Reopening your salon/barbershop during Coronavirus: How to + what other businesses are doing?
A few salons and barbershops re-opened their doors on May 8 in the post-COVID-19 world.
As these business owners decided to resume operations, the rest of the community held its breath to see how it turned out.
So one week later, here we are with a guide that has everything on reopening a salon or barbershop during Coronavirus. If you are on the fence about reopening your own salon/barber business, this could help.
We have collected experiences and tips from business owners across the country to help you make your decision and reopen your salon/ barber shop amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s a peek into what’s inside:
- To open or to not open?
- Do your local authorities allow reopening for salons/ barber shops?
- Is your business prepared to follow the safety guidelines on reopening?
- What do salon owners and barbers need to think about before reopening their businesses post COVID19?
- Conclusion: Reopen with a bang!
So let’s start with the big question:
To open or to not open?
Just like you, salon and barbershop owners across the country are facing this tough decision as President Trump announced the ‘Opening up America again’ campaign.
While some do not want to risk contracting the virus and bring it back to their families, they do acknowledge that they need to restabilize their incomes after shutting doors due to the government-enforced lockdowns.
On the other hand, some others are really eager to reopen their salon/ barbershop and think that they need to focus on safer ways to get their business up and running to make up for lost money over the last few weeks.
So how do you decide?
Think about these two important questions before you make a decision about reopening your salon/ barbershop during Coronavirus:
1. Do your local authorities allow salons/ barber shops to reopen?
2. Is your business prepared to follow the social distancing/ safety guidelines on reopening?
Let’s try and answer these.
1. Do your local authorities allow salons/ barber shops reopening?
The official guidelines for whether salons and barbershops can reopen or not differ widely from state to state and even counties. We encourage you to refer to credible sources to get the right information.
The Professional Beauty Association has curated a list of state orders for reopening different states in phases. Various news agencies like The New York Times have published articles that specify the businesses that can reopen in different states and those which can not. Follow such articles to check if you can reopen or not.
And don’t just stop there.
Also refer to the information provided by beauty associations like PBA, International Spa and Beauty Network, etc. and local influencers to better understand the social canvas in your locality around salon/ barbershop reopening.
2. Is your business prepared to follow the social distancing/ safety guidelines on reopening?
Here’s how you can assess business preparedness for your salon/ barbershop:
Consider your finances
A host of new social distancing and safety guidelines will change the way you run your salon/ barbershop amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
Stylists will have to wear safety masks and full-body safety gears in case of high touch services like shaving, you will have to make sanitizers available at all entrances and exits, common surfaces will need to be disinfected after every service, and your shop will probably work at a 50% capacity – both in terms of appointments and your staff.
Assess your finances and analyze if it is economically viable for your business to operate profitably while following the current guidelines for salons and barber shops.
Talk to your team
Understand your staff’s perspective on reopening and coming back to work.
This is the time when you re-engage with them, be transparent about the situation, salaries, benefits, etc. and take a poll on if they want to restart working. To do this,
- Communicate via 1:1 and group video calls to address their concerns.
- Know exactly who’s coming back to work for you and when
- Make your expectations clear. Since, you’ll not be immediately going back to old schedules, tell them how many hours they have to work, how much they will be paid, and the additional work they’ll have to do to follow safety recommendations for salons after reopening.
- Be very specific about your employee benefits and future protocols in case of a lockdown
Most staff members will be worried about ending their unemployment benefits as they come back to work. Listen to their POV and try and come to the next step that is mutually beneficial for the staff member and for your business.
Understand the pulse of your client community
Over the last one week, the salons and barbershops that reopened have seen a varied customer response.
For some businesses, their customers were eager to return to their favorite stylists resulting in all slots being completely booked.
While some other businesses saw a slow reopening with their customers still cautious about visiting a salon.
Knowing the pulse of your customer base can help you determine what kind of traction you can expect once you reopen.
You can try speaking to your customers on the phone, send them an email, or maybe put up a poll in your Instagram story to ask them if they would like to visit your salon/ barbershop if you reopen.
The bottom line is that you need to assess your business vitals and determine if you are ready to reopen.
You can also make your own timeline about how to go about things and when would be the best time for your salon/ barbershop to reopen.
If you feel confident that you can get through this phase, get set to carpe diem!
But if you don’t feel comfortable, sitting out the first wave of reopening and learning from what other business owners are doing is a completely fair option too.
For those who decide to not open their shop right away
You can jump directly to these sections.
The information will help you think about a plan when you decide to reopen. There will definitely be a lot to get done and getting a headstart on preparing will help you bounce back faster.
For those who decide to reopen their business
That’s great! You have made your decision, and now it’s time to get things done.
It’s a challenging situation for sure, but you’ll definitely come out stronger and better prepared for any situation that might come in the way of your business continuity.
So let’s get down to business now!
Take a print and keep it with you while you get started on the planning. All these points are described in detail in the coming sections. You can jump to them directly.
PS: For those of you who have already reopened your salon
You have already been in the midst of all the action.
You know things are tough but going back to your clients was well worth all the challenges you had to face.
