4 salon must-haves for staying afloat in the COVID reality
We’re not going to fluff things up – the current situation in the world of hair and beauty is rather dispiriting. With a constant introduction of health and safety regulations as well as a significant drop in business and stress caused by COVID-19, some stylists, nail techs and spa therapists cannot function in this new reality and simply seek out new business ventures. However, there are professionals who are unwavering and plan on staying afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. If this sounds like you, then you’ll want to continue reading, as this article covers the must-haves for staying in the game and actually making a significant profit in the meantime.
During times of crisis, the most notable reason for the downfall of a business is a loss of clients and a significant lack of profit. In order to keep your head above the water, the number one must-have for business survival during a pandemic, or any other difficult situation for that matter, is a thought-through strategy that ensures a steady supply of returning clients. Although COVID-19 has backed our industry into a rather tight corner, there is still room to manoeuvre. So, what exactly should effective planning entail and how can this process help your business to stay afloat? Well, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Why – why might you be losing business? Are clients simply fearful of getting infected? Or perhaps there’s a flaw in your marketing process
- What – what can you do to keep clients coming into your salon, amidst COVID-19?
- How – how should you test and eventually implement your client-retention strategy?
With these questions in mind, you’re ready to conjure up a bulletproof plan that will keep your salon in the game. Business failure may be due to a number of factors, however, the most common one is insufficient profit. When it comes to the “why” part of your plan, it is essential that you find the root cause of your losses. Upon learning that their business is in the red, many hair and beauty specialists frantically throw out marketing strategies that are hardly based on any data. Discounting treatments and handing out free products might work short-term, but it’s highly unlikely that it’ll create loyal clients (who are the ones spending the most money in your business).
This leads to the second step of your plan, or the “what” part, which requires that you evaluate the main cause of business loss and what would be the best approach to increase profits. If clients are afraid of infection and choose not to book visits, consider focusing more attention on your retail – more specifically, selling it online. With this option, clients can purchase their favourite products and have them delivered to their doorstep. If you don’t have an online store, you can create your own using Versum’s Online Store feature. Additionally, you might also want to introduce “safety days”, during which you take an even more limited number of bookings and introduce extra PPE, in order to accommodate at-risk customers who are worried about their health. But what if you have a lack of profit due to poor marketing strategies? More on that under the “Familiarity with marketing and reporting” section.
The final part of your plan to keep your business going in hard times is to test and implement your strategy. You know what’s causing losses for your salon, you’ve come up with a viable solution and you’re ready to introduce it. Upon doing so, it is essential that you track its effectiveness and tweak it if necessary. More on that under the “Familiarity with marketing and reporting” section.
Finding spare time and utilising it effectively plays an important role in how the hair & beauty industry is staying afloat. Look at it this way – salons are required by law to operate in an appointment-only system, disinfect each workstation before and after every client, bin single-use protective equipment (seat covers, gowns, etc.), collect health screening surveys from clients, manage the queue outside, and the list goes on. The time spent doing such tedious tasks could be utilised for planning marketing activities, running a loyalty program, posting engaging content on fan pages, or simply focusing on providing an exceptional and memorable experience for clients. It’s these aspects of running your business that help it stay afloat. Now the elephant in the room needs to be addressed – how do you find or make spare time?
You can limit the number of bookings for each day, though doing so will significantly limit how much profit you’re making. Or, a more viable option would be to make time with Versum’s many features that help automate almost all of your time-consuming tasks. These include:
- online booking – allows clients to book with you 24/7
- statistics – lets you generate financial, employee work time, treatment popularity, client retention, gift card reports and so on
- automatic messaging – launches appointment reminders, booking confirmations, rescheduling and cancellation messages, and even birthday wishes
- health screening surveys – launches the mandatory screening survey in a digital format, along with the appointment reminder
- Loyalty Program – rewards loyal clients automatically for purchases, referrals and reviews
- Marketing Automation – launches automated marketing messages to first and second-time clients, those who need to book recurring visits and long-absent clients.
Tip: Versum is free for 14 days – you can grab your account right here!
Familiarity with marketing and reporting
Being somewhat familiar with marketing and reporting is essential for staying afloat during a pandemic. As mentioned previously, this knowledge is paramount in order to plan an effective strategy for staying busy. You’re well aware that your business might be sinking and you have the perfect solution for preventing this, but how do you plan on introducing it and tracking its effectiveness?
Start with marketing activities. Let’s say you’ve done your research and have concluded that your safety day campaign will most definitely bring in a steady supply of bookings, but how exactly do you get the word out about this? Resorting to a banner in your salon and a post on social media isn’t going to be enough to get the word out. Instead, focus on more direct approaches, such as Facebook and Instagram ads, or better yet, SMS marketing. With social media ads, you can target specific client demographics – in this case, people in your area who would be interested in a safe salon visit (most likely those who fall into the “at-risk” category). As for SMS marketing, you can use Versum to send a bulk message to all clients, informing them of this campaign and important information related to it.
Now, how is your campaign coming along? Are you making a substantial profit? How would you be certain? Being able to create reports based on the data you’ve collected from your marketing campaigns is essential if you’d like to know if your business is picking up. And if it isn’t, it is important to act quickly in order not to burn your budget needlessly. Sure, you can create extensive spreadsheets of every transaction influenced by your campaigns, but let’s be real, are you going to have the time to do it all by hand? That’s where Versum’s financial reports come in handy. All of the data, from the number of sales, to the most popular payment option is collected within the system, allowing you to generate accurate numbers and track the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Tip: running marketing campaigns can be tricky – if you run one for too long, you might burn your budget – too short, and you won’t have enough data to check its effectiveness!
Staying afloat in the wake of a pandemic also requires a drive. With constant changes to health and safety protocols, a significant drop in clients, a fear of a COVID-19 outbreak and an uncertain future for your business, it’s easy to lose your motivation and will to keep going. As the business owner, you’re at the heart of everything, and if you don’t have the drive to keep going, your team will lose their motivation to work, leading to clients noticing this and deciding to go elsewhere for their hair and beauty treatments.
Although it’s easier said than done, you can’t lose your passion for what you do. Always keep your clients in mind, especially those who have been with your business for the long run – they’re the right motivation you need to keep going. You’ve pulled through countless hours in beauty school – giving up would simply toss all of that into the bin. However, if your loss of drive is more deeply-rooted, consider reaching out to a professional. Caring for your mental health during the outbreak is essential for your business to function properly and for you to stay motivated. If you require immediate help, make sure to reach out to crisis contacts and helplines in the UK.