There is no question that we all want to get back to re-open our businesses soon. I am constantly receiving questions from my clients about when we can do this, and how are we going to conduct our business when we do? This, plus the financial hardship our employees and our guests are experiencing, creates an even stronger want to get back to work.
I am responsible for my own health, and responsible to know that I am not sick, to know that I do not have symptoms of the Coronavirus and will not knowingly infect anyone. As business owners, we must accept this responsibility for the safety of our staff and clients.
Unfortunately, though, not everybody else is this this responsible. After re-opening on May 4th, two stylists at a Great Clips Salon in Springfield, MO, tested positive for COVID-19 and worked several days while experiencing “very mild symptoms.” The salon had required that all employees and clients wear masks. While at work, these stylists directly exposed seven co-workers and 140 clients to the virus, and only time will tell if any additional cases result. The salon has since closed, is currently undergoing deep cleaning, and are awaiting guidance from the local health department to tell them when they can re-open. Between May 14th and May 20th, one of the stylists visited a gym, Dairy Queen, Walmart, and CVS. Anyone who could possibly have been infected have been warned to monitor for symptoms and, if they develop, to self-quarantine. Unfortunately, this is how fast this can happen. In any event, it certainly colors our “new normal” and brings into question when it is safe to re-open. In Ulster, NY, a barber stayed open in defiance of the state’s stay at home order. Now, the barber has tested positive for COVID-19. This may be the first of many such situations we will hear about; I am watching Georgia, Florida, and Texas, as they were among the first states to re-open.
So how do we buffer ourselves from this fear and paranoia? Regardless of where you stand politically, this is scary stuff. I am optimistic that we, as business owners, will take responsibility for the health and safety of our clients and staff through planning and preparation. We can only do what we can do—however, we must do everything we can do.
First, we need to plan. You may not be as busy as you were prior to closure. Our guests have been experiencing financial hardship and may not have the same disposable income. Social distancing will require that less clients are in the business at any given time. Plan on doing less services per hour. Additional time is necessary for cleaning and sanitation. To be conservative, I would estimate that day spas will do between 35-40 percent of the sales volume they were doing pre-closure. What does this do to your budget? How does it impact your breakeven, profitability, and the number of services you need to perform daily to make money? Price and purchase all recommended personal protective equipment (PPE). Once you know the price, determine the affect this will have on your cost of sales. Some clients are considering a PPE surcharge; others are looking at raising prices to maintain their profit margin.
Then, prepare. Educate yourself about the Coronavirus. Have the tools, processes, and procedures in place to create a safe environment and to provide safe services. We want to do everything possible to protect our staff so that they do not get sick from their co-workers or clientele. Air circulation is one way this virus spreads, so consider increasing your HVAC duct work filter cleaning and replacement. Air purification systems should be looked at for use throughout your business.
Train your guests and staff. Instruct guests to complete intake forms online. Add some sort of waiver of business liability, and have your guests warrant that they are not sick or experiencing symptoms. Verify their health as they enter your spa through temperature checks are being done for guests and staff alike, and be sure to maintain appropriate social distancing. Determine what services you can perform safely. For the life of me, I am having a tough time visualizing what a facial is going to look like or how we can do them. Establish emergency procedures and know what you are going to do if you find yourself in the same situation as the Great Clips in Springfield or the barber shop in Ulster.
I am happy to report that several of the medical spa clients at Wellness Capital Management have reopened, their businesses are recovering quickly, and have had no negative health issues to report.
There will be a vaccine eventually. Until then, we must listen to the scientists and epidemiologists and follow their recommendations. They will figure it out, and when they do, so will we. None of us have been through anything like this before. Time will tell if closing our businesses was a huge overreaction or the right thing to do. We must move into re-opening patiently and carefully. After we open, we can’t get complacent and must diligently maintain our safety procedures.
Be well and stay safe. As always, we’re here to help.
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