During the coronavirus outbreak, we found ourselves forced to change some of our habits, especially the way we behave outside of our homes. It’s a fact that the outbreak brought social, cultural and economical changes which continue to affect the way we interact with one another, spend our free time, shop or prioritise our needs. For example, we’re now far more likely to avoid crowded places, if we want to spend time outdoors, we practise social distancing at all times, are more likely to stay home when feeling under the weather, are keener on shopping online, and so on.
The hair and beauty industry went through the same process, and some behavioural changes led to big paradigm shifts that might affect how salons work from now on. It’s still not entirely clear if all of these changes are permanent, but sociologists agree that there’s no going back to how things used to be before. What are the areas of the beauty industry that are mostly affected by the current situation and what is changing before our eyes? And finally – what can you do to actually benefit from these shifts?
1. “Online booking is not necessary”
Although most of us agree that online booking is very convenient, for some salon owners, it wasn’t a necessity. They treated it as an amenity, an additional feature that is good to have but not essential and costly. Numerous salons were very dependent on walk-ins, and making appointments via phone call, text message or Facebook’s Messenger was a norm.
That’s no longer the case. The outbreak has forced hair and beauty specialists to work in an appointment-only system, which reduces in-store contact. Having people randomly walking into your salon at any time would sharply increase the risk of infection, so for the time being, walk-ins should be absolutely out of the question.
At the same time, taking appointments via phone call is also more difficult now. Phones, especially if handled by more than one person in a business, are one of the items that should be regularly disinfected. Truth be told, to maintain safety standards, you should wash or disinfect your hands every time you want to answer the phone and then afterwards, especially if you interrupt providing a service to do so. It’s tiring, inconvenient and takes a lot of time. If you don’t have a receptionist, you’ll most probably end up exhausted after a week.
In these circumstances, online booking is the most logical, convenient and beneficial for both you and your clients. It does not only eliminate the problems mentioned earlier, but also allows for some additional amenities. If you are using Booksy, the online booking feature comes with a ton of settings that makes your work easier, especially in current circumstances. For example, you can padding time to your services, which will allow you to reserve proper slots for disinfection – and the feature is fully in sync with the online booking. The treatment duration visible on your online booking page will not include the extra time, but the system will disallow the next appointment to overlap with it. Finally, Booksy’s online booking feature is commission-free – you’re not going to be charged additionally every time a client makes an appointment with you via your booking page!
2. “Salons don’t have to sell their retail products online”
Even though we all agree that it’s a great budget booster, selling salon retail products isn’t an easy task. Having great products on your salon shelves? Great. Having to brag about them as a salesperson? Please, no! Many specialists are afraid of sounding pushy and losing credibility as a consequence. But the facts are unavoidable – retail sales are your highest profit margin in the salon.
We all saw the power of salon retail before our own eyes when beauty businesses were forced into lockdown. Our clients who linked their online store to their Booksy online booking profiles were able to keep making a profit, despite having their salons closed. It turned out that clients love the possibility of having at least a substitute for your salon’s treatment excellence in the form of a product, hand-picked by their trusted specialist. And when salons reopened, they kept shopping for your retail products online anyway!
People, in general, like to shop online. For some of them, shopping in person is stressful – just as it may be stressful for you to advertise your products to them! In the comfort of their home, slowly sipping their favourite tea, they can easily check prices, descriptions and opinions about cosmetics they find interesting. Suddenly, your clients who have never shown interest in purchasing anything from your shelves are clicking around. No longer feeling the pressure of having to choose anything, they are paradoxically more likely to actually do so.
By setting up an online store with your salon’s retail products and sharing it on your online booking profile, you win on all fronts – you provide customers with access to great products 24/7, emphasizing your position as a specialist in the process, make the task of promoting them much easier for yourself and have an independent, additional source of income.
Tip: Use Booksy’s Message Blast feature to create a custom message targeting customers filtered by treatment and send them an email or SMS, promoting products specifically recommended to them!
