It’s now more than 5 weeks since most of us went into ‘lockdown,’ with salons and other businesses closed, leaving town centres empty and hairdressers at home.
During this time, salon owners across the globe have been busy looking after their business, managing the welfare of their staff, maintaining communication with clients, working on their social media, talking to banks, insurance companies, government agencies, landlords and councils and importantly, planning for reopening without a clear picture of what that will look like. Whilst rules are different from one country to the next, to a certain extent everyone is going through the same stressful experience.
TIGI UK Education Specialist, Haley Seaward has been talking to salon owners in Europe, Australia and the USA to see what they are doing during this period. But even since she had these conversations, situations have changed and plans will have had to be changed.
In Scotland F&M salon’s owners Kevin Paul Finnell and Brian MacMillan have embraced the opportunity to take time to assess their business and set goals. “We’re going through everything with a fine toothcomb to ensure we are progressing in the right way and despite this blip we aim to meet the goals we’ve set” they say.
George Nikollaj of 6 salon in Detriot, USA has spent the last few weeks focusing on people – his staff and his clients. “I didn’t get into this business just to be a salon owner,” he says, “I did it for the people.”
In Canberra, Australia, Agatha Villano, owner of EPIC Hair says: “There will be an end to all of this. In the meantime, we are taking it in our stride, the entire team is determined to pull together to ensure we maintain our ‘EPIC’ customer service.”
Andrew Harris of Boosh in Wales, has been making sure his team has a sense of organization since the salon has been closed. “We’ve been making sure they understand finances and their legal position and we regularly communicate together via a What’s App group. I’ve also been doing research to see what options are out there. We have time to put things in place.
Melissa McLaughlin from MB Studio Rochester, NY, USA says: “I’ve been coming up with all new ideas to stay connected to my community of stylists and clients in our area. I have been spending a lot of time on social media doing how-to videos and going LIVE to offer advise and answer questions anyone may have. This is so hard on everyone across the world. We are stuck in our homes. People crave interaction with other people. I’m finding this has helped me the most. I am happy that I am able to support my clients and help other salon owners around our country know they’re not alone during this time.”
Cihan Bulut of Erdbeerschnitte Salon, Ludwigsburg, Germany, says he has been: “Living in the NOW for several weeks – as this is all we’ve had at this moment in time. As soon the government recommended my salon should close, I started to broadcast LIVE sessions on Instagram providing expert tips for the end-consumer, our clients. But now I have to say don’t hold back and wait,” he says. “It’s time to act!”
Andrew Harris says: “Changes will continue once we are back. Our first focus will be our staff. We have to support the apprehension people will feel. The world will be a different place, it’s been a massive change to our lifestyle with no contact outside our households, and we want to ensure the comfort and well-being of our staff and customers.
It’s not just a service we provide physically it’s about the mental and emotional experience we give to our clients. Our clients are our extended family. We want to make sure we encourage a positive outlook.
We have always had a tidy clean salon, and have made a massive effort to ensure that BOOSH is hygienically cleaned. We take this very seriously. Now this is paramount protocol. Every tool and every section are always continuously cleaned now this must be elevated.”
“We will continue to focus on retailing, it’s a key part of our salon business,” says Raffaella Pepe of the Raffaella Hair Studio, Leighton Buzzard, UK. “I am looking to see how we can ensure our columns are maximized.” She’s also working to build her social media platforms and planning promotions such as treatments and the gift boxes that have always been essential to her business.
George Nikollaj says: “I plan to teach my people more about finances. I plan to bring my financial associates into the salon for meetings to teach my team about saving, spending and being financially responsible.”
David Schwarz owner of Blickfang Friseure in Austria has been using his time to continue working on long-term projects and hopes to come through this period with new plans for a better and more organized business. “We have so many ideas we’ve been working on,” he says. “We are looking at implementing precise hygiene measures and are following guidance available as well as planning future education.”
