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Re-imagining the Salon Experience

Posted on April 17 2020

Re-imagining the Salon Experience
Are you ready for the green light?

I heard a great analogy about what we're all experiencing right now and I wanted to share: The world as we know it is stopped at a red light. Some of us are impatiently tapping our toes, maybe getting distracted playing with the radio or digging for something in the center console. While others are laser focused, waiting and willing that light to turn green so they can speed off and get to where they are going. 

So, here we wait. And sure enough, just like every other red light we’ve ever been stopped by, it WILL turn green. Will you be ready when it does? Or will the person behind you start honking because you’re distracted and unprepared when it’s time to go?  

We have the time right now to prepare, and that is exactly what you should be doing. The reality is, whether we like it or not, we are not returning to the same businesses we left. Our world and our industry will forever be changed. At the very least, this has made us all aware of the potential impact of our personal interactions, from innocently shaking a hand to hugging an old friend or client.  

So my question to you: What have you and your team done to prepare for when we do finally get that green light? I encourage you to utilize the stay-at-home time we have left to start thinking proactively about every aspect of your business and what you can do to ensure the safety and the comfort of yourselves, your teams and your clients. 

 Now is the time to reinvent your client experience. Many people will be scared. What are you doing to ensure they feel safe? How can you reduce touch points within your salon or shop? How does the salon or barbershop physically look different for you? What extra sanitation precautions are you taking to protect those walking into your business? It might sound a little stressful, but don’t worry. I’ve got you covered! 

Here’s a few things to think about to help get you started:

THE PHYSICAL SHOP

Picture the layout of your shop. How close are your waiting room chairs? How close are your stations? How close are your shampoo bowls? Think about this now and what it means for your business. 

Waiting room chairs may need to be spread out, some removed or even removed all together. Stations may need to be reconfigured if possible, or staff members may need to be scheduled and spaced out strategically to respect social distancing. 

Do you have the capability of putting up Plexiglas or partitions between each shampoo bowl? Imagine trying to enjoy the best part of the service, the wash, and hearing the person a foot away from you cough. I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck wouldn’t be able to relax!  This will look different for each shop, and some of this may not pertain to you at all but start thinking about your plan of action.

How does your inventory look?  Many of us have still been able to offer online product sales during the stay-at-home order.  Now would be a great time to check on those inventory levels and start thinking about what needs to be replenished when the time comes.  Companies like SalonCentric are even offering re-payment options.  This can help enable shops to restart business activities and re-order without struggling financially.

STAGGERING YOUR TEAMS SHIFTS

Oh, how I miss the days when I’d walk into a salon or barbershop to see a waiting room full of clients, every stylist working, every station filled, and pure energy pumping through the air. Sadly, the thought of this now makes me shutter a little. 

Hopefully this will be our reality again soon, but for right now it’s just not an option. Take the time now to start discussing with your team what strategic staffing looks like for you. Depending on how your shop is set up, there is a good chance that you will have to alternate stations and will not be able to have everyone working at once. What do these shifts look like for you and your team? Will you be extending your business hours, possibly opening more days? Will you have morning shifts and evening shifts? Alternating days between staff? Possibly hosting a “senior day” for your 60+ clientele? Remember, our #1 job will be the safety and comfort of our staff and clients. Start talking about this NOW so everyone is on board and has clear direction when the time comes.  

STRATEGIC BOOKING FOR CLIENTS

I know our teams are eager to get back to their normal jam-packed schedules. Well, what does the new norm look like? Do you have those top requested stylists that are double, and triple booked every day they work? The consensus right now in the beauty industry is that double booking is not advised. If we are truly washing our hands and sanitizing between every person we touch, bouncing back and forth between two clients doesn’t seem very realistic and can make the experience uncomfortable for those in your chair. 

From all of the research I’ve done the best advice I can give is this: extend your hours, extend your days and focus as much as possible on that one on one experience with each and every patron that walks through your doors. Not only does this truly give your team an opportunity to give exceptional customer service, but it will give that comfort of safety to the client that they will desperately need. And what a perfect time to ensure your staff is rebooking! This new way of scheduling may require a lot of long hours and a lot of back to back days at the beginning, but by rebooking and planning out the rest of the year your teams should be able to settle into a more reasonable and realistic schedule.  

REDUCING TOUCH POINTS

Think about all the common areas in your shop and all the places so many people touch without sanitizing their hands in between. Do you have books and magazines in your waiting room? Get rid of them! Do you have branded coffee mugs, wine glasses, water glasses etc.? Maybe these should be sanitized, gifted to your staff and replaced with an Eco-friendly disposable option, that may or may not be branded for your business. Do you have a community product cart or backbar area shared by all the stylists and barbers in your shop? You might want to think about providing a bundle of a few favorite products for each staff member to keep at his or her own station. 

The point is, eliminating as many touch points as possible will help reduce the chance of spreading any sort of illness or disease. So figure out where those are in your shop and implement solutions to protect those working in or visiting your business.

SANITATION

This will be one of the most important parts of our daily operation when we return to work for obvious reasons. True sanitation practices are what will help prevent us from spreading this disease and ensure the protection and comfort of everyone in the salon. There are some great downloads that can be found  here from 

BehindTheChair.com that you can print and post in a frame or on the mirror at each station. It’s just one more step to reassure your clients that their safety comes first and that your business is taking sanitation seriously.

 Why not have your team members wash their hands alongside each client when they arrive for their appointment? Let them watch you wipe down the chair, the station and pull out a fresh clean cape. Sound rude to have your client watch you clean up after the last patron? Not today! It will probably bring a sigh of relief. Again, this is all about making the client feel safe and assuring them that they are in good hands. 

Good sanitation should be apart of every salon and shop, but maybe it’s time to go the extra mile. A great and inexpensive tip I’ve seen is after each service, sanitizing your brushes and combs and then wrapping them in simple saran wrap. Is this going to be more time consuming? Yes. But how much more at ease and impressed will your clients be when they see you pull a fresh comb or round brush out of a sanitized package? 

Another big one to think about is capes. Gone are the days we can slap a towel or neck strip on a client’s neck and reuse a cape for multiple haircuts. So what does this look like for your salon? Are you going to invest in more high quality, branded capes to ensure every client is getting one fresh and laundered? Or will you look into a disposable option? You can find disposable cape covers here if this is something you’d like to explore for your shop.   

Take this opportunity to be proactive. 

The reality is we are not returning to the same businesses we left. So, please take this time to think about and plan out what exactly this looks like for you and your team. And let’s not see this as a punishment. This is a time to reinvent your business to provide a more personalized, one on one, exceptional customer experience that you can be proud of knowing you are doing everything in your power to ensure safety and comfort for all. 

Stay tuned for next week! I will be sending out a checklist for you to utilize while re-imagining your own business and deciding what areas you need to focus on. Much love always!

Liz Campbell 

Detroit Grooming Director of Sales

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