In part 1 of our Q&A
with Bob Maconi, VP of Enterprise Sales at MSI and Owner of One 83 Mane Studio, Bob spoke about how he is managing his business and employees during COVID-19 as well as discussing the critical role of client and staff communication.
What steps is Bob taking to prepare his salon for its eventual reopening and how is he planning for long term success? Part 2 of our interview explores these questions and more:
Q: After taking the time to reevaluate your business, are you changing any practices for when you reopen your doors?
A: If COVID-19 did anything, it gave everyone a huge opportunity to reevaluate their business. I speak to dozens of businesses a week working here at Millennium SI, and they tell me they are shutting down their business, and they need help, and I always ask them, “what are you doing to combat that?” Businesses can do so much with the tools you have right now. They can sell online gift certificates, curbside product pickup, and even curbside color pickup. I know this is a controversial topic right now, but formulate color and have clients come safely pick it up. They use their card on file or over the phone for contactless payment for a safe and easy form of revenue. You can create a little video for them on how to apply the color, and it’s as easy as that. Not only is it a revenue generator, but it also keeps your employees engaged. My wife has been a stylist for over 40 years, so she is going crazy at home. This is giving her something to look forward to every week by engaging with clients safely.
Another thing we are doing to reevaluate is crunching numbers. Using Meevo, we are at home running reports to plan for reopening. The increased accessibility has been critical for my business, and with Amazon Web Services powering the software, I know I can always access my data at any time.
With Meevo reports, we are able to see what has been working and what has not. Everyone is usually so busy there may not be time to do this, so take advantage of this slower time to see what we can do as a business for the better. In running reports, we see retail lines that are not moving. Why don’t we take those lines off the shelves and replace them with more of the product lines that are flying off the shelves?
Lastly, goal setting is huge! Many businesses set their 2020 goals in mid/late 2019, and being closed for the past two months, those goals are going to have to change. There’s no way service providers are going to be able to meet those end of year goals so take the time to reassess them now.
Q: What steps are you taking to prepare your salon for life after COVID-19?
A: There is so much that goes into a reopening plan. It could be something smaller like restocking inventory to make sure my shelves are full and employees have the supplies they need. It could also be something more significant, like making sure we are up to the new code of sanitation. When I started that plan, I realized I had no sanitizer, gloves, or masks yet to open my business. We have yet to receive specific guidelines from the state around what needs to be done to eventually reopen our business, or how to handle clients coming back, but we need to start preparing for it anyway. We need to be prepared for the new policy for something as small as shampooing. Every station is going to need to get wiped down after each appointment, so things are going to be slower. A service that may have taken an hour could turn into two or three. Many businesses are concerned with checkout. If their clients don’t have cards on file or are using contactless pay such as the hosted page in Meevo, they need to sanitize their terminals. One idea I was given was to keep toothpicks at the front desk, so clients can use the toothpick to touch the terminal and then immediately throw it away. You could also order branded stylus pens to give each client that they can take home with them and then reuse the next time they come in.
We have yet to receive specific guidelines from the state around what needs to be done to eventually reopen our business or how to
Everyone thinks that clients are going to swarm in when we can open, but I don’t believe that is going to be the case. I think we are going to get the regular die-hard clients coming in right away but for the most part people are afraid. If it is a fast or high volume return, what are we going to do to prepare for that? I’m not going to have a client sitting right next to another client, potentially exposing my staff or other guests, so we are implementing a staggering chair policy. We are also realigning our resources in our software, so if a guest books online it does not overlap or book two resources side by side.
Additionally, through Millennium’s partnership with REACH™ by Octopi
, I’m able to better fill last minute appointment openings and cancellations, which will be critical for driving revenue when we reopen at less than full capacity.
I am also opening more days of the week. We are now going to be open on Monday and Tuesday, whereas before we were closed. With our every other chair rule, we need to meet the demand.
In the beginning when we first reopen, we may not be offering all services we normally do. We may temporarily remove blow drys, wax services, eyelash services, and hydrafacials. They are services where you are in such close contact with your clients that we may need to wait a bit before we provide them.
Q: What are your opinions on clients doing their own box color?
A: My team is not concerned with clients doing their own box color. We have had clients reach out asking if they can do their box color and frankly, we can’t stop them from doing it. My wife is telling clients if you do the box color it’s okay for the time being, but please leave the more extensive services to us. Don’t try to do a highlight or balayage on yourself but rather book an appointment with us and we will do that. The logic behind this is you can gradually talk clients out of using the box color again because our color is a higher quality color and the results are better. You build that relationship with the client who is then going to come back and trust you.
Q: Is there a message you want to send to other salon owners right now?
A: Keep a positive attitude and make sure you convey that down to employees and clients. We are using that mindset here at Millennium SI. Our CEO, John Harms, has amazing webinars set up for all employees with Jason Redman
, pumping them up with optimism and positivity. It’s something everyone needs to invest in. Each week we learn a new skill, which helps ensure we’re not just sitting around in a slump and letting life get to you. You need to do something about it even if it’s hard. This can apply in business to your employees and staff, but also your families. As a leader, you don’t have the option to be doing nothing. Let everyone around you know that we are going to get through this. This is an unprecedented bump in the road, but we have gotten through recessions, natural disasters, and we will get through this. Don’t just sit back and wait for this to end, get a plan in place now. We are going to be stronger now than we ever were.
Lastly, learn from this. What are you going to do if something similar were to happen in the future? Create a disaster plan for your business and your home. Make sure you have an emergency kit ready for your business that includes things like PPE’s, hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays/wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, and bottled water.
Be sure to collect the phone numbers for your landlord and utility provider, and instructions for logging into your salon or spa’s software so you can do so from home. Remember to turn off any automated processes that could confuse clients if you have to close your doors and reach out to marketing partners to suspend or cancel active campaigns.
Also, make sure you have a plan for notifying your clients. Know who will be responsible for contacting customers and updating them on the status of their appointments and your business. This plan will help prevent any confusion among your clients and staff.
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