Lesleye Mason has been focusing on ‘looking forward’, during this quieter time. “We have engaged TIGI to work with us to produce a professional media package to roll out via social channels to promote the salon once we are back in full operation. This includes professional pictures of the salon space and the team. We have also made a video, taking exiting and new clients on a virtual journey throughout the salon -which has been possible whilst we have less people in the salon!”
Donna Thomas from UK salon Crackers and Chaps has been posting on Facebook and Instagram, and Donna has had the salon phone diverted to her own number. “We have really promoted that our clients can contact us on email, Instagram or Facebook and I’ve been interviewed by the local newspaper.”
“Don’t shy away from communication with your people,” says George Nikollaj. “As a salon owner, you have to set the tone for your community and let them know we are all still in this together.”
“This by far, is the most difficult time we have ever faced in our business, as well as in the hairdressing industry” says Lesleye Mason, Salon Manager/ Business Developer of FMK salon in Sydney, Australia. “The hope we are working with, is that there will be an end, and each day gets us closer to that. We are managing to look forward and planning strategies to get us through the now, that we hope will improve the business in the future.”
Unlike most places in the world, salons in Sydney have been able to open, albeit operating in a restricted capacity. “We are abiding by strict social distance regulations and cleaning policies,” says Lesleye. “We have implemented a journey our clients must undertake. Upon arrival at the salon, our new salon experience is explained to the client. They are then given a gown and towel to keep throughout their service as well as gloves and masks to ensure the safety of our staff as well as other salon clients.
We have taken a personal approach, contacting every single client via phone before their salon visit to make them aware of the experience they will have. We want to ensure everyone is comfortable and happy to abide by these rules, as well as understanding the importance of keeping a close personal distance.”
Agatha Villano had just returned from holiday and was in personal isolation when the new rules in Australia were imposed. From ‘a distance’ she immediately had to put the new procedures in place in her salon. This has included mandatory self-distancing, strict cleaning and disinfecting procedures, disposable capes and personal towels. “I personally called my entire salon data base,” Agatha says. “I want to ensure they’re safe and well. And I do a follow up call following each service to see if they are happy with the procedures.”
To keep their community positive and engaged, EPIC salon is running a Facebook competition. Our clients are invited to post a Selfie experiencing a bad hair day, with this they receive an entry into a hamper pack, valued at $420. “It’s a simple way to build our network and add something light-hearted to this tough situation” says Agatha.
“Positive thoughts are the most important thing!” says David Schwarz. “Use this time and work on yourself and practice patience.”
“We are really looking forward to the time when we can celebrate ‘business as usual’ and unveil our new social promotional package” says Lesleye Mason.
“Our key message to our clients is: stay home, stay safe and stay away from the scissors and the box dye! Our client’s health is our main priority and we are very fortunate to have planned ahead and communicated advice and tips for clients to manage their hair at home, so hopefully we have no issues!” says Brian MacMillan and Kevin Paul Finnell.
George Nikollaj’s staff got together, (despite being unemployed themselves,) and have raised money to buy lunches for local first responders. The team raised $870 and George then matched it, as well as calling on his local associates to match the sum raised, so they have been able to serve over 300 meals in partnership with a local catering company.
“Don’t shy away from communication with your people. George says. “As a salon owner, you have to set the tone for your community and let them know we are all in this together.”
Andrew Harris says: “Hang on in there, reflect back to when you first opened and think of how small and worried you were to start to your business. Then look at how you’ve grown and where your salon is now. Trust and believe that when this finishes we’ll be back doing what we do best.”
Ending with Melissa McLaughlin’s wise words: “During such a dark time I remind myself that people are way worse than I am. I aim to be as positive as I can. Yes, I have my moments like everyone else. But, I pull myself together and move on as quickly as I can. I’m blessed to have an amazing staff behind me that supports me and loves the place they all work at.
Keep your chin up beautiful people. Let’s learn and grow from this. Always remember be the light in someone’s life.”
As salons face the changes they must make to protect themselves, their staff and their clients, over the coming weeks we will be sharing information on how you can keep your business safe financially and physically, with ideas on management, marketing, retailing and communication. We have a team researching information and creating plans we hope will support your return to business.