A Salon/Spa Owner’s Checklist for 30-45 Days After Reopening

June 29, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Depending on the state, some salons and spas have been open since the end of April. Salons and spas in eastern PA and NY are just reopening … or about to. Salons and spas in certain counties in CA are still waiting to reopen.

For most of you, it’s been a mad dash to get your salon/spa reopened. You had to figure out all the safety protocols, acquire PPE, get your employees off unemployment, sanitize everything, reschedule client appointments … phew.

No matter where your salon/spa is in the reopening timeline, checking all the boxes in all those reopening checklists is a daunting task. It’s easy to miss a few. It’s easy for a new system or protocol to become inconsistent, ignored or forgotten.

More importantly, there are to-do’s that should have been on your checklist that you didn’t know about, or feel were important, or just didn’t want to deal with.

At Strategies, our mission is to help owners lead and grow salons and spas that are capable of delivering service excellence in the most efficient, productive and consistently profitable manner possible. To do so requires the right leadership approach, systems and team-based culture.... Read More

My Concern for the Reopening of Salons/Spas

May 18, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 8 Comments

First, some background…

My passion is for business and the leadership and systems that make a business productive and profitable.

I believe in transparency, shared accountability and the unlimited potential of a team-based culture.

The salon/spa industry has been the focus of my career for over 50 years. My track record, and the 26+ year track record of Strategies, of helping owners build the companies, cultures and profitability they never thought possible, is impeccable.

I’m sharing all the above not to boast, but to get your attention and to understand what I need to share…because I believe this may be the most important blog post I’ve ever written.

FACT: Salons and spas are historically known for their lack of profitability and high employee turnover.

Fast forward to today

Since mid-February, our industry and economy has been shaken to its core by COVID-19. All previous national crises and recessions pale in comparison. Never before have all non-essential businesses been ordered to close for a month or more. Never before have such massive federal loans and relief funds been poured into small businesses and individuals.... Read More

Two Salon Owners Share Their Reopening Experiences

May 10, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

These are truly surreal times we’re going through — and the ride appears far from over.

The good news is that all but a few states are relaxing “stay at home” orders and allowing businesses, including salons and spas, to reopen.

Overnight, the conversation shifted from PPP forgiveness to reopening safety protocols.

Today, the big question is: What exactly is it like to reopen your salon/spa?

To answer that question, I interviewed Andrea Birst, owner of Glance Spa & Salon, located in Bismarck, ND.

In addition to winning the Team-Based Pay Business of the Year Award in 2017, Andrea became a Certified Strategies Coach in 2018.

Neil: You reopened on May 1st. What was that like?

Andrea: I was surprised at the overwhelming feelings of emotion I had, and still do. Transitioning from home life and taking care of three kids to going back to work isn’t like flipping a light switch. We were told we could reopen on April 28th and it became a mad dash to prepare the salon/spa.... Read More

Salon/Spa Reopening Service Pricing for a New Reality

April 26, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 5 Comments

Life has been anything but boring since COVID-19 turned our world upside down.

Now that a few states are allowing salons/spa to reopen, the next challenge is implementing the sanitizing and social distancing guidelines such as guidelines for:

  • Screening and how to allow clients to enter the salon/spa.
  • Occupancy based on square footage.
  • Clean and sanitized capes and gowns for clients.
  • Face masks and face shields for service providers.
  • Single-use rubber gloves … and lots of them.
  • Face masks for clients … and supplying face masks (free or for a fee) if clients don’t have one.
  • Shampooing and protecting the face.
  • Blow drying restrictions.
  • Sanitized tools, combs, brushes, etc.
  • Sanitizing workspaces before and after each client.
  • And the list goes on, and on, and on.

Next comes operating logistics that include:

  • Station separation.
  • Client appointment scheduling.
  • Scheduling of service providers.
  • Extending service time standards to allow for sanitizing between clients.
  • Preparation of sterilized tools and implements.
  • The cost of a massive increase in laundry.
  • The cost of disposable PPE.

Finally, there is the challenge of generating sufficient revenue to meet increased operating expenses due to COVID-19, fixed costs (rent, utilities, insurance, etc.), and the reality that your salon/spa has fewer service hours to sell because of social distancing guidelines.... Read More

One Month of COVID-19

April 19, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 10 Comments

One month ago now seems like a distant memory.

