Disclaimer: So this isn’t a political blog. No matter which side of the fence you sit, there can be no denying that we are in a time when there are some pretty extreme views. And some very strong emotions. As business owners, we all need to think about what Donald Trump’s immigrant policies mean for our business. The challenges, the opportunities, the emotions. All of it. In this blog, we discuss:
- Can Donald Trump’s immigration policies really impact the US beauty & wellness industry
- What challenges can a small business owner face?
- How to verify the immigration status of your employees?
- Can this be an opportunity to grow your business?
Can there really be a major impact?
Think beyond the luxury beauty chains, hotel spas, and resorts. Think hair braiding shops, beauty salons, nail salons, barbers, and massage parlors.
These local businesses commonly employ immigrants and the ethnic specialization dominates: nail salons draw on Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian women, and increasingly Latina women; African women specialize in hair braiding; South Asian women specialize in eyebrow threading, and Chinese and Russian workers specialize in massage.
Here are some statistics:
21% of businesses in the salon/spa industry are African-American owned.
17% of salon businesses are owned by Asians.
9% of salon businesses are owned by people of Hispanic origins.
Nails magazine estimates that Vietnamese hold 40% of the nail spa licenses nationally.
Evidently, these businesses make a big chunk of the industry and are doing quite well indeed. In fact, some of Appointy’s most successful clients are businesses that are run by first/ second generation immigrants.
We took this picture in the summer of 2016. This picture is with the owner of LEK Spa along with the founders of Appointy. LEK Spa is on a roll in NY and with our latest integration, Reserve with Google, their business can now be directly booked from Google search.
What challenges might a small business owner face?
Labour shortage: An acute shortage of untrained workers can arise. Most U.S. citizens are unwilling to perform the sorts of manual labor that immigrants actively seek out.
“If I was to put an ad in the paper looking for a manager or accountant, I’d have a hundred replies. But if I put out an ad for a manual laborer or a pool cleaner, I’d only get about five.”
-John Tortorella, president of J. Tortorella Swimming Pools Inc. in Southampton, N.Y.
Loss of highly specialized workers: The cast of manicurists, aestheticians, waxers, and massage therapists vary in their experience and background but their skills have become the invisible engine of the US beauty and wellness industry. If they go down, the industry goes down with them.
An increase in wages leading to an increase in service cost: The shortage of labor in the industry will increase the labor wage in the long run. This will mean a sudden peak in the cost of personal services. The current industry average of $10 nail manicures will cease to exist.
What does this mean for you?
Well, here’s the thing. The root of the problem isn’t all immigrants. The government is selectively trying to deal with the illegal and undocumented immigrants.
Being a salon or spa owner, you need to be extra cautious that your current or future employees have the required work authorization to take up paid work in the US.
What can you do now?
Step 1. Understand the difference between Legal and Illegal Immigrants
Illegal Immigrants: Someone who is living in the United States without the correct legal documentation or by violating the terms of documentation, such as overstaying the time period specified on a tourist or student visa.
Legal Immigrants: Any person not a citizen of the United States who is residing in the U.S. under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant is called a Legal Immigrant. They’re also known as “Permanent Resident Alien,” “Resident Alien Permit Holder,” and “Green Card Holder.”
Step 2. Make sure you are aware of the immigrant status of your current employees and be cautious while hiring new employees
Here’s your complete guide to finding out whether someone is entitled to work in the US legally.
When you hire a new employee, ask them to fill out the employee’s section of USCIS Form I-9 by the end of their first day on the job. Then they have three business days to present you with documents proving that:
- they are who they say they are, and
- they are legally authorized to work in the United States.
- The Proof of Work in the United States:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the INS) periodically updates the list of documents sufficient to prove both identity and eligibility to be employed in the United States. Any one of the following documents is sufficient, on its own, to meet the requirements:
- an unexpired United States passport
- an unexpired foreign passport with an I-551 stamp
- an alien registration receipt card or permanent resident card
- an unexpired employment authorization card
- an unexpired employment authorization document, issued by USCIS, which contains a photograph, or
- an unexpired foreign passport with Form I-94 containing an endorsement of nonimmigrant status.
An employee who does not have one of the documents listed above must produce two documents: one establishing that he or she is authorized to work in the United States and another verifying identity.
