Coronavirus impact on spas & massage therapists (and what steps to take?)
As Coronavirus concerns continue to grow across the world, public health officials are recommending social distancing to prevent its spread from person-to-person.
As a result, businesses everywhere are starting to take a hit:
- Big gatherings and events like trade shows, seminars, etc. are being canceled
- The NBA has cancelled the rest of its season,
- Most schools and colleges have closed,
- Many workplaces have shifted to telecommuting.
As a spa owner or massage therapist, do you understand how Coronavirus can affect your spa?
Coronavirus and spas: The impact and what you can do?
With millions of Americans settling into disrupted routines on Thursday, you need to understand the impact and prepare your business for the series of events that might unfold in the near future due to the Coronavirus around the world.
For spas, massage therapists and other wellness professionals, the Coronavirus outbreak can impact your business in the following three ways:
- Reduced business
- Disruption in the supply chain
- Health risks
Let’s look at all these concerns one by one. We have also provided a few actionable tips in each section that can help you minimize the impact and reduce losses for your spa/massage business.
1. Reduced business
According to the CDC reports, Coronavirus spreads from person to person via close contact (less than 6 feet), and from respiratory droplets when a sick person sneezes or coughs.
Take Mitchel Rosen, associate professor at the Department of Urban and Global Public Health, for instance. He has never gotten a facial, but he imagines right now, having someone’s hands touching and massaging your face would be a very, very bad idea.
In fact, according to Google Trends, the amount of people searching “coronavirus appointment cancel” online has sharply increased, and continues to rise.
Based on the pulse in your community, ranging from a few to most of your customers might want to cancel their appointments to avoid any contact.
Plus, with a lot of big companies shutting down their offices and putting their employees on work from home, the general crowds in the most bustling areas will be at home leading to lesser walk-ins as well.
As the government gears up for statewide quarantines, and big events like proms are canceled, you might be looking at a relatively empty calendar at your business for a few weeks.
What can you do?
- If you have a few customers coming in every day, optimize your schedule for the week so that there are fewer empty slots. Pull out your weekly appointment calendar and try to fit in appointments from slow days into empty slots on other relatively busier days. You can speak to your customers and ask if the new proposed appointments work for them. This will help you ensure staff productivity so that you are not paying your staff for an entire day, even if there are no appointments
- Review your cancellation policies or create new ones so that you can at least partially protect your business against bulk cancelations
- Email/text all your customers who have appointments in the coming few weeks asking them to confirm their arrivals so that you know about the no-shows in advance and can plan to fill empty slots accordingly.
- Look into business interruption insurance: Ask your broker about business interruption insurance to cover unexpected major events and see what qualifies for coverage. It may not cover this emergency, but you’ll be better prepared for the next time your business suffers similar economic losses. Or, it might still be an option that you can buy a new insurance that covers business loss due to pandemics like Coronavirus
2. Delay in product shipments
According to the Financial Times, China’s exports have plummeted in the first two months of the year as the Coronavirus outbreak disrupted global supply chains.
This can definitely have some expensive implications for the wellness industry since a lot of your inventory, equipment, and products (like hot tubs, cosmetics, etc.) may be imported directly from China and other Asian countries.
With the shortage of supplies, prices can rise exponentially throwing your monthly budgets completely off the track.
What can you do?
- Discuss with your vendors about the status of any pending purchase orders that might be still in transit. Make arrangements for stocking up these items from alternate sources just in case the order can’t reach you on time.
- Start stocking up your high consumption items in advance before the supplies drop and the prices rise. Plan and stock up for at least 1-2 months in advance.
- Try looking for alternate brands and products that can be shipped from within the country until the situation subsides.
3. Health risks
As an individual, employer, and service provider, you play a key role in keeping the community safe.
While being in the spa business, you would be no stranger to the highest standards of sanitation and hygiene in the workplace. But this becomes increasingly important in the wake of a pandemic.
With massage therapists, aestheticians, and nail technicians touching people’s hands, feet, backs, etc. during most services, it’s imperative that you take diligent steps to ensure the safety of everyone around you.
Here is a curation of some expert advice on Coronavirus precautions that you can follow to prevent its spread in your workplace, and among your staff and customers:
Prevention at the spa
- As standard practice, train all staff members to follow personal hygiene habits as suggested by CDC, state, and local public health departments.
- Implement heightened cleaning regimens (including the use of disinfectants known to work on similar viruses)
- Increase health-related signage
- Add hand disinfectant to all service rooms.