I was able to go to work in my office at Strategies and be with my team.

At the time, the news was focused on the devastation that COVID-19 was inflicting on Italy. News quickly shifted to the rapidly increasing infections and deaths in Washington state. Then, the virus exploded in New York City, New York state, New Jersey, California, Illinois, and then the entire country.

Little did any of us realize that our lives were about to change in the most radical way imaginable.

All non-essential businesses were ordered to close. Like you, we locked up our corporate offices and headed home.

That first week was surreal. It was as if we entered a time warp filled with nothing but question marks. How bad will this pandemic get? Unemployment? Rent? The list of tough conversations seemed endless.

Next, Congress approves the CARES Act. Almost immediately, SBA.gov gets overwhelmed with applications for disaster loans. The application required a lot of time and supporting documentation. And then the site goes down completely.... Read More

How to Use the Paycheck Protection Program Loan for Your Salon/Spa

April 12, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 20 Comments

EDIT: This blog post was updated with new funds dispersement info from the US Treasury at 11:50am on 4/13/20.

EDIT 2: PPP regulations are consistently being updated, and have changed since this blog post was written. We highly suggest you continually monitor the US Treasury’s PPP FAQs page for updates, and again, consult your accountant to discuss specifics to your situation. (5/7/20)

Since it was announced two weeks ago, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been a hotly debated and confusing topic.

Here are the ultra-condensed PPP details:

  • The intent of the PPP loan is to get employees back on payroll.
  • The loan amount is based on 2.5 x average monthly payroll for 2019.
  • Interest is 1% for two years. No payments for six months. No collateral or personal guarantee required.
  • To be 100% forgiven, at least 75% of the loan must be used for payroll in the eight weeks after funds are received.
  • Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019.
  • Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease your full-time employee headcount.
  • You have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.

The dilemma for salon/spa owners... Read More

The Importance of Resilient Leadership During & After this Crisis

April 5, 2020 | By Bruce Hourigan | No Comments

Making leadership decisions in times like these, is nothing like most of us have ever experienced.

We can’t think back to yesterday to help make the best decisions today.

As leaders, all we can do is our best, and to look forward as we work through this trying time, planning for a better future.

The pandemic is something we can’t change. For now, we have to focus on tomorrow, and a time when we can put this painful experience to rest.

More importantly, we cannot focus on what we may lose or have lost. Instead, we must focus on what there is to gain.

We, as salon/spa leaders, must stay resilient. 

Resilient leaders:

  1. Are able to recover from difficult situations quickly, encourage teams to embrace change in difficult times, and provide the strong leadership required to help their teams through change.
  2. Are able to embrace chaos and continue making decisions while helping to create a sense of calm among your team and clients.
  3. Focus on strong communication to ensure others understand changes, expectations and new directions.

Embracing Change takes Courage and Requires a Positive Vision for the Future... Read More

Why I Have Hope for Salons & Spas

April 5, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

We’re over two weeks into the COVID-19 crisis. Our lives have been turned upside down. We’re all hunkered down at home — and we need to “stay at home.”

For many of you, your salons/spas are closed, and your employees are on unemployment. In fact, 6.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment. The system is overloaded.

Last week, the process of figuring out the CARES Act benefits shifted into full gear.

Small business owners hammered the SBA Disaster Loan site until it crashed. Many lost all the data they entered. The site did reopen with an easier and faster loan application.

  • This loan is to cover payroll, operating costs, rent, loan payments, etc.
  • No payments for 12 months. Up to a 30-year payout at 3.75%.
  • You can not specify a loan amount. SBA decides the loan amount.

Out of nowhere, comes the $10,000 (that was later raised to $25,000) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).... Read More

COVID-19: Keeping Your Leadership Head in the Game

March 29, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 9 Comments

Karie Bennett is the owner of the highly successful Atelier Salons in San Jose, CA.

Like many tens of thousands of salon/spa owners in the USA and Canada, Karie’s salons are closed due to COVID-19. It is heartbreaking and stressful for owners and employees alike that, just weeks ago, were leading thriving active businesses.

Karie went to check on one of her salons and wrote the following post on Facebook that captured the weight that all owners are burdened with during this lockdown.

I went into one of my salons to check on it and make sure that the lights were turned out to conserve on the utilities and that the refrigerator was cleaned out, the alarm was on and everything was OK in there. I wore an N 95 mask that I had left over from the wildfires to walk from my car to the door in case anyone was out and about.