All you folks can use this guide as a way to double-check if you have all the safety measures in place and some simple ideas on how to ensure safety at your salon/ barbershop in the post COVID19 world. Jump to this section directly!
What do salon owners and barbers need to think about before reopening their businesses post COVID19?
1. Guidelines and safety recommendations after reopening
Researching and understanding current guidelines for salons and barbershops should be your first course of action – then you can move on to plan on how to implement them.
There might be restrictions on performing some close contact services in your state or county. Or you might have to operate on 50% occupancy at your workplace.
Refer to state guidelines, county rules, best practices launched by industry associations, etc. specifically for reopening salons and barbershops.
You can refer to the OSHA “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” and CDC’s reopening guidance along with your state’s local guidelines. Some states have released specific guidelines for salons, barber shops, and cosmetology salons on how to reopen (for example Florida, Idaho, and Virginia’s guidelines to reopen salons and barbershops).
So stay updated on the latest updates and ensure you follow them at your salons/ barber shop to avoid any risk of infection or trouble with the local authorities.
2. Social Distancing
Other than the official safety regulations, you also need to devise a set of social distancing measures and additional safety precautions specifically for your business.
Each salon or barber shop will be a little bit different, but there are some common things you can do to ensure that the virus doesn’t get in.
1. Capacity Management
Step 1: Understand the occupancy guidelines provided by your state government.
Step 2: Calculate the number of people you can have in your salon/ barbershop at any time as per the safe capacity limit.
Step 3: Implement the above capacity management plan with the help of the following measures:
Most state guidelines recommend salons and barbershops to shift to an appointment-only model to regulate capacity.
By getting your customers to pre-book, you can pre-plan and manage the number of people in your salon or shop at a time.
If you are planning to shift to an appointment-only model for your business for at least a while – or maybe indefinitely, you can expect your phone to ring off the hook and inbox flooding with inquiries.
If you don’t already use one – it might be a good idea to start considering an appointment scheduling software for your business. It can let your clients self-book and also give you a chance to manage your day’s, week’s, or even month’s schedule in advance.
Manage staff schedules
Don’t forget to account for your staff while managing capacity at your workplace. With decreased customer capacity, it can be a good idea to get your staff to work in alternating shifts every day to ensure no one is sitting idle.
Find out your staff’s availability and plan a schedule that works for both you and them as soon as you decide to open.
Screening customers before they book an appointment with you can help you minimize the chances of infection for other customers or staff members.
Screening customers at the time of booking an appointment
You can ask every customer the following questions when they call/ email to book an appointment. Or if you use online scheduling software that supports forms, you can simply require customers to fill a form with the following questions before they book an appointment online:
- Your travel history for the past 4 months
- Are you experiencing any symptoms of COVID 19?
- Have you lived with anyone who has been infected with or showed symptoms for COVID19?
- <Any other questions you might have>
Once you have this information, you can manually approve appointments for customers.
Getting customers to sign a waiver form digitally at the time of booking appointments is also a good idea.
Screening customers when they visit your salon/ barbershop
Before customers enter your shop, make sure you do the following:
- Contactless temperature checks with digital thermometers.
- A general check for any COVID19 symptoms. You can refer here to understand the most common COVID19 symptoms.
- Require them to wear masks and gloves before they enter. You should inform them beforehand about this requirement and keep some masks and gloves handy for those who forget.
- If you face any issues, explain it to them that these precautions are meant to protect customers and stop the spread of COVID19.
If someone shows any symptoms or doesn’t comply with these, politely refuse them entry. You can rebook them for 2 weeks later, or refund them for their appointments if necessary.
2. No waiting areas or queues
Waiting areas where people wait for their turn during appointments can become a virus hotspot. To remedy this,
- Request people to arrive not very long before their appointments.
- Even if they come early, ask them to wait in their cars and not make queues outside your shop.
- If you have enough area, you can also make zones or add screens to the common waiting area so that there is no contact between waiting customers.
PS: Sending people email/ text reminders about their appointments will ensure that they don’t miss it + you can also include the request to arrive no earlier than 5-10 minutes before their scheduled time slot. You can ask your receptionist/ manager to do this, or automate these.
3. Contactless check-in
Some guidelines developed for salons to reopen include having businesses use a virtual check-in process to minimize physical contact.
With a digital customer database, your reception staff can simply verify customers by searching for their phone numbers or email addresses on their mobile or laptop and let the customer in.
Many online scheduling software provide a digital customer database that allows this. You can refer here for more information.
4. Social distancing during service
A few tips to ensure social distancing while performing services:
- Move your workstations at least 6-8 feet apart. You can mark designated standing areas around workstations that ensure that stylists don’t come in close contact with other staff members or any other customers while performing a service.
- Staff members should wear safety masks, change their smocks after each customer, and wipe down a station after each use.
- Use separate equipment for all workstations and do not pass them along in the midst of services without disinfection.
- You can also add screens between chairs to minimize physical contact between customers and other staff members.
5. Contactless payments and checkout
Many salons also plan to move to contactless billing, wherein they would encourage customers to pay online.
Ask your customers to pre-pay for an appointment and avoid taking cash, credit cards as highly touched surfaces tend to be virus hotspots.
