Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
Over the past year, the hair and beauty industry has been through a rollercoaster of uncertainty with turnover falling by 45% in 2020 due to closures during the pandemic.
When the UK first went into lockdown back in March 2020, salons and barbers were forced to close their doors until their reopening was allowed in July. This reopening saw the industry adapt to new ways of working that complied with social distancing measures and track-and-trace.
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However, as COVID-19 cases began to soar in October, a four-week lockdown was introduced, causing businesses to close for a second time. Businesses had to react quickly to the subsequent tier system and wave of local lockdowns, with salons only remaining open in tiers 1, 2 and 3. This continued into the new year, until a third nationwide lockdown was ultimately announced on 4 January 2021.
After a challenging few months, salons and barbers are now reopening, and it’s clear that customers are eager to reunite with their hair and beauty specialists. Booking sites have seen a huge surge in appointments, with Treatwell recording a 432% spike since the reopening announcement.
In this article, we’ll get you ready to reopen your business with an overview of the new guidelines, plus salon safety tips and ways to create a positive customer experience.
Guidelines for salons reopening.
In the latest announcement, the government outlined a new set of guidelines for hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons to reopen. Here, we’ll talk you through the different requirements and how they can help keep your clients and colleagues safer.
Keeping your clients and customers safer
Before you reopen your salon, you’ll need to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. This will help you plan the layout of the front desk, waiting room and workstations, as well as how many clients you can have in the salon to ensure social distancing. A sign-posted, one-way system may also be handy, so that customers can feel confident and safer moving about the salon.
Every customer that enters the salon should also wear a face covering throughout their appointment, to protect themselves and your staff. A simple sign at the entrance is a good way to remind people before they enter, but bear in mind that some people may be exempt.
Another legal requirement for salons reopening is that they take part in the NHS Test and Trace. To do this, you’ll need to print off and display an official NHS QR code poster. Any customer, visitor or colleague that enters the salon must then check in using the NHS app or provide you with their contact details. You should then keep these records for a minimum of 21 days.
The salon must be kept well-ventilated via the doors, windows, or vents and you’ll need to do a thorough clean in-between appointments. Make sure you target surfaces that customers might come into contact with – such as chairs, counter tops and mirrors. You should also keep hand sanitiser readily available throughout the salon and encourage customers and staff to wash their hands frequently.
Keeping your colleagues safer
Along with keeping your customers safer, it’s also important that you have regulations in place to protect your staff. Dividers between workstations, back-to-back working and team allocations are a great way to minimise potential transmission and ensure staff socially distance.
While full PPE is not required, each member of staff should wear a Type II face mask and clear visor or goggles, especially as they will be working in close proximity of customers. Make sure they are fitted properly and that the face mask is replaced after each use.
Whether your colleagues have received a recent negative test or had the vaccine, it’s still vital that your salon has the required measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission. If you plan on providing regular testing for your staff, you should do this in a safe space, maintaining social distancing where possible.
Finally, it’s recommended that you provide up-to-date health and safety training before the salon reopens, so each member of staff understands the guidelines and feels confident following them.
Managing the customer experience
More than 50% of Brits say they’re most loyal to their favourite hairdressers over any other business. And now more than ever, customers are looking to their hair, beauty or nail appointments as a safe space to relax and de-stress.
Of course, the new guidelines can feel like an obstacle for an enjoyable customer experience. But, as award-winning salon owner Melissa Timperley puts it: “A salon client journey that involves no waiting and no touch DOESN’T mean giving up on having fun, sharing love and stories, laughing and empathy - and creating a human-to-human experience in a super-safe and hygienic place.”
Here are some of the ways you can manage your customer’s experience:
Communicate: Get in touch with your customers ahead of time to make them feel comfortable about coming to the salon and talk through any concerns they may have. Once they’re sitting in the chair, make good eye contact so they know you are listening and engaging with their thoughts and opinions.
Set expectations: Let your customer know what is expected of them when they arrive at the salon, whether that’s following a one-way system, wearing a face covering or frequently washing their hands. This way you’ll avoid any confusion during the visit.
Encourage bookings: If a customer books an appointment, they don’t have to worry about long queues or disappointment when there is no space in the salon. It’s an easy way to keep your clients happy.
From the 17 May, you can also provide refreshments during appointments, plus newspapers and magazines in the waiting areas. Just make sure you replace them frequently and ask your customers to sanitise their hands before and after use.
Square: Helping salons reopen more safely
To create a safer environment for your customers and colleagues, you might also need to consider the type of hardware and software you are going to use on a daily basis. The pandemic has caused a great shift in how people go about their lives, so it’s important to adapt to these changes. This could include:
Using bookings: Set up an online booking service with Square Appointments to control the number of people in your salon at one time. The scheduling software allows you to add specific details to each booking, send reminders and even set up cancellation fees.
Taking online payments: You can also create an online store which takes digital payments ahead of time. This way, your customers can easily book and pay in advance, to make their salon experience smooth and stress-free.
Creating safer in-person payments: When it comes to paying in-store, a contactless reader or card terminal is a safer option. You could even purchase a fully integrated touch-screen till that lets you manage payments, appointments, online sales, and more in one place.
Now you’re up to date on the current government guidelines, it’s time to reopen your salon more safely with the support of Square. Don your face masks and visors, set up the sanitiser stations and get ready to welcome back your lovely customers.