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 feature, SALON TODAY visits with Salvatore Minardi at the Salvatore Minardi Salon in Madison, New Jersey.

SALON TODAY: How long were you closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
 4 months

ST: During closure, how did you engage and educate team members?
 I connected each week with a Salon Zoom Meeting. First checking in on each team member’s health and finances. I sent regular updates about Coronavirus pandemic, and information about how it affects us and our guests. I would send emails that would educate and prepare us (webinars, CDC, State and Local Links) for when we reopened, including what our salon would have to do for everyone's safety and comfort. I called each individual biweekly to hear their voices and invite them to express any thoughts or feelings that they would be uncomfortable sharing in our group.

ST: During closure, how did you engage and educate clients?
Minardi: Our salon software provides the contact information for guests who were scheduled, and I reached out via Constant Contact, Facebook and Twitter to share news about our closure and our reopening. I would tell our guests that we are all taking action and learning what it takes to be called a Safe Salon Establishment, including Barbicide Certification, social distancing, and installing Plexiglass partitions between seats and wash area. They were told that each station and seat were wiped down with Lysol Disinfectant, and  all tools were sanitized and sterilized in our Sterilizer. Each week, I hired a professional cleaning service to thoroughly disinfect all rooms. Daily, we issued masks, gloves and faceguards to our team. Our masks and paper capes are disposable.  

ST: Did you have any team members who didn’t return after the closure?
Minardi: Yes, two.

ST: Because of social distancing guidelines, at what percentage of capacity can you operate now?

ST: For you and your business, what has been the most challenging part of 2020?
 The financial stress of paying rent, payroll, utilities and insurance and for the new PPE, and the impact that had on our P&L statements.

ST: What specific strategies have you developed to grow service and retail sales during this time?
 My key strategy was to listen to what fears and thoughts clients may have about returning to the salon. Then, I was able to offer choices that would encourage them to make an appointment.
Another strategy was keep visits to a minimum appointment. We had no blow drying, so I encouraged styling the hair with products and air drying.

ST: How does 2020 sales compare to 2019 sales?
 They are consistent, since prior to reopening I had been coming to the salon every day to check phone messages and emails. I returned calls and made a list of those clients that wanted to be contacted when we were able to reopen. I found that was going to book us up for the following two months.

ST: What are you doing to keep team morale high?
 Group and individual talks, physical exercises and healthier foods. I reassured my team that we are all in this together and we would get through this difficult time and we would all become better from it. I brought in lunch and beverages. I encouraged them to take frequent breaks and go outside and breath fresh air. I also encouraged exercises to get the body moving.

ST: What are your marketing plans for the holiday season?
 I am planning to bring the spiritual theme for this holiday season. I will be inviting two musicians—a pianist and a harpist—to play uplifting and inspiring tunes.  

ST: How has being a member of Intercoiffure helped you through this tough year?
 The Intercoiffure family of professional salon and spa owners, manufacturers and vendors have all come together and become the light for which I was able to see the path of survival. I was guided how to set up a PPP SBA Loan, how to talk to my landlord for a rent reduction, and discovered which manufactures would provide PPE equipment when preparing and reopening our salon. They took the anxiety out of reopening and inspired confidence.

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