3. “A paper appointment book is enough to manage salon bookings”
Even before the epidemic, it was a controversial topic. Managing your appointments with just a notebook is a questionable practice for a few reasons – firstly, security. As a beauty specialist, you store not only contact details (which should be secured well enough), but also sensitive data, such as information on clients’ allergies – and having it leaked or stolen is a serious offence. Data breaches are not a joke – even if the offender is “just” your leaving employee wanting to steal some of your clients, the customers in question can still get really angry for being contacted by someone they didn’t give their consent to. And it’s you who will face the consequences.
Secondly, paper notebooks are very unreliable. It’s easy to lose one, pour coffee on it, forget it at home, have it stolen, have your dog destroy it… and there’s no backup, no copy, no way to recover all that important data. While all it takes is to be left for ten minutes without it and your entire work schedule goes into chaos!
Thirdly, it’s not eco-friendly. In times when we all do the best we can to become less of a burden for our planet, using paper for things that can be easily managed otherwise is problematic. You have to remember that on average, it takes 5 litres of water to produce one piece of A4 paper and as for now, paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 33% of municipal waste.
The epidemic showed another problem with paper appointment books – they are impossible to disinfect. Paper, as a soft surface, cannot be sanitised nor disinfected, and any attempts of doing so will only lead to destroying the item in question. Even the government encourages salon owners to utilise digital systems to store their data – when introducing the Test and Trace program, they openly applauded salons who are already doing so.
There is no better way to make sure all important information is safe and sound. In times that require absolute precision when it comes to tracking your guests or having them arrive exactly on time for being treated, digital solutions are simply a necessity.
4. “You have to call your clients to remind them of their appointments”
You absolutely don’t! It’s an unnecessary burden for you, and the majority of your clients are not especially fond of this practice. Most people are really busy throughout the day and in many cases, cannot even answer the call. It causes unnecessary hustle for you (“I have to try again in a while”) and tension for them (“A missed call from my stylist? Did something happen?”). This can go back and forth for a hot minute, wasting both your and your customer’s time.
Text messages are simply better in every way (except for special circumstances – eg. older clients who need/prefer to have their appointments confirmed verbally). They arrive at the best time, in the right place – you can be almost 100% sure the message will be received and read. The client has all the details before their eyes and is much less prone to mistake the date or time.
In the current circumstances, the more things you can have automated, the better. Having to disinfect the salon thoroughly after each client is enough of a bother. Additionally, text reminders are a perfect way to remind clients about your salon protocols. Finally, Booksy salon software allows you to add a mandatory COVID-19 Disclaimer Form to your online booking profile. Your client will be able to book with you only after signing it – and everything happens digitally!
5. “Only big salons need a salon management system”
Before the epidemic hit, it was passable (though still inconvenient) to run your salon without a digital helper. You’ve been taking a gamble with data security and had to do everything from appointment reminders to marketing manually, but still – it was possible. You might have thought that as you don’t have many (or any) employees to manage and are able to control the work schedule, the management system is something for an undefined future.
Now that there is so much need for automation of everyday processes and multiple things are supposed to be done remotely, salon management software is no longer considered a luxury dedicated for large salons. It’s quite the opposite, really – small and solo businesses start to really appreciate the possibility of having an additional staff member who would relieve them. Especially as there are systems that offer plans that are perfect for small salons – Booksy plans start at just £40, include most of the system functionalities and are tailored to be used in a one-man business.
Each crisis brings changes, but also opportunities. In order to be profitable and sustainable, successful businesses learn from difficult moments and adapt to new realities. You can count on Booksy, your digital assistant, to take bookings online, organise your appointment book, send automatic appointment reminders, help you sell retail products online and effectively and easily manage your entire salon. You can also count on our team to keep delivering useful features that will arm you to face any challenges and to deliver excellent customer support every day!