As beauty salons, spas and nail bars continue to reopen around the world, subject to new restrictions and safety protocols, salon owners in the US — which have had a head start in reopening — say that’s not stopping consumers from booking appointments.
COVID-19 secure measures including screens or barriers to separate clients, appointment-only booking systems to minimise the number of people on the premises at any one time and increased frequency of handwashing and the cleaning of surfaces and equipment, may have dramatically altered the salon experience and cut business capacity. But, according to research by the leading provider of cloud-based business management software for the wellness industry Mindbody, for the most part, consumers want to go back to salons they used before the coronavirus — with the sweet spot existing for operators that can create the safest environments.
In fact, during a recent webinar hosted by Mindbody to explore how business owners have been navigating the reopening of spas and salons across the US, Carisa Findley, senior director of operations and training at Elements Massage, revealed that due to the increased desire for human connection at this time, demand for its services has been stronger than ever.
Dominika Dolina, co-founder of Pause Massage also reported a spike in demand, with clients she referred to as ‘pioneers’, desperate to get back to the salon. The main challenge, they both agreed, lies in being able to smoothly adapt and refine operations as rules and restrictions evolve, and effectively communicating those changes to consumers.
The good news is, “now is the time when people are most willing to accept a change in their experience,” Michelle Neuringer, Director, Product Management at Mindbody told Welltodo.
“Consumers expect that things are going to operate differently. So be upfront about what changes you’re making and what your clients can expect. Not only will they appreciate that; they’ll understand what to expect,” she explained.
According to Neuringer, Mindbody data shows that coming out of this pandemic, the salon is what people are craving, but they’re interested in reducing contact.
In a study conducted by the company, 69% of those surveyed said they believed eliminating the waiting room is an important safety measure post COVID-19, 55% said virtual check-in over the phone is important, 71% said developing processes to support contactless payments is crucial, while 57% said enabling them to pre-pay for service and tip are important.
With that in mind, Neuringer suggests that salon owners should look at reducing unnecessary touchpoints such as payment, filling out waivers and the use of beverage stations.
“In particular, we’ve been hearing from businesses that ‘card on file is king’,” Neuringer told Welltodo.
“There’s a big desire to capture that credit card up front, not necessarily to charge it up front but just to have it on file. This allows the client to float out after their service, knowing that payment is taken care of,” she added.
Elsewhere, whilst challenging, getting the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) is also important, with 79% of consumers saying they want to see employees wear protective face masks at beauty businesses.
The key, according to Mindbody is to prioritize making customers feel that your space is safe.
“It’s going to be different for a while, but the numbers don’t lie — consumers are eager to return to salons, spas, and wellness businesses,” Amaya Becvar Weddle, Vice President, Research & Product Marketing at Mindbody wrote in a recent blog post.
“Prepare your entire team to answer their questions and let your clients know what the new protocols are. It’ll make the decision to return all the easier for them. The salons, spas, and wellness businesses that will thrive in the new normal will create low-touch journeys for clients on-site and maximize profit with virtual consultations and at-home experiences.”