COVID-19 pandemic caused tons of changes in one, single shift. Everything is different now, from customer behavior, marketing trends, operational strategies, to business profitability. One of the industries that continue to be strongly impacted by the ongoing wave of change is the salon and spa industry. Beauty and wellness expectations have changed significantly, the need for social distancing has necessitated changes in appointment scheduling, and we now are forced to clean thoroughly between appointments. These changes are straight-up scary.
Although there is no silver bullet for salon business’ survival and success in the “new normal”, your salon will be in a much better position if you reinvent your brand. Reinvention happens in three main ways. First, you could be in a very good place (business-wise) right now owing to the fact that some of your competitors couldn’t survive the COVID-19 economic turbulence. Your work is most likely intensified, so you need to reinvent your salon in order to seize these new opportunities. Secondly, your business could be doing fairly fine, but you need to create parallel income streams in order to meet your financial obligations. For instance, you may need to start teaching beauty and wellness classes online for an extra income stream. Thirdly, your salon might need a total re-invention in order to improve its relevance in the “new normal”.
Whichever your reasons for wanting to reinvent your brand are, this article will help you achieve your objective in 5 simple steps:
Step 1: Reimagine your “why”
At the heart of your business reinvention is your “why”- your vision. Forget about what you want to change. That will come later. First understand why you need to reinvent; get a cause for the change. That way, you won’t be carried away by everything that’s changing around you.
For instance, some salon and spa business owners are redesigning their scheduling processes to accommodate the WHO social distancing guidelines. Others are adopting remote and flexible working in order to minimize crowding at their salons without hurting their teams’ productivity. These are some of the changes that you could implement in the process of reinventing your business. But are such changes applicable to your specific case? Are they really necessary or helpful? Don’t follow the crowd. Know why you need to web design your schedule management (or whatever it is you need to change) before you start trashing your existing systems.
Reimagining your “why” also means assessing your salon or spa from the outside. From a customer’s or competitor’s perspective, what is working for you right now? What are your weaknesses? What could you be doing better? What could go wrong if you reinvent now and what can you do about it? What if you decide to maintain the status quo- what could happen? Which opportunities are you missing due to your current model? These questions will tell you exactly why you need to reinvent your salon business, after which you will figure out the areas that you need to reinvent.
Step 2: Strategize
Now that you know the “why” and the “what” behind your reinvention plans, now define your “how”. The “how” is your strategy. Among other things:
- Assess what your competitors are up to. As much as you should avoid being carried away by the raging wave of change, it is important to keep tabs on the actions of your competitors and industry leaders. That will give you a reliable sense of where the industry is headed. Follow the changes they have been making to their websites, social media messaging, and their scheduling.
- From what the competitors and industry leaders are doing, cherry-pick the changes that you feel could help your business going forward. Remember that some changes that worked for a competitor might fall flat when you try to implement them during your reinvention process.
- Call your brightest and most imaginative employees for a no-holds-barred brainstorming session. During the session, discuss the challenges your salon is facing in the present day, how the pandemic has exacerbated some of your pre-existing challenges, and the lessons learned during the crisis. That done, try to predict the challenges that are yet to come and brainstorm their possible solutions.
- Now that you understand the challenges and how different competitors are coping with those challenges, with the help of your trusted staff, come up with unique strategies for successful reinvention.
- Emphasize more on differentiation. Redefine your unique selling proposition to ensure that you stand out from the competition in the “new normal”. While at it, ensure quicker and more efficient customer service, a much-improved customer buying experience, and a revamped retail section.
Step 3: Adapt to existing trends
The pandemic has been disruptive in so many ways. Your future success depends on how well you adapt to the changing trends. Listen more to customer needs and repackage your services accordingly. Here are some of the prevailing trends that you need to include in your reinvention plans:
- Go digital if you haven’t already. For starters, change how you interact with social media users. Improve the quality of the visual content you share online by hiring a professional photographer. You can even hire a professional social media manager to help you attract more followers, engage them better, and convince them to book appointments with you.
- Start hosting live events on Twitter, Facebook, Zoom, and other social platforms. Virtual “live” events grew tremendously in popularity during the lockdowns. They provide limitless opportunities for connecting and communicating with online users.
- Leverage video conferencing to start online hair, beauty, or wellness video consultations. That would be a great source of additional income.
- Be cost-conscious when setting your prices because your clientele’s average income suffered considerably during the pandemic. Ensure that your retail section has both high-price and low-priced products in order to cover all the bases.
- Use social influencers to market your brand. There are so many TikTok celebrities that became famous during the pandemic. These celebrities are the catalysts your salon or spa business needs for successful reinvention.
- Invest in software that has a top-quality hair salon online booking system to help you manage bookings and resource scheduling more efficiently and effectively. You will manage the influx of clients in the “new normal” a lot better if your clients can book, reschedule, or cancel their appointments from their own devices.
Step 4: Unlock your team’s potential
First of all, ensure that all your employees are on board with your reinvention plans. You cannot afford to work with employees who doubt, misinterpret, or unnecessarily criticize your decision to reinvent. Such employees will only hold you back. To ensure that you are all on the same page:
- Set clear expectations and communicate them clearly with each team member.
- Lead from the front. If there are changes to the regular schedule, or if your brand personality is marked for reinvention, actively show the path of the journey.
- As you set ambitious strategies, ensure that the strategies aren’t overwhelming or demoralizing to your team.
- Incentivize your employees to make the necessary sacrifices. The incentives can be in the form of better compensations, reduced hours, gift cards, or more flexible schedules.
- Invest in better quality equipment to help your staff execute their mandate with relative ease, convenience, and efficiency.
- Build employees’ trust in your leadership team by making fair decisions, being empathetic, showing and telling people how much you value them, appreciating good work, and being unbiased when solving conflicts.
- Retrain your staff to create a culture of ownership and accountability. Instead of making them feel like good employees, make them feel like ambitious future business owners who are there to learn the ropes in the industry. They will be more open to change if you successfully make work feel like a learning process.
Step 5: Match forward with confidence
It is okay if you are uncomfortable with the changes you are about to make. Everyone is scared of change. What you should do, however, is make a deliberate decision to face the fear of the unknown head-on. Choose to be guided by your “why”, “what”, and “how” when facing this fear. Change your mindset and align it with the ongoing and predicted changes. You will be a lot less scared of the reinvention process when you understand where the world is going, and the psychological changes you need to make when instigating the change. What’s more, if you are unsure of your own ability to lead the reinvention process, you can always follow the consumers’ lead. The customers know what they want and where you need to reinvent. Just pay attention to what they do and listen to what they say!
There you have it! Business reinvention in the salon and spa industry is a necessity during the ongoing crisis. And as scary as it definitely is, it is not as hard as you’d imagine. Just take the leap of faith and set your reinvention ball rolling!