Adapting your salon, spa, or medspa to a post COVID-19 world

Human relationships and contact form the core of the beauty and wellness industry – a reality that makes salons, spas, and medspas especially susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19. Whether you temporarily close your business or you currently experience a slowdown in patrons, you may feel a loss of control brought on by a sense of uncertainty. Do not allow these understandable emotions prevent you from regaining control by moving forward proactively. 

COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the salon, spa, and medspa industry. Now is the time to develop proactive strategies to propel your business forward in a post COVID-19 world defined by a consumer environment where sanitation concerns remain top-of-mind. Review not only the challenges your salon, spa, or medspa face now, but those you will face in the foreseeable future. Then, create detailed short and long-term plans for reopening your business or revamping slow business. 

Adapt to a post COVID-19 consumer environment

Ensure your post COVID-19 strategy propels your salon, spa, or medspa forward by embracing the change you need to meet and exceed new customer expectations. Your post COVID-19 action plan must center on a willingness to adapt to meet new realities, including the need to offer your customers visual and verbal reassurances of your business’ dedication to sanitation and cleanliness in the short and long-term.

COVID-19 aftermath: Short-term operational strategies

During the weeks and months following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, your salon, spa, or medspa’s reopening (or revamping) plan should include policies targeted at reassuring understandably wary customers. Consider measures that offer obvious visual reassurances that reinforce any public communication of the serious steps your salon, spa, or medspa will take to protect your customers in a post COVID-19 world.

Immediately following reopening, maintain social distancing guidelines as much as possible. Situate your customers in every other chair in your salon. Stagger waiting room chairs, or place signs requesting customers to respect social distancing guidelines while waiting. Remove magazines or books from your waiting room and replace them with screen-safe wipes for smartphones and tablets. To reassure employees hesitant about returning to work, consider staggering shifts, implementing a high frequency schedule to disinfect all surfaces, and offering employees gloves.

“We are for sure concerned with how COVID-19 changes the way customers think about our business. At reopening, we will continue respecting CDC guidelines including asking customers to maintain social distancing and frequently disinfecting all surfaces. We started this aggressive process prior to our temporary closing and will continue that process when we are able to reopen again.”

Sean Larusso, President/Founder of Madison Ave Salons

The steps you take to reassure your customers and employees will differ based on your business – factors like location and job requirements must be considered. You may consider stricter short-term measures if your business is in an area heavily impacted by COVID-19. Or it may not be possible or practical for your employees to wear gloves – consider instead asking employees to maintain open accountability practices, reminding each other to frequently disinfect hands and workspaces.

Communicate these changes to existing and potential customers on all your available channels. Post pictures on social media, a message on your website, and personal notifications to your most loyal customers. Ensure you publicize your salon, spa, or medspa’s safety measures in your reopening announcements.

COVID-19 aftermath: Long-term operational strategies

COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the beauty and wellness industry. Ensure your salon, spa, or medspa is ready to face the challenge of hyper-aware customers with a new appreciation – and demand – for enhanced sanitary standards they not only see, but experience. Again, the success of reassuring hesitant customers depends on offering visual and verbal reassurances.

Offer your customers a pair of gloves or hand wipes upon entrance or install an automated hand sanitizer dispenser at the entrance of your salon, spa, or medspa. Provide a wastebasket where they can dispose of used gloves or hand wipes upon exiting your business. The best approach for your business will differ based on practicalities, including your budget. Ultimately, your strategy should send an important message to your customers the moment they step into your salon, spa, or medspa: your business takes protecting health and wellbeing seriously.  

Where possible, consider switching to single-use products – whether a nail-filing kit or disposable razors. Train your employees to communicate the decision to switch to each customer, framing the message around enhanced health and wellbeing measures. Ensure your spa or medspa providers use gloves or wear masks in close-contact situations, especially when servicing customers with treatments like facials, facial waxing or eyebrow shaping, and manicures or pedicures. Recognizing case-by-case differences, weigh the possibilities or practicalities of glove or mask policies as applicable to your business’ services.

Rethink the greeting and hospitality practices at your salon, spa, or medspa. Ask your employees to refrain from handshakes or hugs. Instead, welcome guests with a big smile and friendly face. Training your employees to repeat the name of your guest upon greeting helps create a stronger welcome experience. If your business offers self serve hospitality amenities, switch to an “upon request” policy. Any public self serve beverage or snack station should be removed.

Importantly, use the latest technology to your salon, spa, or medspa’s advantage. Install software that enables touchless check-in and check-out services and mobile payment options (think Uber or AmazonGo). Touchless services and mobile payment options reduce handling of commonly used objects in a new consumer environment marked by hyper awareness of cleanliness. COVID-19 will keep sanitation concerns top-of-mind for years to come, adopting permanent sanitation standards your customers see and participate in helps cultivate trust and encourages reassurance.

Whatever added measures you enforce, communicate your changes to your existing and new customers. Offer reassurances that your business takes the wellbeing of your customers, your employees, and your community seriously. Tell your customers you care through all your available outlets – social media, email, and website. Post signs in your business, ask your employees to engage customers in conversations about your business’ excellent sanitation practices.

COVID-19 aftermath: Communicating your short and long-term changes strategically

Overall, the beauty and wellness industry inspires a high degree of consumer confidence concerning sanitation standards. Do not make the mistake of assuming your salon, spa, or medspa’s past reputation for cleanliness is enough to continue inspiring consumer trust in a post COVID-19 world.

Your reopening plan should include communication of your past sanitation policies. Communicating long-standing sanitation measures inspires customer trust by offering reassurances of your business’ long record of responsible practices. Your long-standing policies establish a foundation for consumer confidence. This foundation allows you to build credibility when communicating additional sanitation practices to customers more concerned than ever with cleanliness standards.

Build the communication of your salon, spa, or medspa’s enhanced practices on the foundation of your long-standing sanitary standards. If you decide to include in-store notices as part of your reopening strategy, first summarize your past policy then list enhanced practices. Consider adding a message conveying your long-standing sanitation policies. Publicize your new sanitation measures on your website or social media but remember to link back to this message.

“We are using our website and social media to reassure customers of our commitment to high cleanliness standards. We want our customers to know that we understand their concerns, and we will elevate our already strict sanitation standards to ease their understandable post-COVID concerns.” 

Carlos Guzman, COO and President of Massage Green

Also consider incorporating the foundation strategy in any reopening website announcement or social media post. Perhaps you decide to disinfect your salon chairs and other workspaces after each customer. Perhaps you add more cleaning-prep time in between customers to ensure thorough sanitation – from coat hooks to door-knobs – of your treatment rooms. Or, perhaps you institute a daily check on employees before beginning their shifts. Communicate your changes in an enhancement context to reassure customers of your responsibility and trustworthiness.

Preparing for a post COVID-19 world: Stay calm and adapt

Remember to approach your post COVID-19 strategy development with a willingness to adapt to a changed consumer environment. This will mean adopting new and complementary approaches to address the latest consumer concerns or meet heightened customer expectations. Employing smart strategies will help you reassure existing and new customers in a post COVID-19 world.

Despite all the future unknowns, remember you are not alone. Businesses across the world face similar challenges in a post COVID-19 world. Businesses across industries feel the weight of uncertainty – don’t allow that weight to consume you. Encourage a sense of control by developing a proactive plan and calmly preparing for a changing consumer environment.

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