The second national lockdown in England caught many salons by surprise. Just as we were adapting to the new normal and learning to cope with extended hygiene measures, a new set of restrictions were put in place.
This has been a trying year of salons, and we are saddened to hear the news that as many as 20,000 salons won’t make it through. At this time of year, salons would usually be enjoying back to back bookings and a bustling salon environment. Instead, we’re heading into winter with a great deal of uncertainty hanging over our heads.
It’s important to stay optimistic and plan for the future. We’ve spoken to many salon owners in the past few weeks and they are all saying the same thing: we just have to keep moving forward. So we’ve gathered up some of the best post-lockdown and pre-Christmas planning advice from our superstar salon owners to give you a roadmap out of lockdown.
The furlough scheme and the self-employed income support scheme have now been extended until March. This is great news for eligible salons and self-employed workers. Check your eligibility and factor this funding into your income and operating costs.
You can also look for local grants and funding that might be available to you. Look for small business funding and entrepreneurial grants, not just funding aimed at salons and barbers.
Some landlords are taking the hit alongside their tenants, agreeing that they will reduce rent for times when their tenants are unable to trade. But this isn’t always offered by the landlord, sometimes you need to ask if this is an option. Your rent is probably your biggest expense after staffing costs, so it’s worth exploring if they are open to negotiations.
Even if they were reluctant to provide support at the start of the pandemic, their financial situation could be very different now and they might be in a better position to help. It’s worth keeping the lines of communication open and letting them know about your financial situation. With an end in sight for the pandemic, landlords might be more willing to offer support, even if it is late in the game.
At this stage, customers understand the need to be flexible when making any kind of booking. And since December bookings are so hard to come by – even under normal circumstances – they will be keen to secure their place from the end of the second lockdown. We might not be heading off to office parties and large family gatherings, but everyone will still want to look good for their holiday Instagram photos!
We have to assume that the second lockdown will end as planned on the 2nd of December. To try to second guess the government will only add more stress to your plate. You may need to prioritise customers who missed appointments due to this lockdown. Once these customers are rebooked, you can fill in the gaps in your schedule, if there are any.
Think about how you will handle a waitlist and if you will ask customers for a deposit to secure their booking – particularly for bookings on the run-up to Christmas. Having a robust system in place before you reopen will help things run smoother and ensure you can maximise your time.
You know your customers and you know what they love. Start building incredible Christmas gift baskets and hampers that are sure to fly off the digital presale shelves. Click and collect is still an option during this lockdown, so make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase their favourite hair care items online to pick up in your salon.
Increasing retail stock before Christmas might be difficult. If income is tight, the thought of plunging this into Christmas stock before you know the lay of the land is truly frightening. To counter this fear, we recommend starting pre-sales early. Don’t wait until you can open again to determine your Christmas retail offering.
When you offer pre-sales, you get cash in the bank to buy the extra stock. Customers can pre-order their items and pick up on a predetermined day. Even if the lockdown is extended, you’ll still be able to offer click and collect, so there is no risk of lost sales.
Getting the gift wrap right is one way to increase the appeal. Customers love when the work is done for them; all they have to do is write the tag and pop it under the tree. This is particularly true for men buying gifts for the women in their lives. Just make sure you remove all price tags before gift wrapping to ease any customer anxiety.
You don’t have to focus just on the physical items. Customers will also be looking for pampering gift cards to give their loved ones something to look forward to. Your salon software should allow you to sell digital gift cards online, but you can also order physical gift cards so that customers have something to pop in a card.
Retail is about more than just bundling up a few popular items. Your staff also need to be trained to talk about these items confidently. Customers might be curious about using professional salon products at home, but they might not feel confident.
Your staff need to be able to educate and advise on the best products and how to make the most of them, and this all starts with knowing the products inside out. Hold staff retail training before you reopen to make sure everyone is familiar with the offering and how they can support sales.
Communication has never been more important. Customers are anxious about whether they will be heading into the holiday period with DIY haircuts and dye jobs. Reassure them that you are aiming to open again before Christmas and let them know your plans for taking bookings.
The time between the end of lockdown and Christmas day will be a premium. Consider increasing your prices to reflect the high demand. You could also request a deposit for new bookings to ensure that no-shows don’t damage your income.
Be positive in your messaging and be a beacon of hope and optimism. Remind people that Christmas and New Year won’t be cancelled this year, we will just have to adapt to the new normal.
Remember that many customers showed their favourite salons plenty of kindness and loyalty during the first lockdown. Customers requested to pre-pay for treatment, offered donations and cleared out the shelves to help support struggling salons. You could return this kindness by making your loyalty scheme even more generous for the period between the end of lockdown and Christmas.
The message from every salon, high street shop and small business this Christmas needs to be: Shop Local. Amazon doesn’t need any more of our money. In your Christmas marketing messages, try to encourage your loyal customers to shop in the local area.
You could team up with local businesses to share this message even further. A gift basket with items from a few different local businesses would help to support these local businesses and offer something unique to the customer.
With many vulnerable people avoiding the shops this Christmas, you could try to bridge this gap by offering local delivery. Again, this could be organised with other local companies, so you can share the cost of delivery. Alternatively, a click and collect service would allow your vulnerable customers to collect their items without setting foot in the salon.
Your social media is your direct line to your customers, so make sure you don’t go silent during this difficult time. The second lockdown is going to be more difficult than the first. People are anxious about their jobs. Some religious holidays have already been cancelled, including Eid in May and Diwali in November. And the shorter days make it more difficult to feel optimistic about anything.
Keep your social posting regular, light and upbeat to help bring your community together. You can also use this time to refine your brand, brush up on your Instagram skills and build your community. You might have been too busy to think about social media in the past, but now is the perfect time to figure out your strategy.
Once the second lockdown is over, we won’t return to life as normal, even if there is a vaccine on the horizon. We can expect to be back to the usual cleaning protocols, so now would be a good time to review what is working and what isn’t working.
Look for ways to streamline your cleaning routines and make sure everyone is aware of what is expected of them. Check your PPE supplies and make sure you have plans in place to replenish stock once December 2nd rolls around.
We’re now looking at having a vaccine by the end of the year with things starting to return to normal by Spring. This is fantastic news for salon owners. The end is in sight, we just need to get over the final hurdle!
This downtime would be better spent planning for the future instead of worrying about the past or present. Think about all the times you wished you could sit down and plan your salon marketing strategy. Well, it’s finally here!
Use the next 3 weeks to plan every campaign for the year ahead. Set yourself SMART business goals so you can stay accountable every step of the way.
Now would be a great time to start a folder for your best work and a showcase of your salon talent. You might take plenty of pictures and videos and then find you’re too busy to do anything with them. Now is the time to put these valuable assets into your marketing plan.
Create a marketing calendar and plan as much content as possible. This will mean you can focus on serving clients instead of thinking of things to post on social media when you can finally open as normal again.
This has been one of the most stressful years in living memory. And it’s unlikely that you have managed to find the time to relax when your salon has been closed. With the end of the pandemic insight, it’s time to think about the future with optimism. But you will never be able to realise your vision if you’re burned out or stressed.
Take the steps you need to take care of yourself and your staff. Blow off some steam with a Zoom happy hour or start planning the Christmas party to end all Christmas parties for Spring 2021. Salon workers are already used to celebrating long after Christmas is gone, anyway.
Just because your salon is closed, it doesn’t mean your business cannot operate. Stay flexible and agile during this time, because better times are coming. To summarise these are the things you should be doing if you have to go into lockdown again:
If you need help making the most of your Salon Iris software during the festive period, don’t hesitate to get in touch!