The pandemic is encouraging leaders of businesses big and small to rethink their operations in a number of ways. We recently touched base with Justin DePasquale, co-owner of one of the leading spas in the country—DePasquale The Spa in Morris Plains, New Jersey. In an exclusive Q&A, we asked him how DePasquale has been shifting in recent months.

SALON TODAY: The world has shifted significantly because of COVID-19. Aside from the PPE, how is it shaping the way you do business?

DePasquale: The changes shaping the salon business today have stemmed from the reevaluation of the customer need. Amid the pandemic, we flipped the switch into high gear, changing our software program, revamping our website, adding a new app, and truly making significant pivots that would respond to the clients’ needs. We knew we had to create the “new norm”.

A huge shift in consumer buying habits and expectations has given us pause to evaluate how to create a more seamless and competitive experience before they enter the salon. Mobile is the dominant touchpoint for beauty buyers, so increasing the ease of online shopping, curbside pick-up, booking, add-ons and gift giving are key revenue generators. 

Re-evaluating the profitability of all services was necessary in order to identify how to modify, change and/or eliminate them. The key focus for us was to perform a deep dive into what works and what needs to be modified to meet the needs of today’s salon guest, while always staying true to our philosophy.


ST: What are some ways salons/spas can change up their services to make them more appealing during the pandemic? 

DePasquale: I don’t believe it is as much about changing the services as it is adjusting the way they are performed. Case in point, instead of eliminating a blow dry which is a service in great demand, we came up with a system in which every brush is sanitized, hermetically sealed and put on a highly visible carousel for the guest to see.  We try not to react, but rather to respond in a well thought out manner, taking every piece into consideration not just for the moment, but for the long term.  


ST: What are services clients really need after so many months away from the salon? 

DePasquale: Need is in the eyes of the beholder; however, everyone wants to feel safe and comfortable while enjoying the services they have missed. Because of the limitations that were put on us by the government (25% capacity and limited amenities), I sensed that our industry felt our clients should be happy with whatever we could provide. Contrary, I believe that we are the fortunate ones, and now more than ever we must elevate the experience to a much higher standard.

Based on what we have experienced, hair color (especially our loyal 4-6 week color clients), haircuts and waxing have seen the most bookings. Also, there has been a significant shift in sizing up from a traditional 8 oz. retail size to larger back bar size. One thing is clear, after what people went through during this quarantine, clients do not want to be without their favorite beauty products any longer. 

ST: What are some new services salons/spas can add that would be appealing to clients right now?

DePasquale: Traditional services are still in high demand such as creative color, pedicures and spa. Services that offer our guest an escape from an uncertain time and life’s daily stressors are a welcomed addition. Popular services include CBD Pain Relief add-on’s to pedicures and massages and results-oriented skin treatments such as HydraFacial, PCA peels and micro-needling. 


ST: When salons reopened, many clients quickly booked their cut and color services, but spa services have been slower. How can salons/spas encourage clients to embrace spa services again?

DePasquale: There is no doubt spa business will resume as it was prior to the pandemic and we need to address what is important to today’s client. A results-oriented approach to skin and body care in a safe and clean environment is in high demand. It goes back to the basics; our job is to easily communicate to our clients the benefits of a service. 

We invested a lot of time into creating virtual tours so clients could see the significant changes we made thereby eliminating any fear. Although many of our amenities are on pause for safety, you must be creative to find ways to provide an experience; not just in the salon and spa, but outside of it as well.  We’ve grown e-commerce with take homes such as at-home peels, facial packages and DIY Root Rescue Kits for our guests who may not be ready to visit. 

We are living in an emotionally charged time and everyone’s level of comfort is different. It is our priority to let our clients know we are here for them when they are ready. 


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