It’s been a week since I closed the business due to this virus. I spent all last week applying for disaster relief loans, asking for rent relief, reducing payments and talking to my banker, accountant, attorney, and almost every salon owner that I know in my network. And we are in a weird kind of a limbo because we want to help our employees with more than just their unemployment, but we’re all in the same boat. ... Read More

COVID-19 Is NOT Going to Take Out Our Industry

March 22, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 6 Comments

Watching all but non-essential businesses shutting down is beyond surreal — like a nightmare you can’t wake up from.

Where we are:

For well over a week, we’ve been bombarded with phone calls, text messages and emails from salon/spa owners seeking guidance on whether they should stay open or close and how to take care of their employees.

Last Tuesday, March 17th, I hosted a live broadcast Town Hall Meeting from our video studio. Over 600 owners registered.

The bulk of the questions were on how to go about closing and how to create a plan to make it through the crisis. Needless to say, there was fear, but also lots of optimism.

Since March 17th, conditions changed damn near by the minute with federal, state and local governments ordering the shutdown of all non-essential businesses. Simply put, any business that touches people must close.

Initially, salons and spas announced closings for at least two weeks. Today, fingers are crossed to open by May 1st.... Read More

Salon/Spa Coronavirus Resource Links

March 21, 2020 | By Eric Ducoff | 5 Comments

Strategies is here to support all salons, spas and medspas through this unprecedented Coronavirus crisis.

Your best course of action right now is to stay proactive and informed. While by no means is it complete, we have compiled the following list of resources to help you gather information and take action.

Be sure to join our Facebook Group, the Strategies Salon/Spa Idea Exchange, as we will posting continued updates. It’s also an invaluable resource to network with other owners who are eager to share and assist others.

We will continue to update this list as new resources become available.

US Business Assistance and Information:

Canada Business Assistance and Information:... Read More

Salon/Spa Checklist for Pausing Operations Due to Coronavirus

March 20, 2020 | By Eric Ducoff | 8 Comments

Okay, the decision has been made to pause operations in your salon, spa or medspa due to the coronavirus.

Deep breaths…you WILL get through this.

The most important thing for you to do now is to be proactive. And that starts right now.

Here is a list of action items for you to start implementing right now in order to ensure your team and clients are informed, your physical location is secured, and your business is set up to operate at its full potential when it’s time to welcome guests back in the door.

  • Communicate your intentions with your team: Be as transparent as possible, and let them know how frequently they should expect communication from you throughout the pause in business. Plan out daily/weekly updates to keep them informed, engaged and educated. Give them reassurance that you are there for them if they need a person to talk to
  • Create scripts for clients: They need to know when the pause will begin, when it will end (if known) and how where they can find updates (Instagram, Website, Email, etc.).
  • Change voicemail to reflect the verbiage developed in your scripts.
  • Create an email auto-responder to reflect the verbiage developed in your scripts.
  • Post an update on your website to reflect the verbiage developed in your scripts.
  • Call all guests to inform them of the pause. If you have a targeted opening date, be proactive and reschedule all appointments so that you can start generating revenue right away. Just be sure to remind clients the situation remains fluid, and you will notify them if further rescheduling will be required.
  • Put a sign on the front door outlining all details of the pause, as well as how clients can contact you if needed.
  • Post pause details on all social media outlets, giving specific details/instructions for clients that currently have appointments booked.
  • Email guests with pause details on all social media outlets, giving specific details/instructions for clients that currently have appointments booked.
  • Turn off your automated email and text confirmations.
  • Unplug all non-essential electronics.
  • Check the fridge for anything that may go rotten.
  • Lower heat (or raise AC).
  • Finish and fold all laundry.
  • Remove valuables, set alarm, and alert police department of closing date. (Note: Do NOT cancel your alarm service).
  • Supply your team with information on how they can fill for unemployment (if applicable). Check with your state labor department for details and possible economic assistance.
  • Guide your team on personal budgeting
  • Contact your landlord to request a rent reduction. Be sure to outline a fair reimburse plan.
  • Ask vendors for delay in payment on anything you owe on, including leases, loans, credit cards, utilities, software companies, banks/lenders, etc.
  • Cancel any subscriptions that you will not need while closed.
  • Contact your bank for a line of credit.
  • Visit the SBA Disaster Relief site and determine if you qualify for a low interest disaster loan. If you do, apply immediately!
  • Contact your business insurance agent to determine if you are covered for any losses. Business interruption insurance does not cover a pandemic, but put a claim in anyway, as there is legislation in place to potentially change that.
  • Contact your health insurance for your employees to understand their options if premiums are no longer being paid.
  • Start diving deep into your cash-flow plan and adjust accordingly. It is IMPERATIVE that you keep your cash-flow plan updated and accurate during these next few months.
  • Have a mindset that you WILL be re-opening, but start game-planning NOW. Your opening strategy needs to be at front-of-mind.
  • Use this downtime to get ahead by accomplishing all those projects and tasks that you haven’t had the time to complete. Work on your internal training program. Paint the walls. Map out your social media content for your re-opening. Don’t squander this opportunity to get ahead and come back out swinging!
  • Create a plan for the next year, being realistic with productivity. It may need some ramping up when you re-open.
  • Keep a journal notebook (or doc on your computer) and notate EVERYTHING. Also, add your daily thoughts in your notebook, including your gratitudes. Let’s stay positive!
  • Practice self care – You can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself
  • Be creative with ways to generate revenue while the business is closed. Some examples include curbside retail pickup, deliveries, online consultations, etc.
  • Game plan with your team on how to keep them engaged…whether it’s helping creating social content, virtual staff technical training, taking an online course, etc.

