How to move forward safely after COVID-19
Perhaps you have been given the go-ahead to reopen your business. Or maybe that time is approaching for you, and you are taking steps to prepare. While there is plenty of uncertainty that lies ahead, one thing is sure. There will be a new normal after COVID-19, and whether it’s temporary or indefinite, you will need to adjust for the betterment of your business.
There’s no doubt that estheticians and spa professionals are equipped to provide a safe space for their clients. But there will be a lot to consider before you open your doors again. Whether that be new booking policies or additional sanitation practices, it’s time to strategize how your business will work amidst this global pandemic.
Adhering to Local, State, and Federal Guidelines
There will undoubtedly be a number of restrictions on businesses that are a part of the service industry. Wearing masks and proper protective equipment will be one of them. You may need to limit capacity at your spa or prohibit walk-ins to allow for social distance. You should also expect to cap the number of appointments you see in a day. Even further, the amount of time between those appointments to avoid overcrowding and allow time to disinfect and clean before your next appointment. Other guidelines may include temperature checks and COVID-19 screening questions. There may even be limits to the types of services you can provide to reduce contact.
Proper Sanitation Standards
When it comes to dealing with infection control, the esthetic industry is one of the most prepared industries. In fact, developing good sanitation practices are a prominent part of esthetic education. However, new cleaning protocols and social distancing guidelines will need to be put into place to not only keep the staff and your clients safe but provide additional reassurance and trust between you and your clients.
Before opening your spa, be sure to safely and effectively sanitize all communal areas, soft surfaces such as rugs and carpet, electronics, and tools. For hard surfaces, use an EPA-registered disinfectant to disinfect high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and light switches. Be sure to use soap and water or the appropriate cleaners for soft surfaces. Now is also the time to discard of any non-essential items in the waiting room, like self-serve coffee or magazines.
Once your spa is open, be sure to disinfect the reception counter, credit-card machine, door handles, and any common areas every 1 to 2 hours depending on traffic. Provide hand sanitizer at the front desk and at all stations for clients and staff to use. To put guests at ease, consider placing cards that read something like “This area has been disinfected” or “Feeling clean.”
Establishing New Policies for Your Staff and Clients
Sanitation practices aren’t enough to keep your clients and staff healthy without proper hygiene and social distancing efforts. Now is the time to put new policies into place and update your employee handbook. Be sure to include state and federal mandates so that they are fully understood.
Policies for staff may include washing their hands before and after each appointment, using disposable gloves or face masks, coughing and sneezing into their arms, and disinfecting every product and equipment used during an appointment.
Try to find ways to minimize contact as much as possible. For example, creating a policy for staff to greet guests with a no-touch welcome ritual or greeting instead of a handshake. Furthermore, having your team notify clients when they have washed their hands. This will cultivate a safe environment for your clients to want to come back. Modify your booking policy only to allow booking online and over the phone.
If possible, begin with virtual consultations to reduce contact time. Establish a pre-pay policy to reduce time at the front desk and to protect your spa from no-shows. If a client is feeling sick, reconsider cancellation fees, and encourage him or her to stay home. The last thing you want is a client with COVID-19 powering through to get to their service.
The same should go for your staff. You must reiterate the importance of the team monitoring themselves for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If an employee is feeling sick, encourage him or her to stay home. You must also come up with a plan of action if an employee or client exhibits symptoms.
Getting Your Staff Back to Work
You may have been forced to furlough or lay off employees. Either way, you will need to consider your staffing needs upon return. You may not need as many employees as you did before. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to let employees go. Consider having your staff work in rotating shifts to minimize the number of people in your business. It is also essential that you check in with your staff and their current situations. Some may have children at home, and some may have found new work. If you are continuing virtual consultations, assign some work to do at home to best accommodate everyone’s schedules.
Once you have your staff established, you must hold a meeting to discuss new protocols and policies so that everyone is one the same page. You can also host training to ensure that your staff is fully aware of the proper sanitation protocols. In addition to their handbooks, provide them with as many educated resources as possible. For example, a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help ease client fears.
Invite your employees to share their thoughts and concerns. They may be able to provide ideas that you wouldn’t’ have thought of otherwise. Cultivate a safe space for everyone to share their fears and anxiety, and offer your support as needed. Integrate weekly check-ins and consider wellness events online that your team can participate in to boost morale. You want to make sure that everyone is remaining healthy physically and mentally.
Reengaging Your Clients
Let your clients know you’ve opened by sending out a mass email. Make sure the email includes what safety and cleaning measures you have decided to implement, information about appointment scheduling, and any updates on prices and services. Another thing! Revaluate your services and update your menu, and only offer your most profitable services for the time being. In your email, you can also include special offers and promotions, as well as new products!
Have you been using social media to keep your clients updated? Make an Instagram or Facebook announcement that you are open or are preparing to open for business. Share Instagram videos with staff as you disinfect common areas. Let your clients know they are walking into a safe space. Have fun with it! Maybe even use this time to have your staff work on each other and practice new protocols. You can post Instagram photos of them beautified with fresh looks to get your clients excited about their appointments. As clients come back, encourage them to share pictures with you of their newly done brows and glowing skin. Trust me, girls will be boasting online about their first-ever treatment post-quarantine! Make sure they tag you!
Be Prepared for Another Closure
The first shutdown was unexpected, and many of us were unprepared. As you ease back into business, make sure that you are prepared for another closure to happen. You want to be sure that all of your finances are in order and that you have virtual or retail services available if people are forced to work from home again.
Continue to utilize virtual services so that your clients remember you for them later. Stay connected as much as possible through social media! Not everyone will feel comfortable going back to the real world. You want to make sure that there are ways that they can connect with you beyond your spa. With a strategic and cautious approach to reopening, you can ensure that your spa comes back stronger. Follow other estheticians online and see what they are doing to get back to work, and lean on each other.