May 21, 2020 Chiara

How Hair Salons are Preparing to Reopen

For hair salons worldwide, the pandemic has sparked fear, caution, sacrifice, and the courage to prioritise the safety of others even in the face of economic adversity. Now that many countries have begun to proceed to the next stages of their reopening plans, hairdressers are eager to get back to work and reclaim their livelihoods. 

In some countries, hair salons are among the businesses still preparing to reopen. In places like Italy and the parts of the US, some have already begun welcoming back clients. In light of the profession’s emphasis on health, safety, and sanitation training, cosmetologists should feel confident in confronting this challenge. However, navigating the logistics of an unprecedented Covid-19 salon experience remains stressful. 

Recognising that the best antidote to uncertainty is a solid action plan, we have observed what salons are doing worldwide in order to construct a list of reopening tips. Local and federal regulations come first, of course, but we hope this post provides a few areas for salons to consider. It’s on the longer side, but we’ve split the content into sections for easy navigation. You’ll also find a list of additional sources and reopening guides at the end! 

This is the first of several blogs our team will be posting about how salons around the world are dealing with the changes being implemented because of Covid-19. 

Protection

Priority #1 is protecting staff and customers. With a bit of planning, you can stock up on all the necessary materials before opening day. Here are a few materials and procedures to ensure everyone stays healthy.

Face Coverings and Visors

Government warnings state that face coverings (to be distinguished from respirators) are not 100% effective; they must be combined with social distancing measures. Nevertheless, in the close-quarters context of a salon, masks can help prevent the spread of droplets to others. Whether you opt for a washable cloth covering or a disposable mask, it’s important to change it between each client. Some salons are requiring both masks and protective visors for extra security. However, depending on the availability of PPE in your area, masks may need to be conserved for medical and industrial workers. This is something to factor into your choice between cloth and disposable/industrially produced masks.

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Entry Measures

Government warnings state that face coverings (to be distinguished from respirators) are not 100% effective; they must be combined with social distancing measures. Nevertheless, in the close-quarters context of a salon, masks can help prevent the spread of droplets to others. Whether you opt for a washable cloth covering or a disposable mask, it’s important to change it between each client. Some salons are requiring both masks and protective visors for extra security. However, depending on the availability of PPE in your area, masks may need to be conserved for medical and industrial workers. This is something to factor into your choice between cloth and disposable/industrially produced masks.

Priority Slots

Your basic protective measures are in place; are you concerned that they’re still not enough to protect the most vulnerable? In this case, you may want to consider giving the day’s first spots to the elderly or other high-risk clients.

Along those lines, offering priority booking to healthcare workers is a small but sweet way to show appreciation for their efforts 🙂 

Social Distancing

A well-executed social distancing strategy starts not with the space but with the schedule! Come opening day, the last thing you want is a giant wave of customers haphazardly descending on your salon. If you ordinarily accept walk-ins, appointment-only is the way to go right now. This allows you to adequately space out appointment slots and account for new capacity restrictions. For instance, salon capacity in Spain has been capped at 30%, whereas a Georgia salon chain in the US with more leeway has settled on 50%.  

You can manage client arrivals even further if you request that they wait outside (e.g. in their cars) and send them a text once their stylist is ready. With the threat of waiting room congestion out of the way, you’ll be able to breathe easier (an expression which takes on new meaning in our present circumstances). Nevertheless, it’s best to remove any furniture in your entry spaces which may inhibit movement or compromise social distancing.

Moving swiftly along to the salon stations themselves, chairs will need to be spaced two metres apart (six feet). Sadly, wash basins can’t be shifted easily, but you can restrict your use to every other one. Lastly, you may want to construct clear barriers in areas where close contact seems inevitable. 

Where do staff fit in all of this? Well, social distancing extends to your own workforce. If your salon is on the larger side, you might create groups of hairdressers who interact solely with the colleagues in their group. This is a practice agencies like WorkSafeBC recommend for workplaces, as it makes contact tracing easier. 

What about situations where social distancing and protection are impossible? This is certainly the case for facial procedures which require clients to remove their masks. These have been temporarily banned in some places (take Germany or Massachusetts), but such bans are worth considering even as voluntary measures. 

It all depends on your salon and your local regulations, but you’ll figure it out! 

If you need a bit of professional help with marketing strategies for your salon, our team at Mamma Marketing know salon marketing. We're always improving salon marketing strategies and salon branding ideas. We specialize in helping salons build, develop and maintain a strong online presence, check out our recommended services below, subscribe to our newsletter or read through our other blogs written to help salons with the fruitful world of online.

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Sanitation

With sanitation training already a staple of their education, hair professionals are ready to tackle the rigorous health demands of Covid-19. While cleaning chairs, tools and stations between each customer is a must, it’s also worth identifying high-contact areas in your salon (door handles, light switches, countertops) and cleaning them regularly throughout the day. (Note: with all these cleaning products in the air and a potential virus, it may be time to review your ventilation system as well.) 