3. Staff training
Make sure your staff members are onboarded on everything you are planning and understand it completely. After all, they are the ones going to be communicating directly with your customers once they come back.
To do this,
- Include them while planning to implement the sanitization procedures to reopen your salon/ barbershop.
- Assign specific responsibilities to each staff member so that they have a sense of ownership.
- Train them over virtual meetings on the new processes and on how to calm guest anxiety.
- Organize a dry run of reopening day with your team to make sure everyone’s prepared and there are no loopholes in your planning.
4. Rethink your service menu
Do a risk assessment of all your services and decide which ones are safe to continue as you reopen.
Also, consult your peers about what they think is safe. Make sure you remove the service out of your menu that your staff is uncomfortable to perform.
5. Shift to virtual consultations
Online services cost you less and help manage capacity at your salon.
Encourage your staff to provide video consultations for treatments that need a prior check.
You can also help your clients in DIY @home care by providing them with the raw materials like shampoo, hair color, face masks, and offering them to schedule a video consultation with you.
This will reduce salon visits for at least a few non-essential services for time being.
6. Update your pricing
You can also keep a surge pricing temporarily or charge a little extra for the products you are using. Customers can see it in their invoices as a COVID-19 surge.
If you are worried about customer reaction to this surge, you can try explaining to them that all the safety gear and sanitation practices are added expenses for you.
It’s likely that they would understand the situation and support your decision of surging the prices a little bit.
7. Use of technology
With everything that you have to take care of given the current crisis, technology can be your best friend right now.
While many salon owners and barbers have always used salon management tools, due to COVID19, many first time users are trying new tools to help them run their business – especially all-in-one online scheduling tools. This shift is caused by:
Governments recommending salons and barbershops to shift to an appointment-only model.
Coordinating customers on phone or answering multiple emails in a day is simply not a viable option for many business owners. They need a smart system that lets them manage open hours easily, and allows clients to self-book.
The need for a comprehensive customer database
Collecting and storing important client information has never been more important. If things go south, a comprehensive database with customer travel history, appointment details, etc. can help in efficient contact tracing.
Virtual salon services
During the lockdown, many salon owners and barbers came up with creative ways to provide at-home virtual services to their clients. As some of them reopen they are still keeping a few virtual services afloat like, online consultations, home care tutorials, etc. Online scheduling tools make these viable with their integration with popular video-conferencing platforms like Zoom.
Salon owners and customers both are turning to online payments to minimize contact. Online scheduling tools integrate with payment gateways like Square, Stripe, Paypal, etc. and make this possible with online prepayments.
The industry is fast adopting appointment scheduling software to help them through these challenging times.
We at Appointy have been receiving hundreds of requests from salon owners and barbers to set up online scheduling for their business over the last few weeks.
Being an easy-to-use, cloud-based appointment scheduling software, Appointy can help you implement social distancing guidelines, adapt to the post COVID19 world, and manage your business efficiently.
8. Bonus: What to do if you spot an infection
If you have been exposed, or you spot an infected customer or staff at your premises, here’s what to do.
- Don’t panic. Having a clear head and maintaining a calm demeanor can help you think logically and make better decisions.
- Get the word out as quickly as possible. Inform your local authorities, and make sure all staff members present on the day are aware. positive
- Ensure you have your customer database and appointment history in place to trace people who would have been in contact with the person that day.
- Tell your customers that they may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. It’s your decision how you want to do it, but the fastest way is likely a post on your social media profiles, or direct texts/ email to customers. The faster you inform them, the lesser chances of them spreading any infection (if they are infected).
- Request all customers and staff in contact to self-isolate.
- Shutdown for at least the next 14-21 days and self isolate yourself.
- Get your health department to conduct a thorough sanitization of your salon/ barbershop.
Conclusion: Reopen with a bang!
Best businesses are made in difficult times.
With all those precautions and regulations, reopening your business amidst COVID19 is going to be a challenging task. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be worth it!
If you plan properly, follow all safety precautions, and keep your spirits high, it won’t be different than any other day – you’d still be doing what you love for a living, with a great team and a supportive client community right by your side.
And don’t take our word for it!
Many salon owners and barbers who reopened their shops last Monday took to social media to share their positive experiences. Here’s a brief snapshot of their week:
- Clients have been leaving amazing tips for their favorite stylists throughout the week
- Some salon owners were worried about temporarily raising their prices by a few dollars on cut and color and requiring clients to prepay – but it has been so smooth. Most of their clients didn’t even blink an eye- they were just happy to be getting some TLC for their hair and skin!
- Shop owners accept that while the stipulations are not the easiest to deal with – it’s worth being open and working again. They love doing people’s hair and think if you stick to it, you’ll be just fine.
- For most owners, most clients happily followed the rules.
- For some owners, their staff hit record numbers in the first week.
- Some salons and barbershops worked 3 days last week and made more than double what they would normally make.
How’s that for a silver lining in these uncertain times? ✨
We hope when you reopen your business, you have a similar experience with your clients as well.
So good luck with this new challenge!
Don’t forget to share your post COVID19 reopening stories for other business owners like you 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.
If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
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