Emerging stronger post COVID-19
COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the professional beauty industry. Having to shut doors and cease providing services was not something many would have seen coming. In a matter of minutes, livelihoods were lost, and the future became unknown. We can all likely agree that COVID-19 has changed the world. However, that change is offering the opportunity of a lifetime for the professional beauty industry. Post COVID-19, there will be a new normal. Like the aftermath of a house fire, things may seem bleak now. But like winter turns to spring, the post-pandemic era will have a period of rebirth.
The professional beauty market has the opportunity to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and emerge from the catastrophe caused by COVID-19 to become stronger, smarter, and more powerful. Reopening after COVID-19 should not be thought of as a hardship. This is an opportunity to show strength and perseverance. This is an opportunity to rebrand and rebuild who you are and show your clients just how much you care about their health.
Infection prevention is not new to the professional beauty industry. Regulations and guidelines for opening and running a business have been in place for some time. Public Health or other Governmental Inspectors audit your facilities to determine if you are conducting yourselves appropriately, and verify that the treatments you provide your clients will not do them harm.
The public, your clients, have learned more during the pandemic about infection control than they knew previously. We all clean at home. We all wash our hands, albeit with varying levels of frequency and efficacy. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how infections are transmitted. People are concerned with touching public surfaces, and your clients have become more aware of their surroundings.
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If you’re wondering how you are going to make a go of it after returning to your empty salon, don’t fret. This is where you, like the phoenix, can rise above the flames and chaos. The professional beauty industry has an advantage. Beauty clients are loyal. During the treatments and services you have been providing, you have built connections and trust. There may be some clients that you even call friends.
As professionals, you already have a solid background in infection prevention and control. You have been trained in how not to let infections occur on your watch. You understand the need to clean and disinfect surfaces, tools, and implements between clients. Unlike most of the public, when the pandemic hit, you already knew how to clean and disinfect effectively. You already knew the importance of washing your hands or using hand sanitizer.
When your clients walk in the door, stand with your head high, and proudly show them what you know. Provide them the comfort and confidence that you have their best interest at heart. Have a hand sanitizer station front and center when they walk through the door. Ask your clients to use it when they arrive and explain why you have implemented it.
The aesthetic of a hand sanitizer station may not have been something that fits with your vision of beauty and tranquility, but we have all learned from the pandemic about the importance of keeping our hands clean. Do you know what your clients have touched before arriving? Setting the stage that everyone who walks in the door sanitizes their hands is a great way to illustrate the heightened level of infection prevention you have implemented, and how much you care for their health.
Most importantly, before you start treatment, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer in front of your client. Be sure to spend time catching up and re-establishing the rapport you had prior to the pandemic. In the beginning, you may want to allow more time for treatments and services to allow for this. While you’re rebuilding the rapport, use this time to educate your clients and show them what you know. Talk to them about the infection control requirements you must follow. More importantly, tell them where you exceed them.
Meeting requirements shows that you know what you need to do, but exceeding them shows how you take their health seriously on a personal level. For example, talk to them about the disinfectants you use for cleaning your treatment area surfaces. Are you using a product you buy at your local grocery store, or can you tell them you use a hospital-grade disinfectant? Talk to them about contact time, which is the length of time that a disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface to work properly, and the fact that you have chosen a product with a short contact time so that you’re confident any lingering microbes are eradicated.
When it comes to the implements and tools you use for your treatments, exceeding the level of disinfection needed is another way of showing how you are differentiating yourself from your competitors. What are you currently using? A high-level disinfectant or chemical sterilant can offer an additional layer of protection to your client. Better yet, these solutions are designed to be re-used over several days or weeks, meaning you do not need to dispose of the product daily. Not only do you have the ability to tell your clients you are exceeding the requirements for disinfection, but now you can also tell them you have improved your environmental stewardship by not disposing as much disinfectant back into the environment.
In the post-pandemic era, people are going to question the things they had always taken for granted. They now know what bacteria, viruses, and other microbes are, where they can be found, and how they cause disease. But perhaps most impactful is that the public will have gained a sense of responsibility to take reasonable action to prevent transmission and protect themselves. This is your moment to shine. This is your moment to rise like a phoenix from the ashes to show how responsible you are. Embrace the challenge and opportunity that COVID-19 is providing. Stand up and defiantly say, “I am stronger for the experience and ready to meet whatever challenges tomorrow may bring.”