Back to work – your plans for the salon

While in lockdown, salon owners and stylists are prepping for a time when we’ll be back seeing clients… although we’re not yet sure what that will look like. Here are some of your plans


Becky Candy, Becky Candy Salon, Clowne

I’ve planned to remove some stations, remove our waiting area and reduce the number of clients in the building at any one time. I see us opening longer days with fewer team members in, but doing split shifts so that we’re reducing the number of staff and clients. I also feel we will be booking one client at a time, for example with a colour we would have just that one client in the chair. Our salon is quite small and we wouldn’t have the space to distance people enough while processing and I want to do my best to protect my team moving forward.

We’ll ask clients to wait in their cars for a call from us to let them know we’re ready for them, again reducing the number of people in the salon and giving us enough time to thoroughly clean down all areas.

We’ll also limit the amount of time they are in the salon. We’re looking at video consultations prior to their appointment so that we’re fully prepared for the visit. Some people will be bashing our doors down but others will be apprehensive, so this is the perfect time for us to reassure them.

We will be offering an online checkout, issuing the bill while they’re in the salon to pay via their phones, online banking or our online checkout. The bill issued will include any products we have recommended; all they will need to do is decide if they want them before making payment.

The new normal is a difficult one to plan for as we have no idea what this will be; we will be in a state of uncertainty for a very long time. I am pregnant, due in mid-June, and have two team members on maternity leave and my manager is on the vulnerable list. This all means that we’re under quite a lot of worry for when the lockdown is lifted. Everything I do will follow the advice of WHO and the government, but I will not put any of my team in a position where they feel unsafe. If this means we don’t re-open when we’re officially allowed, then so be it.

Robert Eaton, Russell Eaton, Yorkshire

“We’re looking at working shifts to efficiently manage the team over new trading hours, while minimising the number of clients they’re in contact with. For example, operating seven days a week combined with longer opening hours, with three or four teams working in shifts. We’re also looking at temporarily reducing the services we offer. Some treatments such as facials and massages may no longer be viable in terms of distancing.

Some clients may be nervous about visiting, so we’ve implemented additional measures, including making masks and gloves available for each team member. Clients will also have minimal contact with other team members, as their stylist will take care of every stage of the appointment. Work stations have already been spaced out, while clear screens (like those in supermarkets) have been installed at reception and on the nail bars. We’ve also invested in more sanitising products and disposable gowns and towels, and created signs informing clients of the safety and hygiene measures.

Costs will have increased due to everything we’ve implemented. We had a price increase in January and extended our appointment time, so clients will get value for money. I would encourage stylists and salons not to be nervous about charging and to avoid discounts, even if there’s a downturn.

We had a full stock check and placed orders to enable us to start trading straight away, including products like Colour Fresh by Wella Professionals, for those clients who may want to prepare in case of another lockdown later.

I hope this experience instils an even stronger work ethic in our team members. They’re already incredibly hard working; however, no matter how well prepared we are, it will take commitment, energy and drive from everyone to get the business back on track. We know this isn’t going to be a quick fix; we anticipate 18 months of hard work ahead of us. This pandemic has taught us that we can’t take anything for granted.

Joe Hemmings, Bloggs Salon, Bristol

I’m planning to put the team on split shifts so we can open for longer days but with fewer clients at a time, so they’ll be further apart in the salon. I want to be open 12 hours a day, so rather than a full team working an eight-hour shift, we’ll split them up onto earlier and lates. We’ll stagger appointments by 15 minutes so people aren’t arriving and sitting in reception or at backwashes at the same time. We’ll implement a new booking system with individual time slots for arrival and backwash time. Looking at price lists, we’ve added some cheaper services because we’re mindful that people might be tight for money. I think we’ll see a rush at first but then potentially a quieter period.

From a team point of view, I’m looking at ways of giving my staff more time off. Now they’ve spent more time at home with loved ones, and taking up new hobbies, I feel they will want to continue this and may have re-evaluated their work/life balance. By allowing team members to work longer but fewer days, it will enable them to spend more time doing other things.

Keith Mellen, Anne Veck, Oxford

We are looking at different ways we can welcome clients back while at the same time provide a safe salon environment. That means opening seven days a week and extended hours each day (open earlier/close later). We are looking at modifying each team member’s hours to best fit the new rota. Under consideration are four (longer) day weeks; four long days and one short day; a nine-day fortnight. We’ll have a maximum of four stylists working at any one time, which means we only need to use every other styling position, giving a 2 metre-plus space in between.  We’re considering all staff wearing masks and gloves, but we’ll decide nearer opening time. We’ll definitely re-emphasise the hygiene actions we were all taking up to lockdown.

Lucie Johnson, 17a Hairdressing, Coventry

I’m self-employed and so are my colleagues. I would say there’s a lot of fear at the moment that hairdressers may be pushed back out to work before everyone else, and we’re not sure that we feel safe or regulated enough to cope. I’m working right now with my salon to plan out how we go back, and I hope we get more clear guidance soon.

Three months ago, on our salon messenger group, we were sharing various memes of people in hazmat suits – suggesting that this was how we could be working in the future. At the time it was funny because the virus was on the other side of the world. Then the unbelievable/inevitable happened, and we are now having to seriously plan for the PPE we may have to wear. How anxious will I feel on a day to day basis? Will I feel safe? Will I enjoy working in a salon anymore? Who knows, but I do know that we all need to plan carefully how we return work, taking into consideration both safety and maintaining sustainable business models.

For the short to medium term, the appointment we used deliver is on hold. Even though the demand is there, it would not be safe to try to recoup our losses immediately. Initially, we may need to reduce salon capacity, and extend our opening hours to accommodate clients safely. We will also need to reduce items in the salon that may aid transmission, such as magazines, cups, and products that can be handled before purchase. The silent appointment may now be necessary to reduce infection. This could actually improve efficiency, but many clients enjoy the social aspect of time spent in salons, so this could overall be a detrimental side effect. I’m also concerned about vulnerable clients who may still want to visit the salon regardless of official guidance. Will we be responsible? Salons may need to consider building in ‘home services’ to keep those clients safer.

The time and product demands that ‘Instagram hair’ has placed on our industry in recent times may need to fall away for a while. This could be replaced with a shorter service, that is still profitable, and is centred around the health and safety of the salon staff and its clients. The possibility of waves of enforced social distancing over the next year may require us to simplify treatments further in order for them to be maintained at home.

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