- Instruct all therapists to wash their hands and disinfect all materials used during a service after each service. Hands and arms (if exposed) should be washed for around 20 seconds – the amount of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday‘ twice.
- High touch surfaces such as toilets, computer keyboards, chairs, door handles, doorbells and telephones must be cleaned and then disinfected on a regular basis.
The CDC has posted interim guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to Coronavirus. We strongly recommend that you go through the guidelines in detail. To summarize, here are the recommended strategies:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Separate sick employees
- Emphasise staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps
A few additional tips:
- Revise your paid leave policy so that your staff can easily take a day off when they are sick without thinking twice
- Invest in the coveted N95 respiratory masks for your staff, which are the best at filtering out droplets in the air that may contain the virus. They’re a step up from the surgical masks that your workers might typically wear while working.
- Ensure that all staff members who have traveled over the last few weeks, or are feeling under the weather get checked at an authorized medical facility for any coronavirus symptoms.
Addressing customer concerns
For people who are visiting your salons/barber shops in a sensitive situation like this, it’s imperative that you handle them with patience and professionalism.
- Be receptive towards their safety concerns and educate them about the preventive measures that you are following to ensure their well-being.
- Train your staff to be able to address customers concerns and questions as well.
- If needed, maybe send out emails educating customers about the preventive measures for Coronavirus that you are taking at your shop/salon. Or you can also communicate using your social media accounts.
- If a customer shows up sick or has traveled, you can politely ask them to reschedule to ensure everyone’s safety. You can cancel their appointments for them and send them a get well soon note. You can also waive the cancelation fee for the month of March for people who cancel because they are sick.
What can happen next?
No matter how often we monitor the news, the truth of the situation is that none of us actually know how this is going to pan out.
Maybe all of us are just overreacting.
But even with the current situation in control, it’s always better to plan and prepare for the worst. So, while we hope it doesn’t come to this, but if the state shuts down spas and massage parlours due to Coronavirus for a few days, here’s how to prepare for it.
How to prepare for a shutdown?
Create a plan of action for cancelled appointments
If you have to shut down your business in a haste, you will still have some standing future appointments in your book. Decide how you would like to handle them.
Make sure you inform all your customers in advance about any cancellations you make from your end. Actively post on your social media accounts or send email blasts updating the open dates and hours of your business.
If these are prepaid bookings, consider waiving off the cancellation fee in the wake of special circumstances. Or you can also offer these customers loyalty points, salon credits, or gift cards.
Note: Make sure that you actively share your refund and cancellation policies with your customers in advance. Be transparent so that there is no miscommunication.
Finalize staff pay structure
If you have to terminate your business operations, give your staff a clear understanding of what’s going to happen.
Have transparent discussions about unpaid time off with your staff. The earlier they know, the better they will be able to manage their finances.
If you have a few tasks that can be performed remotely, start planning for them. Set daily goals, milestones, etc. so that you can work productively with your staff even when they are working from home.
While away from the chair, you and your staff can also focus on a few alternate streams of income like starting a beauty blog/vlog, selling merchandise, giving online beauty classes, etc.
Plan your expenses
As you move towards a slow time in business, plan your expenses in advance to ensure a steady cash-flow.
Cancel any major purchases that you had planned and do not pay for any new orders in cash right now.
Plan ahead and stock up on some essentials so that you do not pay an inflated price.
We don’t know how long it might take for things to go back to normal and hence, it’s important to manage your finances effectively so that you have sufficient funds to sail through this time.
Update your communication details
Prepare to redirect all communication (telephonic, mail, etc.) that you receive at your shop address to your residence so that you do not miss out on important information during the shutdown.
A pandemic such as Coronavirus can have long standing effects over the socio-economic canvas of our community. Everyone might be looking to cut costs and as a result, businesses everywhere around the globe are gearing up for a quiet time.
From a business perspective, it is a time to deal with caution and foresight.
As for us, we will continue to watch and prepare for the coming weeks with you by tracking the local response, sharing more information, and trying to answer any questions that you might have.
Meanwhile, if you have any practical advice that can help your fellow business owners navigate through Coronavirus concerns and its preventive measures, please let us know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: The information which is summarised herein does not constitute medical or other professional advice and is general in nature. It does not take into account your specific circumstances and should not be acted on without full understanding of your current situation and future goals and objectives. In doing so you risk making commitment to a strategy that may not be suitable to your needs. Whilst we have tried to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents of this website, you should verify all information and facts independently.
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium business face every day.
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