Remember, being proactive is the best thing you can do for you, your team and your business. Yes this is a big list, but you don’t have to do it alone. Get your team involved. The more they are involved in the planning now, the more engaged and “ready to roll” they will be when your doors open again.... Read More

19 Points to Keep Your Salon/Spa Moving Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

March 19, 2020 | By Eric Ducoff | 7 Comments

This post was originally posted to our Facebook group, the Strategies Business Idea Exchange, by former Certified Strategies Coach, Lisa Cochran, who owns The Studio – Aveda Hair Salon & Spa in Hattiesburg, MS.

I am reaching out to encourage you as we all navigate through a new business landscape.

In 2005, our area was devastated by hurricane Katrina. The devastation was horrendous, and we knew we were looking at years of recovery. We lost the roof to our new salon, our cars were crushed by trees, our home had trees on it and the list went on and on.

But we survived, and our business did too.

We are stronger for it.

I understand comparing a hurricane and a public health emergency are two very different things. But the response can be similar.

Right now, you might be experiencing a lot of fear, and rightly so. But now it is time to act.

In response to COVID 19, here are nineteen random thoughts, questions and tips to keep my fellow salon/spa owners moving:... Read More

Lead to the Level of the Challenge

March 14, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Scenario 1: An owner is concerned that her team just doesn’t care about, or appreciate, the salon/spa and all it does and offers. Some talented employees left to rent suites. Service providers want more money. They want more of everything. The owner is frustrated.

Scenario 2: The salon/spa has been operating at a loss for too long. One partner runs the business and the other just wants to do hair. Both have taken pay cuts. The business side partner knows what needs to be done but is stuck without the support and cooperation of the creative partner. The creative partner just wants the business partner to make things better. Both partners are frustrated.

Scenario 3: Everyone is confronted with COVID-19 and how to respond to it. Personal lives and business operations are being disrupted. The stock market has no tolerance for uncertainty. Leaders need to make the tough decisions to lock down the spread, even if it requires extreme measures.... Read More

Coronavirus: Salon/Spa Preparedness & Reassurance

March 7, 2020 | By Neil Ducoff | 10 Comments

This a blog post I didn’t want to write.

In this digital age, we’re being bombarded with up-to-the-second bulletins of new confirmed cases and mores deaths from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

It’s only natural that people are concerned enough to begin altering plans and events are being delayed or cancelled. Tokyo has yet to decide on delaying the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

The airline and cruise ship industry are experiencing empty seats and staterooms. Face masks are hard to find. Supply chains for manufacturing are strained. The stock market has become a roller coaster.

Fear has a domino effect and can spread faster than the coronavirus itself. The last thing I want to do is write a blog post that raises the already mounting level of concern.

I feel it is only prudent that I offer you a short list of things you should be doing to prepare your salon/spa business to weather any adverse effects coronavirus fears can bring.... Read More


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