The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the basic foundations of the balance of power and the existing world order. To bring that statement more to home, it has impacted the beauty industry to its core and will continue to have an effect as we return to opening salons.
The world will be different post Covid-19 and Americans will be living in a new normal—social distancing, vigilant hygiene, and government and state restrictions placed on businesses will be part of our lives for a while. The fabric of our society will forever be changed as we are already starting to see some of those changes play out.
It has only been a few weeks since the order to shelter in place has taken effect but already it’s clear that life will not return to normal as we know it. In fact, there has already been some significant and fundamental changes in the world and many of these will become permanent. When this health crisis abates, we will be in a new world. Here are some ways this new world will break from the past:
Loss of trust will take time to recover.
How long will it take before we are comfortable going on a cruise again? Or when will homeowners feel comfortable letting a stranger into their house? How long before countries with high infection rate will be deemed clear so their citizens can come visiting as tourists again? It will take some time.
Shop, work, and play online.
Retailers with physical stores were already struggling to compete with online shopping. The shelter-in-place rules forced everyone to shop, work, or play online. As the last online laggards adjusted to online commerce, some will likely not go back. As a result, in-store shopping and commercial real estate will take a hit.
I am sure you have been receiving numerous emails from banks, airlines and other companies saying we are here for you. All are meaningful and it is a good business practice to keep in touch with their customers.
The beauty industry needs to go beyond keeping in touch. Most salon owners have gone through the stages of shock, from the emotion of closing their business and the financial ramifications it involves and are currently in the acceptance stage. This is the stage to think clearly and not emotionally about creating a strategic blueprint for salons as they gradually exit the hiatus in business and plan to reopen. Strategies should be formulated to look at the salon business from a different perspective - the consumers. The new model will be consumer driven and will have a variety of income opportunities. Salons in the future will not flourish on services alone. Today’s initiatives are tomorrows minimum standards with increasing rapidity.
Future Salon Design:
The challenge for all salon owners is that this is brand new territory. As well as the obvious discussion on post Covid-19 hygiene procedures. The effect that social distancing will have on future salon design will be paramount.
Some States have indicated there should be 8’ distance between styling stations. I believe 6’ will be the normal for most. Shampoo units and styling stations will have to be either spaced out or a partition between each bowl and each station. Salon owners could have greeters taking the customers temperature before entering the main salon as well as their own staff. Bench and sofa seating will be replaced with individual seating to comply with social distancing. Desks will be replaced with podiums or mobile iPads. Some salon staff will work with gloves and masks. Magazines or refreshments in salons will be eliminated for a while.
It goes without saying hygiene and the marketing of your salons hygiene procedures to customers will be as important as the standard of services. The beauty industry will be forever changed. Consumers will need assurances that our businesses are safe before they will be confident in returning. We need to adopt new practices and new communication strategies for these practices so that we can adapt our businesses to a Post Covid-19 world.
This break in normal life has enabled us to reflect on ourselves, our business and society. As all salons are in the same boat, there have been more collaboration between salon owners. I have lost count of the zoom meetings I have conducted or observed.
Together we stand at a precipice in human history. We can either come out on the other side of it a wiser, more caring, knowledgeable species, or we can enter a period of prolonged, indefinite decline into a dark age. We can come out of the pandemic with an industry that is more respected. In order to do that, we must understand that the customer, service provider, salon owner, media and manufacturer are all important cogs in the cycle of our industry. We are all co-dependent on each other for our future success. Salons should continue the collaboration between all sections of our industry so that we don’t revert to a world of rapacious businesses.
The best way to unite, is to find a common enemy. Well, now we have one. If we ever needed to be reminded that we are all created equal, Covid-19 is the reminder. Having a common enemy is an opportunity for businesses to come together and to collaborate. Consider this as "Co-Opetition," with a greater emphasis on how we work together than compete.
A number of salons are not silently watching – they have adapted like chameleons to the situation and will stretch their brand, reorganize their operation, and cater to new needs.
In short, they have listened to the market and will take a risk.
Out of constraints comes creativity, out of chaos comes growth. Out of fear comes love. Every salon will need to adapt to the paradigm-shifting changes that are already unfolding.
We also need to readjust our mindset and focus on the things that do work. As always, in such situations, we have two broad options: fight or flight. Most salon owners will choose to innovate, to identify new opportunities, to define new ways of working. When someone pushes you to the corner, push the corner away. We need to accept that reality is changing.
Positive Mindset Always Wins
Realities can be easy or harsh. The beauty of the human mind is that we can decide what we think of these realities. We can choose to think it's a tragedy or a comedy. We can choose to think the sky is falling down, or that it is an opportunity to redefine how we live, how we conduct our business, how we operate and what products or services we bring to market. The only way forward is for us to identify those bits and pieces of what "works" and to do more of those.
In these challenging times, it helps to look at the words of Winston Churchill, a man who led so many out of difficult times. While his rhetoric has become the stuff of legends, so much of what he said and wrote is still applicable today as we try to find our footing during this pandemic.
“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. Courage is the only thing.”
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