In need of your own reopening roadmap? Here’s how to keep your salon operations running smoothly as restrictions are rolled back

Over the weekend NSW hit 80% double dose vaccination, meaning caps on salon services are removed from Monday. Victoria’s reopen date has moved forward from October 26th to October 21st. Meanwhile, citizens of the ACT are experiencing their first taste of freedom.
Restriction whiplash? We don’t blame you. While everyone loves an earlier reopening or easing of restrictions, changing reopening dates and restrictions pose a challenge for salon owners navigating daily operations.

PB spoke to the team at Timely, a fast-growing software company specializing in booking systems for businesses, to get some tips on keeping operations running smoothly on the road to reopening.

Michael Spect is Regional Manager for Timely, Asia Pacific, and looks at small business operations all day, from salons to gyms and trades. Michael says that businesses of all stripes should be leveraging their existing communication channels when informing clients about public health requirements. This gets the conversation out of the way before the client steps foot in the door.

Michael Specht, Regional Manager at Timely
Timely’s Michael Specht, Regional Manager for Timely

“Updating automated messages, appointment confirmations, and reminders with health and safety protocols (like vaccine status) saves you from having to get in touch with clients manually and helps keep them in the loop – win, win!” he says.
It’s also essential to think about what the day will look like on the floor. As businesses scale their bookings, adding more clients and staff to week, managing client arrivals, staff lunch breaks, and closing times becomes confusing and leaves room for error. There are a few specific areas you can hone in on, from consolidating services and maximizing profits to reducing your risk should COVID-19 exposure incidents occur, that will save you headaches on the road to reopening.

salon reopening booking systems
Learning to roll with restrictions has been one of the hardest lessons for the salon industry, we’ve got some operational tips that will help your business flex under pressure.

Make the most of your time:

Think about how your staff are set up for the day, and how your clients will enter the space. Staggering appointments means fewer customers will arrive all at once, and more staff will be available to answer the phone, grab coffees or give each other a helping hand. Another tip Michael strongly suggests is implementing “padding time.” Remember, your clients haven’t attended appointments outside their own homes for close to four months. They may have forgotten how long it takes to find a park near your business, or that their regular public transport doesn’t run on Sundays. By allocating “buffer time” on either side of appointments, the day will be less impacted by late arrivals. Staff will still be able to clean their stations, refresh themselves and prep for their next client even if an appointment starts late or runs overtime.

Mitigate impacts of COVID-19 exposure:

Isolation periods for vaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19 to COVID-10 have been halved in some states. While seven days is better than two weeks, having half your team in isolation following a COVID-19 exposure presents a logistical nightmare. If you have a large team, Michael suggests minimizing this risk by segmenting them and rostering the same groups together as much as possible. This means that should a COVID exposure occur, you will have a far easier time contacting the relevant staff members and filling their shifts.

Minimize risk:

That’s financial risk. If you don’t already take deposits, now is the time to consider doing so, says Michael. “With limited availability and high demand, the appointments you are offering are more valuable,” says Michael. No-shows and late-notice cancellations will hurt you more than ever – and as your clients rush to catch up on their lockdown deferred to-do lists, they’re more likely to happen. Taking deposits is an easy way to reduce no-shows and minimize the impact on business when they happen.

Optimize productivity and profit:

The same supply/demand rule applies to the types of services you’re performing. Or the number. If your clients are booking in for a single service, consider putting together premium packages. This will decrease the pressure on your team by consolidating appointments and increase your profit margins. It’s the difference between twenty $120 brow wax appointments and ten $240 brow, lashes and lamination appointments.

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