To prove employment authorization, USCIS will accept:
- a Social Security card
- a U.S. birth or birth abroad certificate
- a Native American tribal document
- a U.S. citizen ID card
- a resident citizen ID card, or
- unexpired employment authorization documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
As proof of identity, USCIS will accept:
- a current U.S. or Canadian driver’s license that contains a photograph or description of personal characteristics
- a federal, state, or local identification card with a photograph on it
- a school ID card with a photograph
- a voter’s registration card
- a U.S. military card or draft record
- a military dependent’s ID card
- a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card, or
- a Native American tribal document.
For workers age 16 and younger, USCIS considers a school report card, daycare or nursery school record, or a hospital record (such as a birth certificate) acceptable as proof of identity.
*Caution: Always make a copy and keep the forms. Note the type of documents produced and any expiration dates on Form I-9. Although you are not required to photocopy such documents, you have the right to do so. If you do, the copies must be kept on file with Form I-9.
- Visit the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and sign up for E-Verify. This service is the easiest and most effective way to verify the legal working status of a potential employee, which is done through the Department of Homeland Security. To use E-Verify, you will have to enroll your company in the program; however, there is no charge to do so.
- Enroll your company in E-Verify. To do this, you will have to answer a few simple questions about your business and why you will be verifying your employees’ information.
- Post a notice at your business site to advise your employees of your participation in E-Verify before you use the program. You may not utilize the program unless your employees are aware of the fact that you are verifying their legal status.
- Check the legal status of the person in question. Doing this through E-Verify means the individual’s social security number is first run through the Social Security Administration to verify the accuracy of the number provided. Then, the Department of Homeland Security provides the employment eligibility of the individual.
- Review the preliminary report within seconds of the inquiry. A more detailed report is provided within three days by the Department of Homeland Security.
Step 3. Consider alternatives for work where you outsource
You might be employing some third party vendors like cleaning and maintenance contractors who further outsource work. In this case, if you have the slightest doubt, start considering alternatives already.
Can this be an opportunity to grow your business?
I know this blog post is quite taxing. But this is the best part. Are you still with me?
Well, emotions are high, and many people are highly motivated. This definitely throws up some opportunities for your business. All you need to do is think like a businessman.
OK, we know this might be slightly controversial. You don’t want to be seen as profiting on the back of what many consider a very emotional topic. But just maybe, there can be a way for you to get many new customers to try your service without ruffling any feathers.
1. Want to build relationships with your customers? Here’s your chance.
Nurturing healthy relationships with your customers can go a long way. We’ve all heard about it, read about it and want to do it. So here’s an opportunity to do that. Right now you can easily understand what your customers believe in and act accordingly. Here’s how:
- You might choose to do it at cost (or free), and make no money but you can get many first time customers, who can be repeat customers or spread the good word:
Example: Spas can offer free foot massages to people participating in rallies. Or just wear your business Tee while doing a good gesture for people like distributing water bottles in protest marathons.
- You may even be able to use social media to amplify the impact (with due caution to people’s sensitivities)
Social media marketing is the best way to go about because:
1. It’s easy: Anyone can do it
2. It doesn’t require much time: Publish posts even while having your morning Latte
3. It has immense reach: Every post you put up will reach thousands of members who are part of the group.
Here’s how to find target groups on social media channels:
- Facebook: Join relevant Facebook groups and like similar pages. Offer relevant discounts to the members and promote a healthy image of your business using pictures and videos.
- Twitter: Find trending hashtags and follow relevant Twitter handles. Use the same hashtags while posting an offer or retweet a popular tweet and start a discussion in the comments.
- Reddit: Join discussion forums. Follow the most shared threads regularly and comment to promote your business whenever you find it appropriate.
- You can create means for people to make a contribution.
Put up a link to donate online on your site. Or maybe build a donation box? Be ready to answer any questions about how the money reaches to those in need. Using authentic documents conveys that the money is being put to right use.
2. Create a positive image of your business
Putting up friendly banners, wearing badges to work or simply hanging a poster that says you care will create a warm and welcoming image. People who believe in it will see you as a tolerant and progressive business. I’d like to stress here again whatever your personal political inclination is, it’s important that you’re sensitive to everyone’s beliefs.
You need to decide what is good for you and your potential customers. 🙂
Agree or disagree with the impacts of immigration policies on the Salon & Spa industry? Shoot your answers in the comments below. We love exciting discussions.
Do you know what else might have a big impact on the Spa-Salon industry? Reserve with Google is the new IN thing by Google. Read more about it here: Appointy + Google = More Customers!
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