Surviving the silly season

Most salons see a sharp uptake in business at this time of the year, and even though teams are stretched, the challenge is a welcome one.

The holiday hustle and bustle, however, can also bring about some additional risks for salon owners and their staff. Fortunately, there are a few practical things you can do to protect your customers, your business and your assets.

After all, there’s no better time to be smart than in the silly season.

1/ Provide a safe environment

When your salon door starts working overtime with a constant stream of clients, safety issues become magnified. The risk of a client tripping on a stray cord or slipping on random spillage becomes infinitely greater, so you need to become extra vigilant.

What you can do:

  • Refresh your staff on OH&S procedures and what you expect of them.
  • Remind them that spills should be cleaned immediately, and that walkways need to be constantly kept clear of obstructions.
  • Reiterate that cords should be stashed away, chemicals labelled correctly, and hot waxes placed in areas where they’re not likely to be knocked over.

It’s common sense stuff, but easy to forget if it isn’t reinforced every now and then.

Even if you’ve taken all precautions, accidents can still happen, and you could be faced with a serious liability claim, so ensure you’re covered with adequate Public Liability insurance. The good news is that in most cases, your policy will also include Product Liability and protect you for the items you sell.

2/ Staff adequately

If your staff are stressed and fatigued, they might not be able to provide the level of service your clients are accustomed to. And they notice.

What you can do:

  • Carefully plan your roster so staff get some time to rest between shifts;
  • Consider bringing in temporary staff to assist with non-technical jobs, so that your main staff can focus on completing their services without interruptions. Even if it’s just for rush hour, having a dedicated pair of hands answering phones, greeting clients, and cleaning the salon can help.

Additional staff, however, can also inflate the risk of employee fraud and theft. Be sure to conduct thorough background checks before hiring, and perform regular spot checks on your inventory and cash registers. Be upfront and clear to your staff about having a zero tolerance policy for theft. And as a fall-back, ensure you have Employee Dishonesty cover as part of your Business Insurance policy, to cover losses incurred through fraudulent or dishonest acts by your employees.

3/ Backup your data

Losing your online appointment data or customer base information during the busiest time of year could effectively cripple your business. It happens easily, and often. Fortunately there are some practical steps you can take to provide some cyber security in your salon.

What you can do:

  • Increase your website security measures by only using secure connections
  • Protect your passwords and use robust password protocol. No sequential numbers and no using your date of birth!
  • Ensure you have the latest anti-virus software. Accept security software updates – these matter because they are constantly evolving to protect you from new and common viruses.
  • Implement a backup procedure for your data. Store important info on a separate and securely stored hard drive, preferably off-site. Data loss isn’t always about hacking; sometimes staff just accidentally delete stuff.

Keep in mind that data stored in the Cloud is still vulnerable. Cloud providers are third party providers – do your research and be sure to select a known and trusted entity. Also consider a cyber insurance policy, which protects against the expense and legal costs associated with data breaches and theft or loss of your client information, as well as providing support and assistance with data recovery.

4/ Protect Your Assets

Peak party season brings with it a few unwanted friends – an uptick in criminal activity and extreme weather events. In addition, intoxicated revellers are more inclined to break windows during December, and salons are particularly susceptible to malicious damage if you close for a period of time during the holidays.

What you can do:

  • Make sure your salon is well lit and secure your premises as best as possible.
  • If you are in a high risk area you can hire a drive-by security company to cover your salon during the period.
  • Invest in reputable fire detection alarms and sprinkler systems.
  • Keep the area around your premises well maintained and clear of debris.

Most importantly, having a Business Insurance package will protect your business premises, assets and stock against loss, damage and theft that may occur as part of an insurable event. Business Insurance policies will also generally provide additional cover for seasonal increase periods. For example, if you carry more stock during the festive season your policy may automatically adjust to cover an extra 30-50 per cent of its normal value.

You should also ask yourself ‒ if your salon is forced to close for a week or a month, would you be able to make up for lost income during that period? Including Business Interruption in your business insurance package will cover lost income, as well as several other costs associated with insured events that stop your business from operating as usual.

5/ Uphold your reputation

This comes back to ensuring you have enough of the right people on hand to cope with the extra demand. Your clients trust you to provide a level of service they’re paying for. Moreover, exhausted or misplaced staff members are a genuine risk to your business and a single mishap could see you facing a debilitating liability claim.

What you can do:

  • Prepare and train your staff before the peak season, not during.
  • Assign the right jobs to the right staff. Don’t throw the apprentice in the deep end because it’s a busy day!
  • Know your salon’s limits and adhere to them. The extra revenue isn’t worth what you might pay in compensation and legal costs, or the damage to your reputation.

If an unhappy client does decide to make a claim against services rendered, your Professional Indemnity policy will cover damages awarded against you, as well as claims investigation, legal defence and public relations costs.

Taking the time to properly prepare for the peak season should be a crucial part of your annual business cycle. The preferred option is always to prevent things from going wrong, so that your salon can flourish unhindered during the busiest time of the year.

But you always need a Plan B. And while you hope for the best, ensure your business is prepared for the worst with an appropriately structured set of insurance policies that cater to your unique set of business needs.

You don’t have to insure everything, just everything you can’t afford to handle or replace.

Michael Gottlieb is the founder and managing director of BizCover, Australia’s No.1 Business Insurance Service. Contact www.bizcover.com.au

BizCover™ Pty Ltd (ABN 68 127 707 975; AR 338440) is a corporate authorised representative of Mega Capital Pty Ltd (ABN 37 098 080 418; AFSL 238549).  This is general advice only.

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