Spotlight on… the independent salon

Caroline Sanderson, founder of Ego Hair Design in Inverness, shares her positivity-fuelled plans in the face of the Coronavirus challenge

UPDATED – 25 March 2020

As of 23 March 2020, all non-essential shops and services have been ordered to close for a minimum of three weeks.

So in line with government guidelines the salon is now closed. We’re currently contacting all our suppliers seeing what they have in action for freezes and reductions. As we’re doing this it’s a great way to re-evaluate your outgoings – are we really utilising all the things we have, are they still valuable to us?

Contacting clients is another task to make sure they are all up to date and to check they’re OK as well. We’re making sure our clients are entertained by keeping our social media full of life – it’s crucial for all salons to keep the relationship going and strengthen it, so offer tips on home hair care, make yourself available for advice and just general chat.

We’re going to be offering priority booking when we return to our Ego Elite members and VIP inner circle members, and to those who have future bookings. We will still encourage online bookings where people will pay a deposit; although we don’t know how long we’ll be closed it means a queue jump for those who have committed to us and paid a deposit or bought a voucher for when we return.

We’re keeping up to date with government updates; we’ve put all our team on furlough and are working out what the 80% wage bill will be as I believe there is a chance we need to pay our team first then reclaim the 80% from the government. We also don’t know if this will be live before our next pay run so our priority is making sure funds are in place for this and all critical outgoings.

We will have team meetings over Zoom to keep everyone up-to-date.

We’re planning a revival package for when we return, so we have a voucher sale ready on our online shop that offers extras when they buy a voucher and a reminder that our vouchers never expire.


Original feature – 17 March 2020

“I’m approaching this situation from a mindful business point of view. We have to be mindful of guidelines and making sure our team and clients are protected. However, we need to be mindful to lead with reason, not buy into the mass panic and scarcity mindset we are seeing.

“Although no one has experienced anything like this before I am no stranger to navigating extremely difficult times as I turned my almost bankrupt salon around during the 2008/9 recession. 

I firmly believe we have to keep our minds strong and calm so we can navigate and adapt in hard times. Fear loses focus and triggers stress chemicals, which is not good for our wellbeing mentally or physically, so my focus is reducing the fear.

 Firstly we are focused on being calm, and ‘in the now’ as much as we can be. It’s important for the team to feel supported.

“Our focuses are:

    • Mindfulness and a calm attitude (which includes meditation in the staff room for the team)
    • Happy daily positive posts on our social media
    • Being the breath of fresh air in among the noise
    • Being a CC-free zone (Coronavirus conversation free zone) – it’s important that we all reduce stress so pivoting conversations to other happier topics gives the team and clients respite from the fear.

“While the salon is open we will stick to our happiness culture and be the consistently happy place during uncertain times. But we are mindful that the fear is real for some of the team and we are supporting them through it.

We’re following the government guidelines for employers and check our trusted source for info each day. My mentor John Assaraf is reading and researching on a daily basis, filtering out the noise and only sharing the reports that are factual and educational and not general news, which is designed to startle rather than inform. I also keep a watch on government guidelines for employers. I don’t look anywhere else like social media articles or watch the news and I strongly advise the team not to either. The key for me is to shut out the noise and look at the practical elements.

“I’ve made salon action plans A, B and C as no one really knows what the future holds but plan A from a business perspective is marketing. It has never been so important as it is now. We will focus on:

  • Packages and memberships sales to tie clients in for the next three months
  • No radio and a Coronavirus conversation free zone
  • A sanctuary to escape the noise – stress is scientifically proven to increase our susceptibility to illness and salons are the perfect respite from stress.
  • Fun games with clients – we’re creating a quiz where they win prizes to return soon

“I have set up a new WhatsApp group to invite our VIPs so they get last minute offers, giveaways and first notifications. Our April newsletter is being prepped and this time we’re posting to clients as well as displaying it in the salon, on the website as well as emailing it to 4,000 subscribers and sharing via a Facebook advert to 2,000 Messenger subscribers. We’re also sending our lost client letters sooner than usual.

We’re giving double points for April visits to our colour club members, and we’re running a big Mother’s Day competition giveaway. We’re also running a voucher push, reminding our clients that our vouchers never expire. We’re buying in litre retail deals for bulk buying value offers, as while people are in a scarcity mentality they are more likely to go for the six months of home hair care package.

“Every day, we’ll be posting our happy salon environment on social media. We offer clients access to a ‘mindful’ library (books like John Assaraf’s Innercise, which all staff were given last week to take home), mindful colouring in books while colour develops. But we adapt as new information comes in. We have removed our marketing and reading materials around the salon and have a bare minimum kept in our colour area drawers only, but this is something we’re discussing. There are also random acts of kindness, smiles as clients leave the salon and we text them a compliment to remind them how awesome they are!

Consider a wellness box at the salon for the team that’s packed with vitamins (I have that anyway but this is a great time to implement one!) and I keep feeding our team group with positive messages and videos. There’s so much going on and it’s times like this that make you step up to perform at a higher level.

“My plans B and C are more in line with reducing overheads, deferring unnecessary outgoings, utilising quiet time with the greatest leverage (for example, training and salon maintenance work) and other creative forms of income should the salon need to close. I’m looking at areas that can be tightened, with a close eye on wages and stock as the highest outgoings. I’ve contacted my landlord for a three month rent break and have emailed my brand suppliers to see what they are doing to help their small salon clients. I’d advise all salons to speak to their landlords – no-one else is queuing up to take your place right now so I’d hope for some flexibility.”

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