Salons, spas, and businesses all across the world have faced uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many needing to adapt their processes and strategies as they prepare to reopen.
Getting ideas and insights from peers is an extremely helpful resource in your own planning efforts. That’s why we asked Bob Maconi, VP of Enterprise Sales at MSI and Owner of One 83 Mane Studio, how his salon is getting ready for the future.
See what Bob has to say about client and employee communication, company culture, and more in part one of this two part series.
Q: How has COVID-19 affected your salon so far?
A: Obviously, the main thing is we are closed and have been since March 19th. Having weekly bills coming in to pay while having the unexpected loss of service and retail revenue, what do you do? Many people went into a panic mode, so the first thing we did was start to plan. We started to negotiate the rent down, assessing what was crucial and which expenses we could trim such as garbage collection services, window cleaning, and water delivery. We also suspended all external paid marketing and advertising campaigns to reduce costs.
One area that hasn’t been impacted is our ability to manage our salon through Meevo 2. I can access my business from my home office and since it runs on Amazon Web Services, I don’t have to worry about potential downtime or security issues that could affect my ability to run my business. This has been a huge help as we’ve navigated these last several weeks.
Q: How are you staying in contact with your clients at this time?
A: Being that we are automated, we are practicing what we preach and taking advantage of Meevo 2’s tools with Emma Marketing. Prior to closing down, we initiated marketing campaigns letting clients know this is what is coming so they can give us a call to reschedule. We had a lot of success in this with many clients calling in asking to reschedule for later dates.
We also used one of Meevo 2’s integrations, Textel, in which we communicated through our landline contacting clients right from the front desk. We were able to have text conversations back and forth while moving appointments for anyone who needed it. Although we are closed, this is one of the critical services we didn’t shut down and are still using today. We knew it was beneficial to keep our clients up to date on what we were doing. With the new Textel Blast feature, we can send mass messages to clients anytime we need to with updates. We have found that when someone receives a text, they are more likely to answer or review it right away over an email communication.
To any of the clients we found didn’t respond to our emails, we made a lot of phone calls. Many that answered felt scared and wanted an update, so the phone interactions made them feel at ease and comfortable that we are going to get them in as soon as we can. We are coming up with a process to keep them informed through our marketing.
My manager, our social media queen, right away got on Instagram and Facebook to let clients know any updates we had. Social media reaches so many people in such an easy way, that we found this so beneficial. I also contacted my website provider to put up a banner telling clients that as of this date we are closed, but we will inform you when we are open so please keep checking back.
Lastly, we wanted to communicate across all of those channels that during this period we are going to be selling gift certificates. We are offering Gift Certificate promotions where if you purchased a $100 gift card, you would get a $25 gift card for free. That INSTANTLY started working. We were getting hundreds of dollars overnight if not thousands in a couple of days of clients just buying gift certificates. What really hit home with my wife Kathie and I, we saw a lot of clients didn’t take advantage of the promo code for the free gift card. I personally called those clients and told them we would honor it if they missed it. Multiple clients told me they didn’t want the free gift certificate and just wanted to help our salon and the community out in the long run. As we called, we got the same response from many other clients not using the promo. It really hit home that we are a part of such an amazing community that wants to see everyone come out from under this.
Q: How are you communicating and taking care of your employees?
A: At first, we were keeping in contact by texting them letting them know any updates we had.
But then we decided to look into Zoom, which everyone seems to be using right now, to further improve our employee communication through video meetings. We try to have them weekly with our team to just stay up to date. Last weekend we had one with all employees to tell them what we are doing to prepare for reopening and get their feedback and input into what we can all do. We also want to make sure the employees are comfortable with the idea of coming back to work. We as owners need to listen to their concerns and plan for that now. Whether it’s two weeks or four weeks until we reopen, we need to start preparing TODAY.
We are also trying to stay engaged as much as we can with our employees. One fun thing we did was create a challenge. My wife Kathie dropped mannequin heads at employees houses and we all did an up-do challenge where everyone posted their final look on social media. It was easy and fun, yet it was engaging and brought everyone together.
Q: How has your company culture been affected because of COVID? If it was negatively impacted, what steps have you or anyone taken to get back on track?
A: We reinvented our culture back in July 2019. We scrapped our business that we had for 35 years and reopened under a new brand. We had retooled our services, our product lines, and even added new employees. This caused us to be up 25% from where we were within only a few months of change. Being that we changed it prior to COVID-19, we just kept it going and our culture has not skipped a beat. We have some really positive employees that are strong, and they know we are going to get by this together. If anything, COVID has opened up opportunities to be better.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Bob coming next week.