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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.
Specifically, I’m referring to consumers delaying their salon/spa services to avoid close contact with service providers. This also includes employees that may be reluctant to deliver services to avoid physical contact with clients.
Here are my five No-Compromise Leadership gotta-do’s to avoid or minimize the economic impact the coronavirus may bring:
- Gotta get your coronavirus facts from gov: The news media is treating coronavirus the same way it treats any major storm. Storms are big news. Yes, it is important to warn people of possible dangers and provide preparation and safety advice. But coronavirus has become a major news story. Like a major storm, coronavirus updates already have a font and an ominous soundtrack. And just like bottled water, milk and snow shovels fly off the shelves when there is a storm, there’s a run on face masks and Purell. The non-stop coverage feeds fear. The best information on coronavirus risk levels and prevention is at cdc.gov. Pay attention to the facts. Don’t overdose on hype.
- Gotta do your Cash-Flow Plan: The ability of your salon/spa to generate consistent cash flow is essential. In good times and bad, the absolute single best tool EVERY business owner, large or small, needs is a 12-month plan that details projected service and retail revenues, expenses and net cash. As many entrepreneurial businesses learned in the 2008 recession, it can get pretty ugly when clients spread out or forego salon/spa services. A cash-flow plan is a “best guess” on monthly revenues. Expenses, including payroll and products, is pretty easy. The key is to live your cash-flow plan and adjust revenue and expenses as situations dictate. The big key is building a cash reserve to weather a storm.
- Gotta prepare your employees: Clarity eliminates uncertainty. Use the information at gov to inform your employees on coronavirus facts and risk levels. Immediately implement sanitation procedures that include thorough hand sanitizing before and after every client service. Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Cover coughing and sneezing with a tissue and discard it in the trash and wash your hands immediately after. Employees should stay home if sick and you should have contingency plans if short staffed. No hand shaking until the coronavirus threat is over.
- Gotta have talking points to reassure clients: This is a time to be proactive to reassure clients that your salon/spa is taking extra precautions to keep them and your employees safe. If you offer online booking, include a brief message on the sanitizing precautions that are in place. All phone appointments should be briefly informed of your precautions. The same briefing should be given to all clients entering your business. If a client doesn’t feel well, no matter how important that occasion is, she or he should reschedule for a later date. Explain that, “We’re not shaking hands because we care about your health and our own.” Being proactive and sharing the precautions your salon/spa is taking to ensure everyone’s wellbeing is simply smart business.
- Gotta be prepared to make tough decisions: Making tough business decisions sucks, especially when it means cutting expenses. This is exactly why the preventive measures in the first four gotta-do’s are so essential. But preventive measures can only do so much. Just like empty seats on planes, the worst fear for salons and spas is that widespread panic turns into white space on your appointment book. This is when your cash-flow plan tells you what to do. You may need to cut all non-essential expenses. You may need to cut hours. You may have to go extra lean on supplies. And you may need to temporarily downsize staff. Such decisions definitely suck big time. But, better to make tough decisions quickly than borrowing money and creating debt.
Here’s my challenge to you: The coronavirus threat is real. But all threats have levels from unlikely to serious. It’s important not to overreact to all the coronavirus hype. The more facts you understand, the less stressed you, your employees and your clients will be.
This storm will pass.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild. Reports out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people with certain underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example, seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.”
Current risk assessment from the CDC:
- For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
- People in communities where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 are at elevated, though still relatively low risk of exposure.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.