If you were in the beauty industry back in 2008 and 2009 during the financial crisis when 2.6 million people lost their jobs, chances are if you are a stylist or salon owner you saw an increase in business during that time (8% on average). Historically the beauty industry has been deemed “recession-proof” by and large, and even during the Great Depression of the 1930s hair salons were one of the few businesses that continued to boom while so many businesses were imploding. The reasoning in both instances is simple: people want to look good…often to look like nothing is wrong or even more simply just to feel beautiful in times of crisis. The value of that is such that we sacrifice in other areas in order to afford things we deem “essential”.
But along came a pandemic and a historically “recession-proof” industry ground to a halt.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for many states who are cautiously reopening service businesses such as hair salons under strict guidelines. While no one could have predicted this unprecedented incident, we did want to share some proven concepts and tips that you can use to frame the remainder of this year for your businesses and to even make it more financially sound once all of this is over. This is exactly what we are doing at our hair salon in Walnut Creek, and we hope these tips can help you as well!
1: REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS, REVIEW YOUR KNOWLEDGE
During this period is a perfect opportunity to take stock of your retail and services to evaluate their profitability. Are their products that just don’t move? Have you been thinking of switching a color line but were putting it off to not disrupt your daily color business? Time to clean house! Once you reopen, you’ll want to be lean with inventory to not tie up profit on the shelves, but more importantly, make sure you have full shelves. Instead of 4 to 6 products deep consider 2 to 3 per SKU and within those categories, clean up variants that have a slow turnover rate. When it comes to your services, many services will be blocked at the state level for quite a while to maintain social distancing and ensure a degree of safety, so retool your menu to eliminate services that similarly aren’t popular. Beyond streamlining your business, it also is the perfect opportunity for you to hone your own skills at a time when you can actually unplug from the day to day grind at the salon to expand your knowledge. Get some mannequin heads at home so you can work on perfecting a cleaner extensions installation, or try out some new updos for brides this year. Focusing on skills helps you stay connected to the craft and also helps keep you focused during this stressful time.
2: PREPARE YOURSELF FOR “RECESSION HAIR” TRENDS
Back in 2008, the recession triggered a shift in hair color trends from more traditional full foil looks to ombré looks because it required less maintenance and touch up frequency than traditional hair color. Because so many clients have been rushing to supermarkets and drug stores to attempt some DIY color in the meanwhile, prepare yourself for a lot of color correction work. The opportunity with extensions will also be shaped this year, with many clients who are currently out of work or financially strapped looking for more low maintenance and cost-effectively solutions to frequent color. Based on the average yearly cost for color application and upkeep, installation of our Perfect Locks Extensions of any variant offer a cost-effective alternative for them to color. Remember to offer clients solutions, as we often make buying decisions in our minds. If a client alters their usual standing appointment to stretch out the time in between or to drop color completely, during your consultation offer them solutions and try and anticipate this change. They’ll love you for your intuition.
3: DO NOT DISCOUNT YOURSELF OR YOUR SERVICES
All too often businesses make the mistake of slashing the cost of their services or going overboard. This is always a mistake as it shifts your business model into being a value-based model that will limit profitability in the long term. Instead of offering big discounts and coupons, always work on bundling and offering value-added opportunities to your services. Value-added specials can include combining cut and color services at a flat price or even pairing a few extensions pieces here and there with a color service for added length, density, or even a more lasting dimensional highlight look that doesn’t require upkeep.
4: NOW IS THE TIME TO “THINK SMALL”
Prior to the shutdown, the Drybar Concept had exploded in cities nationwide, and the reason was simple: it was ideal as an express service for women on the go. Are you offering tape-in hair extensions or fusion hair extensions as an express extensions service for the same audience? They are nominally priced and are ideal to add just a little more density or highlights here are or there. Once you reopen, one of the biggest opportunities is not focusing your marketing on securing full head extensions installations, it’s in 10 to 15 extensions added to the head as a budget-friendly way to get clients into extensions to begin with.
5: BUILD THAT REFERRAL ENGINE
Once you reopen…you are going to be very, very busy, but will likely be limited on capacity due to state guidelines. In the short term, you will have many clients to catch up on services, but for the long term, it will be critical to have a steady referral program to garner clients to continue growing. Keep referral programs simple and easy to track, relying on cards that your clients can give to friends or family to bring them into your salon. Part of that referral engine will also require you to do a little legwork with local businesses, who all will need help during this time. Talk to local florists and formal attire locations who fit for wedding dresses about leaving cards to promote your hair services and extensions for brides-to-be.
6: THIS YEAR IS THE YEAR TO RELAUNCH YOUR SALON
Once businesses are allowed to reopen, social distancing will be in effect and mass gatherings will not be allowed. To drum up new hair extension business and up your salon profits going into next year, start planning an invitational night NOW for the autumn. Offer a special “ladies night out” promotional evening featuring extension demonstrations and a 2 to 3-piece mini service to introduce each client to hair extensions. This is a great opportunity to invite clients in for a “fair of services” for a flat price with demonstrations, as well as opportunities for other local businesses to get involved. Talk to restaurants or caterers to promote their own services at your event, as well as local clothing stores or fashion designers to showcase some new 2021 fashions on models with hair and makeup done by you or your team.
7: ACTUALLY MARKET YOUR SERVICES
Chances are your average client looked at your service menu once ages ago and hasn’t looked since. Never assume that just because you have services like extensions on your menu that clients will see, much less request it. Part of promoting services requires some active methods to build that awareness, such as tent cards, signs, t-shirts, and even more simply…wearing extensions and showing them off to clients. Clients are also most receptive when they first enter the salon, so take the time to curate a formal portfolio in the waiting area to showcase the amazing transformations you’ve facilitated with extensions. Stunning before and after pictures gives potential extension clients a chance to see your work. You should always take pictures of every extension client with their approval for marketing purposes. Best of all, you can share them on Facebook and run a contest to have your clients vote on the best transformation to reward that client with a special prize.
Things WILL get back to normal and our industry is resilient, so take the time to plan your reopening and future strategy now.