The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating effect across our industry. Salon doors have shut and the self-employed are unable to work.
Here at BC Beauty Training we’re no strangers to the fallout – we’ve had to close up and suspend all face-to-face training programmes until it is a safe time for us all to open our doors again. Although you are still welcome to book in and make a start on your theory work, a date can then be fixed for your practical when we start back up.
These are difficult days for all of us. But, in the words of Her Majesty the Queen, “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return.”
In this article we wanted to take a look at where you can obtain help to get you through the financial repercussions of the current crisis. And we have some ideas for how you can still be building your business during the lockdown.
Where to find financial help
The government have provided several packages of help for small businesses and the self-employed. As part of the leisure industry, you may qualify for a business rate holiday or cash grants, in addition to the other business support options.
You should also look at what personal financial support you can access. This could include taking a break from paying your mortgage, council tax relief and being protected from eviction if you are unable to pay your rent.
Further information can be found on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
It’s worth taking some time to go through the information to ensure that you’re receiving all the support you’re eligible for.
Keeping your business going during lockdown
We appreciate that many of you will be run off your feet with extra childcare responsibilities. But, for those of you who do have time to spare, there’s plenty you can be doing to get your business ready for brighter times ahead.
Stay in touch with your clients
You want your clients to remember you’re there when this is all over, so why not keep in contact with them and help them to maintain their beauty regime?
If you have permission to email your clients, then you could send them some tips for skincare, nailcare or haircare at home. If you have plenty of time on your hands, you could tailor this advice for each client.
You could even offer video advice sessions or Facebook Live get-togethers, so people can ask you questions and you can share tips.
And, because some of your clients will have time on their hands too, it’s a great opportunity to ask them to write reviews for you on Google or Facebook.
Research what your competitors are doing
Spend some time looking at your competitors’ websites and social media feeds. What do you like and dislike? Your arch-rivals can provide great inspiration for your own business.
Plan new services and products
Think about what new services you might want to offer, perhaps “borrowing” some good ideas from your competitors.
We’ll be ramping up our training course availability as soon as the lockdown is over, so why not browse our website to see what new skills you might want to offer to your clients.
Write a marketing communications plan
We don’t know when the world will go back to normal, but it will eventually. And, when that happens, you need your business to be a lean, mean marketing machine!
This time is a great opportunity to write a marketing communications plan. Decide what you’re going to talk about each month (including any new services), what special offers you’ll do and where your marketing focus will be.
Think about what events are going on each month (eg weddings, Christmas parties, graduation balls, summer holidays) so you can tie in your activity. For example, promoting waxing in the run up to the summer holidays or gel nails ready for the Christmas party season.
And consider who your target market is – what age they are, their gender, their disposable income, their lifestyle, etc. Where do these people go to look for beauty services? How do they decide on which services to use? This type of information can help you find new audiences and new ways of marketing your business.
Improve your online marketing
Just think of all those people who have been in lockdown with no access to beauty treatments. How desperate they’ll be to get their eyebrows done or their hair extensions replaced! You need to be the beautician they find when they start looking and they’re likely to look online.
This might mean updating your website (or setting one up if you don’t already have one), getting more active on Instagram or creating some TikTok/YouTube videos.
Or perhaps exploring email systems like MailChimp, so you can send out news updates and offers to your clients.
We are in the process of writing up our ‘Social Media for Beauty Businesses’ course, so keep an eye out in the next week or so for this to be added to our website. This will help you build your skills online and get the client base you want.
And don’t forget offline marketing
Are your business or appointment cards looking a bit dated? Does your price list need a re-vamp? Even if you don’t want to spend money on getting them printed right now, it’s still a great time to plan for how to improve them.
Streamline your processes
OK, this one sounds a bit “big corporate”, but all businesses have processes, however small they are. And if you’ve never thought about them before, now’s the time.
Consider what happens when a new client calls you for an appointment. How do you answer the phone? If you can’t answer the phone, what does your voicemail message say? What happens when a potential customer emails you? What follow up do you have from appointments? Do you provide aftercare information?
Try writing down some typical customer journeys starting from the point that they first think about using your services. Are you making every step on that journey easy and enjoyable for the customer? And are you taking advantage of opportunities to keep them loyal to you and perhaps cross-sell other treatments?
Look at your hygiene standards
We’ll all be back at work while the coronavirus is still circulating. So, you may find that your clients are more focussed than normal on your hygiene standards.
Make sure all your equipment is clean (properly sanitised where appropriate) and that you’re properly following all hygiene and personal safety procedures.
It might be a good time to stock up on more gloves and maybe a few face masks, as some clients might prefer you to wear them in the short term, particularly if you’re visiting them in their home.
Catch up on jobs
Have you always meant to set up a proper database of your clients? Get your accounts up to date? Find a good bookkeeper? Well, now’s the time to do it. Make a list of the jobs you keep putting off and plan to get one done every week.
Be kind to yourself
Having said all of this, don’t feel under pressure to push on with your business development if it’s not a priority for you right now.
These are difficult days for all of us and the most important thing is to be kind to yourself and your loved ones.
We wish you all the very best and look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible.