The world has changed, and so have all the rules that governed your business and decision making. To return to a position of strength after the concerns over COVID-19 are subdued, your choices right now will dictate your level of success.
A NEW WAY OF THINKING
It is not easy to do, but suspend everything you know. Your past experiences and decisions were based on a different world. Before you decide that you want to return to “normal,” consider this time as an opportunity to be different, and better, than you were before.
Whether it be operations, marketing, finance or human resources, be careful to take in all the information you can, and layer in what you see in the spa world today, before you go back to the “usual.” With so many variables, help keep your head straight by building a checklist of items to do and tackle them one at a time.
GET THE WORD OUT
Although you may not be marking your reopening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony (or maybe you will?), it’s a great idea to advertise to both your loyal and prospective clients when and how you will be reopening after the temporary closures.
Social media announcements and store-front signage captures your community’s attention, and they are the two leading ways that spas can announce reopening. You will be working in a post-pandemic world, where businesses will function under a new normal; consider safety and cleanliness to be your new niche and talking point!
Even before you open your doors, send a memo, have a Zoom meeting and start educating your returning employees, to let them know what’s been done to keep everyone safe. Clearly outline what you will be doing on an ongoing basis and let them know what you ask of them. Safety is in the forefront of everyone’s mind, and it is up to you to retain your star employees, keeping them healthy and making your guests feel secure and comfortable.
Let your vendors, partners and third-party partners know your reopening timeline.
Here are some quick suggestions before reopening your spa:
- Inspect your inventory and purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for all employees and guests. Face masks, nitrile gloves, disinfectant, safety glasses or face shields, Plexiglas barriers at reception? Check with your local municipality on what PPE is required.
- Personally, call your top 50-100 loyal clients to let them know when you’re opening. Although you do not want to attract a crowd, you do want to line up a steady stream of revenue.
- Consider how you will incorporate the cost of the new PPE into your cash flow and bottom line. You cannot expect to simply cover this cost. Will you have a blanket increase to all prices, or select the menu items with the biggest impact? Most often we see and recommend a price increase to all menu items so you can be sure this new cost for cleaning and PPE is covered, and in case there are more regulations coming in the future, that cost also can be absorbed.
- Create specific protocols and visual guides for social distancing, i.e. floor decals. Make it easy for your guests to know what’s expected of them, and your team.
- Hang posters outlining sanitation schedules and routines.
- Distribute cleaning supplies to all treatment rooms.
- Temporarily eliminate the use of the waiting/lobby room and greet each guest at the front door to escort them to a treatment room while waiting for services. Your occupancy limits are based on spacing requirements, which means you should not allow inside waiting by friends or family members.
- Send new intake forms (screening questionnaire) to guests 24 hours before service for entry into the spa. Ideally this can be done in an automated fashion with your POS software. Ensure that no walk-in appointments are permitted.
- Have guests change in the treatment rooms and offer plastic bags/bins for guests to place belongings in. Reassure guests that the room was sanitized especially for their treatment.
- Stagger shifts and appointment times to allow for more social distancing.
- Allow for a limited supply of basic facial products in treatment room. This will limit the number of service providers in the dispensary. To help with appropriate product dispensing, place product in souffle cups and have a small stock in each treatment room of dispensed products.
- Use waxing table paper on your facial cart and place products on that paper for easy disposal. Use disposable implements when possible for waxing and skincare services.
- Temporarily suspend any beverage services.
- Wash all spa linens (including blankets) after each treatment.
- Mandate all providers to wear masks, facial shields and gloves for all services. Check your state or provincial regulations for what PPE is required.
- Utilize a rebooking service provider while the guest is in the chair/treatment room, to streamline the flow of traffic.
- Disinfect and sanitize all surfaces after use, including the plastic bin that held clothing, facial machine and handheld devices. Sterilize mask brushes and facial dishes in autoclave.
- Discuss retail recommendations at the conclusion of a service. Confirm products and place into retail bag to have it waiting at the front desk for check out.
- Place any sample packets in a plastic bag for guests to take with them.
- Consider making changes to payment processes. Encourage touchless payment, gift cards or e-transfers to avoid handling cash. Most merchant providers have increased tap limits, so take advantage of the higher limit.
- Be sure to mention all the precautions you’re taking to your guests, and ask them to tell friends and family about your reopening.
- Identify a way to thank loyal customers for returning to the spa.
Equally important in reopening after this pandemic lockdown is patience. Many people haven’t left their homes in months; they may be ecstatic or grumpy, or anything in between. The “new normal” is another change which we all need to adapt to.
Employees may have difficulty getting back into a work routine, especially one that has been altered so dramatically. Patience with your coworkers is crucial during reopening, and you can anticipate that mistakes will be made. Emotions still need to balance out. Emphasize your best smile, communicate often and remain committed to continuous improvement.
We can all do our part to prevent the spread of illness in our community while keeping the economy going. You’ve got this!