2021 hasn’t seen the extended lockdowns that shuttered all but essential services for most of 2020, which was consequently a uniquely difficult year for beauty businesses. In Australia long lockdowns haven’t happened in a while but the so-called short and sharp “circuit breakers” have hit a few regions since the start of the new year. The thinking is that these are less disruptive to business and no doubt a few days of closure is surely better for the bottom line than weeks or months of no revenue. But how have recent snaps lockdowns affected local beauty businesses like Perth cosmetic clinics, makeup artists, nail salons and treatment rooms?
The knock-on effect
Makeup Artist Jacqueline Parker, who runs Jacqueline Parker Creative and Perth Makeup Artists, says there is definitely a knock-on effect felt long after the few days during which the shutdowns happen. ‘The snap lockdowns have imposed unique challenges for our business and clients,” she says. “Whilst the Western Australian government asserts that the short lockdowns only impact small businesses for a few days at a time, we’re finding the trend is that clients become hyper-wary of planning social events and booking hairstyling or makeup services for quite some time afterwards. A 3-day lockdown results in a ripple effect that inhibits business activity for several weeks or more each time.”
Owner of Mi:skn Clinic Francesca Perino says it’s an issue for her clients because they’re dealing with skin issues that need routine care without disruption. “Primarily it has been disruptive to the client’s treatment protocols,” says Perino. “Our clinic specialises in inflammatory skin conditions and clients are on weekly treatment protocols for a period of up to 3 months. Interruptions to their plans, coupled with the stress of lockdowns and wearing masks, can really set them back.”
Revenue lost for good?
So many beauty businesses operate on thin margins and rely on bookings to make revenue, so being closed for three days at a time, even with a loyal clientele, can be hard to absorb for some. “Not trading can mean a revenue loss in excess of $10,000 a week. We usually make up for this the following week when we re-open, but certainly not in full as there would not be room and staff availability to double our treatment availability,” says Perino.
Preparedness is key
However, they did anticipate that this sort of thing might happen and, says Dr. Hurst, “had contingency plans in place long before COVID, because you have to expect that the business will go through peaks and troughs no matter what’s happening in the world. Ideally, aim to set aside enough to sustain your business through 6-12 months of closures. Perino has also made it a point to safeguard the business from future snap lockdowns with good planning and creating a budget. “Financially we have ensured we have a budget put away for any lockdown emergencies, to be able to pay suppliers and staff if lockdowns affect revenue for some time,” she says.
Perino thinks the government should be doing more to help as well, that it shouldn’t just be left to the businesses to deal with these ongoing snap lockdowns. “There needs to be financial help for micro-businesses each time we are asked to lockdown,” she says. “Perhaps proving revenue loss and receiving a grant for a portion of this? We were so well looked after financially by the government in 2020, it saved a lot of us. But as small business owners, we do feel abandoned by the government now.”
The positive outlook
But, as Corrine Boar, Owner of Luxe Nail Co., points out, this sort of lockdown is thankfully less disruptive than the weeks-long lockdowns that filled 2020, as, seems to be, everyone and understandably so. “I think the snap lockdowns are great and seem to be very effective. A week after opening our new Subiaco salon last year, we experienced a long 11 week lockdown, so I’m very grateful that lately when there has been lockdowns, that we have only ever closed for a few days at a time, rather than timelines similar to the 3 month lockdown of last year.” Plus, like most of the other businesses interviewed here, Luxe Nail Co. has an incredibly loyal clientele who do eventually return after restrictions ease. “We have been so lucky with our client experience and retention throughout these times,” says Boar. “We honestly have the best clients; they have always been very supportive amidst these lockdowns and also understanding throughout the process of trying to reschedule them thereafter.”
Words of advice
Perino has a few words of advice to fellow beauty business owners in this continued unpredictable environment, mainly “cut unnecessary spending, have a buffer of cash to keep you going during repeated lockdowns.” Importantly she stresses that you need to “PAY YOURSELF. So many business owners draw from the business rather than be on the payroll, which is what I did for 10 years. Since June 2020 I have added myself to payroll to ensure my wages are taken into account when budgeting for a lockdown, rather than find yourself with nothing left to draw on.”
Dr. Hurst has seen a lot of success with diversifying her business’s revenue streams. It’s a great way to keep lost bookings from devastating your beauty business is making sure that clinic treatments aren’t your only source of revenue. “It’s also been incredibly important to have other sources of income to fall back on when the clinic is closed, such as our online shop and online consultations.”
And Boar’s advice is to accept that we can’t control what’s going on around us, but we can control our perspective. “I try to keep a positive perspective on everything,” she says, and “try to breathe through the stressful times, and always try to find a silver lining. We are so lucky to be in Perth. We have been relatively unaffected by Covid, compared to other countries around the world who have really suffered. So whilst some uncertain times and income loss isn’t ideal, I really do feel these little short, sharp lockdowns are the best way forward and have less effect on small businesses in the long run..”
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