Boris Johnson has said that his blueprint for a gradual easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England could see primary schools, nurseries and shops reopening partially from 1st June.
Although it was originally thought that hairdressers/salons could be among the first businesses to reopen, Dominic Raab has revealed that they will not open until 4th July at the earliest.
The beginnings of a government-led Safety At Work document are forming, and of course we must await this complete industry-specific document before deciding our individual policies and procedures going forwards.
However, regardless of the rules, we have to face facts. This is going to cost us money, and whilst some businesses may have an influx of customers upon re-opening, others will not. It really will depend factors such as your demographic (especially average client age), and other social and economic considerations.
We have to respect the fact that many clients will feel too vulnerable to visit a salon. They may have underlying health conditions, have elderly relatives they need to protect, or be a mature client themselves. They may have lost their jobs, or their partner might have lost theirs. Grown up children will be home from university, meaning more mouths to feed. Income that was previously disposable might now be essential to covering living costs; so many factors that can, and will, affect our businesses.
What can we do to stay ahead and prepare for this next stage? Because re-opening doesn’t mean ‘back to normal’: not straight away at least.
France, for example, have introduced a PPE charge per client. They’ve also implemented other sensible policies: The hairdresser and client should both wear masks, there must be no nonessential contacts, and clients must fill in full details upon each visit. No walk in are clients allowed, and a no frills service menu has been created.
Assuming we must adopt a similar approach, and add to that the extra procedures that a beauty treatment dictates, then we should expect an expenditure of both time and money.
One possibility is to create a system where longer treatments become more commonplace, thus discouraging multiple visits and the need for excessive PPE usage. Encourage clients to use you for a ‘one stop beauty shop’; why increase risk of infection by having nails done here, face done there, tan done elsewhere? This is both a profitable and responsible way forwards. Alongside staggered bookings and thorough clean downs, this would minimise the amount of lost column minutes.
I’ve spoken a lot about embracing change within your business model and thinking creatively about how you can adapt your business offering.
In practical terms, this means things like placing a greater emphasis on retail to realise your profits, and looking to embrace online platforms as a means to communicate and consult. It could also mean actual change to your business model. Could you consider how your business might actually pose less risk to you and your clients?
For example, mobile therapists could see a real upturn in their business. This might be worth considering as a short-term solution if you are a salon. Home visits might mean that more clients are willing to have treatment if the only risk is someone adequately protected coming to their home. Essentially this poses no more risk than an agency carer visiting them, or a relative or friend, which by the point of re-opening should be possible.
Another thought process is a no frills menu: short, quick treatments, no hands on, no ‘fluff N puff’!
Consider performing manicures without the usual hand massage, or facials that are machine-led only. Prioritise promotion of treatments that include limited contact and aim only for basic grooming.
Regardless of your politics and whether you agree with the government course of action, it is crucial to think outside of the box and decide how you can re-open responsibly. Despite the confusion surrounding each announcement, and how it leaves you with a sense of uncertainty, what most of you know for certain is that the ultimate priority is protecting ourselves, each other and our clients. We must create responsible systems upon re-opening that will assist in preventing further infection.
On another note, regardless of what the government says, you must also each await news from your individual insurers on how to proceed.
Last week, announcements on Sunday saw businesses open on Monday. I would be very surprised if each of those businesses had time to fully brief their staff about policies and procedures surrounding Covid-19. I also wonder if they each checked exactly what was covered under their insurance in these unprecedented times.
It is crucial that you do act with due diligence before re-opening your doors, and if this means adding a few days in to the official government opening date then so be it.
The message here – be safe, stay alert, protect the NHS; protect yourselves and your clients, ensure you are insured!