Malcom Gibbons explains what Salon Owners can do to prepare for the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
“We’re seeing a lot of statistics about how the coronavirus affects people’s health and we need to acknowledge the possibility that it may also affect your business. If you haven’t thought about a risk management plan then hopefully this article will help you see the need to formulate one and offer tips on what to include in it”. Malcom Gibbons.
Firstly let’s ascertain what a pandemic actually is:
According to the World Health Organisation a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations, as opposed to an epidemic, which is a sudden increase in cases of an illness or disease that can be unique to one country or community.
Once a pandemic is declared, it becomes more likely that community spread will eventually happen, and governments and health systems need to ensure they are prepared for that and as a business owner, so do you.
If declaring a pandemic triggers global panic, this can defeat the purpose of trying to raise awareness.It is important that people don’t panic and a way to avoid this is through understanding what the virus actually is and how it behaves.
The New Zealand Government has a very informative website with current and updated information on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus symptoms are generally mild and most people recover within 14 days.
So now we have a declared pandemic, what can you do to protect your salon business and team from potential economic disaster?
I have put together a list of things to do to help you trade through this period with as minimal interruption to business as possible.
If business is interrupted significantly I have advice on what you can do to minimise the effect medium to long term.
So what can you do to protect your business from this and other pandemics that may occur?
You should be checking your business interruption insurance coverage to see if your potential losses are covered.
Legal protection including force majeure clauses in some contracts might be triggered here, so get some good legal advice if you need it.
Remember, education and knowledge is required and as the leader it is your role to reassure your team that you have their best interests at heart.
Discuss what the pandemic might mean to business and what you are implementing to protect their health and jobs during this time.
As an employer you are required under the health and safety act 2015 to take all practicable steps to mitigate risk and protect workers at all times from workplace hazards.
Minimising the spread of infectious diseases in the workplace is important to keeping staff safe and well at work. Your health and safety manual will be a useful tool to aid this discussion.
There are a number of actions you can take to minimise the risk of spreading of infectious diseases in the salon:
You should encourage team members to follow basic personal actions to stop the spread of infectious diseases.
- Washing and drying hands regularly and well
- Staying at home if they are sick
- Covering coughs and sneezes.
- Regular cleaning of the workplace environment will minimise the spread of infection by reducing workers’ contact with contaminated surfaces.
- Schedule extra thorough cleaning – between each client.
- Use a suitable cleaning product (choose a suitable cleaner and/or disinfectant and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.)
- Use disposable cloths, if available.
- Let clients see you cleaning your station and equipment before bringing them to the chair and basin.
- Use disposable towels
- Clean air-conditioning units and filters. (Try not to re-circulate air and vent to the outside if possible.)
- If you don’t have an air conditioning system, open windows regularly to get fresh air circulating
- Keep your team informed of what is happening in the business so there are no surprises for them that they are not prepared for.
- Influenza pandemics often have multiple waves of illness, so the impact may be felt for several months or more.
Areas to plan for:
- How will you plan for maintaining services with the possibility of a high number of staff away sick? – Do you have a contingency plan?
- What essential goods and services do you rely on and how you will manage any disruptions to supply.
- How you can implement alternative work practices in your workplace (for example, social distancing measures, mobile hairdressing, hand sanitiser at stations, disposable towels).
- What contingency do you have to manage a major downturn in business income? (Reducing salon hours, asking team to take leave without pay, shorter consolidated work week, hold off on bonus payments)
- How are you communicating to your clients about precautions you are taking and what precautions you’ll be getting them to take on arrival to your salon? (Email, FB, Insta, TikTok etc)
- Have you asked your clients to not come in if they have flu like symptoms to avoid spreading the virus?
- It is important to consider these factors and plan for how they may affect your ability to run your business.
- It’s not time to panic, it’s time to be prepared and run your strategic and marketing plan to ride this pandemic through.
- You may have an overall risk management plan – I suggest you now take the time to create a proactive risk management plan specifically addressing Covid-19 and the effect it might have on your salon.
What would you need to consider:
- It is important to know when to implement your Risk Management Plan.
- Think about what the circumstances will look like for you to implement this plan. It is important to communicate your policy and decisions with your team at every possible opportunity – forewarned is forearmed.
- There will be plenty of commentary on the news and internet about how the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic is affecting business, and you will see in your appointment book and weekly take any consistency in takings downturn.
- Each situation will be different and you will know when you may need to implement your risk management plan based around your break-even point and how frequently you are running below it.
- I suggest you look at (or create) your cash flow forecast with some Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic impact assumptions and if your cash position is looking less than ideal, do something proactive about it now. If you need help creating a cash-flow forecast contact me HERE for some help in creating one using our Salon Business Coach ‘Salon Cash-flow’ Template.
- Preparing your business for a coronavirus hit means having a clear crisis plan and communicate, communicate, communicate.
Salon Risk Management Plan: Identify any Risk to the business like:
- Staff Illness
- Client Cancellations
- Low Income
- Can’t pay bills
- Can’t pay loans
- Financial difficulty
- Severe lack of clients
- Management Policies
Business Continuity interruption:
- Staff Illness: Consider a contingency plan if staff need to self-isolate for 2 weeks. How are you going to manage appointments?
- Public transport might be affected and there is a small possibility that where your staff live might be a quarantined area, so allow for that. Flexible working arrangements will be important, as will a reconsideration of leave policies.
- Let your staff know they can trade some of their holiday’s due for sick leave if they wish.
- Extra shifts for well staff, Temporary staff if you have access to them.
- Consider asking staff to help by reducing hours worked per week and days off without pay.
- Maybe defer bonus payments until business continuity returns, then back pay over a period of time.
- Client Cancellations: Consider reducing salon hours to consolidate appointments over a shorter period. (i.e. close 3 days and work 3 days) Perhaps offer social distancing measures, mobile hairdressing for unwell clients.
- Ask your landlord for rent relief during period with view to making it up once business returns to normal.
- Check with IRD on relief from tax obligations (provisional etc)
- Check with government to see if you qualify for any relief due from the pandemic, there may be help with your wage bill or interim relief payments.
- Ask your bank how they can help if you have any outstanding loans or overdraft facilities
- Ask your bank for an indication of probability of a loan or overdraft to keep business doors open.
- Check with suppliers about the possibility of extended credit and minimise your purchases.
- Find out if there is any supply issue from your supply company – you may need to manage your stock tightly.
As a leader in your business, it is your responsibility to be proactive, remain positive and focus on the facts and to act with common sense. Your team is looking to you for leadership and guidance. Give them regular updates on your businesses approach and view on Coronavirus.
Your team and customers will remember how you treat them during these uncertain times.
If you consider what the biggest threats are here to your business and identify what you can do proactively to mitigate, you will be well on your way to protecting your business and staff the best way possible.
Should you have any concerns or questions about your business over this time and want to discuss any apprehension, please reach out and we will arrange a confidential complimentary discussion with you.
You can contact Malcolm Gibbons Salon Business Coach here or call +64 021 210 8950
Preparing your business for a Coronavirus Pandemic hit means having a clear crisis plan and communicate, communicate, communicate.