see. Apply a fresh coat of paint, a new mat, and clean the area out front.
Create a banner. Hang a bright, cheery “We Missed You” banner out front.
Host a festive grand re-opening. Invite your clients to attend. Music, balloons, and finger-foods create excitement. Take before and after pictures of your clients to send them. You will be amazed at how many people will show up for a free photo. Just remember to maintain social distance and keep things as safe and sanitary as possible! You could even have the free food during each appointment.
Encourage pre-booking. The date for the quarantine to end will be announced any day now. Have your emails ready to go. Include photos of what updates are being done to the salon. Reassure them that you are Barbicide certified and have taken all possible precautions. Communicate the new practices. Get them excited to attend the grand re-opening! If your salon is installing pop-ups for curbside service, let your clients know. Seniors, people with disabilities and/or compromised immune systems, and anyone extremely worried about COVID-19 will be grateful for the option of having their hair done from their car.
Send a TikTok or JibJab video. A personal touch is always appreciated. Remember –your clients are stuck at home, too. They are probably just as bored as you are. Take a few minutes to make a cute video. Keep it professional! A TikTok of you with your professional gear (scissors, etc.) laid out while you let them know that you’re looking forward to seeing them again is appropriate. A TikTok of you rocking out shirtless is not.
Sending a professional greeting in a friendly tone reminds your clients to book an appointment with you. Keep the lines of communication clear, open, and encouraging. Get your stylists to meet in the salon before reopening to do each other’s hair, plan a few events, and get ready to reopen!
Last Words – The Buck Stops Here
The new rules and regulations are going to require extra planning as well as expenditures. Face masks, gloves, cleaning supplies – it all adds up. Consider adding a small COVID-19 tax to your services but avoid price gouging. A buck or two here and there can really add up and may be necessary to cover the new expenses. Most clients won’t mind spending an extra dollar or two to ensure safe surroundings. Here is an example of how quickly a small tax can add up for the stylist: if you average six clients per day for five days each week, and add $2.00 to each service, by the end of the year this adds up to $2,880.00.
So – get your salon sanitized, have your new pricing menu ready to post, get your Barbicide certification, and stay in touch with your clients. The doors will be reopening soon – are you ready?