Make Your Space Easy to Clean

Before you open, you can also take inventory of your space and remove any objects, such as those with porous surfaces, which may be difficult to clean. Waiting room fodder like magazines would fall into this category. Extravagant product displays are another thing to potentially remove or reduce. 

If you’re concerned about disinfecting your station, a metal cart is a solution proposed by Associated Hair Professionals in their reopening guide. Another great tip from them: create markers which indicate if an area has been sanitised or not to avoid confusion.

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Review Disinfectants

You probably already have a disinfection routine. Still, if you have any doubts about which cleaners are appropriate for Covid-19, these disinfectant lists by the EPA and Health Canada are a good place to start. 

Some hairdressers are also choosing to pursue new certifications, such as Barbicide’s free Covid-19 online certification

Client Belongings and Payment

You put a lot of effort into sanitising your space; there’s no reason to feel guilty about asking clients to do their part. Salons are adopting a range of measures: requesting that clients remove their own coats, placing hard plastic baskets by each chair for their belongings, even asking that clients bring nothing more than their phone and wallet into the salon. These are small gestures, but they help you reduce chances of contamination even further. 

Of course, the client will have to pay before they leave, probably using a card reader. Besides disinfecting any machines between clients, you can attempt to avoid the issue altogether by opting for contactless pay systems like ‘tapping’ the card Paypal or Venmo. 

Welcoming Back Clients

With the logistics of your salon worked out, you can finally focus on getting clients in for the haircut or colour treatment they are craving. Clients will be desperate to rectify the job they did on their own hair, so it’s important to schedule the deluge of appointments with utmost organisation and care. 

This effort doesn’t need to be entirely your own though. Using an online booking platform is more convenient for your clients and keeps you off the phone 24/7. Your customers can compete in the hair appointment Hunger Games without your intervention. To this end, we recommend Fresha, Phorest and Setmore for bookings.

As you create a schedule of open appointment slots, you may want to consider how spacing out your clients will impact revenue. Extending opening hours and offering more shifts to compensate for fewer clients is a possible solution.

Will your services menu change along with your hours? Simplifying your offerings to those favoured by clients and omitting particularly time-intensive services could help you operate more efficiently at reduced capacity. 

Pre-Appointment Procedures

A major benefit of requiring that clients schedule an appointment is that it lets you check in with them before you arrive. Communication should flow both ways. You need to inform them of the health and safety measures you’re taking, as well as the new expectations for conduct within the salon. 

Likewise, they should inform you of their own condition. This could take the form of a brief questionnaire confirming that they have no symptoms, have not been in contact with anyone who is ill or self-quarantining, and so on. To remove any and all incentives to attend an appointment in questionable health, cancellations due to illness should be free. 

With the heavy stuff out of the way, you can also craft a pre-appointment routine simply to make your life easier! Virtual consultations, for instance, allow you to learn client preferences beforehand and cut down on time in the salon itself.

Social Media

Excited as you may be to reopen, regulations in your country may not permit it at present. Even if they do, perhaps you don’t feel safe heading back to work just yet. 

While you prepare for a safe and organised reopening, you can still help your business by leveraging social media to your advantage! 

No matter what, you’ll need to update your website and other platforms with your new protocols, hours, offerings, and more. Since you’ll be reaching out to clients, past and future, with this new information, why not take the time to propose some online services? 

A successful example of an online business move is Toronto salon Colour Lab’s at-home colour kits. Co-founder Raphael Ness stated in an interview that the service has been so successful that it will continue to be part of their business, even after restrictions are lifted.  

You might not be able to create your own kits at the drop of a hat, but you can still offer to ship out your salon products or conduct Zoom consultations with customers in states of hair distress. 

There are plenty of approaches to take, but the upshot is that an engaging online strategy is your best asset during these closures. Recognising the potential of a strong online presence to help small businesses right now, we have created a bundle of services specifically for hair salons. You can book a free consultation to learn more about the steps we would take to improve your digital strategy. 

Conclusion

Reopening may evoke mixed emotions, from excitement about getting back to work to concerns for your safety. No matter where you stand along this spectrum, we hope the information presented here gets you thinking about how you can plan your own post-quarantine operation safely and thoughtfully. Some of the items on this list might not apply to you. The most important thing is to check your local ordinances and think about what fits YOUR salon best. 

We’ll be posting quite a few blogs with solutions, tips and advice for hair salons reopening. Our team focuses on helping hair and beauty salons maximise the possibilities of online. However, for now, we’re constantly keeping tabs on how hair salons are dealing with the new changes and will be shortlisting and documenting the most helpful content on our blogs. Feel free to subscribe and we’ll be sending you one every 5-10 days.

Everyone will be experimenting to various degrees of success. To help you take stock of professional opinions on the question of reopening, here are a few lists of guidelines suggested by different organisations: 

Best of luck to you all. Stay safe! 

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