The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting mandated shutdown has had an impact on the professional beauty industry like no other event in history. To spotlight the resilience and determination of owners and their teams as they rebuild their businesses, SALON TODAY launches the Profiles in Courage series in partnership with Intercoiffure Canada-America. In this first one, we catch up with Bruce and Teresa McGaha, owners of Mouton’s Salon in Grapevine, Texas.
SALON TODAY: How long were you closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Bruce and Teresa: 7 weeks
ST: During closure, how did you engage and educate team members?
Bruce and Teresa: The lock-down was very interesting for us, with several occasions that allowed us to get together while safely distancing. We had a drive-by baby shower for an expectant mother of our staff. We also did a few “block parties” in the back yard of the salon, again, safely distanced. This allowed us to see each other in person. Truthfully, we only had one Zoom meeting, but at least once each week, a group text and/or email went to all the team, letting them know the latest news regarding opening while checking in on them. The only education event occurred 2 days before re-opening. Everyone came to the salon for a catered breakfast and we went through the protocols that were going to be in place. We role-played, we asked questions and we made sure that we ALL understood what was going to be done before we opened the doors.
ST: During closure, how did you engage and educate clients?
Bruce and Teresa: Bruce did an e-mail once a week to all the clients with a dual purpose—to keep them informed as to where we were in the closure process and to encourage as well. Bruce also did weekly videos that were posted on our social media pages, encouraging and informing our followers. We felt strongly that our role in our community was to be a source of reality and encouragement. The response to these moments of communication has been very positive. People who aren't even our clients reached out to thank us for our candidness and encouragement.
ST: Did you have any team members who didn’t return after the closure?
Bruce and Teresa: No
ST: Because of social distancing guidelines, at what percentage of capacity can you operate now?
Bruce and Teresa: We are at 100% capacity because of the size of our business.
ST: For you and your business, what has been the most challenging part of 2020?
Bruce and Teresa: One of the things has been the lost opportunity to reach new customers during that seven-week shutdown. Long term, based upon our new client retention and the lifetime value of a new customer, this lost chance has the potential to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next several years. Another difficult thing has been the uncertainty of making plans based upon whatever the governor decides for us, now and in the future. Since re-opening, the most difficult thing has been trying to accommodate and monitor everyone's political mask preferences while trying to maintain some sense of normalcy.
ST: What specific strategies have you developed to grow service and retail sales during this time?
Bruce and Teresa: We are offering everyone who books all of their 2021 appointments in advance the opportunity to be in drawing worth $500 of services. We are running this promotion from October 1 until Dec 31, giving everyone time to make this decision. We also pumped up our referral program to our existing client base. With every referral, a client earns a half-price haircut on the next visit and the person referred is offered a half-price cut as well.
During our upcoming six-week bi-annual gift card sale, we will be offering a tiered pricing scheme. Dependent upon the amount of the gift card purchased, a client has an opportunity to save 10, 15 or 20% on future services and the opportunity to save an additional 10, 15 or 20% on home care. If you buy a 20% gift card, as long as you have the amount on your card, your home care purchases are effectively 40% off. We realize that we are not making a margin on this deal, but it ties our customers back to us and weans them away from the habit we all developed while closed - online hair care shopping.
ST: How does 2020 sales compare to 2019 sales?
Bruce and Teresa: As of 9/26/20, we are down by 12.8% over last year's total revenue. If we remove the 7 weeks that we were closed, our revenue is up 5.5% over 2019.
ST: What are you doing to keep team morale high?
Bruce and Teresa: We are having Saturday afternoon cocktails at the salon, after work. This allows us all to vent, ask questions and provide each other with ideas and solutions to particular issues. We also have had a Saturday morning garden party, outside for our clients. This allowed us to mingle outside with our clients and return to a sense of normalcy. We had a popsicle Saturday for us and our clients a couple weeks ago. Bruce passed out popsicles outside and again, we were able to get together as a team and with our clients. And, we brought in a local wine merchant to do a champagne tasting and lunch, just for us, on a day we are normally closed.
As you can read, this is FUN stuff. We had 7 weeks of unFUN stuff!
ST: What are your marketing plans for the holiday season?
Bruce and Teresa: To be honest, we are still not sure what that looks like. We are not sure that the offerings of years past—gift sets, gift with purchase, etc.—are what customers are wanting this year.
ST: How has being a member of Intercoiffure helped you through this tough year?
Bruce and Teresa: Having the ability and opportunity to reach out to other members during this time, to get feedback, ideas and support has been invaluable.
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