New South Wales is four days out from reopening! *clinks champagne glass* Hopefully, you have booked in all your clients for the first week (for many, we know you’ll be booked out for the next several months too) and you and the team are ready to roll.
But it never hurts to fine-tune. We’ve been responding to questions around reopening and restrictions via Business SOS – you can read about how vaccine status will impact return to work and service restrictions in regional areas here. But we’ve also rounded up some general tips to ensure the weeks ahead go as smoothly as possible for you and your team.
By now, you’ve probably got your Covid-safety plan down pat. Even so, it’s worth reviewing one last time and ensuring your staff are up-to-date on their responsibilities. For regional businesses, this means checking restrictions in your area, as some areas remain in lockdown.
Signage is also essential and can help shortcut tricky conversations with clients – so you can focus on providing stellar service. You can download signage from the NSW Government Covid-safe toolkit.
Helpful signage includes:
. QR Code Check-in
. Mask wearing requirements
. Social distancing requirements
. Seating instructions
. Room capacity (You’ll want to download Room Capacity of 5)
Talk to your staff about how they’re feeling. As a business owner, work never stops so you’re probably in the zone and raring to go. Remember that your team have been off work for months, and each will have coped with the lockdown differently. It’s normal that they might be feeling nervous, excited and anxious all at once. Consider scheduling calls with staff ahead of their first shift-back or asking them to arrive early so you can check-in. This will allow you to familiarise them with new requirements, outline how their days will look during the first weeks of restricted service and address any questions or concerns before they hit the salon floor. It will also be worth workshopping language with customers, we’ve provided some pointers below.
Your conflict-crushing comms strategy:
While a communications strategy might seem redundant (we’re all talkers in this industry) knowing what to say and when to say it is important when navigating sensitive topics.
Just because you understand restrictions, doesn’t mean your clients do. Have a plan in place for clients who do not understand your legal obligations as a business owner. Unvaccinated clients cannot access services until December 1st, and beauty businesses found breaching their maximum capacity limits will be penalized. Some, particularly loyal regulars, might expect you to bend the rules for them – whether it’s providing services for unvaccinated individuals before December 1st or squeezing in more appointments than you’re legally allowed.
Below, we’ve outlined how to address these sticky subjects and diffuse conflict on the spot.
Six-steps to resolving conflict:
- If a client becomes angry, do not respond in kind (however impatient you may feel). Maintain a calm tone of voice and listen to what they have to say.
- The best way to stay calm? Don’t take it personally. Many people won’t be at their best after 100 days of lockdown.
- Listen and show empathy. You might feel the urge to interject and remind the client of your legal obligations (after all, you’re under pressure too!) Save this for later! The best way to diffuse a situation is to let the person have their say and make sure they feel understood. Say something like: “I can imagine it is so frustrating not being able to book your regular services” or “We really appreciate that after several months you’re so keen to visit straight away – thank you for your loyalty.” Often, clients just want to be heard.
- Once you’ve given empathy, you’re more likely to receive it. Repeat your position by sticking to the facts: “Unfortunately, due to current legislation we cannot book you in on your requested date – I hope you understand that we need to follow the rules to protect our business.”
- If possible, offer a solution by reiterating when you can book them in, or, if you and your team have decided not to receive unvaccinated patrons following December 1st, offer to put them in touch with another business.
Take time for yourself and your staff. Stressful conversations take their toll – even if you’ve achieved a positive outcome. To avoid burnout, make sure you take time for quick debriefs following tough conversations – this will allow you to fine-tune your approach. Even going for a five-minute coffee run will allow you, or your team member, space to clear your head.
Lastly? Reach out!
Best of luck for Monday, and remember, we’re here to support you! If you have any questions our Business SOS lines are always open at firstname.lastname@example.org – we can’t wait to see you in person!
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