How to Create a Socially Distanced Front-Desk Spa or Salon Experience

A salon owner using the Square Register to accept a contactless payment from their client

Your front desk sets the stage for your client’s experience with you. It’s the first physical contact they have with your salon or spa, and it’s usually the first moment they can connect with you and start to unwind.

While businesses have opened up again, social distancing is still in full effect across Australia, and set to stay that way into the future. This changes the landscape of the “reception desk” with clients and staff still needing to adhere to the 1.5 metre rule as much as possible.

So, how can you and your staff continue to create that friendly experience while following COVID-19 pandemic guidelines? Use these front-desk best practices to maintain the relaxing and thoughtful atmosphere your clients are used to.

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Connect before the appointment

Your reception area is a space where your clients can say hello and prepare to be immersed in the service they’re about to experience. Your regular clients likely feel close to you, so this moment can be hard to give up. To prevent lingering and extended chit chat while still keeping that personal connection, message your clients before their visit.

If your appointment scheduling software offers the ability to customise the automated email reminder, consider using it to share details about what customers should expect during the appointment. For massage therapists, that might include information on how to prep in the room before the massage starts, and what to expect when the massage is over. This not only helps clients feel more prepared before the appointment, but it can also help you and your team cut down on the appointment time.

If you’re asking clients to sign waivers, make sure this is done digitally before the appointment, to help you streamline the process and minimise your client’s time in your salon or spa.

Staff appropriately

Before your client arrives at the reception desk or check-in area, you want to be sure someone will be there to help them kick off their appointment. This will also prevent lines from forming as customer demand increases, and if your staff happen to have multiple bookings at the same time.

Match your bookings with your employee schedule so you can ensure the right number of staff will be there to assist your clients. To make staff scheduling easier, look into appointment booking software that has employee scheduling features.

Personalise the visit, right when they enter

Your clients come to you for the incredible pedicure, deep tissue massage, or balayage treatment you offer. But they also visit you because of that personal connection. If you know your client likes a certain artist, play that music when they enter. If you know they prefer a certain nail colour, have those bottles displayed before they arrive.

Even if you have to limit the time you spend with your clients, you can still show your appreciation for those relationships by starting their experience the moment they step through the door.

Speed up the check-in process

Checking in should be the first interaction your customers have with your business. To decrease the amount of time it takes, share check-in instructions in your clients’ reminder or confirmation emails, instead of talking about it at the front desk.

Speeding up the check-in process helps things run smoothly on the operations front, allowing you to keep appointments on time and enabling you to see more clients, which is especially important with reduced capacity. It can also help both you and your client stick to health and safety guidelines, since they won’t have to wait. Most of Australia now has their own Check In App designed by the State Government, such as the Check In Qld App for Queensland and the COVID Safe Check-In in South Australia. As a business, you’re able to use these apps to keep track of your visitors. It also provides the government with an easy method of contact tracing if there is a local community transmission case confirmed.

Make your reception area feel clean yet inviting

Whether your front desk is actually a front desk, or you’re meeting customers with your phone or mobile POS system, it’s important to declutter the initial space clients enter. Since the front desk represents your business, you want it to match your brand’s look and feel, while also showing that you’re adhering to health and safety protocols.

Part of that means you and your team need to stick to the COVID-19 safety guidelines and sanitation requirements for your local area and industry. Depending on the restrictions in place at the time, it could include masks, or if there are local community transmission cases, you may also be required to have plexiglass barriers, gowns, and other protective equipment. Even if it feels sterile and strange at first, it shows your clients that you care about their well-being.

You also want to create a relaxing space for your clients, which is even more important these days. Depending on the type of service you offer, that may mean bringing in fresh flowers, lighting candles, running essential oil diffusers, or playing soft music.

Select the right hardware setup

Another crucial aspect of your front-desk experience is your hardware setup. You want to make the right impression, and don’t want to have too many items crowding your spa or salon reception desk.

Invest in modern hardware that allows you to do everything you need from one place. With tools like Square Appointments on Square Register, you can create a more unified experience when clients check in and out.

Rethink the waiting area

If customers have to wait before their appointment, make that area feel private and safe.

That may mean temporarily moving furniture that encourages close seating, like a loveseat, and replacing it with spaced-out chairs. You might consider removing any smaller shared items, like magazines, and if you offer any refreshments, try to do so in a way that is not shared. For example, provide individual cups of tea and coffee made fresh, rather than having a pot brewing for all customers to pour their own. If you offer biscuits or other treats, make sure they are individually wrapped.

You may also want to set up an outside area that allows for social distancing and fresh air. Or, if you know your clients have a compromised immune system or other concerns, you can encourage them to stay in their cars until you notify them that you’re ready to start the appointment.

Speed up the checkout process

You want your clients to feel pampered throughout their visit, not stressed while fishing out their credit card or seeing another customer enter. That’s why it’s crucial to make the checkout experience as quick as possible.

Look into POS hardware that offers touch-free payments and can store clients’ credit cards on file for automatic billing.

Remote payments can also help your clients leave your space fast, so they can spend time paying and adding a tip without having to stay inside your business.

Your front-desk experience isn’t the same. Your business likely isn’t either. But there are ways to make your salon or spa experience feel special while still protecting your staff and clients.