As the salon and spa industries prepare for the future, how can owners leverage their leadership skills and adaptability to realize business success? To help answer this question and more, we sat down with Matt Scudder, COO of Millennium Systems International, to get his thoughts and advice.
Q: What advice do you have for businesses who are having trouble adapting to change during this time?
A: My advice for anyone struggling to adapt to change would be to stay connected to your community and the industry. Stay up-to-date with businesses of a competitive nature within your industry as well as those of a non-competitive nature outside of your industry for a fresh and unique view. Observe how other businesses are conforming to changes, see what is and isn’t working, gain reassurance your methods are sound, or get ideas based on what others are doing. Be engaged with local and state officials to have a pulse on how mandates are dynamically changing on a daily basis and adapt accordingly.
The beauty industry is beginning to slowly resume operations in some states, so staying engaged and closely connected can greatly assist with devising a strategy that best supports your operating model. This is not going to be one size fits all, so be objective and stay optimistic that things will get better.
Q: When businesses start to open, strong leadership is going to be critical. What leadership tips do you have for when that time comes?
A: Owners are going to need to put themselves into the shoes of their staff and customers. Your employees will be looking to you for strength, understanding, and guidance during this time. They’ll also expect you to take all necessary precautions to provide a safe and sanitary work environment for everyone who enters your salon or spa upon reopening.
Creating safety and procedural guidelines for staff and clients to follow will help ensure the safest conditions possible for all who visit. But perhaps even more importantly, communicate these guidelines to staff and customers, and ensure they meet all recommendations set by the CDC as well as local and state officials.
It’s going to be a gradual thing to reopen businesses, so you need to be fair and take into consideration the needs of employees when coming back to work. Employees will have different sentiments about returning to your salon or spa, so you must be ready to answer all their questions, address concerns, and then adapt your business as necessary to reopen safely.
You as management need to be understanding and take the needed steps to answer client and staff questions so they know they are heard, and that you are providing the safest conditions possible.
Q: How can businesses preserve and leverage their brand equity during this unknown time?
A: There are many ways businesses can preserve their brand equity and potentially bring in revenue, and it all starts with communication and engagement. There are many ways you can communicate with your clients and staff such as emails, texts, direct calls, as well as giving new methods like social media a try. All these resources can help reach and engage your customers.
Utilize these communication tools to send status updates with what has changed at your business and when you are looking to reopen. Let your community know your new practices such as staggering chairs, no magazines, and contactless checkout to alleviate some of their concerns about coming in.
Also, communicate with your community about how they can help. Although they are not coming into the business, let them know how they can assist. Purchase eGifts, book their appointments online after your reopening date, leave a positive review. These are all simple and safe ways in which clients can show support and potentially increase revenue.
Another possible idea is to give clients tips and ideas about how they can take care of themselves while at home. This can be done through email and social media, where you provide videos and photos clients can follow along with so they can color or style their hair, for example.
Q: How can owners pinpoint business processes that are lacking and what actions can they take to fix those problems before reopening?
A: The best way to identify business processes that are not working is directly through client feedback. If you put yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to really understand what it’s like to be a customer, you can start to identify processes that may no longer work in these current times.
I would focus less on what wasn’t working before and more on what needs to be done to conform to the new normal. Whatever was working prior to COVID-19 may have been a great process, but you are going to need to adapt these strategies to make them work in the future. You can get this information directly through the field through client feedback, but only if you are keeping engagement up. It’s an opportunity to take that feedback and adjust your processes accordingly, even if it’s temporary.
Owners now have the opportunity to reevaluate their business strategy and customer experience. This is the time to communicate with clients, let them know what is happening at your salon or spa, and ask for their feedback on what can be done to maximize the value your business provides.
With the feedback you receive from clients and staff, you’ll be able to more easily identify the areas of your business that can be improved.
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