The lasting impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic is hard to measure. But it has had an immediate strain on businesses, both local to the high street or those more corporate, which hasn’t been evenly experienced across all industries. In the health and wellbeing sectors, including beauticians, the impact of shuttering salons and premises nationwide has caused economic difficulties, not to mention bans on various treatments whilst social distancing measures are enforced. As the nation teeters between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ restrictions, it would appear that not all salons have bounced back.
A stark pattern for failure was revealed in the new National Hair & Beauty Federations (NHBF) survey. With rising workloads, operational restrictions within the Government guidelines, and a slew of public safety measures, 40% of businesses in the beauty sector have not been earning enough to cover basic outgoings like rent, overheads, staff costs, and stock. That equates, in numbers, to nearly one in every four salons being troubled by strained financials.
It is not, however, all glib tales of lockdowns and economic struggles. Those who empower their business to thrive through smart, tactical decisions and, in particular, adapt, are able to not only bounce back but thrive in the new world after COVID-19.
Your beauty salon business could find new success post-pandemic with help from these four tips.
#1 Engage Clients (For Retention)
Whilst some businesses have had more success than others at attracting new crowds during the pandemic, especially local ones, your rebound strategy should prioritize retention. Historically, in marketing a business, client retention has felt secondary to gaining and attracting new customers. But those forecasting businesses in the future might start to notice how there is more attention on brand loyalty. That means using your existing customer base to get ahead of the competition and thrive.
Regular communication with your existing clients is key in ensuring their returned business. This could be in the form of an email marketing campaign, a social presence, or a retention offer (loyalty points). By nurturing loyalty through retention schemes, you can ensure that customers will return long after lockdown.
#2 Embrace Local Culture
If you’re a salon owner, the likelihood is that your business will have a shopfront local to a community and town, or possibly a borough in a city. As the lockdown changes customer preferences and behaviors, the local shopping experience is receiving increased footfall and becoming more in demand. In part due to travel restrictions, the availability of local high street has become a lifeline for smaller communities. Any business, including salons, needs to learn to embrace the local culture for the continuity of their business. If you study your local customers and treat them well, your salon will ensure it has steady business. Aim your strategy, and marketing, at locals before trying to expand nationally. This will also narrow down the competition considerably and allow you to understand your customer better.
Small businesses have become engines for economic growth in equally small parts of Britain, such as towns and villages along the outer reaches of London. Where travel between counties and public transport alike is mired in safety measures, your business can benefit from offering locals a reason to visit your salon as a key local destination.
#3 Rethink Your Product
A key ingredient to not only economic survival after the global pandemic, but business growth too, is your willingness to adapt and learn. This seems, admittedly, rather ambiguous at first. But the way customers shop has changed.
Rethinking your product (and possibly business model) is a great feat in flexibility and creative ingenuity. For a salon, consider the following:
- Create an online presence through social media
- Establish your website for your clients
- Have an ‘online’ store, too
- Develop a better booking system
- Deliver online guidance, help, and training in videos for staff
This is a chance for your brand to re-establish or fortify, its value for the long term. Thinking about changing needs, how can your salon address any problems, issues, or gaps in its services? Are you selling your products conveniently for the customer? Can you further develop your offering through more benefits (like loyalty points)?
Think about the customer’s journey and plan to strengthen it long into the future.
#4 Train Internally in Quiet Spells
Lockdown has led to idle hours for many. Seize the moment to upskill staff, conducting training online and ensuring that they’re anticipating the demand of a post-COVID workload. Create a shared policy (and understand) of safety measures and procedures, carefully balancing out priorities between public safety and those of your team. Upskilling could be an important opportunity to expand your offering, by taking on more treatment options, such as microblading. Use the quiet spells effectively by upskilling and expanding the kinds of beauty treatments available at your establishment.
Training staff is a verb. It means setting up a course of action for them to learn, which will in turn boost the productivity of your salon. Embrace transparency in hard times like these, by keeping your team informed of business changes and updates – this will help them anticipate working in the salon once it reopens to the public.
If you’re reopening your doors to new business after the pandemic, be prepared for a changing world. Beauty salons will change, but it will be for the better.
The article was produced in collaboration with Lash Perfect, an eyelash extension course specialists.